From Mr Martin Blackshaw SIR — As a traditional Catholic not given to extremism, I was astounded by your front-page headline and leading article against the Society of St Pius X (April 25).
I fear that much of the goodwill engendered by Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio, Summorum Ponnficum, may have been irretrievably lost as a result of your comments.
You ask, for example, in relation to the rigid stance of the SSPX against the "errors" of Vatican II: "Who do the Lefebvrists think they are?"
The answer is a very simple one. We think we are Catholics in a similar situation to that of the fourth-century bishop St Athanasius, who, together with his little flock of faithful, and despite his false excommunication by Pope Liberius, determined to oppose the Arian heresy adopted by the entire hierarchy and the entire Catholic world of the time. Truth and Tradition triumphed then as they infallibly will again, for despite us numbering only "I ,000th of the size of the whole Church", as you put it, we hold fast to the Mass and the faith of all time.
So who, I wonder, has really "chosen to follow the path of schism"? Is it the "Lefebvrists", who have changed nothing of what has been handed down for 2,000 years, or is it the conciliar majority, which has changed everything to the point that Catholicism is now barely distinguishable from the most liberal of Protestant sects, and which has implicitly silenced, through false ecumenism, the Church's infallible teaching on the necessity of holding the Catholic faith for salvation?
I would suggest, in light of the obvious, that your prediction that the SSPX "in its arrogant quest for a mythically pure Catholicism may soon end up as a Protestant denomination", would best be re-worded and applied as fact to the conciliar liberals who in their arrogant quest for a mythically humanist Catholicism have already arrived at Protestantism.
Six Protestant ministers helped create today's "ordinary" form of Mass, which undermines both the integrity of Our Lord's sacrifice and his Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Eucharistic ministers, Communion in the hand, no kneeling or genuflections, and other such irreverence and profanities should tell every Catholic which of the two sides has gone Protestant. Pope Benedict XVI is a staunch upholder of this Protestantised form of Mass as the "ordinary" form. His Holiness has not celebrated the old rite personally, which rather undermines your claim that he has restored the "extraordinary" form of Mass "to a place of high honour".
The only true restoration of honour for the Latin Mass is a restoration to its rightful place as the "ordinary" form in the Church. Anything short of this, while not wishing to sound ungrateful to Pope Benedict for his kind indul gence, is merely a half measure and a clear indication that this Pope is committed to a conciliar reform that unarguably continues to decimate vast numbers of priests, religious, congregations, seminaries and churches worldwide.
Bishop Fellay and the SSPX know that many very serious doctrinal issues must be addressed by Rome. The conciliar upheaval has never been just a question of the Mass. It is a question of a clear contradiction between what was believed and taught as the Catholic faith pre-Vatican II with what is believed and taught post-Vatican H.
To attempt to simplify the present crisis of faith in the Church. then, to merely a question of Mass provisions, is to display either extreme naivety or a great ignorance of the Church's doctrine and history.
Yours faithfully, MARTIN BLACKSHAW Livingston. West Lothian