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
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
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.
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.]
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.
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
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
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?
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:
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
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: https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/#gsc.tab=0
McFarland’s second assertion:
Williamson and the Resistance cannot support “the charges against Bishop Fellay
circulating in the Resistance.”
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: https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/#gsc.tab=0
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”
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.
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
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.