None of what follows is dogma of the Church, nor official nor infallible, it is merely opinion of the author of these “Comments”, speculating on the nature of the Catholic Church and its present distress. Two weeks ago these “Comments” (845, Sept. 23) quoted a message supposedly from Heaven, in which an unknown Sister in France re-assured a Traditional priest that he was still serving Our Lord, even if he was apparently disobeying Church Authority above him in order to do so. Before commenting on the message it may be necessary to quote it again, as it appeared two weeks ago, but with some numbers for reference.

1 “The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is presently passing through a deep and hurtful crisis in its representatives, and you, Father, are one of its victims. Mgr. Thuc understood the breakdown inside the Church, and as bishop he took a personal stand which was not according to the rules, because he ordained priests and bishops without incardination, thus putting them all in an irregular situation, even if they are fervent and wish to exercise a ministry in accordance with the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Mgr Williamson, having been put in a similar situation by his dismissal from the Society of St Pius X by its Superior at that time without valid reason, should be able to understand your situation because he too has consecrated bishops and ordained priests. Like yourself, for now, these too are lacking incardination. The present situation within the Holy Catholic Church is so bad that the Lord is happy with all His ministers working faithfully for Him, with or without incardination.

This is the Lord’s answer to your question. As soon as Holy Church has recovered within itself the strength of the Truth, priests still seemingly adrift will be able to rejoin it officially, while unofficially never having left it. The Lord blesses you, be at peace, and be faithful.”

The message starts out from the Church’s present “deep and hurtful crisis”, to deny which is to grasp nothing of Church events today. The message shows real sympathy for a priest suffering in the crisis.

2   Some readers may be scandalised by the message beginning with mention of Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc (1897-1984), because his long career in service of the Church did not finish in glory. In principle he understood the gravity of the Church crisis in the 1960’s and the need for emergency measures, but in practice he finished by consecrating bishops and ordaining priests with a wild abandon. However, in this context the message is using his case to show that the principles of the crisis go way back to the 1960’s.

That Mgr Thuc exaggerated in practice is not strictly relevant to the underlying principles still in play today. The message goes on to recognise both the normal need of a priest for structural incorporation in a diocese or Congregation (Authority), and the good will of priests doing their best to serve God (Truth). The message is throughout balancing Truth and Authority.

3   Similarly with the movement in the Church going today by the name of “Resistance”, or “Fidelity”. On the one hand that movement has relied on abnormal or emergency measures for its bishops and new priests, as did Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988 (“Truth”). On the other hand these bishops and priests have no normal incorporation, or “incardination”, in the official structure of the Church – “Authority”.

4   However – and here is the “punchline” of the entire message – as long as such bishops and priests are working faithfully for Our Lord, then lack of incardination is not so important, because “ the present situation in the Church is so bad”. In other words, Faith before structure, Truth before Authority.

5   And here is the basic principle of common sense which solves the above priest’s original problem. Church Authority only exists to serve Church Truth and therewith the salvation of souls. And as soon as Truth recovers its rightful top place in the Church, as it will do, then Authority will likewise recover its secondary place, and everything truly rightful will recover its temporarily lost official rightfulness. Deo Gratias !

                                                                                                                                            Kyrie eleison.

Till then, sit still, my soul. Foul deeds will rise,

Though all the world o’erwhelm them, to men’s eyes.

                                               Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2, end.