As We Are? 101 Compromises, Changes, and Contradictions of an SSPX: in Pursuit of a Practical Accord with Modernist Rome
by Sean Johnson
The official explanation of recent developments between Rome and the Society of St. Pius X (which has brought the SSPX for all intents and purposes to a practical recognition by the Vatican in every way except on paper), is that the ultra-liberal Pope Francis -- precisely because he is so liberal, rather than being anti-traditional, so the story goes -- has, of his great munificence and concern for those "on the periphery" of the Church, extended multiple concessions, rights, privileges, and jurisdiction to the SSPX unilaterally and without any demands for reciprocity or compromise on the part of the Society. For its part, the SSPX has sold that narrative to its own clergy and faithful, and argued that it has not deviated from the positions of Archbishop Lefebvre, or made one single compromise in pursuit of a canonical recognition from Rome.
This book by Sean Johnson, however, tells quite a different story: Relying primarily upon approved and extensively documented SSPX sources, the author makes a convincing argument for a unified, drastic and comprehensive change in SSPX policies and principles, which have won these concessions from Rome precisely because it has departed from the positions of Archbishop Lefebvre; that it is no longer a matter of (as Bishop Fellay once said) Rome accepting us "as we are," but rather, "as the SSPX has become". 398 pages. Paperback.
Many Catholic authors have pointed out that the myriad of changes in the Novus Ordo Missae have a cohesion which all tends in the same direction (being more acceptable to the modern world in general and Protestants in particular, downplaying the sacrificial nature of the Mass, centering the Mass on man rather than God, etc.) Likewise, these recent changes in the SSPX under Bishop Fellay (and his successor) all tend in the same direction: an acceptance of Vatican II and the Conciliar Church which embodies the ideals, errors, and the de-facto new religion started by the infamous Council.
Change is a fact of life in this world, in which time flows without ceasing and leaves nothing untouched. However, the changes catalogued in this book are not benign, minor, or random. There is a consistent and distinct pattern to the changes, which the wise can draw out and form a clear "big picture" of what is going on.
With many truths in this world, the best one can hope for is to gather many clues (even hundreds or thousands of data points) and discover that they tell a clear story when taken together. Not everything is video taped, and men working together in secret for various ends can be very careful and clever in how they cover their tracks. Those who work evil tend to prefer darkness, not the light of day -- much less the harsh glare of a video camera's lighting as it records and documents their evil deeds. The SSPX Superior Generals (Bishop Fellay and Fr. Davide Pagliarani) and other SSPX leaders are shrewd politicians.
We must not be naive, waiting for video evidence of the SSPX Superior General with his hand in the cookie jar. Though the deed was done and the SSPX is guilty, nevertheless a concise, 1-minute soundbite-friendly proof (such as video evidence) probably doesn't exist. That doesn't mean we can't arrive at the truth; it just means we're going to have to do some research and put together many pieces of evidence for ourselves. A multitude of known, proven facts -- the contents of this book -- tied together by reason, logic, and common sense, is just as good and extremely powerful.
Neither can we wait until a formal deal is signed. The SSPX and Rome may never intend to publicly sign any piece of parchment amid much fanfare and media frenzy. Instead, they seem to have adopted an incremental approach, with Rome approving pieces of the SSPX apostolate one at a time: confessions, marriages, Masses, etc., while the SSPX lays down its arms in a similar fashion. It's a classic case of death by a thousand cuts as well as frog boiling.
Sean Johnson has done the hard work to gather and present all the changes in the SSPX. An impartial reader will discern the clear pattern, and reach the inevitable conclusion that the SSPX leadership (at least) intends to completely surrender to the Conciliar Church in exchange for official Roman recognition.
"The book which you have in your hands is a useful collection of documents and quotes to prove how the Society of St. Pius X has changed from what it once was under Archbishop Lefebvre to what it has become under the Archbishop's successors at the head of the Society." - Bishop Richard Williamson
"The parallels between Vatican II and the recent happenings within the Society of St Pius X are so striking that these happenings could be called Vatican IIB." - Bishop Richard Williamson
"Mr. Johnson's book will help Catholics understand how Archbishop Lefebvre's positions have been corrupted by his successors: 'because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore, God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying.'" - Bishop Gerardo Zendejas
"Sean Johnson's catalog puts the lie to those who say nothing is happening. The sell-out is documented here for all who want to know. All priests in the SSPX and all of the faithful assisting at Mass in SSPX chapels and all the religious affiliated with the SSPX should read this catalog." - Fr. Edward MacDonald
"I urge anyone still attending the SSPX to take an afternoon to slowly make it through the book . Some posts are more important than others and some may be argued. However, when taken as a whole, any honest thinking person who has attended the SSPX for more than ten years will have to admit that there has been a drastic change in policy." - Traditional Catholic Musings
In its December 2009 issue of its house organ, Angelus, the SSPX published “Saint of the Sanhedrin” (pp. 29-34), a Judaized essay by Scott Montgomery. The SSPX still touts the article: http://www.angelusonline.org/index.php?section=articles&subsection=show_article&article_id=2881
The criticism of the article and the editor’s snarky non-response are revealing of the smug clericalism and abject Judaizing that have poisoned the once-great and holy SSPX.
Fr. Markus Heggenberger
Editor, The Angelus
2915 Forest Avenue
Kansas City, MO 64109
January 26, 2010
Dear Fr. Heggenberger
In the December, 2009, Angelus you published an article by Mr. Scott Montgomery, “Saint of the Sanhedrin” (pp. 29-34). Do you have a policy in place for fact-checking assertions made in the Angelus by authors you publish? I did not see any evidence of fact-checking by Mr. Montgomery’s editor in the article in question.
This article contains very serious errors and its tenor is one with the judaizing absurdities of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. On the strength of one erroneous and insupportable statement in the 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia (“It was the method of the school of Shammai rather than that of Hillel which Christ condemned”), Mr. Montgomery spins a tale remarkably consonant with the teaching of Orthodox Judaism concerning Hillel the Pharisee.
Mr. Montgomery goes so far as to impart the following fabulous enormity concerning Hillel: “...he served as an instrument of Heaven.”
Judaism in projecting its public image, like The Angelus, projects the face of Hillel the merciful, though he was by no means as kind, just, sweet, compassionate, decent and virtuous as the legends portray him. In its actual practice and beliefs, Judaism combines characteristics of both Hillel and Shammai who form one of the exegetical early zugot or "pairs," and as a pair they reflect a central unity on those key dogmas which will brook no dissent. Here is an instructive indication of the rabbinic mentality as symbolized by the figure of Hillel: "Hillel is described as a man of great humility who in his pursuit of peace was even prepared to depart from the truth (Bezah 20a)."
Hillel is a symbol of the deceit which Judaism regards as necessary to advancing its power: for the sake of an ulterior motive the preeminent Pharisee departs from the truth. With this in mind, how should we regard the statement that Hillel reduced the entire Oral Law to the clean and simple crystalline lines of one requirement? "To a heathen who came to him to be converted on condition that he teach him the entire Torah 'while standing on one foot,' Hillel replied, 'What is hateful to you, do not unto your neighbor, this is the entire Torah, all the rest is commentary."
But this is a Big Lie. Judaism's thousands of laws and rules binding on Judaics are not "commentary," they are halacha and the failure to keep them can result in calamities ranging from birth defects and death in childbirth, to the delaying of the coming of the Moshiach (Messiah) and the imposition of the "iron fist of gentile oppression." If the golden rule, as embodied by Hillel was the chief law of Judaism from which all other rabbinic laws flowed, and all the rest of Judaism's positive and negative laws "constituted mere commentary," the min and the apikorsim would not be beaten and killed, and their books would not be banned, hanged and burned. Since "our neighbor" does not want these things done unto him, if this were Judaism's rule of law, the rabbis would not visit these things upon doubters and dissidents. The tale of Hillel's "wise and benevolent" distillation of the essence of Judaism is tailor-made to appeal to western ideals and is often retailed to the goyim as part of Judaism's introductory mythology. Hillel serves his purpose within the rabbinic semiotic by acting as poster boy for the Kabbalistic pillar of chesed. But the rule of Shammai, the pillar of gevurah, also forms a significant part of the reality of Orthodox Judaism, even though Hillel is put forth as the more prominent (and dominant) of the two. In truth, they are complimentary, as the mystical Kabbalah compliments the bureaucratic Talmud, thesis/antithesis — "pairs" produce the synthesis that is Judaism in all of its indissolubly connected, subterranean minutiae.
Judaism's commitment to the Torah SheBeal Peh (oral law) as the guarantor of authentic understanding of the written Torah (SheBichtav) was institutionalized, contemporary with the repudiation and crucifixion of the Messiah of Israel, by Hillel, the much touted, supposed good Pharisee. In the Tannaitic period that led to the writing of the Mishnah (first two centuries A.D.), the earliest halachic midrashim (legal exegesis) were formed on the basis of a solution Hillel devised to a problem in the cognitive psychology of Judaism: how to persuade a Jewish audience of the correctness of one's Scriptural interpretation. Hillel was unable to convince his fellow Jews on the basis of the Scriptures alone. Prefacing one's remarks, as Jesus did, with "It is written" was insufficient for the followers of the religion of the Pharisees. In the fateful step of institutionalizing the heretofore oral tradition by writing it down as the proto-Mishnah, Hillel established his credentials and established his school of interpretation by invoking the oral tradition which he had received from his Pharisaic mentors — Shemayah and Avtalyon — from which formed Judaism's early labyrinthine hermeneutical system of methodology (which would grow ever longer and more complex over time), the middot of sevenfold classification, based on ultra-meticulous syntactical and phraseological lawyer's minutiae. These seven rules soon morphed into thirteen (as devised by Rabbi Ishmael) and then thirty-two (as devised by Rabbi Eliezer ben Jose ha-Galili, a disciple of Rabbi Akiba) and like a cancer, have never ceased exploding in number and complexity since then. Yet, this is supposed to be the Pharisaic method that Jesus did not condemn, what The Angelus terms, “the holy and balanced system of observing the Old Law established by Hillel...” (p. 30)
Shmuel Safrai points out (in The Literature of the Sages, Part One, p. 164) that in the Talmud's Gittin Tractate, the Talmud nullifies the Biblical teaching concerning usury and money-lending: "Hillel decreed the prozbul for the betterment of the world. The prozbul is a legal fiction which allows debts to be collected after the Sabbatical year and it was Hillel's intention thereby to overcome the fear that money-lenders had of losing their money."
In terms of permissible sex with a male child, the age of nine is a determining factor in Judaism, no matter what the gender of the pederast, whether an adult woman, or an adult man. In Babylonian Talmud (BT) tractate Sanhedrin 69b, it is argued that a woman having sex with a boy less than nine is an act that is exempt from punishment (and therefore permissible), and does not render her a zonah (prostitute) or disqualify her from a marrying a Judaic priest, because sex with male children less than age nine is not considered sex. The actual reference in BT Sanhedrin 69b is to sex between a mother and her own son. If her son is less than nine years-of-age, then it's rabbinically permissible for her to engage in it with him. While the school of Shammai objected to her being eligible to marry a priest, they were overruled by Maimonides and the other penultimate halachic decisor, Rabbi Karo, in the Shulchan Aruch; but the original ruling exempting the incestuous molesting mother from punishment and disqualification, which came to be accepted as halakha by the majority, was made by Hillel, the "good Pharisee" who allegedly has "so much in common with Jesus." Yet here's that "good Pharisee" establishing the utterly depraved and barbaric principle that sex between a mother and her son does not actually qualify as sex, if the son is less than nine years-old (cf. Judaism Discovered, pp. 424-425).
Your author has accepted Judaism’s highly deceptive cover story about Hillel and disseminated it to the readers of The Angelus, who are led to believe that Hillel was “an instrument of Heaven.” I am reasonably familiar with rabbinic propaganda but I am not accustomed to encountering such brazen propaganda in the pages of a traditional Catholic magazine where it will mislead thousands.
To this is added highly speculative conjecture which The Angelus puts forth concerning the patrimony of Simeon and the fundamental benevolence of Phariseeism as conveyed by Gamaliel to Saul of Tarsus, which leaves Mr. Montgomery in the predicament of having to explain how it was that Saul mercilessly persecuted Christians and may have had a hand in the murder of St. Stephen when he had been taught such exemplary Pharisee ethics as a youth. The origin of the legend about Simeon being the son of Hillel, though ascribed to various Church Fathers, is actually derived from a rabbinic source, the Pirke Avoth, which is completely unreliable.
Finally, Mr. Montgomery imagines that St. Paul was taught the Gemara (the second section of the Talmud) when he was fifteen years of age. The Gemara, however, would not be written for at least another two centuries after Paul.
In “Saint of the Sanhedrin,” The Angelus presents rabbinic delusions as fact and promotes the wicked Pharisee Hillel as a virtual holy man of God. The great confusion among traditional Catholics concerning Judaism will only be exacerbated by the farrago you have published, to the detriment of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the understanding of the faithful. It is my prayer that you will somehow undo the damage that has been wrought.
Sincerely, Michael Hoffman
Author of Judaism Discovered: A Study of the Anti-Biblical Religion of Racism, Self-Worship, Superstition and Deceit
Fr. Markus Heggenberger
Editor, The Angelus
2915 Forest Avenue
Kansas City, MO 64109
February 25, 2010
Dear Fr. Heggenberger
I am in receipt of your reply to the concerns I raised in my letter of Jan. 17 with regard to the December, 2009, Angelus essay by Scott Montgomery, "Saint of the Sanhedrin" (pp. 29-34). With all due respect, it must be said that your reply is inadequate and constitutes an evasion. Never once in your letter can you bring yourself to mention Hillel, when it was Hillel, not Gamaliel, who was the main focus of my concern that the Angelus has published perverse adulation of this vile Pharisee, repeating rabbinic propaganda about Hillel and lauding him as a figure worthy of the admiration of Catholics.
Part of the evidence I presented has been contemptuously dismissed as “all sorts of questions related to Judaism...With all these questions, which are apparently of interest to you, neither ‘The Angelus’ in general nor the incriminated article has anything to do.”
In order to maintain this notion that facts are irrelevant to the substance of the article you published, you quote me as writing, “The Talmud nullifies the Biblical teaching concerning usury and money-lending.” But you omit my next sentence: "Hillel decreed the prozbul ...a legal fiction which allows debts to be collected after the Sabbatical year and it was Hillel's intention thereby to overcome the fear that money-lenders had of losing their money."
Hillel, who the Angelus believes was a good Pharisee, nullified the Biblical law against usury in support of money-lenders. How is it that this damning fact is supposedly of concern only to this writer? It is your magazine that exalts Hillel. I demonstrated Hillel’s grave transgression and the folly of upholding Hillel as a paradigm of an alleged good Pharisee. How then can his record of transgressions be of no interest?
You allege that another irrelevancy is my reference to “permissible sex.” Once again, you omit the context — I mentioned “permissible sex” in connection with a specific charge against Hillel: his establishment of the depraved and disgusting halachot (legal principle) that sex between a mother and her son does not actually qualify as sex, if the son is less than nine years-old — yet you dare to assert that these matters have nothing to do with The Angelus or the article in question, when it is The Angelus that honors this evil man.
You claim that “Mr. Montgomery simply states that there were tendencies in Judaism that were open to the Gospel.” Au contraire, Mr. Montgomery went far beyond any such simplicity when he asserted that Hillel “served as an instrument of heaven.” You are unwilling to take any responsibility for this outrageous mendacity; you evade it, and you appear to have no intention of correcting it in any future issue of The Angelus. Apparently you do not even intend to correct easily demonstrable errors, such as Mr. Montgomery’s assertion that St. Paul learned the Gemara from Gamaliel, when in fact the Gemara did not even exist at the time of St. Paul.
Even in your focus on Gamaliel to the exclusion of Hillel, you blunder. You should know that Wikipedia is not a reliable scholarly source for establishing the verity of much of anything. Wikipedia refers to the “Clementine Literature” as the basis for its spurious claims about Gamaliel. Are you aware that this “Literature” comprises one of the pseudepigraphic legends? This particular legend fantasized that Gamaliel became a Christian, but there is absolutely no proof for this claim.
The sole primary source for this fantasy is the spurious Recognitions of Clement, a book which contains a mix of pagan philosophy and a curious theology attributed to St. Peter.
The notion that Gamaliel was benevolent in part because he was the teacher of Paul (Acts 22:3) is also a fallacy. Gamaliel was the teacher of Saul, the wicked persecutor of Christians who went on to convert to Christ and become the saintly Apostle Paul. When he was Saul, the pupil of Gamaliel, he may even have had a hand in the murder of St. Stephen. Can we absolve Gamaliel and the Mishnaic teachings which he imparted to Saul by imagining they had no role in Saul's iniquity?
Moreover, there has been a surfeit of wishful thinking concerning Gamaliel's statement of neutrality toward Christians (Acts 5:35-39), which may have been nothing more than a display of sly Pharisee caution. How can anyone assume that Gamaliel’s neutrality was pleasing to God, or that it marked Gamaliel as a future Christian? Jesus said, "I would you were hot or cold" (Rev. 3:16). Gamaliel was neither.
You state that, “The Angelus’ does not try to replace the Bible with the Talmud....” You then cast a strange aspersion on my good name and reputation by adding, “you would be much better qualified for that by the way.” Do you mean to say that it is this writer who favors the Talmud over the Bible? If so, where in my entire oeuvre is there one line I have written that you can adduce for your charge? Your statement is as reckless as the “Saint of the Sanhedrin” essay you published without fact-checking; a blunder you compound by referencing Wikipedia, a notoriously unreliable Internet “encyclopedia” often consulted by persons too lethargic to engage in authentic research.
You write, “Your accusations are wrong...I say: what is good enough for the Church Fathers and for the Catholic Encyclopedia, is good enough for me.” But Reverend Father, there is nothing in the Church Fathers that supports the claims The Angelus makes for Gamaliel, and as for the Catholic Encyclopedia, you have only troubled to consult the 1913 version. The 1967 Catholic Encyclopedia, which is not online, does not validate anything Mr. Montgomery has written about Gamaliel or Hillel. In fact, the latter work correctly indicts Hillel as the source for the Pharisaic teaching that permitted divorce on trivial grounds, and which was the basis for the attempted entrapment by which the Pharisees hoped to ensnare Jesus (Matthew 19: 3-9). Hillel taught against restricting divorce to sexual immorality: "The school of Hillel says: [He may divorce her] even if she cooked his food poorly” (Mishnah, Gittin 9:10). It was with Hillel’s doctrine on divorce that Jesus was confronted. You and your writer must be surprised that Jesus rebuked rather than embraced the Pharisees for this doctrine, since it emanated from the very Pharisee whom The Angelus exults as “an instrument of heaven.”
You dismiss the need for scholarship in these exegetical matters, yet you and Mr. Montgomery are sadly confused and decidedly ignorant of the subject matter. I repeat what I wrote to you on January 26: “The Angelus presents rabbinic delusions as fact and promotes the wicked Pharisee Hillel as a virtual holy man of God. The great confusion among traditional Catholics concerning Judaism will only be exacerbated by the farrago you have published, to the detriment of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the understanding of the faithful. It is my prayer that you will somehow undo the damage that has been wrought.” I am still waiting.
Jesus Christ was not a party to the modern Vatican mania for finding something — anything — allegedly positive in the Pharisees. In our time this fad is intended to curry ecumenical favor with the rabbis. Whether intentional or not, the Angelus article “Saint of the Sanhedrin” is of this tenor. It is an expression of the modernist zeitgeist. “Servility to the Sanhedrin” would have been a more apt title. I beseech you to make amends and correct this most unfortunate disservice to your readers, without further delay.
Sincerely in Christ,
To this date the SSPX has never retracted its adulation of the evil Pharisee Hillel.