Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
Pre & Post Liturgical Movement Attitudes to Minor Orders

Taken from here [slightly adapted - emphasis mine].

When we compare the traditional view of Minor Orders with the treatment they received at the hands of liturgical reformers in the 20th century, it becomes evident that the two positions stand in dire contrast to each other. To illustrate this point in greater depth, let us turn again to the exposition of Minor Orders made by Fr. Louis Bacuez who modestly introduced his magnum opus as follows:

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“This little book is a sequel to one we have published on Tonsure. God grant that those who make use of it may conceive a great respect for Minor Orders and prepare for them as they should! The dispositions with which they approach ordination will be the measure of the graces they receive, and on this measure depends, in a great part, the fruit that their ministry will produce. To have a rich harvest the first thing necessary is to sow well: Qui parce seminat parce et metet; et qui seminat in benedictionibus de benedictionibus et metet. (2 Cor. 9:6)” (1)

Little did he realize that when he wrote these words every vestige of respect for the Minor Orders would be whittled away by the concerted efforts of progressivists with a negative and dismissive attitude towards them; and that the Liturgical Movement, which had just begun when he published his book, would be dominated by influential liturgists discussing how to overturn them.

Long before the term “Cancel Culture” was invented, [color=#7101d]they presented the Minor Orders as a form of class-based oppression perpetrated by a clerical “caste” and as a form of spiritually empty legalism, and they went to great lengths to make them look ridiculous.[/color]

Far from showing due respect, this involves quite a considerable degree of contempt, not only for the generations of seminarians who were formed within this tradition, but also for the integrity of the great institution of Minor Orders that had served the Church since Apostolic times. In fact, so great was their animosity towards the Minor Orders that they could hardly wait to strip them of their essential nature as functions of the Hierarchy and turn them into lay ministries.

A Tree is known by its Fruits

These, then, were the hate-filled dispositions that inspired the progressivist reform, and would determine the graces received and the fruit to be produced by those who exercise the new lay “ministries” as opposed to, and in place of, the traditional Minor Orders.

Fr. Bacuez, who wrote his book in the pontificate of Pius X, could never, of course, have envisaged the demise of the Minor Orders, least of all at the hands of a future Pope. He was concerned lest even the smallest amount of grace be lost in the souls of those preparing for the priesthood:

“We shall see, on the Last Day, what injury an ordinand does to himself and what detriment he causes to souls by losing, through his own fault, a part of the graces destined to sanctify his priesthood and render fruitful the fields of the Heavenly Father: Modica seminis detractio non est modicum messis detrimentum. (St. Bernard)” (2)

We do not, however, need to wait till the Last Day to see the effects of a reform that deliberately prevents, as by an act of spiritual contraception, the supernatural graces of the Minor Orders from attaining their God-given end: “to sanctify the priesthood and render fruitful the fields of the Heavenly Father.” For the evidence is all around us that the tree of this reform produced blighted fruits.

First, we note a weakening of the hierarchical structure of the Church and a blurring of the distinction between clergy and laity; second, a “contraceptive” sterility resulting in vocations withering on the vine and below replacement level, seminaries and churches closing down, parishes dying, and the decline in the life of the traditional Catholic Faith as seen in every measurable statistic. The conclusion is inescapable: those who planted this tree and those who now participate in the reform are accomplices in a destructive work.

Advantages of the Minor Orders

A substantial part of Fr. Bacuez’ exposition of the Minor Orders is devoted to the inestimable benefits they bring to the Church. These he divided into the following three categories:
  •     The honor of the priesthood;
  •     The dignity of worship;
  •     The perfection of the clergy.

It is immediately apparent that the Minor Orders were oriented towards the liturgy as performed by the priest and his ministers. In other words, they existed for entirely supernatural ends invested in the priesthood.

A significant and entirely appropriate omission was any mention of active involvement of the laity in the liturgy. Fr. Bacuez’ silence on this issue is an eloquent statement of the mind of the Church that the liturgy is the preserve of the clergy.

We will now take each of his points in turn.

1. The Honor of the Priesthood

“A statue, however perfect, would never be appreciated by most people, unless it were placed on a suitable pedestal. Likewise the pontificate, which is the perfection of the priesthood, would not inspire the faithful with all the esteem it merits, if it had not beneath it, to give it due prominence, these different classes of subordinate ministers, classes inferior one to another, but the least of which is superior to the entire order of laymen.” (3)

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Toppling statues has become popular today: above, Fr. Serra in central Los Angeles, California

It is an example of dramatic irony that Fr. Bacuez unwittingly chose the theme of a statue supported by a pedestal to illustrate his point. He was not to know that statues of historical figures would become a major source of controversy in the culture wars and identity politics of our age.

Nor could he have foreseen that toppling monuments – both metaphorical and concrete – was to become a favorite sport of the 20th-century liturgical reformers, their aim being to exalt the status of the laity by “active participation” in clerical roles. And never in his wildest imagination would he have suspected that a future Pope would join in the iconoclastic spree to demolish the Minor Orders about which he wrote with evident pride and conviction.

'Don’t put the Priest on a Pedestal'

However, the revolutionaries considered that esteem for the Hierarchy and recognition of its superiority over the lay members of the Church was too objectionable to be allowed to survive in modern society. The consensus of opinion among them was that clergy and laity were equals because of their shared Baptism, and placing the priest on a pedestal was not only unnecessary, but detrimental to the interests of the laity.

“Don’t put the priest on a pedestal” was their battle cry. It is the constant refrain that is still doing the rounds among progressivists who refuse to give due honor to the priesthood and insist on accusing the Church of systemic “clericalism.”

But the fundamental point of the Minor Orders – and the Sub-Diaconate – was precisely to be the pedestal on which the priesthood is supported and raised to a position of honor in the Church. When Paul VI’s Ministeria quaedam dismantled the institutional underpinnings of the Hierarchy, the imposing pedestal and columns that were the Minor Orders and Sub-Diaconate were no longer allowed to uphold and elevate the priesthood.

The Biblical Underpinnings of the Minor Orders

Fr. Bacuez made use of the following passage from the Book of Proverbs:

“Wisdom hath built herself a house; she hath hewn out seven pillars. She hath slain her victims, mingled her wine, and set forth her table.” (9: 1-2)

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An ordination to the minor order of exorcist, one of the seven columns

He drew an analogy between “the seven columns of the living temple, which the Incarnate Wisdom has raised up to the Divine Majesty” and all the clerical Orders (four Minor and three Major) that exist for the right worship of God. In this, he was entirely justified. For, in their interpretation of this passage, the Church Fathers concur that it is a foreshadowing of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass performed, as St. Augustine said, by “the Mediator of the New Testament Himself, the Priest after the order of Melchisedek.” (4)

In the 1972 reform, no less than five (5) of the seven columns were brought crashing down from their niches in the Hierarchy to cries of “institutionalized clericalism,” “delusions of grandeur” and “unconscious bias” against the laity.

To further elucidate the affinity of the Minor Orders to the priesthood, Fr. Bacuez gave a brief overview of the cursus honorum that comprised the Orders of Porter, Lector, Exorcist, Acolyte, Sub-Deacon, Deacon and Priest before going on to explain their interrelatedness:

“These seven powers successively conferred, beginning with the last, are superimposed one upon the other without ever disappearing or coming in conflict, so that in the priesthood, the highest of them all, they are all found. The priest unites them all in his person, and has to exercise them all his life in the various offices of his ministry.” (6)

After Ministeria quaedam, however, these rights and powers are no longer regarded as the unique, personal possession of the ordained, but have been officially redistributed among the baptized. It was not simply a question of changing the title from Orders to “ministries”: the real locus of the revolution was in taking the privileges of the “ruling classes” (the representatives of Christ the King) and giving them to their subjects (the laity) as of “right.”

The neo-Marxist message was, and still is, that this was an act of “restorative justice” for the laity who had been “historically wronged.” For the liturgical progressivists, 1972 was, apparently, the year of “compensation.”


1. Louis Bacuez SS, Minor Orders, St Louis MO: B. Herder, 1912, p. x. “He who soweth sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who soweth in blessings shall also reap blessings.”
2. Ibid., St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Lenten Sermon on the Psalm ‘Qui habitat,’ Sermones de Tempore, In Quadragesima, Preface, § 1: “If, at the time of sowing, a moderate amount of seed has been lost, the harm done to the harvest will not be inconsiderable.”
3. Ibid., p. 6.
4. St. Augustine, The City of God, book XVII, chap. 20: "Of David’s Reign and Merit; and of his son Solomon, and of that prophecy relating to Christ, which is found either in those books that are joined to those written by him, or in those that are indubitably his."
5. These were the four Minor Orders and the Major Order of the Sub-Diaconate.
6. L. Bacuez, op. cit., p. 5.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
The Dignity of Worship
Taken from here [slightly adapted - emphasis mine].

We will recall that Pope Pius X made it a priority to provide for the “sanctity and dignity of the temple” as a suitable backdrop for the ceremonies through which the holy mysteries are enacted. (1) Fr. Bacuez devoted a whole section of his book to describing the pivotal role of the Minor Orders and the Sub-Diaconate that contributed substantially to “the worship of God in a manner worthy of His majesty.” (2) Without them, what would the liturgy be like?

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Pius X: Sanctity & dignity, a priority in the ceremonies

“The ceremonies of divine worship would be less imposing, if there were not variety in rank and function among the ministers of the sanctuary. They would represent in a far less perfect manner the religion of the celestial hierarchies and the worship unceasingly paid to God by the different orders of creation.” (3)

Armed with this information from a genuinely traditional source, we can see the effects of the loss of the Minor Orders in the Novus Ordo liturgy. Without the sequential ordinations through the grades of the Church’s ministry, the hierarchies of office are not clearly delineated; the “verticality” of worship directed to God is impaired; all the ministers (including the Bishop) stand or sit on the same level; the distinction between the clergy and laity is blurred, and women compete with men in the sanctuary to perform liturgical offices. Little in the way of differentiation (4) is evident in the new liturgy to reflect the difference between sacred and profane ‒ or even between God and man. So it is not surprising that it fails to reflect either the “celestial hierarchies” or the created order of the world.

Fr. Bacuez explained further:

“To be worthy of God and profitable to the faithful this worship must have a certain solemnity, speak both to the mind and the heart, and be calculated to arouse in souls holy sentiments and pious feelings.

“Now would these effects be forthcoming if there were but one Order of ministers and but one function to be performed? With the disappearance of the numerous officiating ministers and divers ceremonies there would in a great measure disappear also the imposing spectacle of the divine mysteries, their symbolical meanings the vestiges of the old worship, the memories of Our Savior’s history, the anticipations of the heavenly liturgy, the edifying expressions of charity, mutual respect, deference and subordination, which the ministers of the sanctuary in their relations with one another place unceasingly before the eyes of the faithful.” (5)

Hierarchy of Angels

All of these assets of the Roman Rite contain within themselves the justification for their continued existence in the Church. They also provide the grounds for the retention of the Minor Orders and Sub-Diaconate which support and vivify them. By the same logic, only someone with a death-wish for the truth and splendor of the Roman liturgy could have conceived the removal of the Catholic order in the sanctuary.

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The liturgy should reflect the celestial hierarchies

Fr. Bacuez depicted, with prophetic accuracy, the negative consequences that would ensue if the Church violated her duty to receive and pass on the tradition of Minor Orders:

“The services would be marked only by their coldness and monotony, and it would be said of Catholics what is often said of Protestants, that they have but an abstract, formless religion, one incapable of appealing to the emotional faculties, and little in harmony with the sentiments of the majority of the human race.” (6)

Even if few people were conversant with the technical expression lex orandi lex credendi, most were aware of the connection between worship and belief, and how the former influences and shapes the latter. Fr. Bacuez was expressing this axiom in practical terms: take away the imposing structures of the Roman Rite (in this instance the Minor Orders and Sub-Diaconate) and we would be left with a liturgy that is banal, rationalistic and cold in the sense that it fails to inspire devotion and keep the flame of Faith alive.

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The simplification of the Novus Ordo Mass comes close to the dryness of Protestant worship

The prophetic nature of these words is striking, as that is exactly what transpired when the simplified, streamlined liturgy of the Novus Ordo Mass was imposed. What Fr. Bacuez was intimating was that the traditional Catholic Mass has an appeal that the services of Protestant religions lack because, deep down, the human soul needs the sense of mystery found in the rich symbolism of the traditional liturgy to draw it upwards to encounter the Divine.

And yet, the Novus Ordo creators deliberately excised from the liturgy as much distinctively Catholic symbolism as possible, following the example of the 16th-century Protestants and the leaders of the Liturgical Movement, both of whom sought to dampen the external expression of religious devotion.

A ‘Dumb Spectator’

In the decades before Vatican II, the faithful were constantly berated by Church leaders (including Popes) for being what they termed “dumb spectators” during Mass – as if their silent prayerfulness was a disease for which “active participation” was the cure. But what the reformers failed to appreciate was that by looking at the action unfolding in the sanctuary, the faithful become immersed in the sacred mysteries, for the Catholic liturgy speaks to the soul through the senses, particularly that of sight. Fr. Bacuez captured this truth, recognized by all generations of Catholic worshippers before the Liturgical Movement altered the perception of most:

“She [the Church] loves to speak to the eye by her worship, her rites, her solemnities, her hierarchy; and in her sanctuaries, just as in nature, every thing is full of meaning Nihil est sine voce. (I Cor. 14: 10) With the Church, with Our Savior, there is not one act that has not a certain signification, indicative of some plan or of some hidden operation.” (7)

His main emphasis here was, of course, on the Minor Orders and the Sub-Diaconate, and how they display the hierarchical nature of the Church to all onlookers. Contrariwise, one is hard-pushed to discern the particular nature of the remaining clerical orders in the Novus Ordo liturgy because of their reduction in numbers (there is only one clerical order below the priesthood instead of the traditional six), their altered identity and the inter-mingling of lay participants in the sanctuary performing the same roles.

The Wilful Promotion of Ignorance

This, we now know, was an act of deliberate obfuscation on the part of progressivist liturgists who had been working hard in commissions and committees to confuse and cloud the truth about the hierarchical Constitution of the Church as willed by her Founder: her monarchical nature is no longer openly proclaimed and demonstrated in the new rites. Clearly, those responsible for the reforms had their own reasons for the faithful “not to know.”

A Faith-Changing Experience for Novus Ordo priests & faithful

The folly of suppressing all the clerical Orders below the Diaconate is evident in the view, now prevalent among most, if not quite all, post-Vatican II Catholics, that all the members of the Church, clerical as well as lay, are equally responsible for carrying out her mission in the world. Toppling the priest from his pedestal was a break with old beliefs in the true meaning of the Catholic priesthood, which would be replaced by a generic “active participation” of all in the Church’s mission.

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The priest is now considered on the same level as the parishioners

With the new emphasis on the whole People of God as the active agent in building up God’s Kingdom by exercising their individual gifts and “charismas,” the Minor Orders were made redundant. By the same token, candidates for ordination would lose the sense of their primary vocation which is the worship of God, and priests their unique status as ministers of the Word and the Eucharist.

Baptism Seen, Like Death, as the Great Leveller (8)

According to a 2019 statement of the U.S. Conference of Bishops, Baptism, not ordination, is “the foundation for how we conceive of the Church.”

“Our focus in thinking about the Church, and in celebrating its reality, must be on the unity of the people of God that is grounded in our common baptism, and on a corresponding understanding of the diversity of roles and charismas within that radically unified people.” (9)

As a result of this revolutionary ferment, the once universally recognizable word “ministry” – designating the offices of the ordained – was radically redefined to cover the “inclusive” category of all the baptized. Along with the new “Baptism-conscious” narrative (first introduced by Beauduin and Virgil Michel in the early 20th century) came a recrudescence of old modernist ideas and beliefs animating a new ecclesial framework for the construction of what we now know as the “Synodal Church” of the People of God.


1. Pope Pius X, Tra le sollecitudini, 1903.
2. Ibid., p. 121.
3. Ibid., p. 7.
4. There are no specific rubrics for the placement of the Bishop’s Chair. According to the new Ceremonial of Bishops, this could be anywhere in the sanctuary, thus opening the door to subjective opinion. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal gives a number of options for the location of the priest’s chair, but insists that it should face the people, thus giving the impression that he wishes to be considered as one of the congregation.
5. Ibid., p. 134.
6. Ibid., pp. 134-135.
7. Ibid., p. 138.
8. “Omnia mors aequat” (death levels everything), from Claudian, De Raptu Proserpinae, book II, line 302.
9. Msgr. Brian Bransfield, General Secretary, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, ‘Vocation and Mission,’ May 29, 2019
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
The Perfection of the Clergy

Taken from here [slightly adapted - emphasis mine].

Now we come to the third and most important factor of the Minor Orders elucidated by Fr. Bacuez – the perfection of those who entered the clerical state from the moment they received First Tonsure – even if all the candidates did not proceed to the final destination of the priesthood.

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The ordination of St. Lawrence as Deacon

This required them to be separated from the ordinary faithful and from worldly influences in order to give themselves to the things of Heaven – the reverse of the aims of Vatican II, which trumpeted equality with the laity and openness to the world.

For centuries before Vatican II, the Church consistently taught through numerous Saints, Doctors and Popes that a higher degree of perfection – and a correspondingly greater burden of responsibility before God – was required for those in all degrees of clerical Orders. Hence, there developed from the 3rd century on, (1) a pattern of sequential ordinations – the cursus honorum – which eventually became standardized as the customary way in which the Church could best select, prepare, prove and promote worthy candidates to higher office.

The aim to be sought in this process was the perfection of the clergy at all stages of their ecclesiastical career, including those who did not complete the full cursus.

Let Us Be Clear

It is a familiar situation in Vatican II politics that whenever the progressivists introduced counter-traditional changes, they wrapped their explanations in vagueness, prevarication and fudging. That much is clear now. But back in 1972, few would have noticed the deception cues in Paul VI’s Ministeria quaedam by which he suppressed the Minor Orders.

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A 'conservative' Vatican II priest leads cheerleaders in a routine rehearsal

For, in order to justify turning Minor Orders into lay ministries, he had to avoid giving the impression that the liturgical ministries of the early Christians were clerical in nature, i.e., conferred in rites of ordination by a Bishop. In the document, Paul VI, using generic terms, stated that they were “entrusted to the faithful” in “a special rite” involving prayers for “God’s blessing.”

He gave no indication that the faithful who were entrusted with liturgical ministries were first constituted as clerics, i.e., men ordained by a Bishop to perform those roles. The earliest evidence for this comes from the writings of the Fathers of the Church in the post-apostolic era. The third-century Bishop, St. Cyprian, for instance, mentions in Epistle 32 that when he promoted Aurelius as a Lector, it was one of several degrees of “clerical ordination.”

A Catalyst for Revolution

Paul VI’s prevarication on this issue thus lent support to the reformers who had created and spread the false notion that, in the early centuries of Christianity, the clergy had no exclusive rights to exercise liturgical ministries, as these belonged to laymen and women. The corollary of this argument was that the laity should have justice restored to them with official recognition in a rite of “institution” – hence the revolutionary tenor of Ministeria quaedam.

This bad spirit of discontent had been identified and condemned by Pope Pius X who upheld the doctrine that the Church was, by nature, an unequal society composed of Hierarchy and the rest of the faithful, (2) the rulers and the ruled.

Not surprisingly, “equality” was one of the watchwords of both the French Revolution and the Bolshevik Revolution; and Card. Suenens and Fr. Yves Congar famously identified Vatican II with these anti-Catholic revolutions.

A Suppression Detrimental to the Priesthood

What emerges very clearly from the history of Minor Orders is that they were instituted for the perfection of the clergy, as Fr. Bacuez explained:

“Each successive ordination requires additional marks of worthiness in the candidates, whilst it also confers upon them additional graces. Thus each ordination supplies a twofold means for progress in virtue. Hence the seminary is a road whose end is perfection and along which divine grace makes them almost of necessity advance.” (3)

This immemorial system of sequential ordination rites and cumulative graces, which had been supplied by the Church for fruitful ministry in the clerical state, was brutally ended by Paul VI in 1972. One of the pretexts given in Ministeria quaedam for their suppression was that not all recipients of Minor Orders went on to be deacons or priests.

So, it was concluded ‒ by an obvious non sequitur ‒ everyone who was not in Major Orders henceforth would have to be simply members of the laity.

But in the traditional system, even where a particular cleric did not complete all the grades leading to the priesthood, he was nevertheless still in possession of the powers and graces conferred on him by his ordination for the fulfilment of his duties. And, unless he was dismissed from office or requested leave to return to the lay state, he continued to maintain his link to the chain of offices that are related to the Hierarchy.

The Special Status of the Minor Clerics

It was common knowledge among the pre-Vatican II faithful that all members of the clergy were raised to a pre-eminent position in the Church and society. (That, of course, was before “active participation” of the laity distorted the venerable and settled tradition of the liturgical ministry as the preserve of the clergy).

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St. Pius X confers the cardinalate on the future Benedict XV in the solemn ceremony of the past

At the dawn of the Liturgical Movement, Fr. Bacuez described the Minor Orders thus: (4)

“Minor Orders are far above not only all earthly dignities, but also the Levitical ministry and even the missions of those extraordinary men whom God raised up at divers times for the guidance, protection or reform of His people, Israel.”

As the dignity of the priest derives principally from his supernatural power to confect the Eucharist and forgive sins, it follows logically that those who received Minor Orders partake, albeit minimally, of the priest’s reflected radiance. Fr. Bacuez gives the reason for this:

“He who is invested with these first Orders begins to have a share in the powers of the great High Priest.” (5)

We must note the use of the word “begins”: it signifies that the man ordained in Minor Orders has been promoted to a position he could not have had as a layman, one that actually entitled him, for the first time in his life, to participate in some of the liturgical powers of the priesthood of Christ.

As it was the settled and universal tradition that only a cleric, be he in Minor or Major Orders, can fittingly perform a distinct hieratic role in the sanctuary as a result of Ordination, it follows that he must pursue a path of higher spiritual perfection. The Council of Trent stated:

Nothing better instructs others in piety and the worship of God than the life and example of those who dedicate themselves to the divine ministry. ... To them, as to a mirror, others direct their gaze, and in them find a source for imitation. It is very fitting, therefore, that clerics called to the service of God should so direct their life and habits that in dress, gesture, walk, word and in everything else, they show nothing except what is serious, moderate and religious”.

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Priests must remain apart from the laity for their own perfection

The rationale for the traditional teaching was explained by Fr. Bacuez:

“The glory of God and the sanctification of souls require the sacred minister to be the more stainless, the more saintly, the more fervent inasmuch as his relations with sanctity itself are closer and more intimate.” (6)

But the need for this acquired perfection is no longer obvious today in the post-Vatican II Church where the distinction between the sacred and the profane has been deliberately obliterated, where altar rails demarcating the place of the Holy of Holies have been removed, and where the laity are granted uninhibited access to the sanctuary.


1. St Cyprian of Carthage (who died in 258) in his Epistle 51 stated, with reference to Pope Cornelius who became Bishop of Rome in 251, that “he was not one who on a sudden attained to the episcopate but, promoted through all the ecclesiastical offices… he ascended by all the grades of religious service to the lofty summit of the Priesthood”.
2. Pius X, Vehementer nos, 1906, §8.
3. Louis Bacuez SS, Minor Orders, St Louis MO: B. Herder, 1912, p. 136.
4. Ibid., p. 158.
5. Ibid., p. 160.
6. Ibid., p. 145.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
Greater Holiness Required of the Clergy
Taken from here [slightly adapted - emphasis mine].

As a result of the new theology of Vatican II, the traditional understanding of the priesthood as a supernatural calling requiring a higher degree of holiness than that of the ordinary faithful has either diminished, or disappeared or become relativized.

The Council only mentions the ordained priest’s specific call to holiness in the context of all the baptized – religious or lay – who have a general obligation to strive for holiness in their lives. But it carefully refrains from saying whether this “special” vocation constitutes a higher form of holiness than that required from any other state of life in the Church.

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Pius XI's traditional papal teaching called the priest to greater holiness

The discrepancy between Vatican II and the traditional teaching is starkly portrayed in Pius XI’s Encyclical Letter to Catholic Priests. Quoting St. Thomas Aquinas, the Pope stated:

“To fulfil the duties of Holy Orders, common goodness does not suffice; but excelling goodness is required; that they who receive Orders and are thereby higher in rank than the people, may also be higher in holiness.” (1)

St. Thomas Aquinas tells us as well that a man who is appointed to the most august ministry of serving Christ Himself at the altar requires greater interior sanctity than that which is requisite even for the non-ordained religious state. (2)

Thomas à Kempis said that as the priest is “consecrated to celebrate Mass,” he is “bound by stricter discipline and held to more perfect sanctity.” (3) This requirement, incidentally, applies in varying degrees to clerics in Minor Orders and the Sub-Diaconate, for they partake of the graces necessary for their journey to the priesthood.

Therefore, the 1917 Code of Canon Law declared that “Clerics must lead a life, both interior and exterior, more holy than the laity, and be an example to them by excelling in virtue and good works.” (4)

The issue, it should be emphasized, is not and never has been whether an individual cleric achieves greater holiness than an individual layman, but what the Church has taught us about the nature of the clerical state and its relationship with the Eucharist.

Reversal of Meanings, Values & Attitudes

After Vatican II, the “higher holiness” of the clergy suddenly became a taboo subject, cast into the outer darkness, to be replaced by the slogan “the universal call to holiness” found in Lumen gentium.

It would soon transpire that this did not convey the traditional meaning that all the baptized, no matter what their status in the Church, should strive for perfection in the Christian life. It was, instead, used in the sense of “equality of holiness for all,” and was weighted against those who had the most to lose by a demotion from their higher status, that is, clerics in Minor and Major Orders.

Reversing the received and accepted teaching of the Church on the necessity of higher holiness for the ordained, Pope John Paul II stated: “Indeed the ministerial priesthood does not of itself signify a greater degree of holiness with regard to the common priesthood of the faithful.” (5)

This statement is an explicit contradiction of the common witness of the Church up to Vatican II that set all clerical orders above the lay state in terms of the holiness of their office in proportion as they drew more closely to the priesthood of Christ. Coming from the Pope, it is morally indefensible for, by equalizing the clerical and lay states, he indirectly degraded the Petrine ministry for which the title His Holiness was given in recognition of the pre-eminent holiness of his office.

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Msgr. Escriva teaching laymen they have equal vocations, below, with his good friend & protector Paul VI

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The idea, however, of deflating the higher status of the priesthood did not originate with John Paul II even though he successfully intervened, as we shall see later, at Vatican II to introduce it into Lumen gentium when he was a young Bishop. A dangerous precedent had already been set by the founder of Opus Dei, Msgr. Josemaría Escrivá, who wrote in 1945:

“Both priests and laymen, by reason of the one baptism they have received, must equally aspire to sanctity… the sanctity to which they are called is not greater in the priest than in the layman, since the latter is not called to be a second class Christian. Holiness, both in the priest and the layman, is nothing other than the perfection of Christian life.” (6)

The implication here is that Ordination does not elevate the priest to a higher spiritual rank or degree of sanctity than the laity. But this is diametrically opposed to the Church’s established teaching, and clashes head on with what Pius XI had stated only a few years previously in his aforementioned Encyclical on the Catholic Priesthood.

So Msgr. Escrivá’s vision for the Church and his organization is not consistent with the Catholic conception of the priesthood. It was an intellectual construct typical of 20th-century progressivist theological innovators who wanted to promote “active participation” of the laity as the highest principle.

His innuendo that the layman was treated as a “second class Christian” in the Church was part of their revolutionary thought process and is imbued with a neo-Marxist tone. It suggests that the non-ordained masses are the victims of unfair discrimination by the ordained (the privileged few). It was a disguised form of “liberation theology” that could be aptly termed “preferential option for the laity.”

However, in a message sent by the Vatican in 2013 to Opus Dei lauding its founder’s contribution to theology, Pope Francis dubbed Escrivá “a precursor of Vatican II in stressing the universal call to holiness.” (7)

The New Slogan: The Universal Call to Holiness'

The Church has always stressed the necessity for all Christians without exception to work towards spiritual perfection – an imperative based on Our Lord’s teaching (Matt. 5:48). But in the hands of theological innovators this passage of Holy Scripture became an ideological weapon in maintaining the fantasy that there is no higher sanctity attached to the priesthood.

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Priests now consider themselves equal to laymen; above, Paulist priests on a boating vacation; below, popular Mexican rock priest 'El Gofo'

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Obvious negative consequences flowed from the wide dissemination of this slogan in a sense unfavorable to the clergy. If Ordination does not elevate the priest to a higher degree of holiness than the lay state, then his essential nature as minister of the sacred is degraded to the level of all the baptized.

In other words, the “universal call to holiness” was a slogan with the potential to diminish the reverence due to the priest by compounding his higher level of holiness into a homogeneous mass of holiness for all, thus allowing the particular to be submersed in the collective and, eventually, lost from view.

From there it was but a short step to Vatican II’s promotion of lay “active participation” and the liturgical and ecclesiastical revolution of the post-Vatican II era. The intention of the progressivists was that, on the empirical level at least, the ministerial priesthood must no longer be distinguished from the common priesthood of the faithful. As a result, all that was held as sacred about the priesthood has been dragged down to a common and profane level, to adapt it to the worldly spirit of the times.

What was once believed on this subject by Catholics of previous centuries – that greater holiness befits the clerical than the lay state – has become darkened and eclipsed by the novel teachings of Vatican II. And, consequently, any attempt to reiterate the traditional doctrine is censored, as it would now be at odds with the official, politically correct mindset of “equality of holiness” for all.


1. Pius XI, Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, 1935, § 35.
2. Summa Theologiae, II,II, q. 184.
3. The Imitation of Christ, chap. 5.
4. Canon § 124.
5. John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis, 1992, § 17.
6. Josemaría Escrivá, In Love with the Church, Sceptre Publishers, 1917.
7. These words are translated from a telegram sent in Italian from the Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, to the Prelate of Opus Dei (23 November 2013) on the occasion of an International Symposium on the founder’s theological thought.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
Giving the Laity the Illusion of Power

Taken from here [slightly adapted - emphasis mine].

The evidence we have so far reviewed shows that the suppression of the Minor Orders in 1972 stemmed from the revolutionary desire to subvert the Constitution of the Church, changing it from a two-tier monarchical structure of rulers and ruled to a less rigid arrangement, one in which the laity would be given at least the illusion of power in every aspect of ecclesiastical life.

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Wojtyla at the Council

It is now clear that this revolution was planned during the sessions of Vatican II where certain Bishops, motivated both by ideology and a clericalist desire for control, played a crucial part in sabotaging the Council. They achieved their aim by first planting progressivist ideas in the Council documents. Then, having risen to prominent positions in the Church, they used their influence to direct the faithful along the preset path of reform.

One egregious example was Bishop Karol Wojtyla – the future Pope John Paul II – who was one of several Bishops involved in drawing up the draft of the Constitution of the Church, Lumen gentium.

It is important to know that the purpose of their efforts was to produce a new text on the Church as a substitute for the original schema on the Constitution of the Church De Ecclesia, which had been drafted by traditionalist Bishops under the presidency of Card. Ottaviani, head of the Theological Commission.

An Early 'Woke Warrior'

Bishop Wojtyla’s interventions in the discussions, recorded in the Acta Synodalia, show that he found the schema unacceptable because it treated the subject of holiness in the Church almost exclusively with reference to the clergy and religious, with hardly a word about the ordinary faithful. (1) In other words, it contained, in his view, implicit bias against the laity.

But this criticism was itself unfair because he did not promote due respect for the priesthood and the religious life as a higher calling to holiness. Instead, he attacked the straw man of "disrespect" for the laity, which he believed was expressed in the fact that some people – the clergy and religious – are singled out for a higher state of holiness than others.

The only route, in his opinion, to redressing the balance was to insist that the three Evangelical Counsels of perfection, which are the subject of religious vows in the consecrated life, should not be exclusive to them, but should also be exercised by the laity in their daily lives. This is what he called “the universal call to holiness” (vocatio universalis ad sanctitatem).
He stated:

“However, on the other hand, it is also important that the call to holiness should not be limited; that everyone should know that it is offered to them and is truly possible for them. Therefore, the Council must urge everyone, not only those who have the care of souls but also lay people, to seek ways and methods of holiness also in the world and make them visible to others, so that beside monastic asceticism a worldly asceticism (ascesis mundana), so to speak, might evolve.” (2)

This passage contained a subtle accusation that the pre-Vatican II Church had limited the acquisition of holiness to those in the clerical or religious life and had neglected that of the laity. Not only was this assertion demonstrably untrue and a distortion of reality – for the Church has never ceased to provide the means of holiness through the ministry of the clergy for all the laity – but it also had the potential to generate conflict and rivalry between the clergy and the laity.

Those who continue to make this accusation ignore the fact that the Church had always maintained a distinction between the Precepts of the Gospel which are binding on all Christians, and the Evangelical Counsels of perfection which are the vocation of comparatively few. This distinction, incidentally, was also denied by heretics in every epoch, but particularly by Protestants in the 16th century.

An Intentional Break with the Past

This was most evident in Wojtyla’s desire to place what had always been recognized as the higher state of holiness of the clerical, monastic or religious life on a par with the ordinary means of sanctification available to lay people living in the world.

The remedy he proposed – that everyone, not just consecrated persons, must follow the Evangelical Counsels – was problematic for several reasons.

First, the Counsels were not commands of universal obligation, and were not incumbent on the laity living in society. By contrast, they were practiced by those who had left the world behind in order to devote their lives wholly to God. As such, they were understood as a more effective pursuit of holiness because they furnished the means for those who had freely taken public vows in a religious profession to attain a higher state of sanctity through a more intense living of the Gospel.

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Our Lord invited the rich young man to reject everything in the world & follow him

This is in line with Our Lord’s words to the rich young man. (Matt. 19: 16-21) (3) It follows that the religious life, whether of priests, monks or nuns, is objectively more holy than the common Christian life.

Second, using the Counsels as the baseline for universal holiness is neither realistic nor honest. The Church has never adopted this approach, nor have the Gospels required it. Its effect was to diminish the value of the religious vocation as a unique witness to transcendent realities that lie beyond this world by placing it on the same level as this-worldly tasks.

Such is the confusion engendered by the “universal call to holiness” that the very word “vocation,” which used to be applied in the strict sense to the consecrated life, is now used by Church leaders to encompass the married state. As a result, “praying for vocations” includes Matrimony on a level of equality with the higher state of Priestly Celibacy and Consecrated Virginity.

Third, the expression ascesis mundana (worldly asceticism) is confusing, to say the least, for the Evangelical Counsels were meant to free the soul from worldly concerns. The very word mundana betrays its incongruity with traditional Catholic teaching on holiness because, in the language of the Church, mundus (the world) was almost always opposed to caelum (heaven) as one of the enemies of the soul.

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A post-Vatican II portrayal of 'the universal call to holiness'

The expression is a complete novelty because the world – the realm of sin and death – could in no way advance Christ’s Kingdom of holiness and life. It has never been part of the Catholic vision of holiness, which is entirely supernatural and involves doing penance for one’s sins out of love of God and sorrow for having offended His goodness. Therefore, it is different in essence from any asceticism performed on a purely natural or “worldly” level.

This self-contradictory phrase must be seen in the light of the Nouvelle Théologie adopted by Vatican II which, under the influence of theologians like Rahner, de Lubac and Schillebeeckx, collapsed the spiritual dualism between the supernatural and the natural, the divine and the merely human, the Church and the World, making the distinction between the two categories difficult to discern.

Before Vatican II, it was clearly understood that men and women entered religious life for a supernatural end – explicitly the salvation of their souls – even if some performed services in teaching, nursing etc. in the outside world. But the Nouvelle Théologie made the goal of the Church in general and the religious life in particular the service of man rather than primarily the service of God. This led to the modern forgetfulness that God is served first.

Terminal Decline in Religious Orders

By definition, such radical theorizing, which reverses the Church’s teaching, was bound to undermine Tradition, and would inevitably have a destructive effect on vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

For the traditional distinction between the Church and the World was the core element of the Religious Congregations and a significant factor in attracting and sustaining vocations. It provided fertile ground for vocations from among the faithful who sought to achieve a higher degree of holiness precisely by shunning the world and its ways. This was exactly what was stated in the original schema De Ecclesia, which was rejected by progressivist Bishops at the Council. (4)

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Aging & uninspiring religious women gather to discuss their bleak future

The novel teaching inserted into Lumen gentium by Bishop Wojtyla that all people are called to exactly the same holiness (ad ipsam sanctitatem vocantur), (5) whether in the presbytery, the cloister or the outside world, effectively removed the main incentive to enter the priesthood or religious life.

The result of creating this chimerical Church-World composite enshrined in the slogan “equality of holiness for all” was to induce a terminal decline in religious vocations. No wonder that so many seminaries, convents and monasteries today have failed to attract new vocations and are dying.

It is all part of a process of desacralization, indoctrinating priests and religious to see their main goal in this life as secular and humanitarian, transforming them into social workers who help the laity to improve conditions of life in this world, rather than preparing them for the next.


1. Acta Synodalia, Second Session, Part 4, p. 341.
2. Ibid., p. 342.
3. But in the first chapter of his Encyclical Veritatis splendor (1992), Pope John Paul II, ignoring the distinction between the Evangelical Counsels for the religious and the Precepts of the moral life for the rest of the faithful, stated: “This vocation to perfect love is not restricted to a small group of individuals. The invitation, “go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor,” and the promise "'you will have treasure in heaven,' are meant for everyone." [Emphasis in the original]
4. Chapter 5 of this schema explained that because “the evangelical counsels are necessarily linked with the imitation of Christ and effectively free the soul from secular concerns, they attract to their observance, more than anyone else, those who desire more clearly to express the life of the Savior in themselves, either by prayer or contemplation, or by apostolic work, or by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, or by leading a common life.
5. Acta Synodalia, p. 341.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
Overturning the Hierarchical Edifice

Taken from here [slightly adapted - emphasis mine].

After Vatican II and the suppression of the Minor Orders, it has become increasingly clear that there is a general confusion about what the sacramental priesthood actually is, and how it is to be understood in relation to the faithful. This is the case not just among the laity but also with many priests themselves.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “there exists among all Christ’s faithful a true equality of dignity and activity, by virtue of which all co-operate in building the Body of Christ, each according to his own function and condition.” (1)

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The Church has been always defined as a Monarchy in which the Pope holds the supreme authority

The root cause of this confusion can be found in Vatican II’s Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests which reconsidered the sacramental priesthood in the general context of the active ministry of all the faithful in the Church and the world. In other words, the operative principle is the generic “priesthood of all” in which the ordained priest is only one element, possessing no higher status than anyone else. Since then onwards, every effort was made to avoid mentioning the superiority of the former over the latter.

But this new paradigm was alien to the dogma defined at Vatican I of the Constitution of the Church as a monarchy in which the Pope holds the supreme authority of jurisdiction over the universal Church. Now, however, to even touch upon this truth – let alone differentiate varying degrees of dignity and holiness among the faithful – is to invite charges of “clericalism, “triumphalism” and “juridicism.”

It is significant that these were the very same accusations launched by progressivist Bishops during the first session of Vatican II when the original Schema on the Constitution of the Church, De Ecclesia, was being discussed. The following examples, taken from the Acta Synodalia of the Council, (2) are a summary of the reasons they provided for rejecting the Schema:
  • It was characterized by “clericalism,” “triumphalism,” “juridicism” and a “pompous” style typical of out-dated magisterial documents; (3)
  • There was too much insistence on the rights and privileges of the Church, instead of recognizing the right of other religions to liberty of conscience; (4)
  • The spirit of “ecumenism” was lacking in the Schema, which displayed an “arrogant” attitude towards other religions by requiring their submission to the Catholic Faith; (5)
  • The Schema’s “juridical” concept of the Pope as a “ruler” of the Bishops should be abandoned because it does not conform to Scripture or reality; (6)
  • The Church should not be seen as a “pyramid” with the Pope at the apex, and its government should be decentralized; (7)
  • The laity are not subordinate to the Hierarchy, and owe them no submission: their mission comes directly from God; (8)
  • The Schema’s references to the “Church Militant” were to be deplored, and the metaphor of the Hierarchy as “an army lined up for battle” was thought to falsify the Gospel of Christ Who preached a message of love. (9)

We can see from the aggressive tenor and hostile content of these criticisms that the progressivists – who, ironically, formed “an army lined up for battle” – had no intention of defending the Catholic Church before, during or after the Council.

The name-calling and derogatory labels reveal much more about the attackers than the attacked. Taken together, they resemble those “speak bitterness meetings” organized during the Chinese Revolution by communist militants for the denunciation of landlords, insofar as strident vituperation was used to incite opposition to the status quo ante.

Seeds of Apostasy

These attacks, then, were nothing short of a “denunciation rally” against the historic Catholic Church’s rights and privileges as the only true Religion, and against her divinely-willed Constitution which invested the Papacy with supreme and universal authority in doctrine and government. All the above-mentioned false principles had been denounced by the pre-Vatican II Magisterium.

In particular, Pope Pius IX solemnly condemned “religious liberty” in his Encyclical Quanta cura (1864). He referred to it as “that erroneous opinion, most fatal in its effects on the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls, called by Our Predecessor Gregory XVI an ‘insanity,’... ‘a liberty of perdition.’” He condemned all acts of rebellion against the ecclesiastical power, especially the supreme power of the Pope and his universal jurisdiction.
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Paul VI giving away the Papal Tiara on November 13, 1964

Yet these were the key ideas that prevailed at the Council, during the course of which Pope Paul VI laid aside his Papal Tiara, the quintessential symbol of the union of his spiritual and temporal powers, in deference to those who objected to his munus regendi. This public gesture speaks more loudly than words.

For even though he did not abolish the coronation ceremony – in fact, he specifically retained it (10) – it gave the impression that he was renouncing his sovereignty not only over the Church but also over earthly kings and queens; while at the same time allowing the progressivists at the Council who challenged papal supremacy to believe that their subversive ideas would one day be legitimately approved by the Church.

And so it transpired that all of his successors on the throne of Peter refused to wear the Triple Crown. His immediate successor, Pope John Paul I, replaced the coronation ceremony with a rite of “inauguration.”

JPII Endorsed the Conciliar Rebellion

Instead of denouncing the criticisms made at the Council as wrong and unfair, and their perpetrators as neo-Modernists, John Paul II endorsed their message in his first homily, preached at the Mass for the inauguration of his pontificate, October 22, 1978:

Quote:“In past centuries, when the Successor of Peter took possession of his See, the Triple Crown, the Tiara, was placed on his head. The last man so crowned was Pope Paul VI in 1963. However, after the solemn rite of coronation he never again used the Triple Crown, and left to his Successors the freedom to decide about it.

Pope John Paul I, whose memory is so alive in our hearts, did not want the Triple Crown, and today his Successor does not want it.

These words contain the evidence in black and white that the post-Conciliar Popes believed that they had the power to discard a solemn rite that had been used in the Church for over 800 years because they, personally, “did not want” it. No other Pope in the History of the Church had ever expressed such an attitude towards the liturgy which, as is well known, is not their personal possession to do with it whatever they wished.

Up to Vatican II, the common consensus among them was that the Popes’ power over the liturgy was delimited in the sense that it was subservient to Holy Tradition. Its primary purpose was to safeguard the liturgical patrimony that had been handed down as the true expression of the Catholic Faith.

Nor had the John Paul II’s aversion to the Tiara shown any signs of diminishing over time. In 1996, when he issued the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici gregis, regulating the election of a new Pope, he expunged any reference to a coronation ceremony.

The Pope Betrays His Own Office

Throughout the homily, he made no mention whatsoever of the “supreme power” which was invested in him personally as the successor of Peter, a doctrine that is part of the revealed deposit of the Faith. He spoke instead of “the Lord’s power” exercised by everyone:

Quote:“Perhaps in the past we put the Triple Crown on the head of the Pope to express by such a symbol that the whole hierarchical order of the Church of Christ, all of Christ’s ‘sacred power’ exercised in the Church, is nothing else but service, service that has one goal alone: that the whole People of God take part in this threefold mission of Christ, and remain always under the Lord’s power”.

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Visibly displeased Francis receives a Tiara from the Macedonia Prime Minister; he never wore it

But if the “supreme power,” symbolized by the Triple Crown, is the property of all, this implies that it was not given to one man alone. And so the uniqueness of the Sovereign Pontiff is tacitly denied.

The obvious conclusion to be drawn from this homily is that John Paul II wished to do away with the doctrine of papal supremacy and replace it with a system of power sharing emptied of its Catholic content. In fact, there is no trace in the homily of a desire to accept as the first priority the truth about papal supremacy which came to us from Revelation and which the Church has transmitted to us in the coronation rite.

John Paul II evidently preferred the faux Triple Crown of Religious Liberty, Collegiality and Ecumenism manufactured at the Council by those who contested the Church’s traditional condemnation of all these issues.


1. Catechism of the Catholic Church § 872 echoes Lumen gentium §§ 31, 32.
2. Acta Synodalia Sacrosancti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II: First Session, Part IV, 1-7, December 1962.
3. Bishop Emile De Smedt of Bruges.
4. Cardinal Alfrink, Archbishop of Utrecht; Cardinal Ritter, Archbishop of St. Louis; Cardinal Suenens, Archbishop of Brussels-Malines.
5. Bishop Jan van Cauwelaert of Inongo, Congo.
6. Archbishop Guerry of Cambrai; Archbishop Emile Blanchet, Rector of the Institut Catholique in Paris; Bishop Ancel, Auxiliary of Lyon.
7. Bishop Rupp of Monaco
8. Archbishop Marty of Rheims; Bishop Huyghe of Arras
9. Maximos IV Saigh of Antioch of the Melchites; Cardinal Frings of Cologne
10.In § 92 of his Apostolic Constitution, Romano Pontifici eligendo (1975), governing the election of popes, he mentioned coronation as part of the ceremony.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
Pope Benedict XVI Continued the Conciliar Revolution

Taken from here [slightly adapted - emphasis mine].

In 1966, the same year he was appointed to a chair in dogmatic theology at the University of Tübingen, the then Fr. Joseph Ratzinger criticized the Tiara as a form of “dangerous triumphalism,” adding insult to injury by implying that those who wore it were guilty of “self-glorification”:

“So long as the Church is on pilgrimage on the earth, she has no ground to boast of her own works. Such self-glorification could become more dangerous than the Sedia Gestatoria (1) and the Tiara, which are more likely to elicit a smile than a feeling of pride.” (2)

But this assertion is unjustified, for these two items of papal regalia had nothing to do with boastfulness or self-aggrandisement. This is evident from a centuries-old custom performed as part of papal coronations. While the newly-crowned Pope, still wearing his Tiara, was being carried in the Sedia Gestatoria, the procession would stop three times, and a master of ceremonies, brandishing a piece of burning flax, would chant this warning in a mournful tone: Pater Sancte: Sic transit gloria mundi. (Holy Father, thus passes the glory of the world).

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Pointing to the burning flax, the cleric entones 'Thus passes the glory of the world'

These words served as a reminder to the Pope of the transitory nature of earthly life and worldly honors, lest he should be tempted to see his position in terms of self-glorification. Nothing could be more calculated to dampen the fires of pride in power than the flax-burning rite.

The flax plant had been associated from Old Testament times with all that is fragile and transient, making it a suitable symbol for the brevity of our earthly existence. (3) Its rapid consumption by fire was a visual reminder to the Pope that he would soon return to dust – the perfect antidote to personal vanity in the exercise of power.

Besides, as symbols of the rightful exaltation of the Church, the Tiara and the “Triumphal Chair” point not to the person of the Pope, but to his office, and beyond that to the One Who founded the Church, whom he represents. These trappings of royalty were seen in Tradition as visual aids for the mind to assimilate the transcendent truth of the Kingship of Christ exercised by His Vicar on earth.

Earlier in that same century, Pope Pius XI had issued his Encyclical Quas primas (1925) by which he inaugurated the Feast of Christ the King. This has inspired the Catholic faithful to defend the Church against attack; and some, notably Fr. Miguel Pro, have given their lives for the cause.

But after Vatican II, few Catholics would think of rallying behind the banner of Christ the King. Such loyalty to the Faith is considered by progressivist theologians to be so objectionable that any display of papal supremacy – spiritual or temporal – is now regarded, to quote Ratzinger again, as “dangerous.”

The Tiara 'An Impediment to Christian Unity'

Pope Benedict had a personal interest in discontinuing the Tiara, which explains why he considered it such a danger that it had to be discarded. As a young revolutionary firebrand at Vatican II, acting under the auspices of Card. Frings who was President of the German Bishops’ Conference and a strong opponent of Roman centralism, he thought that the symbolism of the Tiara would jeopardize the success of two of Vatican II’s key progressivist ideas which both he and Frings wished to promote: Collegiality and Ecumenism.

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The ecumenical Benedict presided over an interfaith encounter for peace: Assisi, 2011

First, Ratzinger did not accept the traditional teaching that the government of the Church is monarchical, with the Bishops owing subservience and obedience to the Pope. He favored a more communitarian approach, and saw collegiality of the Bishops as an antidote to papal supremacy insofar as it would “supplement and correct the monarchic idea.”(4)

But Christ founded the Church as a Kingdom, not a People’s Republic. In other words, the basic structure and inner meaning of the divinely-appointed Constitution of the Church is monarchical, not democratic.

Second, there was the “ecumenical” question which, for progressivists, involved compromising the Faith by conciliating those outside the Church who rejected papal supremacy. Ratzinger explained:

All the work of the Council was in a sense centred on the ecumenical problem. …This involved a readiness to see and admit the mistakes of the past, and to make amends for them, and the determination to remove every impediment standing in the way of unity.” (5)

He further stated that “the problem of papal centralism is readily understandable to everyone. Even the person indifferent to religion sees the papal primacy as an obstacle to the unity of Christendom.”(6)

The effects of such corrosive criticism coming from those who are embarrassed by the history, traditions and the teachings of the Church – which became de rigueur after Vatican II – were noted by Romano Amerio:

“The present denigration of the Church’s past by clergy and laity is in lively contrast with the courage and pride with which Catholicism confronted its adversaries in centuries past. … In the wake of the radical innovation that has occurred in the Church, and the consequent rupture of historical continuity, respect and reverence have been replaced by the censure and repudiation of the past.”(7)

Placing the Gospel under a Bushel

On the occasion of his taking possession of the Chair of the Bishop of Rome at his Cathedral, the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Pope Benedict XVI, having eschewed the Tiara, stated:

“The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law.”(8)

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Benedict XVI inauguration: refusal to wear the Tiara & affirmation that the Pope is not a monarch

This statement is problematic because the word “absolute” is undefined. That the Catholic Church is an absolute monarchy is plainly shown by her institution and her history. She is ruled by the Pope who is an “absolute” monarch in the sense of absolutus in Latin – one who possesses in himself alone the fullness of supreme power, whose rule is independent, free and unrestricted by anyone else.

While this is not addressed in Ratzinger’s statement, attention is diverted from this primary truth by emphasizing a secondary, irrelevant point about laws not being made on the personal whim of the Pope. Of course, the Pope is not an absolute monarch in that sense. But to mention what he is not, while omitting to say what he is, leaves a negative connotation in the listener’s mind.

The lasting impression is that the Pope is not a monarch at all. This impression is reinforced by the decision of post-Vatican II Popes not to wear the Triple Crown. This simply demonstrates that the traditional pope-as-monarch concept is now considered so unacceptable that it must not even be mentioned.

A Blot on the Escutcheon

In Pope Benedict XVI’s personal coat of arms, (9) the Tiara with its clear, unambiguous meaning has disappeared and is replaced by a mitre with three gold stripes. This turned out to be an exercise in dissimulation and prevarication. The symbolism here is artfully ambiguous, for any Bishop of the Roman Rite (including the Pope) can wear a mitre, but only the Pope can wear the Tiara.

For some – progressivist Catholic Bishops, members of the so-called Orthodox and Protestant groups – it could be taken to mean that the Pope is simply the Bishop of Rome, with no jurisdiction outside the Eternal City – as in the Book of Common Prayer’s famous taunt; (10) others see in the three stripes a faint hint of the three crowns of the Tiara, but which lacks conviction or force.

Nor does the official Vatican explanation (11) clear up any confusion, but rather adds to it. No mention is made of the supremacy of the Pope’s universal jurisdiction, but only a reference to some vague “sharing” of power among brother-bishops as a “visible sign of collegiality and subsidiarity.”

Some Unforeseen Ironies

But as with all attempts to diminish or eradicate Catholic Tradition, the Faith cannot be entirely uprooted from the hearts and minds of the ordinary faithful. Here are some examples of how things “went wrong” for the reformers and produced unintended consequences.

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A mistake in the Vatican Gardens - the Tiara instead of  Benedict's mitre

In the Vatican Gardens there is a topiary display made from low, carved and trimmed hedges specially designed in the shape of each new Pope’s coat of arms. Before Benedict XVI’s deviation from Tradition, papal heraldry had for centuries featured a personalized shield surmounted by the Tiara and the Keys of St. Peter.

But when the Vatican gardeners dug out the plants representing the previous Pope’s arms and replaced them with new ones for Pope Benedict, they left those representing the Tiara and Keys undisturbed. Perhaps these hardy perennials of the Faith were too deeply embedded in the Catholic soil to be uprooted. However, we are now faced with the anomalous situation of two co-existing papal coats of arms for the same person – one in keeping with Tradition, and the other out of kilter with it.

What was the Catholic world’s surprise when, one Sunday in October 2010, the traditional design, complete with the Triple Crown, made a sudden and unexpected come-back on a tapestry hanging from the balcony of Benedict XVI’s apartment overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

This sparked rumours about a possible change in direction of papal policy regarding the Tiara, but Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, who did not seem to be able to explain the anomaly other than as “a gift,” hastened to assure the public that it would not be displayed again in that form. (12) Evidently, the unnamed donor was not too ashamed to emblazon the “unwelcome” symbol of papal supremacy across the Pope’s balcony for all to see.

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Benedict XVI received a Tiara from German pilgrims

Another unexpected contingency occurred in May 2011 when Pope Benedict XVI was presented with a Tiara as a gift from some visiting German pilgrims, his own compatriots. The leader of the group obviously lamented the passing of the Tiara, for he said that he “would be very happy if we had a Pope who was crowned again like a king or a queen.”(13)

His sentiments were immediately echoed by a multitude of Catholics on the social media and assorted websites. The incident drew public attention to the inappropriateness of discarding the papal Tiara in the face of the robust sensus fidei of the ordinary faithful who wanted the Popes to retain the coronation ceremony with all its pomp and glory.

However, Pope Benedict XVI did not wear the Tiara during his Pontificate. Nor did Pope Francis wear the one specially made for him and presented to him in 2016. (14) These, as with most valuable gifts given to the Popes, were destined for the Vatican Museums.

To be continued

1. The sedia gestatoria (“Triumphal Chair”) was a silk-covered, richly adorned portable throne on which Popes were carried on the shoulders of 12 footmen on the day of their coronation ceremony and certain other solemn occasions. The immemorial custom was ended in 1978 when Pope John Paul II replaced it with a motorized “Popemobile.” Pope Francis now drives himself around Rome in a series of old cars, or travels on public transport.
2. Joseph Ratzinger, Das neue Volk Gottes: Entwürfe zur Ekklesiologie (God’s New People: Concepts for Ecclesiology). Düsseldorf: Patmos-Verlag, 1969, p. 150.
3. Sometimes referred to as tow, as in the Book of Ecclesiasticus 21:10 and Isaiah 1:31. The well-known reference to “the smoking flax” in Matthew 12:20 is the fulfilment of the prophecy in Isaiah 42:3.
4. Joseph Ratzinger, Theological Highlights of Vatican II, New York: Paulist Press, 1966, p. 142.
5. Ibid., p. 92.
6. Highlights, pp. 88-89.
7. Romano Amerio, Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century, Angelus Press, 1996, p. 119.
8. Benedict XVI, Homily preached at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, May 7, 2005.
9. It is important not to confuse the personal coat of arms of a particular Pope with the coat of arms of the Holy See, which retains the Tiara and Keys, as the symbol of the papacy, as does the flag of the Vatican City State.
10. Article 37 of the 39 Articles (1562) recognizing the English Monarch as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England stated: “The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.”
11. This was issued by the Apostolic Nuncio, Mgr. Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo.
12. Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, October 14, 2014.
13. Catholic News Agency, Vatican City, May 25, 2011.
14. Andrea Tornielli, ‘A Tiara for Every Pope’, Vatican Insider, May 17, 2016.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
Turning the Old Pyramidal Power Structure on Its Head

Taken from here [slightly adapted - emphasis mine].

Nothing could be more illustrative of a complete revolution in the established system of government than the image of an inverted pyramid. First used at Vatican II by Bishop Emile de Smedt during the discussion process on the Church’s Constitution, it became the metaphor of choice among revolutionaries to indicate a total rupture with Tradition. He denounced the pyramidal system of government as a form of “clericalism” that placed the Pope at the apex wielding his supreme power of jurisdiction over the rest of the Church, with the “passive” laity occupying the base. (1)

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Bishop Emile de Smedt, Belgium: The pyramidal structure of the Church must change

The metaphor was popularized by Card. Suenens, one of the four Moderators of the Council, who stated in a 1969 interview:

“The pyramid of the old manuals was reversed; one Roman prelate described it as a truly ‘Copernican’ Revolution.” (2)

The context of his remark was the decision among the progressivists at the Council to reject the original schema on the Constitution of the Church, which had given the Hierarchy (chap. 2) precedence over the laity (chap. 3). It is not generally known today that it was Bishop Wojtyla who proposed giving pride of place to the People of God by making them the subject of Chapter 2, while relegating the Hierarchy to a subservient role in Chapter 3. (3) Thus, simply by reversing the order of the chapters, they “flipped” the power pyramid upside down, so that the people at the base were instantly catapulted to the top, while the clergy became the “lowest of the low.”

Pope Francis confirmed this
when he spoke of his vision of a Synodal Church in terms of “an inverted pyramid”:

“In this Church, as in an inverted pyramid, the top is located beneath the base.” (4)

A Church Standing on its Head

So, if all the priests, Bishops and even the Pope himself are placed below the people, what does this topsy-turvy image suggest about the place of Christ in His own Church? It makes it difficult to grasp the doctrine that Our Lord is Head of the Mystical Body when we see that the Pope – described by St. Catherine of Siena as “il dolce Cristo in terra” (Our Sweet Christ on Earth) – who formerly stood at the apex, is now at the absolute nadir.

Judging by the external, objective evidence alone, without straying into the inner dispositions of the soul, Pope Francis’s statement clearly shows that Christ, whose Vicar he is, does not rank as his highest priority.

The Constitution of the Church is Substantially Unalterable

Christ Himself gave His Church an essential organization – a Constitution composed, as Pope Pius X stated, of two unequal classes, the Hierarchy and the faithful who owe obedience to it. Whatever power and jurisdiction the Church has resides ultimately in the Hierarchy because it was granted to it by divine right and origin. Not even a Pope has any right to alter what Our Lord has incorporated as a necessary part of His Church. It follows that to contest this power structure with a view to replacing it by any other form of government is tantamount to attempting to change the Church herself.

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No one can change the Hierarchical Structure of the Church - It is of Divine Institution

And yet this is exactly what some progressivist Bishops were calling for when they rejected the original schema on the Constitution of the Church because it referred to the laity as “subjects” of hierarchical power. Their spokesman, Bishop Emile de Smedt, redefined the Constitution as follows:

“In the People of God, we are all joined together as one and we all have the same fundamental rights and duties. We all participate in the royal priesthood of the People of God. The Pope is one of the faithful; we are all the faithful: bishops, priests, laity and religious.” (5)

Bishop de Smedt’s statement was a most effective act of subversion of the hierarchical nature of the Church. With this new all-are-equal ideology, the Church’s Constitution disappears into an amorphous mass of co-workers, all having been sent on a Mission for the benefit of the world. The underlying message is that there is nothing sacrosanct about the constitutional structure of the Church and that it is reversible.

There were plenty of voices during and after Vatican II insisting on “inverting the pyramid” – it was, after all, part of Pope John Paul II’s plan for renewal in the Church – and doing so lent kudos and importance to the institutions adopting the Vatican II party line, as well as advancement to individuals whose ecclesiastical careers depended on conformity to it.

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Opus Dei Msgr. Cormac Burke was a full supporter of the Conciliar Revolution

A prominent member of Opus Dei, Msgr. Cormac Burke, (6) who backed the Conciliar Revolution to the hilt, objected to the traditional Constitution, blaming its power structure as the cause of disorder in the Church:

“There the real power is at the top and it is shared according to one’s place on the ladder up or down the pyramid. The laity are seen as on the lowest rung of the ladder, and reform or progress is understood as transfer of power, by means of a peaceful or forced ‘liberation’ of lay people from clerical domination, so that they too are free to work upwards to ‘controlling’ positions.” (7)

In other words, if there were no ranking system, there would be no power struggles. His solution to this fabricated problem:

“The ‘power-pyramid’ thinking needs to be totally abandoned, if necessary by giving a revolutionary turn to one’s whole outlook. In effect, if we want to represent roles in the Church graphically, we have to demolish the power-pyramid and trace instead a ‘service-pyramid.’ ”(8)

But elevation to position always comes from above – ironically in Msgr. Burke’s case from the very apex of the power-pyramid he condemned – for it was John Paul II who appointed him in 1986 as a judge on the Roman Rota, the Church’s highest judicial court, from where he copiously exercised his clerical power over the faithful for many years.

Institutional Virtue-Signalling

A notable feature of the “inverted pyramid” rhetoric was its inbuilt presumption that the pre-Vatican II clergy were guilty of pride in seeking to “pull rank” on the laity, whereas modern priests can congratulate themselves that they follow the example of Christ Who humbled Himself to wash His disciples’ feet. So in Msgr. Burke’s new “service pyramid,” Our Lord (together with His ministers) is placed at the bottom, below the laity:

“Christ our Lord has chosen for himself the lowest place, that of the servant of all... (we see this reflected in the traditional title of the Pope: ‘servant of the servants of God’).” (9)

A Misunderstood Title

But there is much confusion over the meaning of this paradoxical title which actually signifies that the Pope is the highest, not the lowest, of God’s servants. It derives from the “superlative” Latin phrase servus servorum Dei, (10) first used by St. Gregory the Great (Pope from 590 to 604) to indicate the supreme “Power of the Keys,” i.e., his universal jurisdiction over the Church. It was a title of pride not in himself but in Christ whose place he occupied as Head of the Mystical Body on earth.

His purpose in assuming the title was to counter rival claims by the Patriarchs of Constantinople who styled themselves “Universal” or “Ecumenical Patriarch.” In particular, he wanted to teach Patriarch John IV a lesson in humility: that he must submit to the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome who gave the example of serving all.

It is true that Pope Gregory the Great, who was noted for his great humility, called himself “the servant of all,” not in the sense of occupying the lowest position in the Church, as the reformers smugly claim, but in the sense of having to carry the overwhelmingly onerous burden of the papacy. (11) The crucial point is that he did so while exercising his spiritual and temporal power to the full. This shows that “clerical power” and “humble service” in the Church are not antithetical concepts, requiring the former to be eliminated or reduced to enable the latter. There was no need, therefore, to invert the pyramid.

The Clergy are Forced to Eat Humble Pie

It is undeniable that, since Vatican II, the Hierarchy have been placed in a pecking order well below the laity, where they have become submissive and apologetic for ever having thought of themselves as higher than the laity. The inevitable effect of inverting the pyramid was artificially to inflate the importance of the laity at the expense of the Hierarchy. This is clear from the following frankly “triumphalist” statement by Card. Kevin Farrell who had been appointed by Pope Francis to the Head of the recently invented Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life:

“Laity are the most important people in the Church ‒ not the clergy or bishops.” (12)

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Francis raised Kevin Farrel to the Cardinalate, gave him the Dicastery for Laity & made him Camerlengo

There is nothing new or surprising in this. It was, as we have seen above, precisely the “Copernican Revolution” aimed for by the progressivists at the Council when they gave precedence to the laity over the Hierarchy in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium. What is surprising, however, is how few people can see that the Council’s rhetoric about “equality” was so much smoke and mirrors. The Popes of the Council and Church leaders like Card. Farrell, faithful to the underlying meaning of Lumen gentium, have actually created their own two-tier constitutional system, a new “power-pyramid” replete with “top-dogs” and underdogs.

Papal supremacy, it seems, or rather a corrupted and heavily disguised form of it, lives on; in the hands of revolutionary Popes it is working to subvert the divinely-willed Constitution of the Church. This brings us to the subject of Clericalism, which will be treated in the next article.

To be continued

1. E. De Smedt, Acta Synodalia Sacrosancti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II: Periodus prima, pars IV, 1 December 1962, p. 142: “Clericalismus: In primis schematis capitibus praevalet traditionalis pictura Ecclesiae. Cognoscitis pyramidem: papa, episcopi, sacerdotes, qui praesunt quique, potestatibus acceptis, docent, sanctificant, gubernant; dum, in basi, populus christianus magis receptive se habet, et quodam modo secundum locum videtur occupare in Ecclesia”. (Clericalism: In the first chapters of the [original] schema [on the constitution of the Church], the traditional image of the Church is brought to the fore. You all know the pyramid: the pope, bishops and priests who are the ones in command because they have received the power to teach, sanctify and rule; then, at the base, are the Christian people, where they are kept, relatively speaking, in a state of passivity, which is considered the place for them to occupy in the Church).
2. L. Suenens, ‘Toward Unity an Freedom in the Church’, National Catholic Reporter, vol. 5, n. 31, May 28, 1969.
3. Acta Synodalia, Session 2, Part 3, (Oct. 17-30, 1963), p. 154: “aptius videtur tractari de populo Dei in cap. II antequam de hierarchica Ecclesiae constitutione, seu episcopatu fit sermo…Quod concordat…sensui Evangeliorum, in quibus ‘praesse’ convenit cum ‘ministrare.’ ” (It seems more fitting to treat of the people of God in Chapter 2 before any mention is made of the hierarchical constitution of the Church, or of the episcopacy … because this is in concordance with the meaning of the Gospels, in which “being in authority” is linked with “being of service”).
4. Pope Francis, Ceremony Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Institution of the Synod of Bishops, October 17, 2015.
5. Acta Synodalia, Session 1, Part 4, December 1962: “In populo Dei, omnes sumus alii cum aliis coniuncti et eadem iura et officia fundamentalia habemus. Omnes participamus regali sacerdotio populi Dei. Papa est unus ex fidelibus; episcopi, sacerdotes, laici, religiosi, omnes sumus fideles.”
6. Msgr. Burke was one of the founder members of Opus Dei in Ireland.
7. Msgr. Cormac Burke, Opus Dei, ‘The freedom and responsibility of the laity’, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, July 1993, pp. 21-22.
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid.
10. The Latin phrase is a direct translation from the Hebrew language, which uses a syntactical construct that places two nouns together – the second one called the “superlative genitive” – to express the highest degree or quality. We are familiar with this construct in the liturgy as, for instance, Rex regum et Dominus dominantium: King of Kings and Lord of Lords (the greatest of Kings and Lords), Canticum canticorum: Song of Songs (the most excellent of songs), or Virgo virginum: Virgin of Virgins (the purest of virgins). Even the expression saecula saeculorum (world without end) comes into this category to express what is beyond time, i.e., eternal life.
To clarify further, the Pope has also two other traditional titles based on the same Latin construction: Episcopus episcoporum (Bishop of Bishops, i.e., the highest Bishop) and Pastor pastorum (the Chief Shepherd).
11. Gregory I, Epistles, Book XI, Letter 44, to the noblewoman, Rusticiana: “per episcopatus onera servus sum omnium factus” (Through the burden of the episcopacy I have been made a servant of all).
12. The Irish News, July 26, 2018. The Cardinal then went on to say that priests have no credibility in marriage preparation, and to show what Pope Francis is doing to promote the role of women.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
The Phantom Charge of ‘Clericalism’

Taken from here [slightly adapted - emphasis mine].

It is a matter of historical record that sloganeering was a staple of the Conciliar Revolution in the Church, as it had been of the major political revolutions of the modern world, and was used in all these instances as a form of thought control in order to “recycle” people’s minds and transform their beliefs.

Few people today realize that there are close parallels between the verbal methods of persuasion used by Party leaders of communist regimes, and the sort of language that characterized the decrees of Vatican II and post-conciliar documents emanating from the Vatican and Episcopal Conferences.

In both instances, the selection of words was controlled from the top by leaders who knew how to inculcate their ideological worldview in the minds of the people. The Politburo of both the former Soviet regime and the Chinese Communist Party churned out an array of revolutionary slogans for the people to absorb and repeat.

For its part, Vatican II’s linguistic revolution was also a centrally-controlled top-down process of indoctrination of the masses through the medium of slogans. The Church’s noble tradition of Scholastic expression was ditched and replaced with formulaic politically correct jargon, using slogans devised by the various Commissions and Committees of the Vatican bureaucracy. The ecclesiastical landscape is rife with loaded slogans that have bludgeoned their way into popular usage by the use of brute force.

New vocabularies e.g. “active participation” of the laity, the “community Mass,” the “universal call to holiness,” “faith communities,” “charismatic renewal” and “prophetic witness” were introduced; older terms such as “the common priesthood” and “dialogue” were given new revolutionary meanings; words and phrases such as transubstantiation or the Reign of Christ the King over society were considered politically incorrect – they were suppressed and replaced by “ecumenically correct” slogans such as “Eucharistic celebration,” “freedom of conscience” or the “dignity of man.”

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The Conciliar Revolution adopted the verbiage of the Chinese Communist Party: Serve the People

Serve the People” – perhaps the most famous slogan of the Chinese Communist Party – found a ready acceptance in the Church of the 1960s. It became the leitmotif of the Conciliar and post-Conciliar documents even to the extent of eclipsing the primary duty to serve God first. “Serving the community” is now regarded as the be-all and end-all of the ministerial priesthood, and is now the dominant theme of Pope Francis’s “Synodal Way.”

Even the slogan of the “inverted pyramid,” which owes its origin to the upheavals of the Russian and Chinese methods of transforming society, was used repeatedly to reinforce a revolutionary message for change in the Church’s Constitution. The key concept here is the struggle for empowerment of the laity, which entails an on-going transfer of ecclesiastical power from the Hierarchy to lay activists in every area of Church life.

Learning from Lenin

All the evidence indicates that the verbal strategies of Communism, which once characterized Soviet propaganda and the ideology of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, were redeployed to further the aims of Vatican II. No one can deny that they have at least this much in common: they were all conceived in the Marxist-Leninist tradition of creating a permanent revolution to combat and destroy monarchical structures.

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Lenin: ‘The exploiters should not be able to live & rule in the old way’

This was precisely the aim of the progressivists at Vatican II. Their “inverted pyramid” slogan was a call for a revolution in the Church’s Constitution patterned on the ideas of Lenin, who wrote the following lines two years after the October Revolution of 1917:

Quote:“The fundamental law of revolution is as follows: For a revolution to take place it is not enough for the exploited and the oppressed masses to realize the impossibility of living in the old way; for a revolution to take place it is essential that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule in the old way. It is only when the lower classes do not want to live in the old way and the upper classes cannot carry on in the old way that the revolution can triumph,” (1)

We can hear echoes of Leninism in the Catholic Church since the Council, which made sure that the Hierarchy – the ruling body that has the power of orders and jurisdiction – would no longer “live and rule in the old way”: Tiaras are out, class struggle is in. No one, least of all the Pope, can rule “in the old way.”

Documentary evidence abounds to show how Vatican II achieved its own “communistic” revolution by the use of slogans deployed during and after the Council to mount an assault on the sacramental priesthood and lessen its power and effectiveness in the Church. Lenin would certainly have approved of casting aside the Church’s two-tier system of government by hierarchical rulers who exercise spiritual power over their subjects (seen by progressivists as the “oppressed masses”).

If we were to choose one slogan that sums up all the others, it would be “eliminate Clericalism” – a phrase that, though seemingly good in itself, has been subverted to suit the purposes of the Revolution. (This, too, is part of the linguistic strategy that manipulates the mind into accepting a new meaning under the camouflage of the old formula).

What is the meaning of ‘Clericalism’?

There is no clear consensus of the meaning of this word, as it varies with the intention in the mind of the speaker or writer, leaving us to wonder whether it is a real or useful term at all. The fact that “Clericalism” has always been used in a pejorative sense in relation to clerical power, privilege and prestige is highly significant. Its origin is attributed to the French Republican and Freemason, Léon Gambetta, who popularized the mantra “le cléricalisme, voilà l’ennemi (“clericalism is the enemy”) in 1877.

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Gambetta targeted clericalism as the main enemy of French Freemasonry

This paternity essentially stamps it as an anti-clerical trope; it was used only for the purposes of whipping up resentment and hostility to the clergy, especially the Pope, and with the intention of dismantling the Church’s institutional structures.

It is even more highly significant that the word “Clericalism” – like “active participation” (2) before it – was not currency in the Church before Vatican II. Suddenly, people were seeing examples of it popping up everywhere, and rushing to get rid of it, even though it had not been clearly identified. And priests who were merely continuing in their traditional roles and were entirely innocent of any misdemeanor, were declared guilty of the “sin,” “crime” or “sickness” of “Clericalism.”

In fact, under the ever-expanding meaning of the term, there are no traditional positions that will not be marked as “Clericalism” by the reformers. The field has been left wide open to interpretation by those outside the Church who resent the Church’s historic claims, as well as by those inside it who begrudge the clergy their higher status and wish to break free from their spiritual authority.

Before proceeding with the specifics of what constitutes “Clericalism” in the minds of the reformers, let us be clear about the nature of the beast we are about to examine. We are dealing with the new ecclesiology of Vatican II which revolutionized – in the sense of turning upside down – the monarchical nature of the Church, replacing it with a “ministry of all believers” (without being too concerned about what they actually believed).

In the next articles, it will be useful to keep in mind that the Bishops at the Council who called for the rejection of the first schema on the Church’s Constitution did so precisely because it supported the Church’s monarchical structure which they found unacceptable. So they embarked on a campaign of vilification against it, denouncing its two-tiered pyramidal structure as a form of “Clericalism.”

This reveals that the slogan – newly reinvented for the purpose of overturning the Church’s Constitution – was loaded with negative connotations against the clerical estate. We will now deal with the question of whether the motivations and attitudes that the progressivists ascribe to the clergy are real or merely perceived.

To be continued

1. Vladimir Ilich Lenin, On Culture and Cultural Revolution, Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1970, p. 94.
2. For a detailed analysis of the history of “active participation” as a liturgical slogan, see Volume 1.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Dr. Carol Byrne: A Series on the History of the Dialogue Mass
‘Clericalism’ - a Word Misused by Progressivists

Taken from here [slightly adapted - emphasis mine].

If anyone is wondering why there are never any good “clericalists” around, the reason is that progressivists have given pre-Vatican II priests a bad name for adhering to the traditional teaching of the Church, and then used that as a stick with which to beat them.

Fidelity to Tradition would not, of course, have been a problem if it had not been for the new revolutionary teaching of Vatican II that greatly enhanced the laity vis-à-vis the clergy. Anyone who did not accept that clergy and laity are equal partners in the task of the New Evangelization and Mission of the Church would be ipso facto accused of “clericalism.”

But what exactly was meant by this pejorative term, and to whom did it apply? We would search in vain for a precise definition, but we have a rough rule of thumb in the following list of accusations.

Manifestations of 'Clericalism'

A priest is accused by progressivists of being “clericalist” when he does any of the following:
  • Wears a cassock;
  • Keeps himself aloof from worldly friendships and pursuits;
  • Maintains boundaries between himself and the laity;
  • Expects to be addressed by his title and surname;
  • Says Mass with his back to the people;
  • Uses Latin in the liturgy;
  • Follows the rules and rubrics with exactitude;
  • Preaches in a didactic tone, as a superior to inferiors;
  • Acts with authority over the people in spiritual matters.

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A terrible act of ‘clericalism’ according to progressivists

This list, though incomplete, contains enough information for us to glean that the charge of “clericalism” is a form of demonization of traditional priests, i.e., those who have had their spiritual formation in seminaries faithful to the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and the decrees of the Council of Trent.

The chief rebuke levelled at the traditional clergy was that, by participating in a closer way with the Hierarchy, they had a higher standing in the Church than the rest of the faithful. Anyone refusing to adopt the (essentially Protestant) notion of equality of status between the clergy and laity is tarred with the brush of “clericalism.” This is precisely the position of Opus Dei priest, Msgr. Cormac Burke: “The clerical mentality regards the clergy as higher, with a superior status in the life of the Church; and the laity as lower, in a subordinate position.” (1)

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A mania to invert the age old pyramid

These words encapsulate the revolutionary attitude that permeates the New Evangelization dreamt up by Vatican II. They are in open rebellion against both the Natural Law and the institution of God for every society, including the Church, which necessarily comprises the high and the low, the superiors and their subjects, the dominant and the subordinate, those who govern and those who obey.

This is the two-tier system described by Pope Pius X in which only the Hierarchy have the right and authority to govern, and in which the laity have the duty “to allow themselves to be led, and like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors.” (2) The Pope quotes St. Cyprian to the effect this higher-lower arrangement was understood by the early Christians to be based on Divine Law.

But what if the Pastors want to revolutionize the Constitution, “invert the triangle,” change the Church from a monarchy into a democracy – as Vatican II progressivists demand – and include the laity in the government of the Church? Should the faithful follow them like a docile flock into contravening the Divine Law?

This was certainly not the intention of Pope Pius X, for it would violate the law of non-contradiction. Rather, it is in the declarations of the progressivists Bishops at Vatican II, as recorded in the Acta Synodalia, that we find ample confirmation that contempt for the Divine Law was clearly manifest among a significant number of influential Prelates and their expert advisors who wanted to subvert the Church’s Constitution.

The resulting Council documents, which were tainted with this subversive tendency, had the effect of leading the faithful into an ongoing and deeply divisive battle between Catholic Tradition and the rival forces of Progressivism in the Church.

Lessons from History

We can see the same Conflict Theory at work in the history of all political upheavals from the banishment of the 5th-century B.C. statesman, Aristides, leader of the aristocratic party in Athens, to all the Marxist-inspired revolutions of modern times, which sought to destroy what they viewed as an intolerably unequal society.

The fate of Aristides, (known to all as “Aristides the Just”), who was banished from Athens c. 482 B.C. simply for being considered “more just” than others, shares one major point of similarity with the post-Vatican II animosity towards the Church’s unequal, two-tier system. According to the Greek historian, Plutarch, Aristides suffered exile at the hands of the Athenian citizens on account of their “envious dislike of his reputation” and because they were “vexed with those who towered above the multitude in name and reputation.”

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A man to Aristides: ‘I don't even know Aristides, but I am tired of hearing him everywhere called The Just’

So “in a spirit of jealous hate they assembled in the city from all the country round and ostracized Aristides” after smearing his good reputation with accusations of “oppressive prestige and power.” (3)

Ostracism” was an ancient Greek practice used by Athenian citizens exercising their democratic rights, which allowed them to banish any prominent citizen from the city for 10 years. The name derives from the ostrakon (plural ostraka), a shard of pottery on which Athenians scratched the name of the person they wished to exile, as a way of casting votes.

Plutarch recounts an amusing incident that happened during the ballot; its relevance to modern societies can be easily grasped because it sheds light on the wellsprings of human nature that prompt feelings of envy towards persons of superior virtue or higher standing:

“Now at the time of which I was speaking, as the voters were inscribing their ostraka, it is said that an unlettered and utterly boorish fellow handed his ostrakon to Aristides, whom he took to be one of the ordinary crowd, and asked him to write Aristides on it. Astonished, he asked the man what possible wrong Aristides had done him. ‘None whatever,’ was the answer, ‘I don't even know the fellow, but I am tired of hearing him everywhere called ‘The Just.’” (4)

There is an obvious parallel here with the fate of priests today who are condemned as “clericalist” simply for being clerics and, therefore, of a higher status than their subordinates, the laity. As with the Aristides affair, the same pattern of animosity occurred during the Vatican II reform of the Constitution when the progressivists voted to ostracize Tradition.

There was the same refusal to recognize eminence, as in “You’re no higher than the rest of us” (which resulted in the blurring of the distinction between the priesthood and the laity); the same accusations of oppression under ruling powers (Aristides was accused of the ultimate crime in a democracy – wanting to become a king); the same rabble-rousing techniques to turn the people against their leaders (Aristides was maligned by his political rival, Themistocles, who enjoyed the support of the lower classes against the Athenian nobility); the same hypocritical masking of envy under the banner of “justice” and “equality”; and the same experience of Schadenfreude (5) which in the modern Church took the form of a certain delight in knocking the priest off his pedestal.

From these considerations, it is not difficult to see how the Vatican II-inspired devaluation of the higher status of the priest was of the same vintage as that vice of human nature which was the proximate cause of Our Lord’s Passion: “It was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.” (Mt 27:18)

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Envy motivated the hatred of the Pharisees for Our Lord Jesus Christ

In the Summa, St. Thomas Aquinas treats envy as a vice opposed to charity (6) because it involves the disposition to feel ill-will at the perceived superiority of another person, leading to destructive acts. During the Council, the accusations of “clericalism” came, as we discovered later, from those who poured scorn on both the hierarchical nature of the Church and the essential difference between the ordained priesthood and the "priesthood" of all the baptized.

It is not surprising, therefore, that after the Council such anti-clerical attitudes resulted in the loss, removal or hampering of those goods that were due to the ordained clergy – their preliminary Minor Orders, their unique relationship with the Eucharist, their exclusive role in the sanctuary, the reverence and deference with which they were treated by the laity. All of these privileges of the clergy became the object of iconoclastic rage.

Whereas this kind of anti-clerical prejudice was once expected only of heretics and secular ideologues opposed to Catholicism, it is now painfully obvious that Catholics themselves are openly involved in the onslaught against the ordained priesthood.

To be continued

1. Cormac Burke, ‘The freedom and responsibility of the laity’, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, July 1993, pp. 19-20.
2. Pius X, Vehementer Nos (1906) § 8.
3. Plutarch, Lives, translation by Bernadotte Perrin, 11 volumes, vol. 2: Themistocles and Camillus. Aristides and Cato Major, Cimon and Lucullus, London: Harvard University Press, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914, pp. 231 233-235.
4. Ibid., pp. 233, 235.
5. A mixture of emotions experienced by the envious who derive satisfaction from witnessing the failure or humiliation of others (from the German Schaden meaning “harm, damage, injury.” and Freude meaning “joy”)
Summa Theologica, II-II, 36.2: “we grieve over a man’s good insofar as his good surpasses ours; this is envy properly speaking and is always sinful.”
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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