Long ago, the SSPX’s Angelus magazine used to do good work in helping souls understand Tradition. Although always enjoying a somewhat undeserved reputation for “hard-hitting articles”, in reality, most of its articles even in the good days were too short and lacked sufficient substance to warrant that praise. But it may be the magazine kept the articles short because that was precisely what its audience wanted.
In November, 2020, the Angelus Online did not hesitate to print a particularly poisonous piece called An Apostate’s Journey Back. Its author is a certain John McFarland, father of SSPX priest Mark McFarland (about whose scandals as an SSPX priest we could write a separate article). In this article, Mr. McFarland, a self-described fighter against the Resistance, first describes his journey to “Tradition”. It is, however, clear from what he tells of his story, that he never truly found Tradition, but instead, only a softened, watered-down idea of who Archbishop Lefebvre really was, and thus a false “Tradition”.
First, to his credit, early in his “conversion”, Mr. McFarland correctly identifies the problem. He says,
I didn’t go more than 50-75 pages into [a book called] “Iota Unum” before I recognized the crucial fact: the Church’s terrible problems did not stem primarily from Rome’s being disobeyed. They stemmed from Rome’s being followed [by Catholics] in its failure to oppose and its supporting the modernist offensive during and after the Council.
McFarland, who tells us that he is an amateur philosopher and a lawyer, then began to assist at Fr. Ringrose’s St. Athanasius chapel in Northern Virginia. [To our readers: Fr. Ringrose was a long-time friend of the SSPX until the SSPX’s liberalism and treachery became very apparent. He broke with the “new” SSPX afterwards, and the “new” SSPX condemned him for it. He now is affiliated with Bp. Williamson’s group.]
McFarland goes on to say that his newly-ordained son was home in 2012 when he and his son learned of Fr. Ringrose’s signing what McFarland calls the “foundational document” of the Resistance. McFarland’s reaction was to immediately stop attending that chapel:
He [newly-ordained Fr. McFarland] was home on vacation when I came home from Holy Name Sunday Mass and discovered online its [i.e., The Resistance’s] foundational document, whose signatories included the pastor of St. Athanasius. I told [my son, newly-ordained] Father, he said “Well, you can’t go back there [i.e., to Fr. Ringrose’s chapel].”
We have seen this knee-jerk reaction before, in otherwise-good men who continue to support the liberal “new” SSPX, and will hear nothing of the Resistance’s claims that the SSPX has become increasingly liberal. We think such men long ago made the tremendous mistake of placing their loyalty firstly in particular men or organizations (such as the SSPX or particular priests they admire), instead of giving unwavering loyalty first to uncompromising, unadulterated Catholic Tradition. This principle is exemplified in McFarland’s case, where he did not ask Fr. Ringrose (who had a better “nose” for liberalism than McFarland) to carefully explain his decision for his break with the SSPX. The McFarlands seem instead to have simply left because Fr. Ringrose objected to their group, viz., the SSPX. If the McFarlands did give Fr. Ringrose a chance to explain, McFarland does not mention it, and thus leaves off all of Fr. Ringrose’s substantial reasons, which in justice he should have mentioned.
McFarland goes on to say he got involved in polemics with Resistance websites, and that the Resistance was, in general, uncharitable. McFarland does not give any evidence to support this claim but, of course, it is always possible for individuals to overstep civility or charity. In any case, the Angelus Online article allows McFarland to vent his poison by going on to say,
Most of those who consider themselves traditional Catholics and attack the SSPX refer to themselves as the Resistance. From the time that I first learned about them, it was obvious that they had no proof and that their thinking was incoherent.
Even Bishop Williamson, who must have a great deal of SSPX internal information from before his break with the Society, has never offered testimony for any of the charges against Bishop Fellay circulating in the Resistance.
In regards to thinking [sic], in 2012 Bishop Williamson condemned what he styled the SSPX’s wishing to put itself under the authority of the pope. But if Bishop Williamson does not accept the authority of the pope, then His Excellency and those of his followers who agree with him look to be schismatics.
Let us take three of McFarland’s assertions, in the order he makes them.
McFarland’s first assertion:
1. “From the time that I first learned about them [viz., the Resistance], it was obvious that they had no proof and that their thinking was incoherent.”
Is it not rash (and uncharitable) for McFarland to conclude it was “obvious” at his first learning about the Resistance, that they had “no proof” and that their “thinking was incoherent”? How often does it ever happen that when receiving the initial information about any group, a person can prudently conclude that it is “obvious” that the group as a whole both has no evidence and also is illogical?
Further, McFarland’s hasty conclusion of “no proof” is shown by his overlooking a very long catalog of proof either because he failed to look deeply or he is too liberal to recognize the “new” SSPX’s own liberalism. For example:
Isn’t it liberal for the “new” SSPX to reverse its position on abortion-connected vaccines in order to now conclude they are acceptable?
➢ Isn’t it liberal for the N-SSPX to call the new mass “Catholic worship”?
➢ Isn’t it liberal for the N-SSPX to promote a conciliar speaker who is an expert favorably promoting Pope John Paul II’s heretical “Theology of the Body”?
➢ Isn’t it liberal for the N-SSPX to accept the post-conciliar popes as saints?
➢ Isn’t it liberal for the “new” SSPX to urge its followers to join the pope in praying with false religions?
For anyone who wants additional concrete evidence of the “new” SSPX’s increasing liberalism, click on the “Society of St. Pius X” tab at this link:
McFarland’s second assertion:
2. Bishop Williamson and the Resistance cannot support “the charges against Bishop Fellay circulating in the Resistance.”
Again, McFarland fails to look deeply or he is too liberal to recognize Bishop Fellay’s own liberalism. Here are a few examples of it:
❖ Bishop Fellay promotes the new mass as good and holy;
❖ Bishop Fellay denies that there are any errors in the documents of Vatican II; and
❖ Bishop Fellay claims that Vatican II’s teaching on religious liberty “is a very, very limited one: very limited!” although Vatican II itself says that religious liberty is entirely unlimited as long as society does not erupt in violence.
For anyone who wants additional concrete evidence of Bishop Fellay’s liberalism, click on the “Society of St. Pius X” tab, subtab “Bishop Fellay”, found at this link:
McFarland’s third assertion:
3. Perhaps the worst of McFarland’s nonsense however, is his attempted smearing of the Resistance as schismatic or sedevacantist. He says, “In regards to thinking [sic], in 2012 Bishop Williamson condemned what he styled the SSPX’s wishing to put itself under the authority of the pope. But if Bishop Williamson does not accept the authority of the pope, then His Excellency and those of his followers who agree with him look to be schismatics” (emphasis added).
We emphasize those parts of that remark which show how McFarland grossly misrepresents and over-simplifies the true position of Resistance Catholics; and he does this not once, but twice. McFarland implies that Bp. Williamson (and Resistance Catholics) have since 2012 wrongly condemned the SSPX for putting itself “under the authority of the pope”. That is, he implies that Resistance Catholics think that Catholics should reject the pope’s authority outright, simply speaking. If the situation were really as simple as McFarland paints it, then yes – Bp. Williamson and others who hold that view would indeed have committed the mortal sin of schism (as today’s avowed sedevacantists indeed have). Such however, is not the case.
McFarland (knowingly or unknowingly) ignores critical distinctions which separate true Traditional Catholics from men like himself, as well as those outside the Church (sedevacantists and other schismatics). The truly Traditional Catholic attitude has always been to both acknowledge the authority of the pope as the supreme head of the Catholic Church, and to protect oneself and one’s loved ones by refusing to obey sinful commands from that superior (that is, those commands that are against Faith and Morals). This is true obedience and this principle applies whether the superior is ecclesiastical, political, or familial.
But it is true that in the last 50 years, almost every command from conciliar church authorities has posed a serious danger to faith and morals, and thus, Catholics in practice refuse to obey almost everything their superiors command. Yet those same Catholics know the men issuing these evil commands continue to be their superiors.
It is precisely this attitude of true filial obedience coupled with caution and prudence that sedevacantists (on the one hand) and liberals like John McFarland (on the other) lack. But this very balancing act is what Archbishop Lefebvre understood and “walked” every day. It is true that in the earlier days (1970s) he was not yet certain of what Modernist Rome’s intentions were, and wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. But after the mid-1980s, he became completely convinced that Modernist Rome had no other intention but to destroy Catholic Tradition.
Bishop Williamson (despite his own serious liberalism on various matters) clearly understands all of the above distinctions, as he has repeatedly, clearly, and publicly shown. Yet McFarland, who implies he has engaged many times in serious polemics with the Resistance, as well as having spoken with Bp. Williamson, mentions none of this.
Conclusion: The N-SSPX continues to print poison such as McFarland’s article so as to continue to corrupt its readers as well as faithful Traditional Catholics everywhere. Not only is the N-SSPX no longer Traditional Catholic, but also it works directly AGAINST Catholic Tradition by misrepresenting, smearing, and silencing those who try to sound the alarm concerning its own liberalism.
 This Angelus article is available here:
 McFarland calls those opposing the SSPX’s liberalism “the Resistance”. As such, he would probably call Catholic Candle part of “the Resistance” because it points out the “new” SSPX’s liberalism. However, we don’t tend to call ourselves “the Resistance” but instead simply focus on striving to be completely uncompromising Traditional Catholics.
 See part 3 of this article:
 Sedevacantism is wrong and is schismatic. Read this short book: Concerning our duty to recognize the pope’s authority but resist his evil commands, read chapter 7 of this book.