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THIS DOCUMENT IS WRITTEN WITHOUT PREJUDICE TO FATHER
GRUNER’S CIVIL, CANONICAL AND NATURAL RIGHTS

 

May 16, 2001

IV.

An Obstacle To A "New Orientation" Of The Church
Father Gruner Is Persecuted Because He Poses

Although we have taken great pains to address the various accusations in the February 16th letter, it is perfectly clear that this controversy really has nothing to do with Father Gruner’s non-existent "irregular condition," his pursuit of bona fide civil claims, his publication of authentic Church documents, or some old quotations from magazines and a book. As we said at the outset, this case involves nothing but an attempt to give the appearance of legality to the unlawful suppression of Father Gruner’s legitimate views, shared by millions of Catholics, on the Message of Fatima and its relation to the present crisis in the Church and the world.

Where the crisis in the Church is concerned, the Message of Fatima implicates the sudden appearance after Vatican II of an entirely new ecclesial "orientation": a novel "opening to the world," bringing about a "dialogue with the world," as opposed to the Church’s perennial role of mother and teacher to an erring and fallen humanity which needs to be saved from the fires of hell.

A. The Emergence of Ostpolitik

This new orientation was first seen in the emergence of Ostpolitik, which we have mentioned several times. We will say a few more words about it here.

Ostpolitik is a prudential policy of "ecclesial diplomacy" crafted by the Vatican Secretariat of State during the height of Soviet repression of the Catholic Church. This policy, still in effect today, requires that the Church refrain from condemning or actively opposing communist regimes, but instead engage in "dialogue" and cooperation with the communists. Ostpolitik is a striking departure from the teaching of Blessed Pius IX, Saint Pius X, Leo XIII, Pius XI and Pius XII that communism is an evil which the Church cannot fail to oppose. The Magisterium has always taught that the Church has a duty to condemn and oppose the evils of the world, and especially that unprecedented worldwide systematization of evil known as communism. Before Vatican II there were more than 200 papal condemnations of communism and socialism. The pre-conciliar Popes consistently taught that no Catholic can in any way collaborate with communism or communists, even in seemingly neutral enterprises.37

Ostpolitik was necessarily also a departure from heaven’s admonition at Fatima concerning Russia, the very cradle of world communism. As Sister Lucy told Father Fuentes (the promoter of the cause of Jacinta and Francisco) on December 26, 1957: "Many times, the Blessed Virgin told me and my cousins, Jacinta and Francisco, that Russia is the instrument of chastisement chosen by Heaven, to punish the whole world unless we obtain beforehand the conversion of that poor nation." It is still so today, as Russia continues to export weapons of mass destruction to China and terrorists in the Middle East, while readying itself for the eventuality of total war.

Ostpolitik began with the infamous Vatican-Moscow agreement, under which the Second Vatican Council was scandalously constrained to say nothing against the evil of world communism, in exchange for the dubious privilege of having two Russian Orthodox (i.e., KGB) observers attend the Council.38 Ostpolitik was implemented unswervingly after the Council by the late Cardinal Agostino Casaroli when he was Vatican Secretary of State, even though, as we have noted, Paul VI was torn by doubts over the moral propriety of remaining silent during the communist persecution of the Catholic Church, including the imprisonment and execution of millions of the faithful. Casaroli openly admitted that he had to convince Paul VI "to stay with his (Casaroli’s) policy." 39

A strong argument can be made that Ostpolitik only prolonged the persecution of Catholics under Soviet communism by forcing the Church to refrain from using her public moral authority to condemn the repression. After all, have we not been told that it was only John Paul II’s public opposition to the communist regime in Poland (especially during his visit there) which finally brought about its fall and with it the alleged "collapse of the Soviet Union"?

Yet Ostpolitik continues to be implemented under the tenure of Cardinal Sodano, who oversees the Vatican’s refusal to condemn or oppose Communist persecution of the "underground" Catholic Church in China. Instead of condemning the brutal repression of loyal Catholics by the Red Chinese, the Vatican "dialogues" with the Chinese Communists and their "Patriotic Catholic Association" (PCA). As we mentioned earlier in this reply, the PCA condones abortion, rejects the primacy of Peter and has consecrated 100 bishops without a papal mandate since its creation during the reign of Pius XII, who condemned the PCA’s illicit consecrations most strongly.

Despite these facts, the Vatican’s Cardinal Etchegaray very recently concelebrated Mass in China with some of the schismatic PCA bishops at a Marian shrine which the communists stole from the Catholics they drove underground. It is reported that recently PCA bishops were cordially received by certain members of the Curia (but not the Pope himself) during a visit to Rome, as if they were legitimate successors of the apostles. The PCA even claims that the Pope himself approved the recent consecration of a PCA bishop. (The Vatican refuses to confirm or deny this, thereby lending credence to the claim.) In North America, not only are PCA priests given faculties, as we have mentioned, but candidates for priesthood in the PCA are being trained in "Roman Catholic" diocesan seminaries. The "Catholic" North American bishops who have opened their seminaries to these candidates for the priesthood in a schismatic communist "church" claim that the Vatican approves. North American "Catholic" charities send substantial donations to the PCA and there are even reports that the Vatican’s own coffers are helping to support this schismatic organization, which the Vatican does not deny. At the same time, the "underground" Catholics receive little or no assistance from Rome or anywhere else, even though many are in prison and suffer terribly for their loyalty to the Roman Catholic faith.

In view of this latest example of Ostpolitik in action, an Open Letter to the Vatican has been published by the Cardinal Kung Foundation, named after the great martyr who suffered almost unbelievable persecution by the Chinese Communists for 30 years, including year after year of solitary confinement in prison.40 The Open Letter is addressed to various Vatican officials, including Cardinal Sodano, and is signed by Cardinal Kung’s nephew, Joseph Kung. The letter asks many questions about the Vatican’s conduct and rightly asks the Vatican to clarify its position on the PCA and the loyal "underground" Catholic Church in China. So far, Cardinal Sodano and the others have refused to answer any of the questions posed, leaving the faithful to conclude that reports of the Vatican’s actual support of the PCA are true. The Open Letter concludes with a statement no less forthright than those for which Your Eminence threatens to "excommunicate" Father Gruner: "For many, it appears that the Holy See itself struggles internally between the attraction to political expediency and fidelity to the divinely established communion with the Successor of Peter." Father Gruner has ably chronicled this very state of affairs for the past twenty years, and this—not any consideration of faith and morals—is why Cardinal Sodano has contrived to silence him.

B. Ostpolitik Is at Odds
with the Message of Fatima

Now, it is clear to millions of the faithful, including Father Gruner, that the diplomatic policies of Cardinal Casaroli and his successor, Cardinal Sodano, cannot be reconciled with the Message of Fatima. Our Lady came down to earth and invoked an unprecedented public miracle in order to impress upon the Church and the world the necessity of: devotion to Her Immaculate Heart; the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart; the resulting conversion of Russia to the Catholic Faith, and with it the worldwide triumph of the Immaculate Heart—all of which would mean a period of peace, true peace, for mankind. She did not come to preach "dialogue" and negotiation with atheistic communists and their "ex-communist" successors who continue to promote a de facto atheistic regime of abortion, contraception and divorce in Russia. And Our Lady also warned that if Russia were not consecrated in the manner She had requested— by the Pope, in a solemn public ceremony together with the world’s bishops, identifying Russia as the object of the consecration—then Russia would spread its errors throughout the world, the Holy Father would have much to suffer, the good would be martyred, there would be wars and persecutions against the Church, and "various nations will be annihilated."

Father Gruner has not hesitated to express his conviction concerning this opposition between Ostpolitik and the Message of Fatima, thus incurring the wrath of the Vatican Secretariat of State. But no matter what Cardinal Sodano thinks, no matter what penalties are imposed on Father Gruner, the faithful can see with their own eyes that the terrible events predicted by Our Lady of Fatima are still unfolding and that Ostpolitik cannot prevent them from happening. Millions of Catholics continue to believe that only the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart, in precisely the manner Our Lady requested, can turn the tide.

But in the view of the Vatican Secretariat of State, the Consecration of Russia by name is a terribly undiplomatic thing for the Pope and the bishops to do. This is why the pope’s cardinal-advisor (very possibly Cardinal Sodano himself or Cardinal Ratzinger) publicly revealed that the Holy Father has been urged not to mention Russia in any consecration ceremony. Here, then, is a very direct conflict between the heavenly Message of Fatima and the human diplomacy of Ostpolitik. For this reason the Vatican Secretariat of State has long wished to suppress any continued public movement for the specific Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart. That means suppressing Father Gruner’s apostolate.

Nevertheless, Your Eminence, the faithful who have informed themselves are not so foolish as to believe that Russia could have been "consecrated" in a ceremony from which any mention of Russia was deliberately omitted so that it would not appear to the Russian Orthodox that Russia was the object of the Consecration. Father Gruner can hardly be threatened with the severest possible punishments simply because he remarks the obvious: that Russia cannot be consecrated without mentioning the place!

C. The Post-conciliar "Reforms"
and the New Orientation

The policies of the Vatican Secretariat of State at issue here are only part of a vast array of unprecedented changes in the post-conciliar Church which make up the new orientation. A growing number of the faithful believe these changes have induced the ecclesial crisis we are now experiencing. We speak of the great aggiornamento of Vatican II: the new "ecumenism" and "interreligious dialogue;" the new liturgy, suddenly imposed upon the faithful in place of the once-untouchable ancient Mass of our forefathers; the new rule of life in seminaries, monasteries and convents; the new refusal to issue anathemas against heresy, and so many other unparalleled novelties which have been visited upon the Church since the Council. These novelties have undeniably induced confusion and defection among clergy and laity alike, and with it a profound and sudden loss of vocations, as every vital statistic of the Church demonstrates.

Your Eminence himself declared in a recent interview that "one of the pastoral emergencies of our time and which everyone is having to address is to show that the Church today is the same Church it has always been . . ."41 This is a truly remarkable admission: Why should it be necessary to show that the Church is the same as it has always been, unless by some disaster there had arisen serious doubt of it? Has Your Eminence not indicated with this remark that, just as in the time of Arius, the continuity with apostolic and ecclesiastical tradition has suffered a substantial rupture in vast areas of the Church? Is this not the very reason only a tiny minority of Catholics today, by the grace of God, still hold fast to all the teachings of the true Magisterium, including the teachings on marriage and procreation which the vast majority of nominal Catholics has abandoned? Can Your Eminence not admit the possibility that the total collapse of faith and discipline described in the Holy Father’s letter to the German cardinals, and which is also apparent throughout much of the Catholic world, is in large measure a direct result of radical post-conciliar "reforms" never before attempted in Church history—reforms which obscured the clarity of Catholic teaching and undermined the confidence of the faithful? Is Your Eminence not characterizing as an "emergency" the very results of this new orientation we describe, consisting of so many drastic changes in the life of the Church?

And yet while implicitly admitting the harmful results of this new orientation, Your Eminence strives to defend it and to explain to the faithful how what is utterly novel is really in line with Tradition. You declare in the same interview that "the Spirit says things that are new and old at the same time." Your Eminence, what could this possibly mean? Are you speaking here of divine revelation? Catholics know that Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle, and that Vatican I taught infallibly that the Magisterium cannot give us any new doctrines. What, then, are these things you say "the Spirit" is telling us today, these things which are old and new at the same time? How is it that the faithful were never told of these old yet new things before the Second Vatican Council?

Enigmatic statements like "new and old at the same time" are typical of the loss of clarity and precision of expression and thought among so many in the Church today. The faithful are losing sight of the Church’s infallible and unchangeable dogmas in the haze of currently prevailing ambiguities. Is this not the reason the Third Secret begins with Our Lady’s prophecy that "In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved." Did She not foresee the current condition of the Church: confusion in teaching, lax enforcement of Catholic orthodoxy, and a consequent spread of error among a great portion of the faithful, including very many clergy? And is this not why Cardinal Ratzinger, speaking in 1984, said that the Third Secret describes "dangers to the Faith and the life of the Christian, and therefore the life of the world"? Has the situation in the Third Secret not reached its most critical phase when a priest like Father Gruner can be threatened with excommunication, while notorious heretics, pedophiles and other malefactors among the clergy are either left alone or minimally punished?

D. Only Adherence to Tradition is Vigorously Punished

Looking at the vast panorama of this unprecedented crisis, we see a striking parallel with the state of the Church as lamented by Saint Basil the Great in 372 A.D., at the height of the Arian heresy, when only Saint Athanasius in the East, Saint Hilary and Saint Eusebius in the West, and their few followers stood fast in defense of the Faith. As St. Basil wrote: "Only one offence is now vigorously punished—an accurate observance of our father's traditions. For this cause the pious are driven from their countries and transported into deserts . . . Religious people keep silence, but every blaspheming tongue is let loose".42

Our own senses and reason tell us that today Your Eminence presides over much the same situation. This is not a rash opinion, but a manifest fact. In 1973 the late Bishop Graber of Regensburg published a book on the parallel between the Arian heresy and the current crisis. He began by remarking what is obvious to anyone with eyes to see: "What happened over 1600 years ago is repeating itself today but with two or three differences: Alexandria is today the Universal Church, the stability of which is being shaken, and what was undertaken at that time by means of physical force and cruelty is now being transferred to a different level. Exile is replaced by banishment into the silence of being ignored, killing by assassination of character."43

Your Eminence, we believe that this very situation is the reason Father Gruner is relentlessly pursued while the Church’s true enemies are largely left alone. Instead of being banished to the desert, Father Gruner is accused of non-existent canonical offences, publicly denounced without grounds, and threatened with expulsion from the Church and the loss of his priestly ministry. Instead of killing his body, an attempt is made to kill his reputation as a priest by falsely accusing him of "disobedience" and even the crime of forgery. Meanwhile, throughout the Church "every blaspheming tongue is set loose."

And Father Gruner is hardly alone in suffering this unholy disparity of treatment. How is it that the faithful never see any bold and decisive punitive action from any Vatican congregation against anyone except Catholic clerics who "accurately observe the traditions of our fathers"? Although the Church is afflicted by errant bishops on every continent, even bishops who facilitate abortion or engage in deviant sexual behavior, only Archbishop Lefebvre and the four bishops he consecrated in 1988 are declared excommunicated. Why? Because the consecrations were done without an apostolic mandate, in an effort (however mistaken one may claim it to be) to preserve Catholic Tradition. Yet when the schismatic, communist Chinese "Patriotic Catholic Association"—which condones forced abortion—consecrates one hundred bishops without an apostolic mandate, the Vatican’s response is to send Cardinal Etchegaray to concelebrate Mass with some of them, in a chapel the communists stole from the loyal Catholics who have been driven underground! Your Eminence, can you not appreciate the scandal and the outrage this sort of duplicity causes among the faithful?

We note with great sadness Your Eminence’s own recent precipitous actions against the priests and traditional Catholic seminaries of the papally-chartered Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. To quote the Pope’s motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, the Priestly Fraternity was erected to accommodate priests who "may wish to remain united to the successor of Peter in the Catholic Church while preserving their spiritual and liturgical traditions."44 (The phrase "their spiritual and liturgical traditions" is a startling confirmation of the new orientation we describe, since "their traditions" are none other than the traditions shared by every Catholic of the Roman Rite before the reforms of Vatican II.) Overriding the clear will of the overwhelming majority of the priests in that Fraternity, Your Eminence suspended their election of a superior general of strong traditional orientation, imposed a new superior general more to your liking, and then removed the rectors of the Fraternity’s two seminaries. When a journalist with 30 Days magazine asked you why you "arbitrarily decided to appoint [a new] superior general," you replied that you thought the "Fraternity’s members must be helped in their endeavor to strike a balance between their original charism . . . and the outcome of their insertion within the ecclesial reality of today." Helped, Your Eminence? For the sake of this so-called "ecclesial reality of today" you annihilated the rightful autonomy of the Fraternity, a group of loyal and pious priests, by means the Vatican would never dare to employ with any of the priestly associations and orders (such as the Jesuits) who have been in open rebellion against the Faith for decades. What is to account for this disparity?

We believe the answer can be found in your letter suppressing the Fraternity’s election, wherein Your Eminence states that the Ecclesia Dei commission will watch carefully over the Fraternity’s seminaries and houses in order "to avoid and combat a certain spirit of rebellion against the present-day Church . . ." Rebellion, Your Eminence? Rebellion against what? The priests of the Fraternity adhere to every Catholic doctrine; they do not disgrace the Church with sexual misconduct; they wear the cassock and present to the world an image of the priesthood which can only inspire confidence and more vocations. Rebellion against what?

Here we come to the crux of the matter: the "spirit of rebellion" which excites such immediate action from Your Eminence does not mean the ongoing rebellion against faith and morals in every nation, concerning which the Vatican does little or nothing. No, the "rebellion" which arouses Your Eminence to take actions the Vatican would never otherwise contemplate, is a "rebellion" precisely and only against this "present-day Church," this "ecclesial reality of today." Is Your Eminence not with these telltale phrases revealing that you think the Church of today really is different from the Church of yesterday, even if you profess that it is the same? Is it not apparent from Your Eminence’s own words and deeds that it is only the new orientation which the Vatican will fight vigorously to defend, while tolerating (if not positively encouraging) the collapse of faith and discipline throughout the world?

Your Eminence, we cannot see any other possible explanation for why wholly orthodox priests like Father Gruner are treated like rebels, while the true rebels, the clerics who depart from Catholic doctrine and moral teaching, never face any but the most minimal discipline, if even that. Is it not the case that the true rebels escape any really serious punishment precisely because they adhere to the new orientation, the defense of which seems to have become the prime imperative in the post-conciliar Vatican? Have we not arrived at a situation in which the only unforgivable "heresy" is to resist the new orientation? Has the Church not suffered incalculable harm from the demand for blind "obedience" to this orientation, even at the expense of ecclesiastical and apostolic traditions?

This is not merely our opinion in the matter. No less than Cardinal Ratzinger has admitted as much himself. In his 1988 address to the bishops of Chile, he made the following remark which confirms what we are saying:

    It is intolerable to criticize decisions which have been taken since the Council; on the other hand, if men make question of ancient rules, or even of the great truths of the Faith—for instance, the corporal virginity of Mary, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the immortality of the soul, etc.—nobody complains or only does so with the greatest moderation. I myself, when I was a professor, have seen how the very same bishop who, before the Council, had fired a teacher who was really irreproachable, for a certain crudeness of speech, was not prepared, after the Council, to dismiss a professor who openly denied certain fundamental truths of the Faith. All this leads a great number of people to ask themselves if the Church of today is really the same as that of yesterday, or if they have changed it for something else without telling people.

E. The Important Example of a
Priest from Sessa Aurunca

The catastrophe brought on by the new orientation can be seen on a large scale, as in the case of the Church in Germany, and also most poignantly on a small scale in the case of individual priests, who (like Father Gruner) try as best they can to restore what the new orientation has wrecked.

In January of this year the Italian review Il Giornale reported on the case of one such priest, Father Louis Demornex, who has three parishes in Sessa Aurunca, Italy, not far from Avellino. His case is quite illustrative of why priests like Father Gruner are hounded and persecuted while wolves in sheep’s clothing roam free.

One day Father Demornex decided to begin offering Mass in his parishes according to the traditional rite in Latin. The so-called "Tridentine" Mass was the very core of Catholic civilization for more than 15 centuries, until it was suddenly suppressed after Vatican II for the sake of a new, more "ecumenical" rite of Mass in the vernacular. Father Demornex returned to the Old Mass to avoid the irreverence toward the Blessed Sacrament which the new rite has engendered. As he himself put it: "the consecrated fragments are profaned [by communion in the hand] . . . the priest does not purify his hands or washes them and throws out the water . . . Whoever does this no longer believes that each fragment is Jesus Christ, whole and entire, and that is heretical. Or they do believe, and that is sacrilege." Nor could Father Demornex continue any longer to say Mass while facing the people rather than God on the altar: "It distracts me, I risk losing my recollection."

It is hardly surprising that when Father Demornex restored the traditional form of Catholic worship, there was a general revival of the entire Catholic faith in his parishes—just as there would be throughout the Church if the traditional Mass were likewise restored. Whereas few people went to Mass in Sessa Aurunca before, now (as one parishioner reported) "the participation is massive, there is great catechesis taking place, Catholic Action has been revived, [along with] so many devotions considered by many to be pastimes for the elderly, [but] which instead are aids along the road of Faith."

But Father Demornex’s bishop, a fierce defender of the new orientation, would have none of it. Father Demornex soon received a letter from the Bishop advising him that "you are wandering openly from the liturgical dispositions now in force" and that "you are free to choose another diocese which better suits your ideas." (If only Father Gruner were given such a choice!) Out of a sense of "obedience," Father Demornex left his parishes and resigned as pastor. In his letter of resignation to the Bishop he said: "I have committed the unpardonable error of being fond of and stimulated by pre-conciliar motives." That is, he had departed from the new orientation, an offense which is "unpardonable," even if clerical heresy and sexual misconduct are not.

But the faithful would not hear of it. Hundreds of them signed petitions and demonstrated in front of the chancery, demanding Father Demornex’s return. The Bishop, taken aback, declared "I did not send him away." After only eight days, Father Demornex returned to his parishes. He continues, at least for the moment, to offer the traditional Mass and to preside over a resurgence of the Catholic faith among his flock.

In July of 2000, Father Demornex received a sympathetic letter from none other than Cardinal Ratzinger, to whom Father Demornex had written for help. The letter states that "what you say about the laicization of priests, about liturgical anarchy and about the many profanations of the Eucharist is unfortunately true." Yet the Cardinal went on to say that if Father Demornex’s bishop were to order him to leave the parish, "from the formal and juridical point of view it is his right . . . You know well that I cannot advise you to rebel." Here, in a few words, the Cardinal exposes the very notion at work in the persecution of Father Gruner and every priest like him: a false "obedience" to the new orientation is exalted above everything, even the good of souls. A priest is told that he must "obey" his bishop’s unjust command to cease restoring the integral Catholic faith, even if this means acquiescence in what the Cardinal himself admits is "the laicization of priests . . . liturgical anarchy and . . .the many profanations of the Eucharist." The most important thing is not that the priesthood is being laicized, that the liturgy is in a state of anarchy, or even that God Himself in the Holy Eucharist is being profaned. No, the most important thing is that the bishop be "obeyed" in whatever he commands.

But, Your Eminence, this is not right; this is not just; this is not Catholic. The saints and the doctors of the Church have unanimously taught that one may licitly resist the unjust command of a prelate which would harm the common good of the Church, even if that command should come from the Supreme Pontiff himself. Thus, for example, the eminent theologian Francisco de Suarez, praised by Saint Pius V as a "pious doctor" of the Church, rightly observed that if the Pope "tries to do something manifestly opposed to justice and to the common good, it would be licit to resist him." All the more so a local bishop, or even a member of a Vatican congregation.

It is very significant that the only help Cardinal Ratzinger would offer Father Demornex was to say that "the Lord never imposes the weight of a cross upon you without helping you to bear it." But of course, that is hardly the point. It is not a question of the personal suffering of Father Demornex, any more than it is a question here of the personal suffering of Father Gruner. What is at stake in the current crisis is the good of the Church and the salvation of souls. What is at stake is that which is due to God Himself. Therefore, the real cross a priest must carry today is to resist the very harm to souls Cardinal Ratzinger admits is occurring throughout the Church. To do this is to risk punishment and even "excommunication" for "disobedience." It is far easier not to resist, but rather to "obey" by acquiescing in the auto-demolition of the Church. Far easier, that is, in this life. But not in the life to come.

Thus we see in the case of Father Demornex, as also throughout the Church, how the virtue of obedience is being used to destroy true obedience—the obedience of faith. "We must obey God rather than men," said Saint Peter, the first Pope. Yet those who do not obey God, those who engage in open rebellion against His Word within the ranks of the sacred priesthood, escape any real punishment so long as they conform to the new orientation, which has become de facto a kind of super-dogma more important than the Faith itself.

Your Eminence, in considering all that we have just said, we ask you to search your heart for the answer to this question: Are we not today facing the same awful situation lamented by Saint Basil the Great during the Arian heresy: "Only one offence is now vigorously punished—an accurate observance of our father's traditions."?

F. The New Orientation
Collides with the Message of Fatima

For all of the reasons we have expressed, we believe it is apparent that the new orientation as a whole is irreconcilable with the authentic Message of Fatima, which Father Gruner’s apostolate has so effectively kept alive as a subject of discourse in the Church. For the Message of Fatima speaks, quite simply, of the conversion of the entire world to the Catholic religion in order to save souls from hell. This is the traditional orientation of the Church. It is seen even in the vision of the Archangel Michael at Fatima, who placed the consecrated Host on the tongue of the Fatima seer in an evocation of the ancient traditional Mass, whose offertory makes it clear that the Mass is offered for the propitiation of the world’s sins and for the salvation of the elect, not for the flowering of pan-religious peace and brotherhood.

It is undeniable, Your Eminence, that the generality of Churchmen today no longer preach the message that souls are saved from eternal hellfire through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, who brings all souls to Her Son in the ark of the one true Church He founded. Indeed, the Pope himself publicly admitted to the Italian journalist Vittorio Messori that the traditional Catholic teaching on the Last Things—death, judgment, heaven, hell, purgatory—is no longer heard in her preaching and catechesis. The Pope even admits that the salvation of the individual soul "does get lost" in "the vision proposed by the Council"—the novel "vision" of a world progressing as one great collective toward the salvation of humanity.45

Nor do modern Churchmen teach any longer the Social Kingship of Christ over every man and every nation, as expounded so marvelously, only a few years before Vatican II, in Pius XI’s encyclical Quas Primas. Instead, the newfangled "civilization of love" proposes that the adherents of all religions, or no religion at all, will find some illusory mode of living in peace and harmony without the agreement of everyone to shoulder the sweet yoke of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. But, Your Eminence, this very notion of a pan-religious brotherhood of man was condemned in the strongest possible terms by Pope Saint Pius X in his apostolic letter Notre Charge Apostolique:

    No, Venerable Brethren, We must repeat with the utmost energy in these times of social and intellectual anarchy when everyone takes it upon himself to teach as a teacher and lawmaker——the City cannot be built otherwise than as God has built it; society cannot be set up unless the Church lays the foundations and supervises the work; no, civilization is not something yet to be found, nor is the New City to be built on hazy notions; it has been in existence and still is: it is Christian civilization, it is the Catholic City. It has only to be set up and restored continually against the unremitting attacks of insane dreamers, rebels and miscreants. OMNIA INSTAURARE IN CHRISTO.

How different is the new orientation from the teaching of this great pope and all his predecessors! How different from the prophecy of the Mother of God at Fatima, who appeared only seven years after the publication of Notre Charge Apostolique to declare that Russia would be converted and that the Immaculate Heart would triumph in the world.

Father Gruner is one of those priests (and he is by no means alone) who still preaches the conversion of the whole world to Christ and His holy religion, and this through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of His Mother, the Mediatrix of all Graces. For after all, the Message of Fatima only recapitulates the divine commission of Our Lord Himself: "Go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost . . . He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; he who believes not shall be condemned." Yet it is this very commission to save each individual soul by faith and baptism—the very heart of the Church’s mission on earth!—which has become obscured in the post-conciliar epoch, as the Holy Father himself admitted to Messori.

Father Gruner suffers persecution, then, because he dares to say what is manifest: that the Message of Fatima, and all that it represents, cannot abide with the new orientation of the Church; that what we are now witnessing is a great struggle between the perennial Catholic faith recalled for us at Fatima and the novelties now being pursued so unswervingly by certain members of the post-conciliar Vatican apparatus. If these novelties are to be maintained in force by these men, then the Message of Fatima as Catholics have always understood it must be disposed of—along with Father Gruner and the views he represents.

G. A New Version of Fatima
Is Foisted Upon the Faithful

We have mentioned that on June 26, 2000 the Vatican staged a press conference at which the text of a vision contained in the Third Secret of Fatima was published, along with a commentary by Cardinal Ratzinger and Monsignor Bertone. The obvious aim of this press conference was to put an end to the traditional understanding of the Message of Fatima. As The Los Angeles Times noted, the press conference "gently debunked the cult of Fatima"—or rather attempted to do so.

This event was clearly staged with Father Gruner and his apostolate in mind. Mentioning Father Gruner by name, Cardinal Ratzinger suggested to the world press that the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart was accomplished in 1984 and should no longer concern us. Monsignor Bertone’s commentary declares that "all further discussion or request [for the Consecration] is without basis." Yet instead of producing Sister Lucy to testify that the Consecration has been accomplished, Msgr. Bertone offered only an 11-year-old computer-generated note, purportedly signed by Sister Lucy, which contains factual errors Sister Lucy would never have made.46 Why did the Vatican fail to produce the only living witness, relying instead on a very old letter of dubious authenticity, whose recipient was not even identified? Was it perhaps because Sister Lucy would not say to Cardinal Ratzinger or Msgr. Bertone what was expected of her?

Cardinal Ratzinger also said at the press conference that Father Gruner should submit to "the Magisterium " on this question. But the Magisterium—the official teaching office of the Church exercised by the Pope alone or the Pope together with all the Catholic bishops—has never taught that Russia was consecrated to the Immaculate Heart in 1984 or at any other time. This is only the opinion of Cardinal Ratzinger and certain other prelates in the Vatican, who are not the Pope and cannot exercise the Magisterium for him. For the Pope’s part, his own spontaneous remarks during and after the consecration ceremony in 1984 made it clear that he still considers that the specific consecration of Russia has yet to be accomplished.

It does not take a schooled theologian to see that Cardinal Ratzinger’s commentary on the Message of Fatima was calculated to deprive the Message of any particular prophetic significance for our time by reducing it to nothing more than a generic prescription for personal penance and conversion.47 Gone is Our Lady’s prophetic warning about the consequences of failing to heed Her request for the Consecration of Russia, including the annihilation of various nations. Cardinal Ratzinger’s commentary simply passes over in silence the question of Russia’s conversion. Gone also is the prophecy of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart throughout the world, following the conversion of Russia. According to Cardinal Ratzinger, the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart is not something that will occur "in the end" as Our Lady of Fatima said. No, according to Cardinal Ratzinger it happened 2,000 years ago when the Virgin Mary agreed to become the Mother of God.48 Yet Our Lady of Fatima did not speak of the Annunciation. She spoke of future events: "In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, which will be converted, and a certain period of peace will be granted to the world."

The Ratzinger commentary even dares to suggest that the Immaculate Heart is the heart of anyone who does God’s will, and that devotion to the Immaculate Heart means, therefore, conforming one’s own will to the Divine will, rather than establishing devotion to Her heart in every nation, most especially Russia.49 By means of this "interpretation" Our Lady of Fatima’s declaration that "God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart" was shorn of its distinctively Catholic content and reduced to nothing more than an exhortation that everyone should do God’s will.

As for the Third Secret itself, the commentary asks us to believe that Sister Lucia’s vision of a Pope and many members of the hierarchy being killed by bullets and arrows at the foot of a large wooden cross, after they have traversed a half-ruined city, refers to nothing more than John Paul II escaping death at the hands of a lone assassin in St. Peter’s Square. Even the secular press was openly derisive of this "interpretation" of the Secret.

By the end of the press conference the world was assured that the Message of Fatima is entirely a thing of the past, except for prayer and penance. The Bertone commentary went so far as to propose this absurdity: "The decision of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to make public the third part of the ‘secret’ of Fatima brings to an end a period of history marked by tragic human lust for power and evil . . ." Your Eminence, we ask you with all due deference: Who in his right mind could believe such a thing about the state of the world today?

H. Cardinal Sodano Honors Gorbachev
to Demonstrate the New Orientation

As if to underscore the point that the story of Fatima is now to be considered a closed book, on the day after the June 26th press conference the Vatican’s new orientation was put on grand display when none other than Mikhail Gorbachev was seated as the guest of honor between Cardinals Sodano and Silvestrini at a Vatican news conference to celebrate—of all things—Cardinal Casaroli’s Ostpolitik.

Here again the mentality of Ostpolitik was at work in the Vatican: Mikhail Gorbachev is the living embodiment of the errors of Russia from which Our Lady of Fatima sought to deliver us. Gorbachev has recently admitted that he is still a Leninist. This atheist, this proponent of a godless New World Order, uses his tax-free foundations to promote the elimination of four billion [4,000,000,000] people from the world’s population through abortion and contraception. When he was head of the Soviet Communist Party, Gorbachev publicly defended the genocide of 1.5 million Afghans by the Russian Army, including countless children whose heads or limbs were blown off by bombs disguised as toys. Although Gorbachev later presided over the withdrawal from Afghanistan (where the Russians were losing badly), he never repudiated his earlier defense of the invasion. Yet this defender of genocide, this world leader of Satan’s culture of death, was honored with a seat between two princes of the Church—only one day, Your Eminence, after Cardinal Ratzinger and Msgr. Bertone attempted to "debunk the cult of Fatima."

The same Cardinal Sodano who honors the likes of Gorbachev and praises the heretical Hans Khng, oversees the effort to destroy Father Nicholas Gruner, the "Fatima priest." Could the faithful have been given a clearer demonstration of the new orientation than this?

I. The Secretariat of State Has Directed
The Interventions Against Father Gruner.

The hand of the Vatican Secretariat of State is evident in all the unprecedented, illicit interventions against Father Gruner discussed in this reply. We recall here the Bishop of Avellino’s own admission in 1989 that "worried signals" from the Vatican Secretary of State were coercing him to act against Father Gruner.

Due to the post-conciliar changes in the constitution of the Roman curia, the Vatican Secretariat of State has become the de facto ruler over Church affairs. Since the restructuring of the Roman Curia in 1967 by order of Paul VI—but actually designed and carried out by Cardinal Jean Villot—the heads of the various Roman dicasteries have all been able to behave like dictators. Before Vatican II the Roman Curia was structured as a monarchy. The Pope was the Prefect of the Holy Office, while the Cardinal in charge of the day-to-day business of the Holy Office was the second-in-command. The other dicasteries were of lower rank, and while having their own authority and jurisdiction, were subordinate to the Holy Office. This arrangement was entirely in keeping with the divine constitution of the Church: the Pope, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, was at the head of the chain of command.

But, when Cardinal Villot engineered the restructuring or perestroika of the Roman Curia, the Holy Office was renamed and, far more important, it lost its supreme position in the Curia. The Curia was restructured in such a manner that the Cardinal Secretary of State was given power over all the other dicasteries, including the former Holy Office, of which the Pope was no longer prefect.

According to the traditional arrangement, under the Pope and his Holy Office, Faith and Morals were the pre-eminent factors determining curial policies. In the post-conciliar arrangement under the Cardinal Secretary of State and his dicastery, the Party Line of the Secretary of State is the supreme determining factor in the formulation of policy, reducing the role of the Holy Father to the function of a figurehead and rubber stamp in service of the de facto dictatorship of the Secretary of State. That dictatorship has been exercised in the case of Father Gruner. We recall the following facts:

Already in 1978, Father Gruner had received a letter from the Apostolic pro-Nuncio, Archbishop Angelo Palmas, accusing him of being a "vagus", i.e. a vagabond cleric who is not incardinated anywhere. The charge, of course, was ridiculous, since Father Gruner had been incardinated in Avellino since his ordination to the diaconate, so he was not a "vagus." Nor was he a fugitive, since he had written permission to reside outside the diocese of Avellino. The matter should have ended there—and would have, were it not for the fact that the Secretariat of State became actively involved behind the scenes in the persecution of Father Gruner.

Eleven years after Msgr. Palmas’ first intervention, he invited Father Gruner to visit him at the Nunciature in Ottawa, for the purpose of discussing Father Gruner’s status and his activities. Father Gruner explained his status as that of a priest incardinated in Avellino with the written permission of his ordinary to reside outside of the diocese. His activities, Father Gruner explained, were the daily celebration of the Mass, recitation of the Divine Office and promoting the message of Our Lady of Fatima. Palmas remained implacable: "You are not incardinated," he said, denying all the evidence presented to him.

Upon inquiry at the Congregation for the Clergy, Father Gruner learned from an official of the Congregation that it was Palmas himself, not the Congregation, who was exerting pressures to get Father Gruner ordered back to Italy. Palmas, being a nuncio, is an agent of the Secretary of State. He would not have acted without orders from the then Secretary of State, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli. The direct intervention of the Secretariat of State was confirmed by the investigation of Father Paul Kramer, who made inquiries with trusted sources inside the Vatican bureaucracy and was informed that Archbishop Palmas had no personal interest in Father Gruner’s "case" but was merely carrying out Casaroli’s orders.

After this followed all of the interventions we have discussed, which arose during the tenure of Casaroli’s successor, Cardinal Sodano. As noted earlier, the Congregation for the Clergy, having been prevailed upon by the Secretary of State to intervene, even went so far as to send a written protocol signed by Cardinal Innocenti and Archbishop Agustoni urging Bishop Pierro to issue an order recalling Father Gruner to Avellino, while specifically mentioning that it must appear as though the bishop were issuing the precept strictly upon his own initiative without any involvement of the Congregation.

The hand of the Secretary of State is seen in various Nuncios’ interventions against Father Gruner in the 1994 and 1996 Bishops’ Conferences. This theme is developed further in the Canonical recourses over the past 7 years. In this regard, it should also be noted that since the restructuring by Cardinal Villot (the Perestroika) of the Vatican Bureaucracy, the Secretary of State to this day has certain powers over the Supreme Court of the Catholic Church - the Apostolic Signatura.

It is an established fact that according to the special norms that govern the Roman Curia, the Secretary of State has the power to secretly intervene and forbid the Signatura from hearing a case.

The most famous example of this is the 1975 suppression of the Society of St. Pius X, when Archbishop Lefebvre appealed to the Signatura on a Friday on very strong legal grounds. The following Monday it was announced in the press that the Signatura did not accept the appeal because a "higher authority" had ordered the Signatura to reject the appeal. Cardinal Sabatini subsequently identified the "higher authority" as Cardinal Villot, then Secretary of State, not Pope Paul VI.

Your Eminence himself in a letter referred to this "higher authority" in October 2000. When Father Gruner wrote to you October 24, 2000, to ascertain the identity of this "higher authority", you remained silent until your letter of February 16, 2001. Tellingly, on February 19, 2001 Father Gruner’s representative attempted to make an appointment for Father Gruner with Cardinal Sodano, only to receive an obviously prepared response from Cardinal Sodano’s assistant that "Father Gruner must obey. He must go to the Congregation for the Clergy." It is evident that Cardinal Sodano is intimately familiar with, and in fact ordered, your letter of February 16th, which had been mailed to Father Gruner only 3 days before.

Thus, it is also evident that the "higher authority" Your Eminence referred to in October 2000 is the same "higher authority" which manipulated the Signatura in the Lefebvre case: namely the Vatican Secretary of State.

In another striking parallel with that unjust treatment of Archbishop Lefebvre, a purported decree of the Signatura, dated September 29, 2000 (a fax copy only received for the first time on April 6, 2001) rejects Father Gruner’s legally unassailable petition for restitution without any discussion or grounds whatsoever, citing, a secret "norm" governing the Apostolic Signatura.

Apparently however another secret norm, the same norm cited by Cardinal Sabattani to justify the Signatura’s immediate rejection without grounds of the well founded Lefebvre appeal, on orders of the Secretary of State is the real norm operating in Father Gruner’s case too.

J. Following Cardinal Sodano, Your Eminence Preaches
A "New" Fatima Revised for the New Orientation

In the February 16th letter, under the heading "Authentic Marian Apostolate," Your Eminence denies that the unprecedented measures taken against Father Gruner "have been aimed at the silencing of the Message of Fatima." But in your own explanation of what you say constitutes the "authentic Marian apostolate," you reveal all the more clearly that the traditional understanding of the Message of Fatima is no longer accepted or tolerated by the proponents of the new orientation.

Your Eminence says that "the Blessed Mother appeared to the three little visionaries in the Cova da Iria at the beginning of the century, and marked out a program for the New Evangelization which the whole Church finds itself engaged in, which is even more urgent at the dawn of the third millennium." No, Your Eminence, we must respectfully but firmly disagree: Our Lady did not come to announce "the New Evangelization," a slogan which describes an ineffectual campaign to stimulate the dying faith of those who are already Christian. Nor did Our Lady come to announce any of the other obscure slogans which have overrun the Church in the past forty years: "ecumenical dialogue," "interreligious dialogue," "solidarity," "the civilization of love," "inculturation," and so forth. She came, Your Eminence, to announce the Old Evangelization, the perennial Gospel of Jesus Christ, Who is the same yesterday, today and forever—the selfsame Christ who warned the world that "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; he who believes not shall be condemned."

Our Lady of Fatima uttered no slogans but only the simple Catholic truth: that many souls are burning in hell for lack of the Catholic Faith; that to save souls God ordains it necessary to establish in the world—not just among those who are already Catholics—devotion to Her Immaculate Heart; that Her Immaculate Heart must triumph through the Consecration of Russia to that Heart; that only by this means can there be true peace in our time. And Our Lady of Fatima also gave us a warning about the consequences of failing to heed Her requests: wars and persecution of the Church, the martyrdom of the good, the suffering of the Holy Father, the suffering of the whole world—all of which are occurring at this very moment in history—and then, if we continue to ignore Her requests, "various nations will be annihilated", Our Lady said.

Your Eminence, where can one find any of these elements in your rendering of the Message of Fatima? Where is Heaven and where is hell, for you speak only vaguely of "Ultimate Realties"—a term any Mason would find acceptable? Where is the triumph of the Immaculate Heart? Where are the consecration and conversion of Russia? Where are the warnings of Our Lady? Where indeed is the Message of Fatima at all?

Contrary to all the evidence of what is happening in Russia today, you insist that Father Gruner and everyone else must believe that the 1984 ceremony at the Vatican was a valid consecration of Russia, and you claim that the Ratzinger/Bertone commentary "definitively closed any further argument in this regard." Yet we know that Cardinal Ratzinger himself has stated that the commentary binds no one and is not an act of the Magisterium. In any case, Russia shows no signs of the conversion promised by Our Lady of Fatima but is rather descending ever deeper into spiritual and moral corruption, along with the rest of the world. There is no argument against a fact. The faithful cannot be ordered to believe by any authority something which is plainly contrary to reality. Here we must say, in all candor, that Your Eminence evinces the same determination as your collaborators in the Vatican to close the book on Fatima forever, or at least to change it into something else, like "the New Evangelization." But the book will not be so easily closed, and the Message cannot be changed, for it comes from God through His Blessed Mother.

Your Eminence asserts that "reduction of the rich doctrinal and catechetical content [of the Message of Fatima] to some particular aspects often takes a polemical form or even becomes unbelievable, at least it generates confusion among the faithful, ending in the weakening of the authentic message itself." This is an obvious fallacy: If Father Gruner’s apostolate has emphasized those aspects of the Message which have been neglected and suppressed for the sake of the new orientation, he is only presenting the Message in its integrity, not "reducing" it in any way. Nor does Father Gruner claim—as Your Eminence contends—that his apostolate is "the only authentic expression" of the Message of Fatima. This is another "straw man" of an allegation. Father Gruner has never claimed anything more than that his apostolate presents the Message of Fatima in all its aspects, even if other apostolates do good work in promoting certain elements of the Message.

Your Eminence, we ask you to consider your accusation from the perspective of the many people who share Father Gruner’s legitimate convictions. We are convinced that it is you and your collaborators who have wrongly emphasized parts of the Message of Fatima to the complete exclusion of its specific prophetic content for our time. In conscience we believe that it is certain members of the Vatican apparatus, Your Eminence included, who have engaged in polemics and false interpretations, causing "confusion among the faithful, ending in the weakening of the authentic message itself."

  • Did we not read Cardinal Ratzinger’s commentary, which undermines the entire credibility of the Message by suggesting that the vision in the Third Secret is made up of "images which Lucia may have seen in devotional books and which draw their inspiration from long-standing intuitions of faith"?

  • Did not Cardinal Ratzinger aim a dagger at the very heart of the Message by citing as his only "authority" on Fatima the neo-modernist, "progressive" Jesuit, Edouard Dhanis, who was notorious for his constant and quite dishonest effort to attribute the entire prophetic content of the Message to the pious imaginings of Sister Lucia? Dhanis even refused to examine the Fatima archives at the urging of his fellow Jesuits. He preferred to issue his opinions without examining the evidence!

  • Did not even the secular press recognize that Cardinal Ratzinger and Msgr. Bertone had aimed to "gently debunk the cult of Fatima"?

  • Has not Your Eminence himself sought to re-cast the Message of Fatima as nothing more than an announcement of "the New Evangelization," concerning which Our Lady said not one word?

It is clear to us, Your Eminence, that Father Gruner is wrongly accused of precisely what his accusers themselves are doing. To accuse the other of your own offense is a very old polemical technique. But no polemic can rewrite the Message of Fatima or make us believe what our senses tell us is not true. Nor can Your Eminence change reality with any "penalty" you may impose on Father Nicholas Gruner.

V.
Nor The Truth Buried
The Faithful Cannot Be Deceived

We can assure you, Your Eminence, that Father Nicholas Gruner is far from alone in rejecting the shameful treatment of Our Lady of Fatima and Her heaven-sent message. Father Gruner is not the only one who was outraged at the sight of Mikhail Gorbachev seated between two princes of the Church only one day after the effort to consign Fatima to the past. If the faithful, to quote your phrase, have "turned . . . against the legitimate Church authorities" on the question of Fatima, is it not because what we are asked to believe by certain prelates in the Vatican simply does not correspond to reality?

Your Eminence, we can see for ourselves that Russia could not possibly have been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart 17 years ago, when there are 3.5 million abortions in that nation each year, the Russian population is declining at an unprecedented rate, the Catholic Church is forbidden to proselytize the Russian people, and Russian society is in a state of spiritual, moral and material disintegration even worse than before the supposed "fall of communism" in 1991.

Your Eminence, no matter what Cardinal Ratzinger says, we can see for ourselves that when Our Lady of Fatima said that in the end Her Immaculate Heart will triumph, that Russia will be consecrated, that Russia will convert, and that a period of peace will be given to the world, She was not referring to an event which happened 2,000 years ago.

Your Eminence, we can see for ourselves that (contrary to what Cardinal Ratzinger says) we can never have an Immaculate Heart like that of the Mother of God, no matter how perfectly we conform ourselves to His will, for Mary—alone among all human creatures—was conceived without Original Sin, never committed even the slightest personal sin, and will occupy the highest place in Heaven of all creatures for all eternity.

Your Eminence, we can see for ourselves that when Cardinal Ratzinger dared to demote the one Immaculate Heart to the level of anyone’s heart in potentia, he was flirting with blasphemy.

Your Eminence, we can see for ourselves that the vision of an unidentified Pope and members of the hierarchy being shot dead by an army (in an apparent public execution) has no relation to the current Pope not being shot dead by a single assassin.

Your Eminence, we can see for ourselves that the good news of the Pope’s survival could not possibly be the culmination of the Secret which the Vatican suppressed for forty years, including 19 years after the failed assassination attempt.

And finally, Your Eminence, we can see for ourselves that the answer to the crisis in the Church and the world is not "the new Evangelization" or the "civilization of love," but the world’s embrace of the one true religion and worldwide devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as announced in the authentic Message of Fatima.

So, Your Eminence, Father Gruner and his apostolate are only giving voice to what millions of Catholics already believe, because the simple faithful you denigrate as "poorly informed" can understand their own faith and the simple words of Our Lady of Fatima. Father Gruner is the object of persecution, therefore, simply and only because he says to the world what millions of the faithful are saying to each other. Silencing him will not silence all of those voices.

No matter what you do to Father Gruner—indeed, all the more so because of it—the faithful will continue to believe what the evidence and their own reason tell them is very probably true. And even if they are wrong in what they believe, do they not have the right to believe it in conscience until contrary evidence is fairly presented, rather than peremptory demands for "obedience" in matters where there is liberty in the Church? Can Your Eminence not respect this right, even as you do with those who abuse their liberty so shamefully throughout the Church?

VI.
A PLEA FOR JUSTICE AND CHARITY

Your Eminence’s letter of February 16th speaks of the spirit of the Jubilee and invokes the name of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, but is the rest of what it says really in keeping with such admirable pious sentiments? Will they not be seen by many as empty pleasantries to mask a shameful effort to ruin a faithful priest who has done nothing wrong?

And now that we have set forth in great detail the demonstrable errors and inconsistencies which pervade the February 16th letter, we must ask: Can Your Eminence continue in good conscience to employ that letter as a statement of valid grounds for the unprecedented excommunication or defrocking of a chaste and faithful priest? Can Your Eminence expect the faithful to accept any punishment of Father Gruner for reasons so obviously specious, so plainly contrived?

Although he would be the first to say that he is only one priest among many, Father Gruner does in fact stand for the cause of so many faithful Catholics who find themselves buffeted and wounded by a crisis like no other which has ever afflicted the Church and the world. Not only he, but the people who find themselves in deep sympathy with him, deserve their place in the Church.

But the case of Father Gruner involves infinitely more than merely due liberty in the Church for legitimate views on Fatima, even if this would be reason enough to cease the persecution of Father Gruner. For if Father Gruner and those who agree with them are right in what they say, what is at stake in this controversy is nothing less than the salvation of millions of souls. Our Lady of Fatima promised that if Her requests were granted many souls would be saved. From this it necessarily follows that if Her requests are not granted many souls will be lost for all eternity in the fires of hell. For one terrifying moment, which was almost too much for humans to bear, Our Lady allowed the three children to see the many souls burning in eternal hellfire. She did this precisely in order to demonstrate the absolute urgency of Her requests.

Therefore, we end this reply with a plea for justice and charity and true concern for the "salus animarum," the salvation of souls. Our plea will be addressed to the Holy Father himself, who will receive a copy of this reply. It is evident to us that while Your Eminence expresses certain pious sentiments in the letter of February 16th, your actions bespeak animus (hostility) toward Father Gruner and a determination to reach a preordained result (your already decided sentence) without regard to the requirements of truth and justice. This is why, on December 20, 2000, Father Gruner was compelled by your actions to lodge with the Supreme Pontiff a canonical complaint against Your Eminence for abuse of power, as provided by Canon 1405.

If Your Eminence continues to assert a personal mandate from the Pope (the existence of which is not demonstrated), we would hope that in view of the plain conflict of interest, you would recuse (withdraw) yourself from any further participation in this controversy. Church law (cfr. can. 1448, §1) and the natural law itself prevent you from judging a matter in which you have a marked hostility toward the party before you—a hostility demonstrated beyond doubt by your singular and totally unwarranted threat of excommunication against Father Gruner, alone among the 250,000 priests over whom Your Eminence is supposed to be exercising "pastoral vigilance."

We ask Your Eminence to consider the evidence of his own indulgence toward the many clerics who betray the Bride of Christ, and compare it with your treatment of Father Gruner, who undeniably acts out of love for the Church, whether or not one agrees with him. The Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy was honest enough to admit as much himself, when he met with Father Gruner and embraced him this past February. Accordingly, Father Gruner will request that the Holy Father remove you from this matter, if you do not remove yourself, since your bias and hostility are manifest.

Those who seek the destruction of Father Gruner may succeed by means of the "definitive provisions" Your Eminence now threatens. If God permits this, then God’s will be done. Rest assured, however, that should it ever prove necessary, someone else will take Father Gruner’s place. His example will only serve to enliven our dedication to the truth. No penalty imposed on him will stop the questions or the search for answers, nor will it end the cause of promoting the authentic message of Our Lady of Fatima.

And even if Father Gruner’s detractors are finally able to have him declared "excommunicated" or stripped of his priestly standing, their victory will only be apparent. For such penalties would be seen as an outrage by the many faithful who understand too well the disparity of justice in the Church today, and have had their fill of it. And, as we have mentioned, the law of the Church itself declares void any punishment, much less excommunication or defrocking, of one who is not morally culpable of an actual offense. Likewise, threats of punishment in such cases are also void and of no effect. (Cann. 1318, 1321) Nor do we believe that God Himself would recognize such penalties against a priest who spoke the truth as best he could in a time of unparalleled ecclesial crisis. Father Gruner would not be the first to have suffered such an injustice in the Church’s long history. Even a great saint like Athanasius had to suffer the indignity of being "excommunicated" by the Council of Milan—a judgment which today discredits that Council and tarnishes the memory of the Pope who approved it.

At the close of Your Eminence’s letter you say: "I will entrust this intention to the Immaculate Heart of Mary." We dearly hope and pray that Your Eminence will do precisely this. For if you do, we are confident you will not fail to find in the great recesses of that Immaculate Heart justice and charity toward Father Gruner. And once you have found justice and charity toward him, we are just as confident that what you now contemplate doing will fade from your own heart, to be replaced with that solicitude toward one’s subjects which the Church counsels in all prelates:

    Bishops and all ordinaries must be pastors not persecutors. They must rule their subjects but not dominate them. They must love their subjects as brothers and sons...50

If you approach Father Gruner as a brother; if you cease trying to dominate and destroy him; if you act as a pastor and not as a persecutor, then this long affair will properly conclude where it all began: with a faithful priest and his Marian apostolate, exercising the due liberty of sons and daughters of the Holy Catholic Church. May Christ and His Blessed Mother have it so.

 

Respectfully yours in Christ the King and Mary Immaculate Our Queen,

Father Paul Kramer, Christopher A. Ferrara, Robert Fioretti

Mrs. Mary Sedore, Mrs. Coralie Graham