Regarding the document We Resist You to the Face, which I had the honor to sign together with Marian Horvat, Michael Matt and
John Vennari, we have received strong critiques in the pages of The Wanderer (June 22, 2000). They come from three persons: from Mr. Alphonse Matt, Jr., editor of the newspaper; from Msgr. Fabian Bruskewitz, Bishop of Lincoln, and from Mr. Stephen Hand, chosen by the Alphonse Matt to refute our document. Mr. Alphonse Matt attacked me personally in his
presentation of the series of articles. Asserting my right of legitimate defense, I will respond to his invectives. My defense is personal, and does not intend to represent the other signers of the document. The four signers will make a joint statement if we judge it to be opportune.
The three parts of the attack form a whole. I will respond today to Mr. Alphonse Matt, and in another article to Msgr. Bruskewitz. After reading the book of Mr.
Hand, I will eventually respond to him also. For brevity’ sake, I will refer to Mr. Alphonse Matt only as Mr. A. M.
1. Induced Signatures
The first "accusation" of Mr. A.M. regards the authorship of the document. According to him, I would have been the only author of the statement: "an angry, aggressive statement authored by Atila Sinke Guimarães..." The editor of The Wanderer tried to create the impression that the other three signatories did not have an important role in its elaboration and were induced by me to sign it without really wanting to. For the record, let me describe what happened to show that Mr. A.M. erred.
In view of the increasingly disconcerting measures that His Holiness Pope John Paul II has been taking with regard to the Papacy, Catholic doctrine and the tradition of the Holy Catholic Church, I felt a demand of conscience to write a document in the form of an open letter addressed to the Pope, as I did one year ago in the book Quo Vadis, Petre? When the rough draft was ready, Marian Horvat, Ph.D., with whom I work in close collaboration, accepted the invitation to sign it with me because she shared the same problem of conscience. All those who know Marian either personally or from her writings and tapes know that she has a resolute personality and a notable intellectual capacity. She is a lady who knows her mind quite well and would never agree to place her signature on something that she did not agree with. Her adhesion to the statement was not one of passive acceptance to all that I proposed. She introduced the changes she wanted into the document. We discussed each point and the final product can legitimately be considered a redaction of the two of us.
With this, we agreed to invite Michael Matt, the courageous editor of The Remnant, to sign with us. Michael read the document, agreed with the whole, also had the same desire to manifest his resistance, but wanted to make some modifications. Michael is a skillful polemicist, a well-known journalist, and an able administrator who has maintained The Remnant along its pathway of success for the past ten years. To say that he would sign a document because he was swayed by a person whom he has known for only one year would be infantile. A similar process took place with Michael as that which happened with Marian. There were innumerable points that he added or proposed suppressing.
After having agreed upon a new text under the responsibility of all three, we invited John Vennari, editor of the Catholic Family News, to join us. John is well known in the American and Canadian traditionalist movement. He is a man who practically single-handedly built up his newspaper, which has advanced unceasingly in the ambits of both influence and academics. A fearless critic, an adept politician, a natural speaker, a valorous intellectual, John would never sign something with which he did not agree in the most minute details. John responded as Marian and Michael had: he added new points, and cut others. In Phoenix (March 31, 2000), the four signers met in order to discuss the document
and make the changes judged opportune.
One can see, then, that my three colleagues of the statement are persons of great character, representatives of the best that the leadership of the counter-revolutionary movement has in the United States. Even after Phoenix, the system of mutual consultations continued up to the day of publication. This explains what really took place. Therefore, the final product legitimately should be considered the responsibility of the four signers.
By attributing the authorship of the document only to me, Mr. A.M. tried to disparage the signatures of the others. With this, he seems to be unaware of – or to have forgotten – the value of a signature for an honorable person. At the moment when someone signs a document, be he the author or not, the document comes to be his as well, or even principally his. This fact has been admitted constantly in the Catholic milieu. For example, it is common knowledge that the Encyclical Pacendi Domici gregis of St. Pius X was penned by Cardinal Louis Billot, S.J. Notwithstanding, when St. Pius X signed it, it became a papal document. Analogously, the Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi by Pius XII was written by Fr. Sebastian Tromp, S.J. These are two among so many examples I could cite.
If this principle applies to important papal documents, with greater reason it applies to the simple documents of laymen. From this, one can conclude that even if the three other signatories had only signed without requesting any alteration in the text, the document would legitimately be that of the four signers. However, as shown above, the signers were truly co-authors. Therefore, the insinuation of Mr. A.M. is shown to be without foundation and is reduced to a malevolent attempt to indispose the three valorous journalists before public opinion, and me with them in our mutual relations.
2. An "angry and aggressive" document
The second accusation seems to reduce itself to a manifestation of bad-humor. The adjectives employed by Mr. A.M. and attributed to me (see the quote above, n.1) are not founded on any facts that support his opinion. In truth, anyone who has actually read the document would have to admit the exact opposite of what Mr. A.M. asserted: the style is polite and composed; the tone respectful and calm. Therefore, his assertion is gratuitous and hardly worthy of attention. Perhaps the cover of the book We Resist You to the Face, reproducing the statue of St. Paul that stands inside the Roman Basilica of that name, was what impressed Mr. A.M. Did he think that St. Paul was angry in this representation? Would St. Paul have had sufficient reason to be angered, when he saw St. Peter denying his mission? Was it aggressive of St. Paul to resist St. Peter "to the face" before many people? If Mr. A.M. would "condemn" St. Paul as well for being angry and aggressive, I would have no reason for concern. I prefer to have the good company of St. Paul rather than to be judged sweet and suave by Mr. A.M.
3. The "schismatic trajectory"
Finally, I reach
the third and principal accusation of Mr. A.M.: the authors of the Declaration of Resistance (here Mr. A.M. admitted that there were four authors...) would be on a "schismatic trajectory." In his text, he said: "One can conclude after a careful reading of We Resist You to the Face that its authors and supporters are on a schismatic trajectory that can only have tragic consequences." I will analyze the question as a whole.
First response: All those who even superficially read the document entitled We Resist You to the Face, which is becoming known in a simplified form as the Statement of Resistance or Declaration of Resistance, can note that the authors present a broad exposition of motives for their act of resistance in the four first parts of the document. This exposition is principally a summary of the facts that have taken place since Vatican Council II, which have transformed the face of the Holy Catholic Church. Only after this serious exposition of motives do the authors declare themselves in the state of resistance. This is apparent to anyone, even one who has only quickly read the document in The Remnant (April), in the book We Resist You to the Face, published by Tradition in Action (May) or in the Catholic Family News (July). Now, Mr. A.M. has assured his readers that he made a "careful reading" before launching his accusation.
My question to him is this: If he has made the attentive reading he affirmed, why did he omit analyzing our exposition of motives? Indeed, if Pope John Paul II is really promoting what we have described in the first four parts of the document, it seems to become clear that the Pontiff is one of the principal abettors of the Conciliar Revolution, to apply the expression of Cardinals Leo Suenens and Yves Congar (cf. Notes 1 and 2 of our document). If this is the case, we would have a Pope that is trying to destroy the Church.
(see We Resist You to The Face, pp. 57-8).
Therefore, if and when a Pope would promote such things, wouldn’t it be legitimate for Catholics to suspend obedience to him in the teachings and the actions that are objectively opposed to the prior Papal Magisterium? Why did Mr. A.M. avoid analyzing the nucleus of the matter and isolate only our suspension of obedience to the Pope to accuse us of entering into a "schismatic trajectory"?
With this omission, Mr. A.M. evaded making any judgment on the cause and hastened to qualify the effect. Doing this, he disregarded honest intellectual procedure. Or, to speak more clearly, he committed a fraudulent omission.
Second response: The presupposition of Mr. A.M.’s accusation that we are on a "schismatic trajectory" is that a Catholic can never suspend obedience to the Pope. Now, this is opposed to what St. Paul and many Saints and Doctors taught. We referred to St. Paul in the very title of the document, inspired by his phrase "I resisted him to the face" (Gal 2:11). Does Mr. A.M. think that St. Paul was on a "schismatic trajectory" when he resisted St. Peter? Why didn’t he analyze the attitude of the Apostle?
Shortly after we declare ourselves officially in the state of resistance, we present the doctrinal basis for our action. We transcribe excerpts of St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Robert Bellarmine and the famous theologians Fr. Francisco Vitória, O.P. and Fr. Francisco Suarez, S.J. These Doctors taught that a Catholic should suspend obedience to a bad Pope and should resist his orders. Why didn’t Mr. A.M. analyze the teachings of these Doctors? It would be interesting to know if he believes that such teachings are wrong and if they are stimulating the "schismatic trajectory" of which Mr. A.M. is accusing us of entering.
It seems clear that the omission of the editor of The Wanderer was intentional. If he would allude to such teachings, our attitude would become explicable and this would weaken his accusation. Therefore, with regard to the doctrinal basis (Part V.4) for the act of the declaration of resistance (Part V.1), which is situated one page after the act, Mr. A.M. adopted the same procedure he used with regard to our exposition of motives, which precedes the act: that is, he omitted it.
Doing this, Mr. A.M. hid the Catholic doctrine that is the basis for our attitude and once again did not show honest intellectual procedure. That is to say, he committed a second fraudulent omission.
Third response: Finally, in our document we clearly say that we do not intend to judge the Pope and we invite the religious authority to an elevated dialogue. This is equivalent to saying that we do not consider the question closed. We have presented our view of the situation. We await the presentation of someone to show us where we are wrong.
Mr. A.M. omitted telling his readers the opening we have for dialogue. Which is yet anotherfraudulent omission.
Therefore, the assertion that the signers of the document We Resist You to the Face would be in a "schismatic trajectory" has no foundation on what we have written. Quite to the contrary, an impartial reading of our document shows that we carefully stated our position to avoid any kind of doctrinal or disciplinary errors. In his effort to give some credibility to his judgment, Mr. A.M. has made three serious omissions, which falsifies the presuppositions of the attitude that we have taken. Mr. A.M. acted in an intellectually dishonest way to reach a false conclusion.
These are my considerations on the attack that Mr. A.M. directed at me, my-co-signers and our document.
Since the pages of The Wanderer are openly attacking our Declaration of Resistance, I believe it licit for me to make some commentaries of a political-strategical order about the consequences of such an aggression.
From what I am told, The Wanderer lives principally from its anti-liberal and anti-modernist past. Its subscribers think that they will find the same fearless and uncompromising position that characterized the newspaper in times past. Now, unfortunately, one can see that the paper is aligning itself more and more with the novelties of Vatican Council II. Mr. A.M. himself indisputably declared this in the same article that I analyzed above. Vatican II, the New Mass, and blind acceptance of what the concilar Popes have done constitute today the milestones
on the road that The Wanderer has resolved to tread.
When an anti-progressivist leadership ceases to be authentic and compromises itself with the cause that it was combating, what normally happens? The progressivist
commanders try to take advantage of the former more stalwart position of the leadership in order to anesthetize reactions against progressivism and to favor the acceptance of its ideas. For the false leadership, it is a delicate strategy, which demands care. To the measure that this leadership loses the credibility of its grassroots, it ceases to be useful for progressivism. For
this reason, the false leadership must try to maintain the appearances of holding its former position, still making one or another secondary attacks against the old enemy. This will help to fool its grassroots and to promote the advance of progressivism. This process habitually takes years, until the authentic grassroots are completely deviated from the right path. After this, the leadership and grassroots disappear, swallowed in the abyss of progressivism.
However, if the false leadership commits the error of stating their adhesion to progressivism too early, the healthy grassroots will leave these leaders. To maintain this
precarious equilibrium, the false leadership must move very slowly. This prudence is explicable, because since its position is fundamentally incoherent, it is better to walk with very slow steps in order not reveal the game and take the risk of losing everything. To use a metaphor, it would be like someone who is stuck in quicksand. Sooner or later, he will be swallowed by it, but in order to prolong his existence, he should move very carefully.
Something similar seems to be happening with The Wanderer. Fundamentally compromised with Vatican II, the New Mass and the conciliar Popes, the newspaper until now has survived by fooling its traditionalist and conservative readers, trying to make them accept its compromise, but still maintaining one or another secondary attacks against progressivism. The tactic of moving slowly and with care has been followed until recently. The exaggerated support that the newspaper is giving to the self-destructive initiatives of John Paul II on the occasion of the Millennium
festivities was making the mask begin to fall. It seems to me that the present polemic around our We Resist You to the Face has dropped the mask completely. By attacking us, Mr. A.M. has officially raised the banner of Vatican II as the one that The Wanderer represents.
In my opinion, upon hoisting this banner, Mr. A.M. made a grave error. According to the demands of his strategy, he should have continued to move slowly and carefully. With declarations like the one he made, the healthy grassroots, traditionalists and conservatives will not follow the leadership of the paper. Did Mr. A.M. make the decision on his own to take such an attitude? Or would he have relied upon some bad counsel? I don’t know. The fact is that he is moving very brusquely for someone who is in quicksand. The result is not difficult to predict.