The ‘Anathemas’ of John Grasmeier
Atila Sinke Guimarães
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Some readers sent me a joint attack by Matt Abbott and John Grasmeier against the TIA website, Dr. Marian Horvat, and me (click here). Abbott’s role in the attack was to frame and give importance to Grasmeier’s accusations; he is the microphone, Grasmeier is the voice.
Abbott shows prudence in his presentation. He gives the readers some data on the polemic about the two Sister Lucys (click here) and then introduces Grasmeier. Abbott’s single accusation is to charge us with being adepts of “conspiracy theories.” This is an empty slogan increasingly thrown against those who consider that the Catholic Church is infiltrated by Progressivism. In this article I will not address this topic. I hope to analyze what a “conspiracy theory” is in the near future.
So, Grasmeier’s accusations compose the essence of the attack. I will summarize them for my refutation. He argues:
I will answer the imputations one at a time.
- How could friends, associates, and family not realize that Sister Lucy II would be an impostor? It is absurd to think that she is a different person.
- The traditional movement is growing. To continue to attract “segments of the laity, clergy and episcopate,” traditional Catholics should habitually show charity and edify everyone.
Granted, they should “not compromise truth in order to seek tacit acceptance or fleeting credibility,” but they cannot show “scorn, rebellion and ridicule.”
Now then, TIA does “not offer much in the way of edification, yet conspiracy, mocking and crass behavior is held at a premium.” Therefore, TIA should be avoided.
- When Dr. Horvat defends that there are two Sister Lucys, she “is implicitly accusing the Holy See of kidnapping and/or murder” of Sister Lucy I. Her “outrageous allegations” also constitute a “grave error and sin.”
If TIA will not repent and show that it is "truly interested in the health of the Body of Christ and those within it," TIA should be avoided.
1. The family argument
Grasmeier imagines that if the family members of Sister Lucy did not notice a possible substitution, then this means there was none. So, whoever supports such a substitution enters directly into the absurd. In this accusation he shows:
A. Ignorance regarding the rule of contemplative convents
According to the best Catholic tradition, the religious women who choose to live a contemplative life must be considered dead to the world. For this reason, the rare visits they receive, even from their family members, take place in a room separated from the convent by a wall. The nun whom you visit remains inside the convent on one side of the wall and you are seated on the other side of it. Your chair faces a strong iron grille; behind it is a locked wooden window. The grille prevents you from coming too close to the window.
A short time passes and the wooden window door opens from the inside, and you realize that there is still a dark sheer drapery between you and the nun. She is there in her habit accompanied by a superior. Both are seated about two or three feet from the window in a shadowed ambience. Then you hear the superior’s voice: “Mr. X, here is Sister Y. You may speak with her.” You present the serious topic you said you would address and the nun responds. After some 15 minutes, the superior says: “Mr. X, thank you for your visit. The time is over, we must go. Praised be Our Lord Jesus Christ.” The superior stands and closes the window. The visit is over.
You could hear what the nuns said very clearly; however, you could not see them very well. You saw silhouettes rather than faces. This is the wise protection the Church created to avoid worldly tendencies in the contemplative nuns who have to receive visits.
Even after the reforms of Vatican II, many of these norms remained. This is why Carolina, Lucy’s sister, said that in all the visits she made to Sister Lucy in Coimbra, she was never able to speak alone with her in the same room but was always separated by a grille. Please check the picture and caption at right, taken from the book Fatima Priest by Francis Alban.
According to the rules, visitors did not see the faces of contemplative nuns. It is the excellent traditional rule of convents as conceived by the Saints who founded them. There is nothing absurd in it. On the contrary, it is wise and holy.
Hence, it can very well be that a substitution was made and the few relatives who could have made an objective comparison of the two Sister Lucys did not notice it. So, by accusing without taking into consideration this rule, Grasmeier seems to reveal ignorance, lack of objectivity and precipitation.
B. Ignorance that Sister Lucy became 'invisible' for years
Mexican Fr. Agostino Fuentes was the postulator of the cause of beatification of Francisco and Jacinta. In this office he was in personal contact with Sister Lucy. In 1957, he had a conversation with her that he reported in sermons in Mexico; it also appeared in newspapers in the U.S. and Portugal. It was a warning for Catholic laypeople to no longer wait for an appeal for penance to come “from Rome, Bishops or Religious Congregations.” Catholic people should do penance, otherwise a divine chastisement would fall upon mankind.
The Bishopric of Coimbra launched a violent denial of Fr. Fuentes statements. Soon afterward, the Vatican dismissed Fr. Fuentes as postulator of the causes of the two children and named in his place Fr. Luis Kondor, SVD. Thenceforth, Sister’s Lucy’s reclusion became even more rigorous.
In his book The Whole Truth about Fatima, Michel of the Holy Trinity reports:
“In its note of July 2, 1959, the chancellery of Coimbra declared authoritatively that ‘Sister Lucy has nothing more to say on Fatima!’ It also became increasingly difficult to see her, and for years no more of her writings were published. Her testimony was becoming bothersome. In 1962, Maria de Freitas remarked that ‘more and more, visits to Sister Lucy are forbidden; more and more she is becoming invisible’” (vol. 3. p. 749).
So, added to the normal rigor of the contemplative rule was a prohibition by the Bishopric of Coimbra against Sister Lucy to be seen. This situation would make it even more difficult for relatives to see her and discern her features. It is a point that Grasmeier did not take into consideration when he launched his accusation. Again, it seems to reveal ignorance, lack of objectivity, and precipitation.
2. Charity and edification
Then comes the argument in which Grasmeier speaks of charity and edification, giving us all lessons about what the Traditionalist movement must or must not do.
Before checking the consistency of Grasmeier’s argument, let me pose a collateral question.
Whence comes his authority over all Traditionalism?
Certainly Mr. Grasmeier is entitled to express his own opinions, even when they are wrong. Certainly he is entitled to exert his authority over the list that he was called to direct. Anyone who joins it has to submit to Grasmeier’s whip.
But now, he leaves his arena and dictates norms to all traditional Catholics. On what authority? As far as I noticed, he bases himself exclusively on his personal authority, nothing else.
Normally prominent traditionalists – authors, leaders of movements, editors of papers or websites – speak on behalf of themselves.
Grasmeier innovates regarding humility. He pops up from his discussion list self-invested with an elevated moral authority. I didn’t notice any restriction that he placed on his authority. He addresses all Traditionalist Catholics around the world to “anathematize” TIA.
Since I had never heard of this “luminary,” I did a search on Google. It displayed some 30 references to the Angel Queen list, an interview he made with Bishop Richard Williamson, a conference he attended in Florida, and some eulogies he received from Abbott for serving in the Iraq war.
So, he seems to be known chiefly for being the moderator of the Angel Queen list. Does this gives Grasmeier authority over all traditionalists? As I have never been on one of these lists, I asked friends about them in general, and about Angel Queen specifically. They told me that to join this list, you can give either your real name – an option rarely chosen – or invent a fake name. Under its cover, you can begin to comment about whomever or whatever you like. There is no danger of being discovered. You can be censured if you contradict the moderator’s opinions, or a topic can be closed if the discussion is taking an avenue the moderator dislikes. Some lists demand prior identification in order to prevent one person from discussing under many different names. Angel Queen does not require this.
So, this chat-room seems to be a kind of masked ball where persons are allowed to wear multiple masks. They remain incognito and enjoy the party.
I was told that some of these lists do a lot of good for the Catholic cause. Faithful Catholics are present on them with the aim of assisting the Church in this crisis. Others are on these lists to learn a bit, to know the latest news, or to hear a little gossip. Angel Queen is one of these lists that have been called “forums of debates.”
As successful as this list might be, I don’t believe that to be its moderator entitles Grasmeier to pontificate as supreme authority of Traditionalism. If he were responsible, he would speak only on behalf of himself. So, his pretension is disproportionate to what he really is.
Charity to whom?
Grasmeier argues that Traditionalism is growing mainly because charity and edification are attracting many people. I think that he is blatantly wrong. People who are attracted by charity go to the Missionaries of Charity, not to Traditionalism.
People are coming to Traditionalism because they are fed up with false ecumenism – a fake charity – and are opening the eyes to the self-destruction of the Church made by Progressivism.
Grasmeier criticizes TIA for lacking charity. Certainly, everyone should show charity toward his neighbor. But what does Grasmeier mean when he demands that we use charity? It is not clear.
Since TIA attacks different enemies of the Church, but mainly Progressivists, it seems that Grasmeier is demanding that we stop attacking them for charity’s sake. He is wrong. St. Francis de Sales, the doctor of charity, advises us to speak as much as we can against the wolf that infiltrates the flock (click here). The list master is either naïve or a collaborator when he demands that we stop fighting against Progressivism.
Grasmeier ends this argument complaining that TIA does not show edification, but rather “scorn, rebellion and ridicule” on its site.
Using scorn and ridicule is not our habitual method. A simple tour of our site can prove that. We take our fight seriously. We have high respect for every one of our readers, even the least learned, who approach us seriously. Only in our polemics, and very rarely there, do we use ridicule. It can be used, for example, when it is necessary to stop an attack based not on arguments, but rather on an arrogant state of spirit. I don’t think that this is against charity; it is the application of the beautiful verse of the Magnificat: Deposuit potentes de sede, et exaltavit humiles [God deposed the arrogant from his seat and exalted the humble].
Next is the accusation of “rebellion.” Dr. Horvat and I had the honor of being two of the four signers of the Declaration of Resistance [click here], an open letter to John Paul II. We made a full analysis of the disaster that Progressivism is causing in the Church in the post-conciliar era and showed the main points that contradict the previous Magisterium. We sent this document to John Paul II, requesting a dialogue to explain how those contradictions can be resolved. Until such explanation would be made, we declared ourselves in an official position of resistance regarding teachings and attitudes of the recent Popes that oppose the previous Magisterium and Tradition of the Catholic Church. Therefore, we are publicly in the state of resistance.
Grasmeier ignores all this and attacks us as rebellious. It is not rebellion. It is resistance. Has this new star of Traditionalism ever read the Declaration of Resistance? If so, why does he accuse us of rebellion? If not, why does he pretend to orient Traditionalism when he is ignorant of essential points of one of its major sectors?
3. Kidnapping and murder
The most amusing part of the Abbot-Grasmeier attack against us is a supposed consequence of our suggestion that there are two Sister Lucys. I transcribe the precious phrase:
“Does not the author [Horvat] who is purporting this nonsense realize that she is implicitly accusing the Holy See of kidnapping and/or murder? The fact that she doesn’t realize or doesn’t give due deference to the grave error and sin contained in this outrageous allegations speaks loudly to her Catholic formation.”
In this paragraph one can discern the pleasure of being onstage. Grasmeier the savior, the hero who leaves his web-list, enters the great picture and, already in his first act, saves the Holy See from villains who have unjustly accused it of murder and/or kidnapping… “No,” one may imagine him saying majestically, “the chin of Sister Lucy II cannot be more prominent than the one of Sister Lucy I. It is a priori impossible; otherwise you persons without Catholic formation are committing a grave error and a sin!”
Actually, there is no drama. The thing is much simpler. Mr. Grasmeier is forgetting the vow of obedience made in the Religious Orders. When a religious superior wants someone out of the picture, he simply calls him and orders him to travel to a distant place. This was how Cardinal Louis Billot, the greatest intellect that fought against Modernism coming from the time of St. Pius X, was removed from Rome. Pius XI gave the order to the General of the Society of Jesus, who ordered Cardinal Billot far away from Rome. This was the way the Superior of the Society of the Divine Word sent Fr. Ralph Wiltgen, the author of The Rhine Flows into the Tiber, to a distant island. Both disappeared – conveniently, for Progressivism – because of the vow of obedience, not because they were murdered or kidnapped. Trips to distant places are very common in Religious Institutions. So, Sister Lucy could very well have been ordered to go to a place where no one would find her, which would easily fit with religious practices.
If there are two Sister Lucys, the only inference against the Vatican is one of fraud. The ideas of murder and kidnapping come from the ignorance, hastiness and melodramatic imagination of Mr. Grasmeier. Unfortunately, in today’s Vatican, frauds are so common that only a blind man cannot see them. I don’t see any grave error or sin in analyzing and exposing them.
4. The final arrogant ultimatum
Grasmeier imagines himself just and charitable; therefore, even though he didn’t use a drop of charity with us in his entire article, he wants to leave the scene making a good impression. He gives us a last chance to convert. He dictates his imperial conditions: TIA should prove to him “in a substantive way” that it is “truly interested in health of the Body of Christ and those within it.” Otherwise TIA “should be avoided” by all traditionalist Catholics on earth.
Again, the same arrogance. It reminds me of the Aesop’s fable where the toad was so filled with itself that it exploded at the end of the story.
I do not respond to this because I do not recognize in Mr. John Grasmeier the moral stature to judge my love for the Catholic Church. In his attack he showed himself so ignorant of the reality he pretends to judge, so superficial in his accusations, so theatrical in his behavior, and so arrogant in his demands that I think he does not deserve to be taken seriously.
At the end of this refutation, I remind my readers that this joint attack most probably was made to divert attention away from the flagrant differences betweem the photos of the two Sister Lucys.
I hope this will be of assistance to the readers who asked me about this attack.
Posted on May 18, 2006
Related Topics of Interest
Photos and Facts
Readers Concur: There are Two Sister Lucys
The Inside the Vatican photo is mislabed: You are conspiracy maniacs
Wildfire Spreads about the Two Sister Lucys Photos
Two Sister Lucys of Fatima?
Forebodings about the Death of Sister Lucy
The Progressivist Challenge to Fatima
Tears, A Miraculous Warning
Our Lady of Good Success and Our Lady of Fatima
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