Sinful Obedience or Virtuous Disobedience? (Guest: Dr. Peter Kwasniewski)

Crisis Point

Interview Transcript

Is there such a thing as sinful obedience? What about virtuous disobedience? On this Crisis Point, we’re going to talk about a proper understanding of that most Catholic of virtues: obedience.

Links:

Watch on Odysee:

Watch on YouTube:

Transcript:

Eric Sammons:

Is there such a thing as sinful obedience? What about virtuous disobedience? We’re going to talk about a proper understanding of that most Catholic of virtues, obedience, today on Crisis Point. Hello, I’m Eric Sammons, your host, the editor-in-chief of Crisis Magazine. Just want to encourage people before we get started to like and subscribe to the channel wherever you listen to it, wherever you might watch it. Also, I want to encourage people to follow us on the various social media channels. We’re on a lot of them. Just recently, I was actually personally locked out of Twitter because of saying things that are hateful content according to Twitter. So we’re also on channels like Gab and Gitter MeWe and all those places. So be sure to follow Crisis Magazines at crisismag.

Well, let’s go ahead and just jump into topic today. We have Peter Kwasniewski. I’m not going to do a long introduction because I think everybody knows who he is. He’s written or edited 14 different books. It might be more than 14 by now because every time I have him on, it’s probably an extra one or two. But the one we want to talk about today is this. It’s a short little book, almost a booklet, but it’s deep. It has more than most books have in it. It’s called True Obedience in the Church: A Guide to Discernment in Challenging Times. And it’s from Sophia Institute Press. Thanks for coming on, Peter.

Peter Kwasniewski:

Thank you for having me again.

Eric Sammons:

Along with Kennedy Hall, you’re one of my three-time people now guests. So thanks, I appreciate your availability. Now I personally consider the issue of obedience and a proper understanding of it might be one of the most important issues in the Church today. And to me, when I look at obedience, I feel like the history of kind of this virtue goes back centuries, definitely to the Protestant reformation. I mean, I’m sure, since the time of Adam and Eve, obviously it goes back to there, but really, in our modern times, the Protestant reformation really formed our ideas of obedience and disobedience.

But then you also see it in the secular world this past century because you have the example of Nazi Germany, where you have millions of people blindly obedient to a mad man, and then just 20 years later, in the 1960s, you see a complete desire to abandon any obedience to legitimate authority throughout our cultures. We see these swings going back and forth. And I think what your book is trying to do is, let’s put obedience in this proper place that we don’t go to one extreme of Nazi Germany type obedience, but we also don’t go to the 1960s, let’s throw all authority out the window.

Peter Kwasniewski:

Exactly. Exactly. Yes. Yes. And as you pointed out, I mean, there are many ways of putting this contrast, but one way of putting it is that we’re living in a time that alternates between legalism and lawlessness, right, between authoritarianism and anarchy, right? You could put this in all sorts of ways. It seems like people either want to have no restraints, or they don’t even want to use their minds. They just want to be restrained, just basically, “Rule me, and don’t ask me to use my faith and reason.” And these are all deviations, right?

Obedience is a virtue. A virtue is a good habit by which we rightly use our powers according to God’s will. And God is a God of order, and he’s a God of truth. And so obedience is always going to be a structure that begins with God and flows down through all of the legitimate authorities until it reaches the subject who is supposed to be obedient.

Eric Sammons:

Right. And I think like obedience, it is interesting how our culture does seem to be, to just go to these extremes, because of course you have the idea of, all authority is bad, we just don’t want to do anything, but then we see the totalitarian nature of so many things going on in society, where it’s… I mean, just what happened with COVID with everybody saying, “Okay, you have to obey these authorities,” and Fauci was saying, “If you even dare question them,” not saying they’re even wrong, but just saying, “Well, hold on a second, let’s look at the data,” “that was enough to get you banned because you had to have this lockstep conformity, this blind obedience to it. And it just seems to be this schizophrenic idea, and you wonder if it’s because when you go completely to freedom, this idea of unbridled freedom, people start realizing how terrible that is. And then you go to the other extreme of, okay, let’s all obey, but then eventually you see how terrible that is, so let’s go back to the other side.

Peter Kwasniewski:

Yes. Well, I mean, let’s put it this way, right? In modernity, freedom or liberty has an awful career. I mean, the great revolution that was supposed to bring freedom to all the French, the French revolution, and the slogan of which was liberty, fraternity, equality, right, it ended up guillotining thousands of people and abolishing all kinds of rights and introducing Napoleonic imperialism, which also wrecked huge parts of Europe.

I mean, and if you look at a philosopher like Rousseau, Rousseau is talking about how wonderful liberty is and how primitive man was just sort of walking around freely in the jungle, eating fruit, a sort of secularized Garden of Eden. But then Rousseau tells you, “Oh, well, once you join a social contract,” right, “and you’ve become part of a nation, then the general will, which is determined by the government, binds everybody regardless of what you think,” right? And so then that’s what you’re seeing with some of these COVID policies. Like in Australia and Canada and Austria, right, it’s the government acting, quote-unquote, “on behalf of the people and for their good,” that is now dictating to them what they may and may not do, even down to having a foreign substance injected into your body against your will. I mean, that’s insane, right? But that’s where we’re at.

Eric Sammons:

And I think it really gets to the heart of… I was going to ask you what the definition of obedience is, what a good definition of obedience is. But first, I actually want to take a step back. I think we have to look what is the proper definition of law because if law is just simply what the superior commands the monarch or the dictator or the democratically elected government, whatever it might be, if law is simply whatever they command, then that changes what we think of obedience. So how would we first define laws, legitimate laws?

Peter Kwasniewski:

Right, right. Well, basically you could say law is a precept of practical reason issued by a competent or legitimate authority duly promulgated for the sake of the common good. So that’s more or less what St. Thomas says in his famous treatise on law. And each of those parts is very important. So it has to do with practical action when we’re dealing with law in the sense which we usually speak about them, not the laws of physics, that’s a different meaning and a metaphor or analogous, metaphorical meaning, but if we’re talking about laws in the usual sense, it has to do with our behavior, what we are supposed to do or refrain from doing. It has to be given by a legitimate authority. And that implies, this is very important, within the sphere of that authority and about those matters to which the authority extends, and then duly promulgated, so it has to observe certain legal forms that everybody is clear, “This is what I’m required to do.” That’s why it’s important, for instance, that there be no contradictions in the law or no ambiguities, right, because if those things are there, then you don’t know actually what the law’s asking or demanding.

And then finally, and most importantly, it must be for the common good, right? So not just for the private good of the ruler, not for some vested interest, like a tobacco company or the mafia or whatever, but it has to be for the common good. And this is something I would just point out. We can get into this more. But the idea is that a well-formed virtuous citizen or subject will be able to tell, in most cases, whether a law is actually for the common good or not, or they are able to find out. And sometimes it’s clear that a law is egregiously contrary to the common good. So that’s enough maybe for the definition.

Eric Sammons:

So there we have law. So then obedience, and I think when it comes to obedience, I think everybody, if you really push them, they understand there are limits to it. I mean, everybody, for example, even the most hyper-papalistic Catholic, who just really is devoted to this idea of obedience, would agree that you don’t obey, for example, in a case of sexual abuse or something like that, you won’t obey then, in fact, that’s often given as a definition is, everything but sin, you obey in everything but sin, but at least in a Catholic sense, how would you define what obedience actually is then?

Peter Kwasniewski:

Yes. So I would define obedience as a virtue by which the subject, in any context, in any community, the subject renders prompt and complete adherence to the legitimate laws given by the one in charge of that community, by the authority in charge of that community. So what that presupposes is that the authority is legislating for the good of the governed, the good of the people, and also, that our reason and our faith and our conscience see nothing in what we’re being required to do that actually conflicts with the law of God, with the Divine Law, the natural law, other relevant laws, whether they be canonical or civil laws, right? So we’re sort of living in this framework. I guess I would put it this way, every human being, it’s easy to talk about human beings because that’s what we know, every human being is actually located or situated in a kind of complex, a multidimensional domain of authorities, right?

We’re under God’s authority first and foremost and always, and he tells us what he wants us to do in his divine law. We’re under his authority in terms of natural law, that is the law that is our participation as rational creatures in God’s eternal law. And similarly, we are always citizens of some government. I mean, I doubt there’s any human being who isn’t a citizen of some government. I don’t know what you’d have to be, I don’t know how that would even be possible, right? So we’re all bound by civil laws. And then those of us who are Catholics are bound by canon law and by whatever the Pope and the bishops and pastors do legislate in accordance with canon ;aw. So you see what I mean? We’re sort of we’re subjects in many different ways and under many different authorities. And what’s important to see if we don’t want to have this picture of chaos is that there’s a hierarchy of these authorities, right? And in my little booklet, as you know, there’s a nifty feature that was suggested to me by an editor at Sophia Institute.

Eric Sammons:

Oh, with a chart?

Peter Kwasniewski:

Yes.

Eric Sammons:

… the pyramid?

Peter Kwasniewski:

[crosstalk 00:11:52].

Eric Sammons:

Yes. It was excellent.

Peter Kwasniewski:

Making a pyramid that talks about… It starts with God, the eternal law, then goes to the revealed divine law, natural law, human ecclesiastical law, human civil law, family rules, and other rules, policies, and standards. So it’s an attempt to present the entirety of the kinds of demands that will be placed on us as human beings.

Eric Sammons:

And I think that’s important for people to recognize. When we talk about law, we’re not necessarily talking about written down laws. For example, in my family, we have certain rules. We, we don’t post them or anything like that. In fact, some of them have never even been said. But there’s an understanding that there’s certain rules. Now in the family, of course, as the father, the wife and the children are subject to me as the head of the family. But even I have certain rules I have to follow within the family or else I’m violating the laws as well, even as the authority in the family. And of course, and then like you said, there’s even customs that you can have in a community, in a parish even or in a village or something like that. So we’re not just talking about written down, like canon law or civil law.

Peter Kwasniewski:

Exactly, exactly.

Eric Sammons:

But it does show how much obedience matters because literally you can’t go through a day without having to be obedient to some law, to some person. You might not even realize you’re doing it, but you’re being obedient on some way. When you drive somewhere, you’re driving on these public roads and there’s certain laws about it. And so you have consequences if you violate those laws, could have them, and it’s a lot of-

Peter Kwasniewski:

Yes, exactly.

Eric Sammons:

… different levels there.

Peter Kwasniewski:

Right. And I think part of the reason why people don’t reflect often enough on obedience is that we actually are obeying many of these customs laws and rules without even being aware of it. And it seems like we become aware of it only when something conflicts with us, when we crash up against a barrier. When somebody tells us to do something we don’t want to do or something that we think is wrong to do, then suddenly, we become very much aware of, oh, there’s an authority, there’s a command or a prohibition, and there’s me, and what am I going to do now? Right? And what does my conscience dictate, and is my conscience itself well-formed in this regard? So, yes, I think we need to become more conscientious about the virtue obedience and about what authority resides in, where it comes from, in order that when these moments of great conflict arise, we’ll be prepared to make good, rational, prudent, and courageous decisions.

Eric Sammons:

I think one of the first arguments kind of against what you’re saying, so there’s this definition of obedience that you find very commonly within Catholic circles of, you obey your legitimate superior in all things but sin. I hear that a lot myself. I see that a lot where it’s like, so if the Pope tells you to do something, as long as it’s not a sin, you have to do it. Or if a bishop tells you or something, or if a bishop tells a priest something, he has to do it unless it’s a sin. But what you’re saying and suggesting is that where you would, quote-unquote, “disobey,” I think we could argue on the terms because if you’re not required to obey something, you’re not really disobeying if you don’t do it, but let’s just call it disobedience.

If you disobey on something, because you believe it is outside maybe the sphere of authority of your superior or something like that, well, doesn’t that then just denigrate into Protestant private judgment? I mean, I think that the argument against this is, by having this strict thing of, if it’s not sin, you obey, it’s pretty easy in general to follow that, whereas if all of a sudden, now you open it up to, well, if it’s this or that, how is that different from the Protestant who just says, “Well, I follow my private judgment on what is right and what God wants”?

Peter Kwasniewski:

Well, I mean, I think the problem is that there’s a huge amount of territory between blind servile obedience, as long as the 10 commandments are not violated, and Protestant private judgment. I mean, those are two really far distant poles. And there are a lot of situations in life where, well, first of all, I would just say common sense, comes into play. So I mean, if a bishop were to tell a priest, I mean, this is a silly example, but I’m just using it as a silly example, “I don’t want you to wear black clerics anymore or your cassock. I just want you always to wear pink and blue clerical shirts and khakis. That’s all that you’re allowed to wear. And I’m telling you, you have to obey me,” okay, is that sinful? I don’t think so. I mean, I don’t think there’s anything sinful about pastels and khakis, right? But I think the priest in that situation can basically say, I mean, in a very polite way, “Get lost,” that, “You have no business telling me what my wardrobe should be.

And on the contrary, I can cite for you five Vatican documents that say that priests should wear their clerical attire.” And even those documents might not be authoritative. They might just be sort of guidelines or something like thar or just a speech given by some curial official. But nevertheless, it would give the priest ground to stand on, right? If there’s something more serious, let’s take an example like Cardinal Cupich telling priests, “You’re not allowed to celebrate the Novus Ordo mass ad orientem,” toward the east. “Oh, really? So tell me. Tell me, your eminence, how exactly do you, as an archbishop, have the authority to contradict the general instruction of the Roman missal and the rubrics printed in the Novus Ordo Missae and all the guidelines that have come out on this subject from the congregation for divine worship? Tell me how exactly is it that you have authority over all of that?” Right?

So again, the problem with saying, “Obey in everything but sin,” is that there are things which wouldn’t necessarily be sinful to do or not do, but which are nevertheless not subject to these authorities’ commands or governance. And that’s where it just helps to be aware. I mean, if you’re a pastor, you need to know canon law. You need to know the rubrics of the missal. You need to understand customary law. That is the way that custom has the force of law. And that’s even recognized in the canonical tradition. Sometimes the custom can trump written laws, right?

Eric Sammons:

Right. And I wonder, I read something, I don’t know where it was, but it talked about that part of the history of thinking on the virtue of obedience in the Catholic Church really took a turn in response to Protestant reformation. When I read Thomas, I mean, I actually printed out the part from the Summa here so I’d have it referenced, where he talks about obedience. And as everything with Thomas, it’s so balanced. It’s hilarious. I mean, he’s just like, “Okay, yes, you do this, but no, you don’t do this.” I mean, it’s like, yes, you obey God in all things no matter what, but no man has that deserves that absolute obedience. But then you do see a lot of Catholic works, particularly, I think, at least I found, it’s after the Protestant reformation, that it talks a lot about obedience being the ultimate virtue and that you really do obey no matter what. And I saw it connected to the Jesuit, rise of the Jesuits. I love St. Ignatius of Loyola obviously. And the early Jesuits, I mean, they’re just great. But do you think there might have been something that… in legitimate response to the Protestant disobedience, that there might have been a reaction over the other side?

Peter Kwasniewski:

Yes, absolutely. No, no, I mean, for sure, the Protestant reformation unleashed private judgment, unleashed free independent inquiry and the scripture. Scripture means whatever you and the Holy Spirit think it means. I mean, it was a disaster. It was like pulling the linchpin out of Christianity, and it all falls apart. It’s like taking the soul from the body, right? That’s why there are 30,000 denominations of Protestants. They can’t agree about very much. And maybe about the trinity and the incarnation and the redemptive passion or something, but it’s a pretty much open game from there. So yes, of course the Catholic Church responded with… But I think we have to ask, how did the Catholic Church respond to the Protestant revolt? It didn’t respond just by a Renaissance Pope saying, “Listen, all of this Lutheran Calvinist stuff is garbage. You just need to obey me, follow what I say, do what I say, and much less live like me.” Right? No. What actually happened is the Church realized this is a crisis situation. “We need to get our house in order. We need to define clearly what we hold and why we hold it. We need to teach better and preach better and form priests better.”

Basically, the Protestant revolt ended up becoming a wake up call for the revitalization of the Church and for the, how should I put it, the recovery of so many lost virtues. So in other words, I think there was a kind of healthy salutary humiliation that took place as the leaders of the Church recognized, “You know what? This Protestant revolt happened because of our sins and our faults.” Right? And unfortunately, that’s a humility that is still lacking in the Church today, right? If you think about the disaster that followed the Second Vatican Council, there were more Catholics who left the Church after Vatican Two than Catholics who were lost to the Church in the Protestant revolt, okay, I mean, proportionally speaking, not just in absolute numbers, but in percentages, right? It was the biggest crash that ever happened. Have the ecclesiastical authorities taken responsibility for that in the way that people did in the Renaissance period around the Council of Trent? No, they haven’t. They’re still pretending that either nothing really went wrong, or we couldn’t have done anything about it anyway, or Vatican Two was great, but it’s all of these traditionalists and conservatives who are preventing it from bearing its fruits. No, they haven’t taken responsibility for that. So they haven’t shown servant leadership in that regard.

But there was something you brought up that I wanted to comment to. Oh, yes, Jesuits. Yes. The thing about the Jesuits is this. Ignatius himself lauds prompt and immediate and total obedience. So does St. Benedict of Nursia. You find this in all the traditions of all the religious orders. But as St. Thomas Aquinas points out, the kind of obedience that a religious pledges as a vow to his superior is different from the kind of obedience that any layman or even a secular priest, a diocesan priest has. It’s a different kind of obedience. It’s a vow of that total obedience, which is a Holocaust of the will, is the way that St. Thomas puts it. So the Benedictine monk or the Jesuit is saying, “I am freely choosing to let my superior tell me to clean bathrooms instead of studying theology. I don’t care how brilliant I am. I might be the most brilliant theologian in the world, but if he tells me to go and scrub toilets, that’s what I’m going to do because I made this vow obedience,” right?

But a layman doesn’t take a vow like that. So if a bishop said to a layman or to lay people in general, “You shouldn’t be homeschooling your children. You should be sending them to the Catholic schools, the parochial schools,” and there have been bishops who’ve actually tried to kind of guilt trip families into doing this and basically abusing their authority to make them think they needed to follow that instruction. The father of the family could say, “No, I’m sorry, Bishop. With all due respect, I’m the head of my family. I’m in charge of my family. I’m in charge of my children. You are not, except in regard to what strictly pertains to your episcopal functions. And so if I decide to educate my children, I’m going to educate my children, period, so.

Eric Sammons:

And I feel like though when I read history, the Catholic history, when you look at the Middle Ages, there seems to be this… I think it’s healthy, but maybe it led to Protestant reformation, I don’t know, but there’s this kind of healthy attitude of bishops towards the Pope, of priests towards bishops, where it’s, they’re not as subservient as you then later see after the Protestant reformation. You see bishops who are very willing to say, “Holy Father, you’re the Pope. Great, but I’m not doing that. I’m simply not going to do that because it’s not something I think that should be done. And I think it’s outside your authority,” whatever. But then you see and even thinking that in maybe the 17th or 18th century, it actually was unthinkable. And I wonder if that’s just simply because it’s like, “We don’t want to be Protestant. We have to really make sure we guard our unity together and don’t have any cracks,” so to speak, “against Protestantism.”

Peter Kwasniewski:

I mean, I think you yourself wrote an article, didn’t you, about Robert Grosseteste-

Eric Sammons:

Yes.

Peter Kwasniewski:

… where you pointed out that a Pope ordered him to, was it install someone-

Eric Sammons:

It was, install his nephew or something as a canon in his diocese.

Peter Kwasniewski:

Right. And Bishop Grosseteste wrote back a pretty fiery response saying, “Absolutely not. I will not do this. It’s wrong, and you can’t command me to do it.” No, I think you’re right. Actually medieval history, well, really the history of the Church from the beginning through the middle ages up until the Protestant revolt, shows many examples of individuals who had to say to the Pope or to bishops, basically non possumus, we can’t do the thing that you’re asking to be done. It goes against our customs. It goes against tradition. It goes against the limits of your office or whatever it might be, whatever the case might be. There’s a book that I always recommend to people because I think it’s so important. It’s by Roberto de Mattei called Love for the Papacy and Filial Resistance to the Pope in the History of the Church. It’s a fascinating book because he goes through a few dozen examples like this, including some saints, right, some recognized saints who said no to their authority, to the higher authorities in the Church.

So really, what I think we’re looking at is the realization… It’s what I call Catholic common sense. More technically, you could call it sensus fidei or the sensus fidelium, that is, that there are times when people recognize that something is just not right. This is not right. John the XXII is teaching that the souls of the just don’t see God until the end of time. That offends my Catholic ears. It doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever heard before. No, no, your holiness, we’re not going to teach that. And John XXIII, in fact, was opposed by secular rulers and by Dominicans. And he apparently, I think, even threw some of them in jail. He threw a Dominican in jail, at least. For having opposed him on this question. But the Dominican didn’t budge. I mean, he wasn’t going to just obey. And similarly, I believe that there was a king at the time who threatened the Pope and said, “If you don’t renege on this heresy, on this error, I’m coming after you.” Right? And in fact, there was another example in Church history. I wish I could remember the name of the emperor, but there was an emperor who was so disgusted at the corruption in the papacy at a given moment that he invaded Roman. He deposed the Pope.

Eric Sammons:

Is that Otto?

Peter Kwasniewski:

That’s right. Otto, exactly. Right now, Church historians, they tie themselves into pretzels, and they say things like, “Well, really, he shouldn’t have done that, but he did it, and I guess the outcome was all right, but we don’t really recommend it as a policy,” whatever. No, but the point is that Church history is just a lot more dynamic and a lot more colorful. And it shows that people had backbones. They had consciences. They had a sense of tradition that was strong enough that they would at least be able to respectfully push back sometimes to authority.

Eric Sammons:

Can you imagine what the world would be like if the Pope knew if you got a little too heretical, some emperor might invade Rome?

Peter Kwasniewski:

Yes.

Eric Sammons:

That would change things a little bit. I mean, I think, and the fact is that it definitely shows a fundamentally different understanding of obedience than most Catholics have today because of the fact that under the common understanding of the virtue obedience today in the Catholic world, something like what Otto did or these bishops and even saints when they resisted Popes was just unheard of. You just couldn’t do that. That was somehow uncatholic. Now I will say as well that Protestants did later use some of those examples to defend themselves. They said that, “Oh, these are basically Proto-Protestants happening there.” And so you do have that situation as well.

Peter Kwasniewski:

So look, the claim that it’s inherently Protestant to question authority, is it complete absurdity, I mean, the problem with the Protestants is that they had false first principles. They had sola scriptura, which is a false first principle. They had sola fide, which was a false first principle. They had sola gratia, which was a false first principle. And all of their disobediences followed from their false principles. Okay? With a Catholic, a Catholic who today says, “I’m not going to do this thing that I’ve been told to do because it conflicts with authoritative Catholic teaching from the past or a universally accepted practice or tradition,” that’s an anti-Protestant response. That’s a Catholic’s response to a Church leader who is acting like a Protestant, if I can put it that way.

Eric Sammons:

Right. Now within the Church, let’s confine it now to just within the Church, now I would argue then that there are a couple different types of demanded obedience among different people. So for example, there’s a bishop to the Pope. There’s a diocesan priest to his bishop. There is a religious to his or her superior. There’s a layperson to the pastor, to the bishop, and to the Pope. I guess there’s everybody’s obedience on some level just to canon law as an entity, just the laws in canon law. So that would be to the kind of the magisterium and what’s set up like that. And so let’s first talk about, so how do they differ from each other, those different levels? And is there any others that I kind of forgot?

Peter Kwasniewski:

Well, yes, let me well, maybe just make a preliminary remark before we get into the nitty-gritty. And that is, sometimes if one explains the whole structure of obedience, it sounds incredibly complicated, like it’s some kind of astrophysics. How am I ever supposed to navigate all these different obediences that I owe, and how could I ever know enough about law and tradition and so on to navigate them? But I think that’s an understandable reaction when you try to analyze something and make a map of it. Just like if you make a map of all the virtues and vices, it kind of freaks you out because you’re like, “Oh, my goodness. I don’t have most of those virtues.” It makes you think almost too much at once, right?

But the point I like to emphasize, as I mentioned a little bit before, is that most of the time, we are able to obey effortlessly, right? I mean, most of the time, if a husband asks something reasonable of his children or his wife, they will do it. He doesn’t have to constantly be wailing on the kids or shouting at his wife or something. People just do if it’s reasonable, and if it’s not, asking them to turn themselves inside out, then people follow. And it seems to me, in general, that unless there’s something we’re told to do or not to do that flagrantly conflicts with what we know to be true or what we believe to be true, then there’s no reason for us to fuss about it. We shouldn’t have to have an elaborate mental process, like, “Do I obey?”

So if a bishop says to a priest, “I know you really love being at St. Stanislaus’ parish, but I really need you to go over to St. Genevieve’s parish and be the priest there, and so I’m asking you to do that,” I mean, why would a priest disagree with that? I mean, unless he had a really compelling argument, like, “Well, you have to take into account this factor or that factor,” but he shouldn’t disobey because the bishop is fully within his rights to move his priests wherever he wants to, right?

Eric Sammons:

Right. Yes. Now, this whole debate in the books, in the context of books, book has a lot to do with the Traditionis Custodes, where Pope Francis basically is trying to limit now the celebration of the traditional Latin mass. And this caused a huge debate when it came out. A lot of Catholics, and I’m talking about good faithful Catholics, I’m not talking about Fr. James Martin or somebody like that, there was a real disagreement between sides, so to speak, between those who said, “A priest basically does have to obey his bishop. If his bishop says or the Pope says that, ‘No, you cannot celebrate your traditional Latin mass, you have to celebrate the Novus Ordo,'” there was those who said that, “You have to obey,” and then there were the others who said, “No,” and you’re one of them, who said, “No, he does not have to obey.” Could you first give your argument of why a priest in that situation does not? And just before I even finish the question, we’re not talking about whether or not it’s prudent, consequences, all that stuff. We’re just talking about the morality of it here. So why could a priest morally disobey that order from his bishop when a bishop is considered the person-in-charge of the liturgy on some level in his diocese?

Peter Kwasniewski:

Yes. Thank you for that question. It’s a pretty complicated question. So let me try to tackle it from a couple of angles. The first and easier case to make, I’m just going to go here first, is the following. Okay. Traditionis Custodes itself, on a close analysis, is full of problems. It’s full of contradictions, ambiguities, and errors. And the responses to the dubia in December of last year are even worse in that respect. And very careful analysis of that has been made. I’ve written several things, canon lawyers, like Fr. Gerald Murray, have written analyses of these documents, saying these documents are not, so to speak, competent legal instruments. They’re not the kind of thing you can obey. They leave you in doubt about what the legislator’s mind is, about what exactly he is changing or not changing. What is being abrogated is anything being… Summorum Pontificum itself is not completely abrogated if you read these things carefully.

And there’s a principle in canon law, which is that, an uncertain law does not bind. Okay? So and therefore, I think the easier case to make, and some bishops have made this although not very publicly, but some bishops have basically said, “This is a mess. I’m dispensing from it, and we’re going to carry on in our diocese peacefully as we’ve already been doing. I didn’t ask for this headache. My survey was positive. I don’t know about the other bishops. And I’m just carrying on as usual, invoking canon 87,” okay, which is, the bishop gets to dispense from laws even handed down by the highest authority in the Church.

Okay. So one approach would be for a priest to say, “You know what? There just isn’t the groundwork necessary for a prohibition to take effect.” So basically, it’s a mistake in judgment. The authority here is mistaken in thinking that they are able to or that they have successfully prohibited the traditional mass. But that’s just a legalistic kind of argument. And in a way, one could say, “Well, look, okay, well, what about the harder case? What if the Pope was really clear about what he wanted, and there were no contradictions and no ambiguities and no errors, and he said, ‘It’s abolished. The mass is abolished,’ and your bishop says, ‘I agree with the Pope, and now you have to follow this, too’?” That gets into a major theme in my book here, my booklet, and that is the relationship between authority and the common good.

Basically what I argue is that authority exists. The reason authority arises is, you have a community, and the community has a good common to all of its members, and some member has to take charge of that good in order for the whole community to move towards the good and to possess it in an orderly fashion. That’s the origin of authority. If everybody somehow had sort of infused knowledge about everything they were supposed to do and how to pursue it, then there would be no need for authority. So authority is kind of a shepherd who guides the sheep in the right direction. But these are rational sheep, of course, and they participate in the common good. They’re not just brood animals. So in the Church, too, the same thing is the case, right? The Pope, the papacy, and the episcopacy exist to preserve and protect the common good of the Church, which means the common good that belongs to each and every one of the faithful. Even the lowliest baptized baby possesses that common good just like the Pope and the bishops do, even though we all have different relations to it. Some of us are in charge, some of us are not.

And then the next step is to see that liturgy tradition, the tradition of the Church, belongs to her common good. And the traditional liturgy, in a super abundant way, belongs to the common good of the Church, that is to say, the good that has always been recognized, treasured, loved handed on, right, without exception, down all the ages of the Church. And so it seems to me that this is the basis of Pope Benedict’s famous statement that what was sacred in the past remains sacred and great for us, too, and it cannot be forbidden, cannot be forbidden, or declared harmful or even declared harmful, but must, must be given its due place in the life of the Church. So Benedict’s statement is a theological, comprehensive, objective statement. It’s not a disciplinary judgment. And I think it’s rooted in this idea of the entirely positive attitude that Catholics should have towards their own heritage. And that’s the basis on which I argue in some detail, obviously I go into detail on this, that not even a Pope or a bishop has the authority to abolish the traditional right of the Church or any traditional right of the Church.

Eric Sammons:

Now, okay, so let’s get a little bit… A specific example that will not even touch upon the traditional Latin mass, but let’s say, for example, the Pope and the proper authorities, let’s say, was all done with the right, no ambiguity, “I decided to say that in the Novus Ordo, you are now forbidden to celebrate ad orientem.” Okay? So it’s not just a suggestion or something like that, just saying it, but the Pope actually says, “We’re going to make it now that the only proper way to celebrate the Novus Ordo is ad orientem.” Now-

Peter Kwasniewski:

You mean, versus populum?

Eric Sammons:

I’m sorry, versus populum. Yes, absolutely. Yes. I apologize. Yes, exactly, versus populum. I think the right way. But yes, okay, so, sorry. So yes, the only way you can celebrate the Novus Ordo is versus populum. You are forbidden to celebrate ad orientem. And this comes from the Pope, the legitimate authorities. They say, “We’re resending any previous allowances in canon law or in the different documents. And now we’re saying this is the only way to do it.” Is that something that a priest could and bishops could just say, “Now, we’re just not going to follow that.” And if so, why?

Peter Kwasniewski:

Yes, no, I mean, I generally believe that any kind of frontal assault on an uninterrupted immemorial and venerable tradition of Catholic worship is inherently illicit and illegitimate, cannot possibly have legal force. That’s my position, and I’m willing to die for it, I hope. It’s because what you’re doing there, if you actually say that tradition is completely malleable and plastic and has no standing whatsoever and that the Pope has complete and unlimited authority over anything that has to do with the worship of the Church no matter what the record of history and the practice of the saints and the theological defenses have been, then I think what you’re doing is you’re just making Catholicism into the play toy of the Pope, to use an expression of Bishop Mutsaerts of the Netherlands, right?

Peter Kwasniewski:

It’s making a mockery, mockery out of Catholic tradition, and it’s something that would justify every Eastern Orthodox and every Protestant person to never become Catholic if that’s what the Pope can do. And I feel passionately about this because I’m a trained philosopher, okay? Philosophers take reason seriously. They take truth seriously. They take consistency seriously. And what we see, unfortunately, with recent pontificates, and I mean, this is going back now for five, six decades, is this kind of ping-pong match between different popes where it’s like, “Okay, now this is allowed, now this is forbidden. This is good, now this is bad. The Church was actually wrong for 500 or 1,000 years.” I mean, kind of, it’s a joke, right? It’s a caricature. And what we need is Popes who can actually embrace and defend and promote the great tradition of the Church.

St. Basil the Great, okay, who is writing in the Fourth Century, St. Basil the Great says in his work on the Holy Spirit that, “Worshipping to the east was handed down to us by the apostles.” Okay? And every Church Father says the same thing. Okay, this is an apostolic custom. And in fact, Basil uses eastward prayer as a way to prove the divinity of the Holy Spirit. How’s that? Because he says, “Look, you all accept you, the heretics who are disputing the divinity of the Holy Spirit, you accept that we should worship eastwards, right?” Well, guess what? We believe the divinity of the Holy Spirit for the same reason that we believe that we should worship eastwards. I mean-

Eric Sammons:

Wow.

Peter Kwasniewski:

… that’s enough to blow your mind, right, when you see that kind of argument in the Church Fathers, and it makes you realize how absolutely without force it is for a Pope to go against that unbroken witness.

Eric Sammons:

And I’ve heard the argument that if it’s apostolic in origin, St. Irenaeus of course in the Second Century was saying that, the reason we believe this is because it was handed to us by the apostles. And so if it apostolic origin, I’ve heard it argued that, therefore, it can’t be abrogated by Popes or anybody else.

Peter Kwasniewski:

That’s right. That’s right. And look, I mean, the Church Fathers were ultra-conservative, okay? They were not like Hans Kung and Edward Schillebeeckx and who knows what other modern theologians who just make things up, or Teilhard de Chardin, “Oh, we’re in a new era in history. We need to make up a new theology, a new liturgy, a new this and that.” No, the Church Fathers were fiercely conservative. So when they talked about having, let’s say, subdeacons and deacons, right, that wasn’t because somebody one fine day woke up and said, “Let’s invent this office of subdeacon and acolytes and lector.” No, it’s because for as long as anyone could remember, there were lectors and acolytes and subdeacons, right? I mean, the Church is inherently conservative. And yes, there may have been a moment just like there’s a moment in the Acts of the Apostles where deacons are introduced, right, but under divine authorization obviously, under divine inspiration. Yes, there was undoubtedly a moment when the Church saw the need to create subdeacons that is basically servants to deacons, just as deacons are servants to priests, right?

But once that office came into being through the experience of worship and of liturgy and through prayerful discernment and once it existed, nobody dreamt of deconstructing it and getting rid of it. So I mean, that’s what we have to understand about Church history in general, is that it’s additive. It adds. The liturgy grows over time, becomes more and more splendid, more and more expressive, more and more beautiful, more and more doctrinally rich. But you don’t ever have somebody coming along and just hacking out big pieces of it and saying, “No, we don’t need this stuff anymore. This is too much claptrap. We need a simplified, abbreviated, efficient utilitarian mechanism.” No, nobody ever did that until the 20th Century.

Eric Sammons:

So I’m probably getting nitpicky here, I admit, but I’m trying to make sure it’s very clear to where our lines are, what Popes and in the Church can and cannot do particularly when it comes to the liturgy. So we know, for example, certain aspects of the liturgy are of apostolic origin. The East, I think it’s pretty much well-established that the Roman canon in general is apostolic in origin. But then we do have a lot of things that, let’s say, from the time of the apostles until the time of right after the apostles until the time of, let’s say, Gregory the Great, where things were being added to. For example, correct me if I’m wrong in this, but I think, for example, the Agnus Dei, maybe, the ninefold Kyrie. Things like that were later, later, in the sense of after the time of the apostles, they don’t have truly specifically apostolic origin, but yet I think probably, wouldn’t you argue that those things aren’t something that the Pope really can just say, “Okay, we’re not going to have the Agnus Dei anymore in the mass”? Or is that because it’s not apostolic? How do we have our principles that we can’t get rid of that, for example?

Peter Kwasniewski:

No, I think, so basically, I think the reason why Catholics are so attempted to have a simplistic notion of obedience is that it actually requires a certain amount of hard work, and there are prudential decisions in thinking through what can a Pope do and what can’t he do, that it’s easier just to say, “Well, he can do whatever he darn well pleases, and you have to just suck it up.” It’s easier to say that than it is to say, “Well, it seems like Popes can and do and maybe even should make minor changes. But if they make a huge raft of thousands of changes all at once, that’s a really bad thing, and that’s harmful to the Church. It’s contrary to our common good, and it should be resisted.”

Do you see what I’m saying? It’s like, you can’t escape. I think you cannot escape a certain amount of prudential judgment about whether a Pope is being reckless or not, right? And this is recognized by the theologians, by people like Suarez, Cajetan, John, and St. Thomas. They all say, “If the Pope is attacking the common good of the Church, you can resist him.” Well, that presuppose being able to recognize that the Pope is attacking the common good of the Church, right? And I think that there were Catholics in the 1960s, fascinating to study, the mid-60s, right, because what was happening in the mid-60s? Well, Vatican Two was just finished or finishing up. And it was before the Novus Ordo, but all these liturgical changes were already being imposed, including the vernacularization of the liturgy. So after, what, 16, 1700 years of worshipping in Latin, everywhere in the world, the Church of the Latin, right, was chucking out Latin for the sake of dozens scholars of vernacular languages, right?

There were Catholics in the mid-60s who are strongly protesting against that and saying, “This is deeply antithetical to the unity of the Church, the stability of the Church, the integrity of the faith, the solemnity of the liturgy,” right? “This is bad stuff.” Okay? And their consciences would not let them be at ease with a vernacular liturgy. And anyway, so just, what are the limits to what a Pope can do? Well, I don’t know. It seems like in history, Popes do various things. And if what they do is reasonable enough, then they don’t get any blowback for it. And if it’s ridiculous, as some things have been, then they get blowback for it. Do you see what I mean? It’s not like you could come up with some kind of Newtonian equation that’s going to cover this.

Eric Sammons:

It’s interesting because these debates are occurring about obedience in a situation that shouldn’t exist, because like you said, one of the things I think we’ve forgotten as Catholics is how inherently conservative the Church has always been, particularly when it comes to liturgy. The funny thing is, if you look in the First Millennium, in the West, the Church… Rome particularly was conservative about everything, whereas in East, they did get a little bit crazy about the doctrinal stuff. I mean, they would try to expand and figure all the stuff. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it obviously didn’t. But when we came to liturgy, both east and west, it was like, oh no, you can’t touch that. You can’t make changes. And so these changes happen very slowly, very organically. And then eventually it was kind of like, we’re not even going to touch it because people rail on-

Peter Kwasniewski:

Exactly.

Eric Sammons:

… or critique the West because in the 16th Century, when Pius V, Pius V, right? When he kind of locked it down, so to speak, he didn’t create it. He just kind of locked it down. But the truth is, the East is the same way. They just did it naturally. I mean, it’s not like the Eastern liturgy has changed in almost forever.

Peter Kwasniewski:

I mean, there are complicated questions there, too, but let’s just put it this way. And this is something that I love to tell people just to get them to think about it, right? For over 1,500 years, so for three quarters of the existence of the Catholic Church on the earth, Catholics in the Latin West, in the West, worshipped with liturgical rights that were never approved by a Pope. They weren’t even approved by bishops, at least explicitly, right? They were worshipping with rights that were simply handed down to them that had the force of custom, which as I said before, is this considerable force and which were seen to be right precisely because people had worshipped with them for such a long time. Okay? And that was a basic confidence in the guidance of the Church by the Holy Spirit, of a divine providence. We didn’t need a Pope to be sort of looking over our shoulder as if we were permanently infantile, right? Like, we can’t actually recognize liturgy when we see it, and so the Pope has to always be there over our shoulder, saying, “Oh, no. I approve that. I approve that. You’re allowed to do that. You’re allowed to…” No, no. For 1,500 years, that was never the case.

And then at the end of the 16th Century, 1570, in order to combat the confusion introduced into many local liturgies throughout Europe, because the Protestant revolt, the Protestant revolt, we have to remember, was a messy business, so there were lots of Catholics who were half involved, they were half Protestant. And there were Catholics who were starting to revise their own local missals in response to things Protestants were saying, right? So it was a chaotic situation. [inaudible 00:52:03], it’s in his book, the traditional mass. It’s very good on the subject. And so Pius V did the unprecedented but direly necessary act of standardizing liturgical right for everybody in the West who didn’t have a continuous liturgical tradition of at least 200 years standing.

So if you could prove, in other words, that you were using liturgical books that went back unchanged for 200 years, you were fine. You didn’t have to adopt the Tridentine missal. But if you couldn’t do that, there was monkey business going on with your missals, then you had to adopt the Tridentine missal. That was probably [inaudible 00:52:37] by Pius V. Now once he did that, as I say, I think it was prudentially necessary or advisable, but he introduced this dangerous implicit assumption, or at least some people could draw the assumption, I don’t think Pius V would have this assumption at all, that any Pope at any time could create a missal and could do whatever he wanted with a missal and give it to the people and make them use it, right?

And that wasn’t Pius V’s thinking. His thinking was, let’s do the best addition possible of what was already traditional in Rome, in the Papal court. That’s exactly what he did. He didn’t invent anything new. And so subsequent Popes received that missal from Pius V, and when they made modifications, they were small. They added saints. Maybe they took off a saint or reduced the rank of a saint. They added a preface or something like that. It’s very, very minor stuff. And every subsequent addition, editio typica, of the Tridentine missal was prefaced with quo primum, right, with the great constitution of Pius V, saying, “This is the Roman right. For all times, this is the worship of the Catholic Church. Everybody, all priests, always have the right to use this missal,” and so on.

And the Popes subsequently published that as a way of saying, “Yes, we ascent. We agree. We recognize this as the canonical Roman rights.” Okay? So I mean, when you start to ponder the implications of these things, that is the force of 1,500 years of tradition combined with the force of another 400 years of Popes explicitly or implicitly embracing the same Roman right, the Tridentine right, then I think that’s when you have a serious crisis of conscience about what Paul VI did in the liturgical reform. And that is really the deepest level at which this question has to be pursued. And as you know, I go into that in my booklet to some extent.

That is what Pope Francis is doing, is he’s sort of reopening wounds from the pontificate of Paul VI, that Benedict was trying to heal. Benedict XVI was trying to heal them by a natural organic process, basically a kind of free market process. Like, “Let’s allow priests and faithful and religious who love the tradition of the Church to keep using some version of the Tridentine missal. Let’s just allow them to do that. And may they flourish if that’s God’s will. And if that’s what’s going to bring spiritual fruit, may they flourish.” And Paul VI didn’t want that. He just wanted to replace the one missal with his own missal. And Francis is right in the line of Paul VI. And that brings us exactly to that kind of ping-pong match that I was talking about before. Obedience becomes kind of mechanistic and blind if we’re just supposed to change the color of our shirts, we’re supposed to change sides every time that the Pope changes. “Oh, now I’m in favor of the Old Rite. Now I’m against it. Now I’m in favor of it.” I mean, what the heck? This is so irrational, right?

Eric Sammons:

Right, or welly, in fact. I also think that it seems, based on what you just said, I just had a thought that it’s almost fundamentally wrong to call it the mass of Pius V, which I’ve heard that term.

Peter Kwasniewski:

Of course.

Eric Sammons:

Because it’s not his mass. But to call it the mass of Paul VI, that actually is somewhat accurate.

Peter Kwasniewski:

Yes, exactly.

Eric Sammons:

And that’s really getting back to the issue of obedience. There’s a fundamental difference between what happened in those cases because what Paul, I’m sorry, what Pius V said to people who were using these more innovative, new liturgies wasn’t saying, “Okay, you’ve received this all the way back to the apostles, and now you have to do something different because I say so.” Instead, he was saying the opposite. He’s saying, “You start innovating things,” and not them maybe particularly but their area, their community, their country, whatever. “And so what I’m saying is, no, you have to go back to doing the way we’ve always done it since the time of the apostles,” whereas Paul VI is doing literally the exact opposite. He’s saying, “You’re doing what everybody’s been doing for 2,000 years, but I’m telling you, no, we have to do this new innovative thing. And you have to obey that just like the 16th Century Catholics had to obey Pius V. Now you have to obey me.” But really, that is very problematic because it’s completely different commands being given in those two cases.

Peter Kwasniewski:

Of course, of course. I mean, and it’s really important to point this out again and again and again, that what Pius V did and what Paul VI did were absolutely opposed to each other. For Pius V, it was, a legitimate liturgy has to be at least 200 years old. And the Roman liturgy deserves pride of place because it’s at least 1,600… Well, I mean, now it’s 1,600 years old, but at the time of Pius V, you could say at least 1,100 or 1,200 years old, and I say that because, yes, it originates with the apostles, but also it seems like Latin liturgy, as we know, was born in the Fourth Century. So that’s why I modify my millennia, my centuries in that way, but yes, whereas Paul VI was saying, “Forget about the fact that we have a liturgy that’s 1,600 at least or 1,700 years old. You have to use my liturgy that was just compiled yesterday,” right?

And therefore, the only argument behind the Novus Ordo is Papal authority, sheer untrammeled, “I say so because I’m the Pope,” [foreign language 00:58:18], right? That’s it. And it’s like Louis XIV okay? And you know what? This is not a Catholic view of the papacy. It never has been. It’s an abusive view. And that’s why I think the whole question of obedience surrounding the liturgy, people get bogged down too quickly in legalism. And they want to know what canon allows me to do this, or whatever. And they have to step back and look at the big picture and look at what’s rational and what’s traditional versus what is nominalistic and voluntaristic and irrational, really.

Eric Sammons:

There’s a million other things we could still cover. But what I want to maybe finish it on is let’s address though the practical reality, that if a priest decides, like a priest in Chicago says, “I’m not going to do what you said,” or down in Florida, the bishop down there said, “You can’t do ad orientem,” and he says, “No, I’m going to do it anyway,” practically speaking, I think we all know exactly what would happen to that priest. We have the phenomenon of canceled priests, and I think that’s exactly what would happen. And so realistically, and because we’re not talking about morality anymore, we’re talking more about just the prudential decision-

Peter Kwasniewski:

Exactly.

Eric Sammons:

And so what would you say to priests in these terrible situations? Even now, I mean, it could get worse, we don’t know, but even now, where they’re being told that you can’t do something, which they know they can disobey virtuously, but what do you say to them?

Peter Kwasniewski:

Right. No, as you said, it’s an excruciating set of questions because even though there are certain things that could be justified in terms of not obeying particular commands, it’s also not always required that one would disobey in those situations. That is, one can voluntarily accept the lesser of two goods, or one could voluntarily accept an imperfect situation as long as it wasn’t requiring sin, and in your conscience, you didn’t think you were being required to sin. So in other words, it’s not, just because we’ve established that every priest has the right that no Pope can take away from him or no bishop can take away from him to celebrate the traditional mass, doesn’t mean that in every concrete case, the priest should be willing to sacrifice everything in order to do that.

However, I think in our times, it’s crucial, more crucial than ever, that there be more and more priests who don’t let themselves be pushed around, who don’t let themselves be stepped on and their rights denied and a false theology and a false ecclesiology of legal positivism be promoted because if all priests just go along with these abuses, it’s just like with the sexual abuse crisis, I think it’s a very close parallel, the liturgical abusiveness that’s been happening and the sexual abuse crisis. The more people who tolerate it and who consent to it silently and implicitly, the worse the problem is, the more it becomes sort of hardened and a permanent feature of Church life, right, which we don’t want to be the case.

And I can tell you that, I mean, I don’t know how likely this is, but there’s such a priest shortage right now that if enough priests in a given area said together, “We can’t abide. We can’t accept this unjust policy. We ask respectfully for it to be changed. And otherwise, we are all retiring. We’ve saved up. We’ve got lay people who are going to help us. And we’re just going to go into early retirement,” if enough priests did that, you better believe that there would be some pretty quick changes going on at chanceries. Either that or the dioceses would just drive themselves into the ground, and they’d have to be rescued later on, right, by traditional priests.

Let me just give you a concrete example of somebody who did this. So I’m not just talking in sort of La La Land. There’s a famous priest named Fr. Brian Houghton who wrote this incredible autobiography called Unwanted Priest. The English manuscript was just recently rediscovered, only a couple of years ago. It was written back around 1990, but the English manuscript was lost, and then it was rediscovered a couple of years ago. And now it’s been published. It’s published by Angelical Press. First of all, he’s a fabulous writer. It’s a hugely entertaining book. But this was a man of such high principle, and he was very generous. He worked. He worked so hard on his parishes. He wasn’t lazy at all, but he was of such high principle that he told his bishop in the mid-60s, he said, “If they ever touch the canon of the mass, if they ever change the mass into something else, I am going to resign. I won’t do it.”

And on midnight of November, I think it was 30th, November 29th, November 30th of 1969, when the Novus Ordo officially went into effect, he resigned his pastorship, and he retired. He retired to a little town in France because in his conscience, he would not do the Novus Ordo. He simply would not do it. And the Lord blessed him there. The Lord blessed him with a congregation. He wasn’t even expecting it. The local bishop ended up saying, “Oh, I’m fine if you say the old mass.” And he had a whole bunch of grateful French people who formed a congregation for him.

So actually, he is priest that continued to be pastorally fruitful, even though he was planning on just reading and writing and praying. But basically for him, the mass was so important. Remaining faithful to tradition was so important that he would not give that up. He gave up his pastorship instead of giving up the mass. And I personally believe that we need that kind of heroism. We need that kind of courage. And the lay people themselves will do anything for priests who have that kind of principled and courageous stance, right? I mean, we will support you, priests, and we will find ways for you to still be pastorally fruitful.

Eric Sammons:

I think that’s a great point. I think we’re going to end it on that, in fact, because I do think because the fact that we have a such a bad understanding of obedience, and more importantly, because the fact that authorities are abusing this virtue of obedience, that it’s going to take heroism. It’s going to take courage actually to right the ship, so to speak, because it’s not going to happen overnight. In fact, the first wave of priests and lay people who say, “No, this is just not something you’re allowed to do,” they’re going to be hit the hardest because-

Peter Kwasniewski:

Yes, exactly.

Eric Sammons:

… that’s the way it works. But hopefully over time-

Peter Kwasniewski:

But see what happened, just briefly, because I know we have to finish, but what happened when the first generation of traditionalists in the 70s said, “Non possumus,” right, this is one of my favorite phrases, we were not able to go along with this crazy reform, then you’re right, the book was thrown at them. They were punished. They were suspended. They were excommunicated, whatever happened in various cases. But they persevered. They didn’t give up. They didn’t roll over and play dead. They remained faithful to Catholicism, to the Catholic faith. And over time, there were more and more of them. And that’s why John Paul II had to reach out and give the indult. And that’s why Benedict XVI wrote Summorum Pontificums after having been part of that Council of Cardinals. And so really, I think Traditionis Custodes is a temporary phenomenon. If tradition-loving Catholics remain staunch and committed, there will be a future Pope who will have to undo this.

Eric Sammons:

Right, right. Amen. Okay. Well, where is it, here it is, I want to recommend everybody to check out Peter’s book. I will link to it in the show notes, of course, True Obedience in the Church: A Guide to Discernment in Challenging Times. I want to say it’s an easy read, and it is, but I don’t want to just diminish the fact that this thing is thick. I mean, it’s thin, but it’s got a lot in there. And so you’re going to be able read through it in one or two sittings, but then you’re going to go back. You’re going to go through the… There’s many end notes in here that go into more details. So there’s a lot here in this little book. So I just highly recommend it. So True Obedience in the Church: A Guide to Discernment in Challenging Times.

Peter Kwasniewski:

Thank you. And let me also just mention lastly that there is a website, a dedicated website for it.

Eric Sammons:

Oh, great.

Peter Kwasniewski:

Trueobedience.com, which you can put. It’s got reviews and videos and other things.

Eric Sammons:

Okay. I’m just writing a note here. I’ll link that as well in the show notes, so.

Peter Kwasniewski:

Thanks.

Eric Sammons:

Awesome. Well, thanks for being on the show, Peter. I really appreciate it.

Peter Kwasniewski:

You’re welcome. God bless.

Eric Sammons:

Okay. God bless you. Until next time, everybody. God love you.

By

Crisis Magazine has been America's leading source for Catholic perspectives on religion, politics, and culture since 1982.

Join the conversation in our Telegram Chat! You can also find us on Facebook, MeWe, Twitter, and Gab.

MENU