Saturday, April 28, 2012


Today Pistrina introduces its new series explaining how lay men and women can take back their chapels to establish lay governance, which not only conserves the investment of the faithful but also removes both the proximate and the remote occasions of sin that sorely try so many malformed priests associated with the Terrible Trio.

Although the objective is noble, the laity must be prepared for vigorous as well as vicious resistance from some grasping and insecure clergy. These amoral ecclesiastical mercenaries will fight as madly as cornered rats to retain their control over a chapel's property and treasury.

In the beginning, they'll arrogantly assert that lay governance is a violation of ecclesiastical authority. (A sheer fiction: in the Sede Vacante there is, by definition, no ecclesiastical authority, except [perhaps] in the narrow confines of the tribunal of penance.) When you then easily dispose of that canard, they'll angrily claim privileges sanctioned by canon law. (A red herring: after almost 50 years, no one knows which canons apply now, and, besides, there's no jurisdiction in the Sede Vacante, no judges to consider cases or enforce sanctions; no wonder that one well-known Traddie institute chose not to teach canon law in its seminary.)Finally, as the laity continue to press their just cause, these wretched substitutes for Catholic priests will swiftly hasten to take the lowest road.

Stand ready for them to brandish every hideous weapon in the clerical racketeer's arsenal. They'll thunder damnation and hellfire from the pulpit; they'll perversely deny the sacraments to you, your family, and your friends; they'll lawlessly banish you unless you "make reparation" with a groveling public letter of apology or a signed, pseud0-legal pledge to behave; they'll charge you with trespassing on the very property your money and sweat helped build and maintain if you rightfully attempt to seek the sacraments; they'll savagely threaten your friends and relatives with similar penalties unless they abandon their ties to you; they'll vengefully pressure other weak priests to bar you from their chapels and missions. They may even threaten to pull up stakes and leave the chapel as they menacingly quiz the faithful, "What will you do without the sacraments?"

Many unprepared Traddies have succumbed to such religious strong-arming: the faithful naturally fear any impediment, just or unjust, to attaining sanctifying grace. Unquestionably, if any ecclesiastical authority did exist today, as in the days before the crisis, such wicked behavior would result in swift discipline from a disapproving and just chancery. Before the crisis, the faithful were invested with the right to demand the sacraments and, if denied for insufficient or malicious reasons, they could petition legitimate authority for relief. But, as we've reminded everyone all along, there is no authority, no jurisdiction, in the Sede Vacante. Nevertheless, faced with wrongful denial of the sacraments, you and your family are not without a divine defense against these ravenous wolves in sheep's clothing.

You can risk banishment from the Mass and the confessional. It's not unthinkable. You will find sanctification, peace, and strength in the act of perfect contrition. To shield you as you prepare to redeem your property from the greedy hands of clerical miscreants, Pistrina reprints a classic tract, Perfect Contrition: The Golden Key to Paradise.

Study it prayerfully in the next week in order to steel yourself and your family for the trials that lay ahead when you start to implement the 12-step program to rescue your chapel. When villainous clergy ban you, you will not remain without the means of securing heaven, no matter what untruths they hurl at you. Furthermore, the daily practice of the act will give you the grace to persevere until good, honest, and Catholic governance prevails, and your chastened priests return humbly to their first and only duty -- the salvation of souls.

*This reflexive striking back is really no more than bluster and may easily be taken with a grain of salt. Many of the clergy don't believe these arguments themselves, as illustrated by the rector's behavior last year: He and a couple of his pesthouse completers are tenant-hirelings of an assertive, extraordinarily able, and self-perpetuating lay board in Arizona. Last year, the lay board  declined his crude gambit to make permanent his "relationship" with the wealthy chapel (click here for Pistrina's first report). In the face of defeat, the rector didn't huff and puff or pick up his marbles and go home; had he done so, he would have lost some fat monthly donations from the faithful in addition to the regular allowance for services rendered. The last time we checked, he and his crew were happily still plying their trade under lay supervision.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Ed. Note: Pistrina concludes its series on the compelling reasons for lay governance.

The single most important reason for firmly securing traditional chapels in the hands of the bill-paying laity is this: A constellation of doubts looms over many Traddie clergy, which augurs ill for an overly trusting laity.  The doubts run the gamut from the unlikely (Liénart's withholding of intention) to the certain (the fitness of these men for the Catholic priesthood). We are unsure of everything about them -- their background, their vocation, and their zeal for the faithful.  No matter how benign some of these priests and prelates appear on the surface, it's unwise to assume they are remotely like the clergy some of us knew in the days before the crisis. Why, nowadays, the laity can't even observe Reagan's famous catchphrase, "Trust but verify," for too much is unknowable until the restored Church speaks.

Let's look at the most salient of these doubts. Pistrina doesn't assert the doubts are positive; that's a matter best left to each person's conscience. Pistrina does affirm, however, that, at a minimum, the many nagging doubts about character, validity, and competence argue for the laity's retaining complete control of the financial and business end of their chapels. Very few public- or private-sector enterprises harboring similar doubts about key associates would allow such people to remain unaccountable to the organization's stakeholders. Likewise, in the Sede Vacante, without an authority to whom they may petition for redress, the laity must guarantee accountability by assuming the burden of governance.

Review the following list, and be sure to add your own doubts. By the time you're finished, you'll be ready to begin the crusade to retake your chapels. The prize is noble: the safeguarding of your investment and the sanctification of your priest, who will finally be free to obey the first law of the Catholic Church -- the salvation of souls.

  • Inferior priestly formation and education. Today's "seminaries" are a mockery of the once rigorous institutions in which priests were educated. The admission standards are far from selective (we only need to mention that recently one Russian seminarian became a Catholic after he matriculated to the pesthouse). We've seen how one completer forgot the consecration, and how another couldn't perform a graveside service, and how another couldn't bless holy water without a spasm of doubts.  We've also seen how these poor souls have invented new mortal sins to scare the laity into compliance. Moreover, on these pages, we've exposed the senior clergy's sham claim to scholarship for the nonsense that it is: they are not scholars, are definitely not theologians, and are light years away from brilliance.
  • Thuc Line.  Whatever your personal opinion is, grave doubts persist in spite of arguments in favor of validity. (The most persuasive and thorough defense of Thuc orders in general came from a layman, not from the clergy!) We'll never really know until the Church one day decides the matter. In the best case, we must admit, Thuc orders, especially through the Carmona sub-lineage, will always be a question of concern.
  • Ordination by One Hand. Putting aside the Thuc question, there is still the problem of "One-Hand" Dan's orders. If he isn't a priest, then he isn't a bishop, and he has therefore not conferred the priesthood on the men he is said to have "ordained." Since the Blunderer's defense has so many scholarly failings, strong doubts will always remain about the validity of orders received from his hands.
  • Obsession with Money and Luxury. Numerous Traddie clergy devote countless hours to feathering their nests and providing themselves with a very comfortable life. Some are even so bold as to recount their vacation adventures in sermons and bulletins. They are always collecting for something, and there's usually no accounting for how the funds were expended. Some insist on staying at high-end hotels and resorts while others wantonly spend on lavish restaurant meals and over-the-top ceremonies. One priest of extremely humble origins once demanded of his parish new living quarters because his decently but simply furnished bedroom was too small; at a meeting of the laity, he angrily called it a "cave" and claimed he was worthy of something much better.
  • Differential Treatment of the Faithful.  One of the most notable features of a traditional chapel is the obvious favoritism that big donors receive -- at least until some of them realize that they're being abused. Deep pockets speak loudly and influence much; the "have-nots" know precisely where they stand in the pecking order. Prohibitions or rules that bind the regular folk are relaxed for families that give the most. In some cases, the big contributors often call the shots as the clergy fawningly tow the line.
  • Religious Coercion. Many of these priests retain power by openly threatening the people with banishment from the sacraments. They behave as though the sacraments were their personal property -- to be administered at their discretion and to be used as a weapon to suppress honest dissent. 
You don't need to be a theologian to sense there is something wrong with such men. There's just too much doubt on every front to trust them completely. Lay governance is the only means to keep hard-earned assets from becoming plunder for clerical freebooters.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Poems of high attempt and promise vast,/Oft dwindle to a dreary void at last,/With here and there a purple remnant found/Tagged on to throw a tawdry glare around. Horace (Howes' translation)

Ed. Note
: Next week Pistrina will post the #1 reason for lay governance. We interrupted the series to bring you the following comments on the rector's March missive from the pesthouse. We think you'll agree with us: the rector, like Tony the Blunderer, is clearly not a serious writer worthy of any attention whatsoever -- except ridicule.

It must have been Lent, with all its radiant violet.

What else can account for the following overwrought specimen of livid prose from last month's MHT Newsletter?

Up to the present, the very term sedevacantism was never even pronounced. It was considered something like the insane woman in the attic of the big house in Jane Eyre, or the leprous mother and sister of Ben-Hur in the film of the same name. The expression on the Roman officer's face, to those who know the movie, is unforgettable, as he discovers them in the dank dungeon, and utters the unutterable word: "Lepers!"* In our situation, he would say "Sedevacantists" with the same horror.

There is so much wrong with the extract that it's hard to know where to start. (We'll pass over in silence the childishly silly last sentence, an emblem, if there ever was one, of the rector's muddled thinking and writing.)

Let's begin with the claim that the Modernists avoid like the plague the word sedevacantism. We googled the word and found 18,900 results. Each Reader then sampled the results, and we all agreed that many writers who adhere the Modernist Church use the term freely and fearlessly (though pejoratively). So we must conclude that the rector was exaggerating to enhance the drama of his not-so-clever observations. That's fine for potboilers but certainly out of place in a supposedly analytical work. (But you already know that nothing he writes is of any substance.)

Second, the rector's comparison of the supposedly taboo word sedevacantism to Brontë's fearful hag is also very wide of the mark. No one of sense believes that any official in the Vatican Establishment ever echoed anything like Rochester's grim boast, “No, by God! I took care that none should hear of it—or of her under that name.”

The smart Modernists aren't afraid of the word sedevacantism because they rest in smug complacence on the oft-repeated assurances of Bellarmine and Billot. The lesser Novus Ordite lights are content to point out the shoddy intellectual work of the Sedes (like that stillborn monstrosity of wretched scholarship and bad style, Work of Human Hands), while they merrily jeer at the sedevacantist thesis and its advocates. The reason for all the newsletter bombast must be this: the rector desperately wanted to support an untenable point and didn't have the wit or education to make it seem plausible.

But at least a Brontë novel stands on the periphery of serious literature. With his next similitude, plucked from the mother of all sword-and-sandal flicks, Ben-Hur, the rector falls precipitously into bathos. The choice of a popular movie as an image betrays naked philistinism (as well as a limited storehouse of allusion). Had he been literarily inclined, the rector could have chosen to quote from Lew Wallace's historical romance: in spite of its flat characterizations, unconvincing dialogue, and artificially driven plot, it is a text (one which, by-the-bye, was blessed by Leo XIII). Wallace's 19th-century sensibilities and prose style surpass the movie's fairly restrained idiom. To the Readers' ears, Wallace's "She and Tirzah werelepers!" (p. 406, 1901 Harper Bros. edition), with its italics, dash, caps, and exclamation point, elicits more melodramatic frisson than the mere "Lepers!" the rector recalls.**

Okay. So the rector's allusion was both unapt and plebeian. We can forgive the absence of literary sensibility. No harm, no foul, as they say. After all, none of the Terrible Trio enjoys a real liberal-arts university education. (Late 1960s and 1970s seminary bachelor's degrees don't count.) But what we cannot allow to escape unnoticed is the suggestion that, in the ancient world, the words leprosy and leper were taboo ("the unutterable word" [emphasis ours]). That's simply erroneous, and probably results from the rector's watching too many Hollywood blockbusters rather than studying.

The word leprosy itself, and not a euphemism, appears well over 50 times in the Vulgate Old Testament; furthermore, all antiquity definitely did not consider the word "unmentionable." In the ancient Mediterranean basin, under the term leprosy were included various inflammatory diseases of the skin like lupus and ringworm, and both medical men and historians openly described it and recommended cures. In pre-Biblical Greek, λέπρα (lepra) meant psoriasis, as probably did the Latin borrowing in Pliny the Elder. The 2nd c. a.d. physician Galen certainly knew of Hansen's disease but also used the word lepra frequently to characterize an affliction distinct from true leprosy. Later, in a.d. 726, Pope Gregory II openly gave St. Boniface a regulation concerning lepers (they were allowed to receive communion but not to associate with healthy people), and later in Europe there were numerous leper laws and rules (including the one laid down by Lateran III in 1179). Furthermore, in the high Middle Ages, the wealthy often donated funds to support leper houses run by religious.

All this shows that leprosy or leper was no more a taboo word than sedevacantism. The rector, we must conclude, was being theatrical rather than thoughtful.

Well, then, what does this all mean? It's simple: the rector, "One-Hand" Dan, and the Blunderer are NOT what they try to pass themselves off as. They're not even runners-up. They're grotesque caricatures of a once learned Catholic priesthood. We know that a lot of Traddies say that, in spite of their deep misgivings about the Terrible Trio, they must back these clerical showmen because they at least come closer to the practice of the faith than other Traddie groups and, therefore, can help restore the Church. The truth is: they don't and they can't.

They are irrelevant everywhere except among their foaming-at-the-mouth followers. We've said it before, and we'll say it again: the Novus Ordo is undergoing a traditional renaissance. Some would say a revolution. But don't take our word for it. Just read the op-ed article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. Deep changes are happening without the influence of the rector and his crew. He knows it, and he's enraged. That must explain why he resorted to that purple patch. He needs to appear to his hangers-on as though he can make a difference. Otherwise, why keep up the donations?

The rector will never play a part in the Restoration. N-e-v-e-r. If the Restoration were to take place today, he wouldn't even receive a courtesy invitation to resign. When Novus Ordo traditionalists at last embrace the truth that the Conciliar popes defected, they will have done so independently of the rector's or his sycophant buddies' vain efforts. Why should anyone pay heed to that pack of ill-trained, third-rate amateurs? In the end, the credit will belong to the stalwart SSPX and to the gifted, genuinely educated traditionalists in the Vatican II establishment who aim to make whole Christ's bride.

* We know the movie, and the rector misremembers here. It is the lowly jailer, not Drusus, Messala's adjutant, who gasps, "Lepers!" Drusus steps into the cell against the jailer's protest and quickly retreats with what we interpret as a look of muted pity and revulsion. In this day when everything can be swiftly checked, why hasn't the rector learned to be more careful about what he writes? We guess he knows his usual audience and doesn't care.

We reviewed the scene carefully. To us, the shaken jailer's exclamation sounded more like an anxious homeowner after inspecting his house's damaged siding: "Termites!"

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Ed. Note: In recognition of the busy holiday weekend, Pistrina offers a short but persuasive penultimate argument for lay governance of Sede chapels. (Before we give the # 1 reason for lay governance, we'll interrupt this series of posts for a hilarious critique of the "rector's" March newsletter.)

Even in the times before the Council, clergy were merely stewards of the gifts of the faithful, not the owners. The assets that resulted from the laity's generosity were never the personal (and fungible!) property of individual clergy to be used as only they saw fit without oversight or accountability.

In these times, there is no valid ecclesiastical organization to hold money and property in trust for the Church. True, there may be a few upright clergy who could fulfill that heavy duty of care (we know of two or three), but even in those cases there is a risk that, should they die or become incapacitated, chapel assets could fall under the control of clergy with more "elastic" consciences.

If you remember that you gave to your chapel and not the man, and that you gave to have a place to worship God in the manner He commanded, then you must act prudently to preserve what you have built with your money and sacrifice.

The only means of safeguarding your chapel under the Sede Vacante is a civil corporation governed by a lay board. It is the only way to guarantee that your bank account cannot be raided and that your buildings cannot be sold off. Most grasping clergy decry lay boards (as do some misguided Traddies), but we invite you to check the record. It's on the Web. Compare the history of greedy clergy vs. lay boards, and then you'll opt for lay governance. Don't succumb to fear! Don't let rogue clergy hold you up!

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Ed. Note: In the last two weeks, Pistrina has argued for lay governance based on reasons both practical and charitable. Now we'll begin to explore reasons from the laity's personal vantage point.

Many traditional lay families are willing to support generously a chapel because they want the Mass and the sacraments for their children. In spite of the irregularities, the fierce disputes, and all the uncertainties, they aim to make an investment in the faith for the next generation. They hope that their money, sweat equity, and effort will at least produce a minimum of orthodox Catholic life to give their children some kind of religious grounding.

What many lay people don't see is that when the priest insists he have sole control over the material assets of the chapel, they put at risk the Catholic heritage for which they have sacrificed. Once laymen surrender the property and bank account to unaccountable clergy, they subject themselves to the whims and fancies of a mere man, from whose judgments there is no appeal. Without the safeguards of a hierarchy under a true Sovereign Roman Pontiff, a shepherd is likely to become a sheep rustler.

Just recall the enraging tales of summary banishment, confiscations, re-purposing of funds from original objectives, forced public apologies for minor or imagined offenses to savage clerical pride, humiliation from the pulpit, denial of communion, and multiple shadow corporations in sundry states. At any time, whole families, notwithstanding their record of generosity or service, have been ordered to leave, and then threatened with arrest should they return to seek, as would have been their right in saner times, the sacraments.

The only way to guard traditional Catholicism for your family is to place control of the property and bank accounts in the hands of a lay body as a counterweight to arbitrary behavior on the part of one man. Absent the perfect society of the Church in this continuing crisis, your and your children's only shelter lies in the imperfect union of a governing body organized under civil law to preserve and protect the rights of the faithful and the faith for your heirs.