August 24, 2001
My Dear Friends,
Many of you are saddened and confused about my expulsion from the SSPX and are wondering what it's all about. I will give you a brief outline of what led to it and future implications.
In December of 2000, Rome offered the SSPX a unique status within the Church. It offered the SSPX universal jurisdiction, the right to offer only the Tridentine Mass and the right to constructively criticize Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Missae. Bishop Fellay orally accepted it. He called it a magnificent structure. After meeting with others, Bishop Fellay then rejected the proposed structure. During this time I was praying and researching and making contacts with sources other than those in the SSPX. I also had the good fortune of having an SSPX priest who understands ecclesiology as an advisor. He was forbidden to contact me any more. This was fortuitous because it forced me to consult other priests. Among those traditional priests were a few older ones who knew Archbishop Lefebvre. They concurred that the SSPX rejection of Rome's proposal had gone beyond the requests of Archbishop Lefebvre and they could not see how it could be justified [n.b. neither moral necessity nor epikeia can be utilized].
Realizing that this represented a serious moral situation, I was advised by wise and experienced priests to request a leave of absence in order to research and confirm my conscience as to Rome's proposal. This was refused. I then contacted a St. Peter's priest to check if accusations leveled against them were inaccurate, he concurred and then explained protocol 1411. Wishing to get to the bottom of the question, it was arranged for me to see Card. Ratzinger. Being assured by several priests that SSPX superiors did not have the right to interfere with matters of conscience, nor to know whom I was consulting, I requested a few days leave to go to France; permission was granted.
Saturday, July 21, the day before I left for France, I was given the following fax:
After the news of the last weeks, I hear now that you continue to work in our back. You have contacted the Society of Saint Peter, the reason is obvious. You also said to someone that you have contacted some Cardinals for you future project of school. These fact are sufficiently serious for us to request that you leave the priory in the 24 hours with all your affairs. You can take them with you to the place where you want to meet the Cardinal... The rumour was going around that you have asked Rome to relieve you from your engagement in the Society. We do not want you to destroy anything more in our back, we are in a case of urgency. What you have already done and are doing is sufficiently serious to consider that whith such an attitude, you expell yourself from the Society.
With my sorrowful prayers, Superior General, Bishop Fellay [original text]
I was surprised. I then engaged in an approximately 2 hour conversation with my immediate superior, pointing out that the fax was based on rumors and half-truths, and is not only an invalid document but also completely at variance with canon law. I then asked him the following question upon which the whole case rests: How can one refuse obedience to a lawful superior in a legitimate request? In this case the superior is the Pope and the subject the SSPX. The request was to work within the Church, with the exclusive celebration of the Tridentine rite to help renew the Church. In conscience I can't refuse obedience to a serious legitimate request of the Pope and told my superior that to disobey the Pope in this matter would be a grave sin. One could only justify the SSPX rejection by becoming a titularist, (a practical sedevacantist) i.e., acknowledging the Pope's title but denying his legitimate authority and consequently misunderstanding the supernatural structure of the Church.
My Superior then said that one of the reasons Bishop Fellay rejected the deal is because a large segment of the SSPX in Europe is sedevacantist and that an agreement would split the SSPX, [I don't wish to be associated with sedevacantists]. Then he went on to say that I had to be expelled because I was about to contact the enemies of the SSPX - namely, Card. Ratzinger, et al.
[Editor's note: Sedevacantists believe that John Paul II is not really the Pope, but some kind of infiltrator or imposter.]
I did meet with Card. Ratzinger and have been regularized with the exclusive right of celebrating the Tridentine rite. I will be working with many others bringing about reform within the church with valid jurisdiction.
Many schisms develop gradually - with serious accusations of heresy, immorality, abuses, etc. against local priests and bishops and even the Pope. The Greek schism is an interesting case study. They are now in 1,000 years of schism - One of their arguments is utilized by the SSPX - "You can't trust Rome!"
Here is a statement from a contemporary scholar regarding the great schism:
One must submit unconditionally to the Pope,[except sin] however wicked he may be. Gregory XII [J.P.II] is the true Pope. Hence it is unlawful to deny obedience to him, and one cannot damage him in any way, no matter what good may be the purpose of it. The cardinals' [bishops] withdrawal of obedience, made without any semblance of due form, is invalid. The arguments made in support of this action carry no weight. It is impossible to say, as many theologians now were saying, that Gregory [J.P.II] has committed a heresy... The Pope will have to give account to God for the vows he made to bring unity to the Church; no mere human being has any right to judge him in respect of them, nor has an assembly of bishops...They are trying to force the hand of the Holy Ghost! pg.471vol.3W.Carroll
I would like to ask all of you to pray for me and to withhold from gossip and rash judgements and to put it in God's hands - as we read in Acts 5:38-39: "And now, therefore, I say to you, refrain from these men, and let them alone; for if this council or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest perhaps you be found even to fight against God. And they consented to him." You may pass this letter on to your friends and contact me at P.O. Box 82, Bolivar, MO 65613. (417) 694-2259.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. Fr. Benedict Van der Putten
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