HOME (BUT NOT ALONE): why the forced cancellation of both my August 15-21 lecture tour & September debate on “unauthorized shepherds” leaves me undaunted
PLEASE read, at the end of my letter below (originally posted August 15), an important addendum added today (August 29), consisting of some clarifications sent me today by Jim Condit, Jr.
ALSO, though I just learned an hour ago (11 am, Saturday, Aug 29) of three more cancelations, I am going forward with tomorrow's talk in Syracuse (mentioned in the following addendum originally posted August 18), as I've already signed the hotel's contract for the meeting space and cannot get my $125 refunded, despite now having lower than the necessary number of pre-pregistrations to make the talk financially viable:
Proving that I'm too stubborn and/or stupid to abandon my evangelistic efforts to awaken counterfeit Catholics (along their entire sad spectrum, from liberal left to "traditionalist" right) — as well as Americans in general — to their dire plight due to their rejection of classic Catholic teaching, I've arranged to give my talk on "The End of America: Biblical Indicators That a Nation’s Days Are Numbered (And What YOU Can Do About It, Before It’s Too Late!)" on Sunday, August 30, 2:30 pm at the Embassy Suites Syracuse, 6646 Old Collamer Rd South, East Syracuse NY 13057 • Hotel phone: (315) 446-3200. If you -- or any of your family or friends -- live in or near Syracuse, I hope to see you/them at this easily accessible location.
For those without GPS: From I-90 (NY State Thruway): take exit 35 to Carrier Circle, take 4th exit off traffic circle onto Rt 298 east, take first left off 298 east onto Old Collamer Rd South and continue through stop sign. Hotel is on right at end of road near Syracuse University. From I-81 north or south: take exit 25-A onto I-90 (NY Thruway) east, then proceed as above.
Anyone wishing to attend MUST pre-register IMMEDIATELY by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (570) 969-1724; either way please provide your name, phone number, and number of people in your party attending. If I don't hear from you in advance -- if you simply show up without pre-registering -- I cannot guarantee you a seat. I will immediately email each pre-registrant a flier advertising the event which you can then distribute to others; I already mailed out on the 17th over 100 printed copies to everyone on my mailing list who lives within an hour's drive of Syracuse. The talk is FREE, but a voluntary donation is suggested to help defray the cost of my travel expenses: $10 per person, $15 per couple, $20 for entire family. No one will be turned away for lack of funds, however!
Contrary to the popular saying, sometimes even birds of different feathers can flock together on an ad hoc basis, when the need is absolute.
Case in point: the strange-bedfellow coalition against me of both a) the pro-Vatican II “Catholics” and b) the post-Vatican II “traditionalists," including not only the latter's “unauthorized shepherd” clergy but their lay clients as well.
Together they successfully brought about the cancellation of my August 15-21 lecture tour (but not yet at least my Aug 30 talk in Syracuse; see above), as well as the cancellation of the debate that traditionalist speaker and writer Jim Condit and I were holding in Washington DC next month on the very topic of these “unauthorized shepherds” (Jim defending their legitimacy and I, of course, denying it).
(For anyone who doesn't yet know why I, as a Catholic, reject the ecclesiastical revolution and coup d'etat that was the Second Vatican Council [1962-1965] — because of its erroneous, unjustifiable, and in fact previously condemned theological novelties — and why I therefore embrace the "sedevacantist" position, I've produced several CDs over the years on the relevant issues, the most thorough exposition being my 6-CD set, "Counterfeit Catholicism: Why Vatican II, the New Mass, and Pope Francis Are Not What They Claim to Be."
(Sedevacantism, from the Latin words for "seat" and "vacant," is the position that the seat or "see" of Peter, i.e., the papacy, is currently legally vacant. While the office of the pope has certainly been physically occupied from October 1958 to the present day by John XXIII through Francis, it has nevertheless during that time been legally unoccupied, because these men were and are in fact demonstrable heretics who therefore could not be validly elected to the papacy, but are instead antipopes and usurpers, all of whose legislation — including the ratification of the sixteen documents of Vatican II, the New Mass, the revised form of all the sacraments, the New Catechism, the New Code of Canon Law, etc — is therefore null and void, possessing no legal force whatsoever.
(Those of us who know and staunchly adhere, by God's grace, to classic Catholic teaching know that Church law — e.g., Pope Paul IV's 1559 bull Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio, or canon 188.4 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which cites Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio in its footnote — requires us, though mere laypeople, to reject as holding no office in the Church those who publicly depart from the Faith.
(Secondly, for those who don't know why I, as a Catholic, also no longer accept the legitimacy of the irregularly ordained priests and bishops of the traditionalist Catholic world, I suggest ordering my CD entitled “Unauthorized Shepherds: Why the SSPX, SSPV, CMRI, and similar post-Vatican II traditionalist clergy are not priests of Christ’s one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church.” Both this single CD and the previously mentioned 6-CD set are available from our online store, www.gerrymatatics.org/shop.
(Many unfamiliar with the religious history of the last fifty years erroneously assume that any Catholic who rejects Vatican II will automatically align with the Latin-Mass-offering chapels that, after that council, sprang up under the auspices of any one of the many components of "the traditional Catholic movement." Although this does happen, almost by default, to many if not most of those who come to see through the errors of Vatican II — as it did happen to me — it need not necessarily happen, and indeed ought not to happen. Many of us who in our ongoing growth in the Catholic Faith come to reject Vatican II's counterfeit Catholicism eventually and similarly come to reject the equally illicit traditionalist-clergy-and-chapel movement, as I did ten years ago, after I had spent a dozen years in that movement.)
1. The Lecture Tour. I consider Jim Condit (whom I mentioned above) an intelligent and well-educated friend, though we disagree on the illegitimacy of traditionalist Catholic clergy (which is why we were going to debate the topic).
Jim stated to me in a phone conversation a few days ago before my August 15-21 lecture tour was to begin that “the SSPX, the SSPV, and everybody and his brother in the traditionalist movement are telling people not to attend Gerry Matatics's talks,” because of my stand on the “unauthorized shepherds” of the post-Vatican II traditionalist scene — even though my topic on that tour was to be “The End of America: Biblical Indicators That a Nation’s Days Are Numbered,” as my talk on the equally-boycotted June 30 - July 5 lecture tour was to be an exposition of the New Testament epistle of St. Jude.
As for the pro-Vatican II crowd, they also of course continue to dissuade people from attending my talks or having anything to do with me, as they've done ever since I stopped attending the New Mass in the early 1990s, a few years after my conversion to Catholicism in 1986.
My flier advertising the August 15-21 talks — mailed out in mid-July to the nearly 1000 people on my mailing list who live within an hour’s drive of one of the talk locations — stated (as do all my fliers) that in the Q & A session following my talk people can ask me about any topic I speak on. My detractors told potential attendees that, however acceptable they might find my featured talk, in the subsequent Q & A any allegations I might make about the illegitimacy of Vatican II and/or the illegitimacy of the “Catholic traditionalist movement” would only “unsettle" them. (I of course always back up my "allegations" of illegitimacy by citing the relevant documentation of the Church's official teaching and laws.)
As a result of the anti-Matatics boycott, pre-registrations were predictably low, and some people changed their mind about attending. As I'd already warned in my flier, any location not receiving sufficient numbers of pre-registrants would regrettably be canceled, and that's unfortunately what happened with every single one of the seven cities and towns I was scheduled to speak — all strategically selected so that anyone in Connecticut or Vermont, western or southeastern Massachusetts, all but southeastern New Hampshire, or all but southern Maine would have to drive no more than an hour to reach one of the talks. (The few remaining parts of New England more than an hour away from a talk on this tour — namely Rhode Island, central and northeastern MA, and the aforementioned southeastern NH and southern ME — were all covered in the previous lecture tour planned for June 30 - July 5.)
I finally had no choice but to contact the few stalwart pre-registrants in early August and let them know the tour was reluctantly canceled. I would only have descended even more deeply into debt were I to have embarked on this financially non-viable trip: the costs in gasoline, meeting space rental, overnight accommodations and meals would far exceed the meager amount I might make through any possible sales of CDs or books to such tiny audiences.
2. The Debate. As stated above, Jim Condit had agreed to debate me on the topic of Catholic traditionalism's “unauthorized shepherds” next month in Washington DC, on Sunday evening, September 13, after the ISOC (In the Spirit of Chartres) “Rebuilding Christendom” weekend conference of September 11-13 ended that afternoon, at which conference Jim is giving a talk.
We had the space for the debate already reserved and were about to start advertising the event when Judie Sharpe, the ISOC conference’s organizer and a vocal supporter of the “unauthorized shepherds,” told Jim in no uncertain terms that she adamantly opposed his debating me in such spatial and temporal proximity to the conference — even though the debate was scheduled to take place at 7 pm, hours after the ISOC conference was concluded, and in no way conflicted or competed with the conference.
Furthermore, admission to the debate was FREE and thus wouldn’t even have siphoned off any funds people might otherwise spend at the ISOC conference. Jim remains convinced that by having our debate later that same evening, and conveniently in the same hotel (though I had proposed, and preferred, having it at a different, nearby hotel — which Judie still found unacceptable), attendance at the ISOC conference would actually have increased by 10 to 15 people, thus benefitting Judie and all those invested in the conference.
So why does Judie perceive the debate as a threat to the ISOC agenda? Read on!
3. The Conference That "Must Not Be Tainted with Debate About the Church." ISOC's "Rebuilding Christendom" conference website and promotional emails state that it's "NOT about the crisis in the Church, but about the crisis in the world because it's NOT Catholic."
This restricted focus, we're told, is necessary because, though the conference speakers do NOT agree about “what’s wrong with the Church” (that's putting it mildly: some of them attend the New Mass and some don’t; some accept Vatican II as an authentic council, some don’t; some accept Francis as a valid pope, some don’t), they DO agree about “what’s wrong with the world” — namely, that “it’s NOT Catholic.” That insight, apparently, is considered adequate to get the job of "Rebuilding Christendom" done.
Really? The mole-like myopia of such a statement is staggering. How can we tell the world that “it’s NOT Catholic” unless we can tell it what IS Catholic? And if we ourselves can’t tell what is or isn't Catholic, how can we tell the world? Is the New Mass Catholic? What about the new forms for all seven sacraments? The new Catechism? The new Code of Canon Law? How about “Pope” Francis, and the content of his encyclicals, as well as the encyclicals of his five predecessors: is THAT consistently, reliably, authentically, unimpeachably Catholic? (Most of the ISOC conference speakers would say, "No way.")
If ISOC is going to admonish the world for “not listening to the Church and its social doctrine,” the first logical question the world is going to ask ISOC is, “So, do you mean we should listen to Pope Francis, and the church of which he is the head? Should we read his encyclicals to understand how Catholic social doctrine should shape our views on politics, economics, the environment, and so forth?”
If the ISOC speaker (or attendee, or organizer) replies, “No, you shouldn’t,” a justification for this astounding answer is certainly called for! If Francis is a true pope, nothing could be clearer in Catholic teaching than our obligation to dutifully submit "mind and heart" to his encyclicals, since they constitute an exercise of the Church’s ordinary magisterium (or teaching authority), which the Church says is necessarily trustworthy and orthodox, even when such magisterial statements are not defining dogmas.
(See, for example, Pius XII, Humanum Genus, par. 20: "Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent just because in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme [i.e., dogma-defining] power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary Teaching Authority [magisterium], of which it is true to say: 'He that heareth you, heareth Me.' [Luke 10:16].")
Suppose an inquirer approaches a non-sedevacantist ISOC speaker (as most ISOC speakers are) who takes the "recognize but resist" position, i.e., the position that he must "recognize" Francis (and each of his five predecessors) to be a validly-elected pope, but must "resist" him as an unorthodox destroyer of the classic Catholic Faith — a position I, and all sedevacantists, find to be incoherent and incompatible with Catholic teaching about the office of the papacy and the infallibility of the Church.
Nevertheless, this non-sedevacantist ISOC speaker therefore tells the inquirer to “listen only to the pre-Vatican II popes, but don't listen to the post-Vatican II popes, because the latter, although popes, are definitely going to lead you astray." Isn't such a non-sedevacantist “traditionalist” in fact promoting a “pick-and-choose-what-you’ll-accept” cafeteria Catholicism, exactly like the “Catholic left” which the former scorns?
In short, ISOC wants to tell the world to “heed the Church's teaching,” but it doesn't seem to want to FIRST have a coherent and courageous answer to the all-important question, “Where IS this Church whose teaching you want us to heed? Is it the Church headed up in Rome by Francis? If so, why aren’t YOU TRADITIONALISTS heeding it? And if that’s NOT the Church you want us to heed, please explain WHY it’s not the Church! Then — and only then — can we morally disregard the teachings of Francis with a clear conscience.”
The issue of whether Francis is the pope or not is thus fundamental and inescapable. Equally fundamental and inescapable is the question of what our proper response should be, if in fact (as sedevacantists have been warning all along) Francis is NOT a true pope and the Vatican II church of which he is the head is NOT the true Catholic Church, but is instead a clever counterfeit.
Should we — as does the self-authorizing “traditionalist” movement represented by the SSPX, SSPV, CMRI, MHFM, et al — fight fire with fire (rebellion with rebellion) by getting ourselves made priests and bishops (or even merely monks and nuns) according to our own lights, whims, and procedures, doing an end run around the requirements of not only Church law but divine law (which NO emergency can ever dispense us from)?
The ISOC, in its DVD entitled “What We Have Lost, and the Road to Restoration” and in its long-standing conference policy stretching over the past two decades, is clearly on record as stating, “Yes, that is EXACTLY what we should do!” This September’s conference, for example, as all of ISOC's previous conferences, boasts celebrations of “the Traditional Latin Mass.”
But hold on a minute: what priest or priests will be offering these "mystery Masses”? Who ordained these priests? Were these priests validly ordained? How do we know? Even if validly, were they licitly ordained? Who is, or was, their bishop? And were these bishops themselves validly consecrated, so as to indisputably possess the power to turn laymen into priests?
Make no mistake about it: if any of this is legitimately open to question — and the landscape of the "traditionalist" movement is littered with case after case of highly questionable ordinations, consecrations, and clerical characters, as even a cursory reading of traditionalist reportage will reveal and as every traditionalist priest and bishop will himself admit — then all those $200-paying (or $250 at the door) ISOC attendees might quite possibly be bowing down and worshipping, not our eucharistic Lord, but what (after the inefficacious consecration offered by a layman who erroneously thinks he was made a priest) remains merely bread and wine. That, of course, objectively, is the mortally sinful sacrilege of idolatry and a violation of the First Commandment.
Speaking of bishops, does the local ordinary (the bishop of Arlington, Virginia, in whose diocese the ISOC conference will take place) assert that attending the ISOC conference’s Sunday Mass fulfills a Catholic’s “Sunday obligation”? If not, why not? Does he accept the priests celebrating Mass at the conference as real priests in good standing in the Catholic Church, and has he granted them the necessary faculties required by canon law to validly hear confessions and validly absolve those who confess their sins to them? If not, why not? And if ISOC doesn’t care that the local bishop doesn’t approve of the conference's priests, why don’t they care? What are the ecclesial implications and ramifications of ISOC's blatant indifferentism to this issue?
Unless ISOC is willing to provide a coherent theological rationale for their not giving two hoots for what the Bishop of Arlington says about their conference, about their priests, and about their Masses, then their otherwise unexplained indifference to what seems to be a prima facie ecclesial obligation of submission to the local ordinary's authority is utterly scandalous and can hardly be called Catholic.
But providing a coherent theological rationale — or allowing a debate on what form such a rationale would have to take, and whether it should rightly include or exclude these "unauthorized shepherds" — is decidedly what ISOC is NOT interested in doing, because “we can’t agree on the crisis in the Church.”
So instead ISOC puts the cart before the horse and majors on minors. As important as is a proper political and economic structure (one conformable to the Church's social teaching) — and I applaud ISOC’s zeal in stressing its importance — in the final analysis, if we do not in God’s providence succeed in achieving this in our time, it’s not necessarily an impediment to our eternal salvation: think, for example, of the millions of Catholics who've achieved martyrdom, and thus heaven, under Communist regimes.
Not belonging to the true Church, however, IS such an impediment, since it’s a fundamental and oft-defined dogma that THERE IS NO SALVATION OUTSIDE THE CHURCH. I know ISOC supporters, attendees, and fellow travelers who loudly profess belief in this dogma, but do their actions at such a conference perhaps belie their beliefs?
For example, will the priest(s) offering Mass at the ISOC conference be putting Francis’s name in the canon of the Mass, thereby (according to the clear teaching of the Church) binding all who participate in that Mass in an act of ecclesial union and communion with Francis, and with the members of the church of which he is the head, and with each of their fellow Mass attendees? If so, will they be announcing that fact beforehand?
If, on the other hand, the priest will NOT be naming Francis as the Pope in the canon of the Mass (because that particular priest personally might not believe Francis to be a true pope), will they be announcing THAT fact beforehand? Or will they, here as everywhere else in this tragically muddleheaded approach to “engaging in Catholic Action,” once again simply sweep this all-important ecclesial issue under the sanctuarial rug?
If so, this “Catholic conference” — in an oddly unwitting imitation of the very "Vatican II ecumenism" they would loudly decry and eschew — will be officially promoting the scandalous sacrilege of liturgically uniting people who ARE in communion with “Pope” Francis with people who are decidedly NOT in communion with Francis (because the latter rightly consider Francis to be a heretic and therefore an antipope), and asking both groups of people to somehow be in communion with each other!
Anyone who cannot see that this doesn’t remotely resemble the Church’s solemn teaching on liturgical and ecclesial communion has no business putting on — or, at the very least, providing Masses at — what purports to be a “Catholic” conference.
These issues are primary, fundamental, unavoidable, and they need to be seriously addressed. But people like the ISOC crowd and their obfuscating cohorts refuse to address these issues in an intellectually open and honest fashion.
4. The Infamous CDs That Dared to Say, "The Emperor (i.e., Bishop) Has No Clothes (i.e., Episcopal Vestments)." As readers of this website will recall, under pressure from the “unauthorized shepherds” who bring her Mass and the sacraments, a year ago Judie Sharpe abruptly terminated the “Plot Against the Church” series of interviews I had been doing with her for eight years and immediately removed from ISOC's online store all my CDs — not just the 40 CDs produced so far in the “Plot Against the Church” series (with 16 CDs in the series still to come), but all the many non-"Plot" interviews we'd done as well. She likewise removed from the ISOC website any and all links to my own website and any mention of me.
I was hurled down the memory hole, as though I'd never existed.
What prompted this precipitous action on Judie's part? At that time (August 2014), as a follow-up to my recently-released CD on “Unauthorized Shepherds” (mentioned at the beginning of this article), I released a second CD entitled “Two Bishops and a Boomerang: How sedevacantist bishop Donald Sanborn’s devastating critique of ex-SSPX bishop Richard Williamson inadvertently subverts his own legitimacy.”
This CD (as well as the one on "Unauthorized Shepherds" preceding it) immediately ignited a firestorm of controversy throughout the ”traditionalist Catholic” world, and a campaign of vicious calumniation against me, that have not abated to this very day. (Both CDs are available from our online store, www.gerrymatatics.org/shop.)
As soon as the CD was produced I sent a copy to Judie (as I had with the previous CD on "unauthorized shepherds") because I knew that she, like many other “traditionalists,” highly esteemed both men (Williamson and Sanborn) as “Catholic bishops.”
Highly offended at my having even raised this issue with respect to her heroes, Judie immediately mailed the CD back to me without even having listened to it, as she herself admitted to me on the phone when I called her up to discuss it. She also at that time took the other actions against me mentioned above.
Others have with equal vehemence excoriated these CDs, denouncing their contents without even bothering to hear what the CDs have to say! Some Catholics seemingly prefer to be ostriches, sucking subterranean sand, rather than eagle-eyed examiners of the facts.
I find such obscurantism appalling, because in the CD I demonstrated that Bishop Williamson (a supposed “Catholic bishop” who accepts Francis as pope) and Bishop Sanborn (a supposed “Catholic bishop” who doesn’t accept Francis as pope) obviously cannot BOTH be right, cannot BOTH logically function as leaders to people striving to be faithful and consistent Catholics in this current crisis.
(And yet “Bishop” Mark Pivarunas of the CMRI says this very thing in the homily he gave upon the occasion of his consecration of Daniel Dolan, one of the former SSPX/former SSPV “northeast nine” priests, to make him a bishop in the Thuc line. The homily is — or at least used to be — viewable on YouTube, which is where I watched it. We are not "bishops of the SSPX" or “bishops of the CMRI,” or whatever other group we might create, according to Pivarunas's novel and unCatholic ecclesiology; “we are all just Catholic bishops, bishops of one and the same Catholic Church." That’s why the “traditional ecumenical” CMRI, though supposedly sedevacantist, gives communion as well to those who accept Francis as Pope, whether these people go to the Novus Ordo or the SSPX when they can’t go to a CMRI priest: to the CMRI it’s all just one big messy, sloppy church, regardless of who you are or aren’t in communion with.)
In my "Two Bishops and a Boomerang" CD I also praised Bishop Sanborn’s brilliant and unanswerable indictment of the SSPX (of which Williamson was a bishop for many years until recently ousted) — namely, that the SSPX has taught since its inception, and still teaches, what is in fact an unorthodox doctrine of the Church, because it denies that the Church’s ordinary magisterium is infallible and trustworthy.
According to Sanborn, the SSPX is thus an unorthodox sect — unorthodox because it denies an essential doctrine of the Church (the infallibility, or at the very least the essential trustworthiness, of the Church's ordinary magisterium), and a sect because it recognizes as popes men who, because of their own unorthodoxy, cannot possibly be true popes (John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Francis).
But if the SSPX is an unorthodox sect, it therefore logically CANNOT at the same time be a part of the Catholic Church, which of course never teaches heresy and never recognizes as its head men who in fact cannot possibly be its head.
I went on in the CD to point out the inescapable fact that Sanborn's damning indictment of the SSPX actually boomerangs upon his own mitre-wearing head. For it was this very same unorthodox sect, the SSPX, which supposedly conferred the priesthood upon Sanborn himself in 1975! (Sanborn later exited the SSPX in 1983 as one of the "northeast nine," to be eventually consecrated a "bishop" in the Thuc-line many years later.)
Sanborn was thus never even made a priest of the Roman Catholic Church, let alone ever elevated to be a bishop within that Church: he simply migrated from one traditionalist sect (the SSPX) to another traditionalist sect (the SSPV, formed in 1983 by the "northeast nine" who left the SSPX), and then eventually to the new sect that he as "bishop" and his associated priests now constitute.
In short, the logical and demonstrable reality of the fact is that, judged by the standard of classic Catholic doctrine and Catholic law (including divine law), neither Williamson nor Sanborn, nor any of the post-Vatican II traditionalist clergy — including the clergy saying Mass at the ISOC conference and all similar conferences — has any status as a priest (let alone a bishop) in the Catholic Church.
And any sacraments — even if valid (which is, on a case-by-case basis, at least debatable) — received from such men are therefore, according to Church teaching, “forbidden fruit” (how do ya like them apples, Eve?) and do not confer saving grace, which is never efficaciously conferred outside the Church.
But the lack of any legal status whatsoever within the Church somehow doesn’t seem to stop these unauthorized shepherds from throwing their imaginary weight around and "forbidding" people to attend my talks, purchase my CDs, etc. I find it simultaneously sad and amusing that these so-called clerics — who argue that, because they don’t claim “jurisdiction,” they therefore haven’t violated Church law in irregularly becoming priests or bishops — somehow instantly find and flex their jurisdictional muscles whenever it suits them. Bam! Pow!
I have emails forwarded to me by people who were considering attending my talks, emails expressing the sentiments of those clergy and their lay enablers who have a vested interest in propping up these unauthorized, autonomous, autocephalous chapels. These emails invariably insist that X must not attend my talks, because “Gerry will just confuse you with theology and canon law, which it is not your responsibility or province as a layperson to know.”
How convenient, and how pastoral of these "shepherds": let’s just keep people in the dark about the teaching of the Church on these matters, and thereby take advantage of their ignorance.
If anyone among the Most Revs. Sanborn, Williamson, Kelly, Dolan, McKenna, Webster, Pivanrunas, Ryan St. Anne, Santay, Ramolla, Giles, Slupski, Petko, or any other of the dozens of traditionalist bishops, or the Revs. Cekada, Collins, Jenkins, Zapp, McMahon, or any other of the hundreds of priests of the SSPX, SSPV, CMRI, or any other traditionalist sect, or “independent” priest (whatever that is) takes exception to any of this, then I propose a solution to such a person's angst.
I humbly suggest that at least one of these men demonstrate the truly “pastoral mission” they claim to have from Our Lord, as well as the intellectual honesty of their calling and the courage of their convictions, and accept the challenge I’ve repeatedly put to them all again and over the past several years. (I just left such a message on yet another of these priests' answering machines as recently as August 15.)
That challenge is for these men to defend the legitimacy of their priesthood in a public debate against me, one which they are willing to have audio and videotaped so that we might share it with the world on YouTube, Internet radio, and whatever other media outlets might be open to us.
If these men are right, and are confident they are right, then they have nothing to lose, and presumably they would be doing their flock, the entire traditional Catholic world, and me a great favor in utterly demolishing my position and my credibility.
5. Final Thoughts. So here I am, 29 years after my conversion to Catholicism (thanks be to God), looking back on a life that, thus far, falls rather neatly into two chronologically equal halves. (I was 29 when I converted, and am now 58.)
Thanks to the industrious efforts of the aforementoned opponents and obfuscators, this month's August 15-21 New England lecture tour was forced to be cancelled (as was last month's June 30- July 5 lecture tour of the other parts of New England), and next month finds me with no debate against Jim Condit on the “unauthorized shepherds.” (Hopefully such a debate can take place down the road, geographically and chronologically.)
And today finds me, not on a week-long lecture tour I’d already spent nearly $1000 publicizing which I cannot now recoup; it finds me home — but not alone.
Instead, I unite myself and my family — as we do, not just on Sundays and holy days, but every single day of the year as we gather for family worship — with all true Catholics around the world and down through the ages who by God's grace accept all of the Church’s teachings (not just the subset that a hodgepodge posse of public speakers at a putatively Catholic conference can agree on) and strive to abide by all her laws (not just the convenient ones).
And I unite my insignificant sufferings (which, in my abject unworthiness, I doubtless deserve, and more), not only with those of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, who triumphed, and triumphs still, over them all;
but also with the sufferings of the faithful during the Arian crisis who refused to “go to church” when it was occupied by clerical heretics and had therefore ceased to function as a lawful unit of Christ’s one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, which never teaches heresy;
and with the sufferings of St. Hermengild, who refused to “make his Easter communion” because it would have entailed receiving communion from, and therefore being in communion with, a heretic — even those his refusal caused him to be murdered on the spot on the orders of his own father, King Leodvigild;
and with the sufferings of the English Catholics of the 16th century who, after the English "Reformation" had run its course, had no Mass to attend (and who would not have dreamed of sneaking off to schismatic bishops, however validly consecrated — whether newly Anglican, Greek Orthodox, or what have you — to get themselves irregularly ordained, contrary to canon law and divine law, and to then set up unauthorized chapels, with the feeble argument that when a “state of emergency” exists — as it surely existed in England at that time — such laws no longer bind);
and with the sufferings of the Japanese lay Catholics who for over 200 years were deprived of priests, and therefore deprived of Masses and all sacraments but baptism and holy matrimony (which can be lawfully and validly administered by laity in the absence of a valid and licit priest);
and with the sufferings of all today who suffer similar sacramental privations, misrepresentations, and marginalizations as I daily undergo.
I wish I could tell you how many times the movers and shakers of the “traditionalist Catholic" world have said to me that if I would simply give up my “sedevacantism” (or, if they are sedevacantists, my “home-alone-ism” — a terrible term) … if I would just stop talking about these issues — simply surrender to their suppression of the truth on these matters — then all would be forgiven.
I am effusively assured by such "well-meaning" men, such spiritual seducers, that I would be instantly welcomed back to the fold, clasped afresh to the collective bosom of the traditionalist ranks, once again featured as a popular speaker at traditionalist conferences. My ads would again be accepted by traditionalist publications. My sales of CDs would rise. Ka-ching! My base of donors would again be restored to meager subsistence levels. (Now you're talking! As my erstwhile employer Karl Keating once said to me, in dead earnestness, "In the religion game, numbers are everything, and don't let anybody ever tell you differently!")
Zowie, those "thirty pieces of silver" could sure pay some bills!
I wish I could count how many times high-flying Wicked Witches of the West(ern Rite) have skywritten in smoke belching from the backsides of their "bishop"-built brooms, “Surrender, Gerry.”
My answer to such requests is (and by God’s grace hopefully will always be) the same answer John Paul Jones gave when he was asked to surrender in a desperate 1779 sea battle which Jones was badly losing against a British frigate during the American Revolutionary War: “Surrender? I have not yet begun to fight!” (Not that I am an ideological supporter of that revolution, as listeners to my “Plot Against the Church” CD series well know.)
I’m told Winston Churchill once defined success as “going from failure to failure with no appreciable loss of enthusiasm.” In fact, I do not and will not consider it a failure to have to cancel a lecture, or a whole week of lectures, if that’s the price I must pay for refusing to compromise on Catholic truth. And for that truth my enthusiasm remains utterly undiminished.
When I was 14 years old I penned, on the flyleaf of the first Bible I ever bought, the following quote from a book I’d just read:
“A man’s greatness is measured, not by the amount of money he makes nor the possessions he accumulates, nor by the amount of fame he acquires, nor the amount of titles, awards or success he achieves in his field, nor by the amount of friends he has, but by what it takes to discourage him.”
A similar quote I once read says, “Greatness is not measured by what a man or woman accomplishes, but by the opposition he or she has overcome to reach his goals.”
I have never aspired to be a great man. But I do wish, by God’s grace, to be a good man. And because eternal souls are at stake, and the honor of God, and the cause of His truth, and the purity of Christ's Church, I am not discouraged. I will not be discouraged. And I have not yet begun to fight.
In Jesus Christ our King
and Mary our gloriously-assumed Queen Mother,
CLARIFICATION added August 29: Jim Condit, Jr., who is mentioned in the letter above, emailed me this morning and has asked me to post here some considered clarifications of his, which I am happy to do for the sake of his safeguarding his ongoing working relationship with Judith Sharpe and with the SSPV church which Jim attends. While I don't believe Jim's clarifications materially alter any of the main points of my letter, I am nonetheless happy to provide him a forum here to clarify his own position, lest I even unintentionally give people any erroneous impressions. As Jim himself says regarding me in his remarks below, he appreciates the fact that I always strive to be scrupulously fair, even-handed, and accurate in what I say about others, as our Lord warns us we will give account at our judgment for every word we utter (Matthew 12:36). Here, then, are his clarifications, in their entirety, which he appended to the relevant paragraphs of my letter:
You [Gerry Matatics] had called me [Jim Condit, Jr.] a few weeks ago about debating the “unauthorized shepherds” question on Sunday night, September 13, 2015, in the Washington DC Marriott Hotel (the hotel where the Rebuilding Christendom Conference is being held), or a nearby hotel – at about 7 PM, presumably 3 or 4 hours after the Rebuilding Christendom Conference ends. You had asked me in the same few minutes in our initial conversation about this proposed debate to call Judith Sharpe and see if she would be OK with such an event. I told you I would be willing to participate in that debate if it was OK with Judith. (As you know, I have been friends with both Judith and yourself for about 20 years.)
I believe I said that I would want to be sure that Judith was O.K. with our holding such a debate at such a proximate time and place. I immediately called Judith, and she made it clear that she would not welcome such a debate at such a proximate time and place. I then called you back, I believe within the hour, and said that I would not be comfortable participating in the debate you had proposed to me in light of Judith’s wishes. I think I stated at the time that I called you back quickly so that you would not commit any money to a room at the Washington D.C. Marriott or a nearby hotel. I believe you had told me in the initial conversation that you had checked already, and that the Marriott hotel had told you that they did have several rooms available to rent at the proposed hour for such a gathering.
After I called you back to tell you that Judith did not like the idea, you had stated that you would contact Judith to see if you could persuade her that such a debate would boost attendance at the Rebuilding Christendom conference. I had stated in our first conversation that I thought it might boost the attendance by 10 or 15 people, although that was just a guess.
As I think I stated, I would never want to go against the wishes of friends who put on such a conference (in this case on the Church’s Social Teaching). It seems to me that the phrase, “as well as the cancellation of the debate that traditionalist speaker and writer Jim Condit and I were holding in Washington DC next month . . .” gives the false impression that this was a debate already arranged, rather than an idea on the drawing board, ---- and, as far as my involvement, was an idea on the drawing board for only about an hour when Judith expressed her desire that we not do it.
And then, as you will remember, I called you a few nights ago, circa August 24, to see if you had contacted Judith Sharpe again in the weeks since we had originally talked about this proposed debate. You told me you had not subsequently contacted her. We then discussed holding this debate perhaps next spring, on its own, or as part of a conference which would address other subjects which have never been publicly debated in the “traditionalist” movement since Vatican II, such as the role of the “ordinary and universal magisterium”, as infallibly defined at the First Vatican Council (1870), in the current crisis. Again, I enthusiastically support airing these matters, and others, on video, in public, as soon as reasonably possible. By the way, as you may know, Judith also strongly supports the airing of these issues at a conference devoted to the Crisis in the Church at some point in the future.
I appreciate the compliment [Jim here refers to my words "I consider Jim Condit, whom I mentioned above, an intelligent and well-educated friend, though we disagree on the illegitimacy of traditionalist Catholic clergy, which is why we were going to debate the topic."], and return it to you. As I’ve told you and others, if I were not at an event, I would accept Gerry Matatics’ eye-witness testimony as if I had been there myself. That’s because I have found you to be meticulous, accurate, and fair, even to those with whom you disagree strongly on this or that point.
With regard to my comments about those discouraging people from attending your talks, my recollection of my comments were something like this: “If I were to write the history of the ‘traditionalist’ movement since 1974, the chapter on Gerry Matatics would be about how he progressively took controversial positions which caused his audience and financial support to dwindle, and that the groups which had formerly supported you now were discouraging people from going to your talks or supporting you.” If I mentioned all those groups by name, I should clarify now that I know that the SSPX has publicly discouraged attendance at your talks, but I have no direct knowledge of the SSPV or the CMRI publicly discouraging people from attending your talks, or from supporting you, but this would logically be the position “traditionalist” chapels would take, since your public position is that almost all of them have no right to be operating at all. Clearly almost all of the Vatican II adherents would logically discourage people from attending your talks.
I have attended your talks when possible, as well as promoted them. As you know, I have always admired that you have taken controversial positions even when they hurt you financially – in sharp contrast to other high profile converts and cradle Catholic defending Vatican II and the “Vatican II Popes”, who are doing quite well financially, some of them even having become millionaires in their careers in the Catholic world, while always avoiding discussing or debating the issues you tackle, in a public forum with a credible opponent.
I have also admired your willingness to take live, unscripted questions at your appearances on any subject, and even invite prominent opponents in the audience to come up on the stage and address your audience at such gatherings. The stories that you have told me about these instances range from amusing to hilarious.
With that said, I hope you will consider modifying the comments about the proposed debate on your website to reflect that Judith Sharpe has never publicly discouraged anyone from attending your public events. To my knowledge this is the case, nor has she publicly discouraged anyone from attending any other conferences, even when some conferences were scheduled near her conferences in time and place, after her conference was already scheduled. People may infer falsely from the above part of the email you sent out that Judith was a part of those publicly discouraging people from attending your talks.
As regards your statement above that, “Jim Condit had agreed to debate me on the topic of Catholic traditionalism's ‘unauthorized shepherds’ next month in Washington DC, on Sunday evening, September 13, after the ISOC (In the Spirit of Chartres) ‘Rebuilding Christendom’ weekend conference of September 11-13 ended that afternoon” – I never viewed this as anything other than an idea on the drawing board, as indicated by your request in that same conversation that I call Judith Sharpe to ascertain her attitude on such a proposed debate. The best that can be said is that I was willing to debate you at that time, and had agreed on the condition that Judith was fine with the idea. I inferred you felt the same way by your suggesting that I call Judith to get her clearance for the proposed debate. To your credit, you at no time suggested or implied that we should go ahead with such a debate no matter what.
Even had you not suggested that I check with Judith out of the gate, I would always feel obligated to check with friends on setting up such a proximate event to a conference which the sponsors had long worked on, and long planned.
I do not think it fair to equate Judith Sharpe’s opposition to us scheduling a debate proximate to her conference, with publicly discouraging people from attending your events or speeches. I know for a fact that she is not opposed to us debating on these subjects at another time and place, at a conference devoted to the Crisis in the Church.
While some of my good friends feel as you do, I do not agree that those holding conferences with limited subject matters, such as pro-life or Catholic Social Teaching, need to address the exact nature of the Crisis in the Church in their advertising or at the conference. At all of the recent Rebuilding Christendom conferences, Judith’s son, John Sharpe, has made it clear that the conference was going to side step dealing with the exact nature of the crisis in the Church in order to prevent the conference with being consumed with the debates and disagreements which might break out amongst the speakers and the attendees. My view is that such gatherings bring good people together and serve to strengthen their knowledge and Faith with regard to the subjects covered, which might lead to a deeper knowledge and understanding of the nature of the Crisis in the Church during the period in which the conference is held, or at a later time.
(End of my Comments, end of this email).*****