A Response to Bishop Williamson concerning Attendance at the New Mass
On June 28th of this year, Bishop Williamson gave a conference to a gathering of people in Connecticut, followed by questions and answers.
A woman asked him whether it was permissible to attend the New Mass. Bishop Williamson says that, under certain circumstances, it is permissible to actively participate in the New Mass.
Here I will analyze his answer. I must quote him heavily, since I do not want to misrepresent his position in any way by presenting merely a few selected comments.
He starts out by saying that the New Mass is a “key part of the new religion, a major part of the worldwide apostasy.” Yet he states as the “golden rule” and “absolute rule of rules” the following: “Do whatever you need to nourish your faith.” He then explains: “Some Novus Ordo priests are nourishing and building the faith in the Novus Ordo parish.” “There have been eucharistic miracles with the Novus Ordo Mass. They are still occurring.”
He then enunciates this very odd principle: “While the new religion is false, is dangerous, and it strangles grace, and it’s helping many people to lose the faith, at the same time there are cases where it it can be used and is used to build the faith.”
Finally he comes to what he calls the essential principle: “Do whatever you need to do to keep the faith.”
He makes the decision to attend an entirely personal one: “You make your own judgements.” “I’ve got to make my own decisions in my own circumstances.”
He sums up by saying: “Therefore there are cases when even the Novus Ordo Mass can be attended with an effect of building one’s faith instead of losing it.” “Stay away from the Novus Ordo. But exceptionally, if you’re watching and praying, even there you may find the grace of God. If you do, make use of it in order to sanctify your soul.”
He concludes the answer to the question in this way: “If they [the lay people] can trust their own judgement, that attending the New Mass will do them more good than harm spiritually…But it does harm in itself. There is no doubt about that. It is a rite designed to undermine Catholics’ faith, and to turn their belief away from God towards man.”
Finally there is the coup de grace: “The whole of the new religion, and the Novus Ordo Mass is an essential part of the new religion, is designed to get you away from the Catholic Faith…”
Analysis of Bishop Williamson’s Statements
Point # 1. The New Mass is either Catholic worship or it is non-Catholic worship. There is no third possibility. In order that a Mass be Catholic, it must (a) contain a valid Catholic rite of consecration; (b) be offered by a validly ordained Catholic priest who is in union with the Catholic hierarchy, and who is authorized by that hierarchy to offer the Mass in the name of the whole Church; (c) Catholic ceremonies, that is, ceremonies which express the Catholic truth concerning the Mass. If any of these elements should be lacking, it would not be a Catholic Mass, and it would be a mortal sin to attend it.
If we concentrate only on the question of Catholic ceremonies, it is clear that the New Mass is non-Catholic worship. This fact has been demonstrated over the past forty-five years time and time again, mostly by Archbishop Lefebvre himself, who called it the Mass of Luther.
Bishop Williamson is right in saying that Archbishop Lefebvre never considered the New Mass to be necessarily invalid. He did consider it, however, to be a very bad thing for the precise reason that its ceremonies did not express the Catholic truth concerning the Mass and the priesthood. This doctrine was drilled into our heads by the Archbishop at Ecône. Bishop Williamson himself says it: “It is a rite designed to undermine Catholics’ faith, and to turn their belief away from God towards man.”
The Anglican communion service, for example, contains a valid consecration formula, but it is non-Catholic worship because the surrounding prayers convey error and heresy concerning the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the priesthood. The same is true of the New Mass. The same is true of the Mass of Luther.
For this reason, ever since 1969, Catholics all over the world have been avidly resisting and rejecting the New Mass, even though it was promulgated by Paul VI, precisely because it is non-Catholic worship. If it is Catholic worship, then why are we resisting it? If it is non-Catholic worship, then how could we attend it?
One cannot say that “a rite designed to undermine Catholics’ faith” is Catholic worship, and pleasing to God. It is an abomination in God’s sight, and this fact is the very reason for our decades-long persistent rejection of it.
Point # 2. The Catholic Mass is not primarily a spiritual pick-me-up. Bishop Williamson, early in the response to the woman’s question, stated as the golden rule and the absolute rule of rules: “Do whatever you need to do to nourish your faith.”
Let it be said, first of all, that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered primarily and essentially for the worship of God, and not as a fervor stimulant for our spiritual lives. It is accurate that any true worship of God, even Miraculous Medal devotions, will have as a side effect the increase of fervor and devotion in our souls. In no case, however, is any act of worship directed primarily or essentially toward the increase of personal piety.
The principle which Bishop Williamson gives here — “Do whatever you need to do to nourish your faith.” — is utterly protestant. For the protestant all worship consists solely of an interior act of praise and thanksgiving to God. The protestant’s altar is his heart. His worship is consequently completely subjective, as is his faith. The purpose of external protestant worship, i.e., whatever they do on Sundays at their churches, is to excite the heart towards feelings of faith. For this reason, protestant worship can vary from being very Catholic in its trappings, such as that of the High Anglicans, to being something very low and vulgar, such as that of the pentecostalists. What is the golden rule for protestants which makes all of it true worship? It is exactly what Bishop Williamson said: “Do whatever you need to do to nourish your faith.”
The statement is also modernist. Modernism utterly subjectivizes religion. Religion is your own interior religious experience, and dogma must evolve according as your religious experience evolves. To tell someone that the absolute rule of rules is to “do whatever you need to do to nourish your faith” means that our interior faith is what justifies the external worship, whatever it may be.
Consequently the modernist could just as easily say that a balloon Mass nourishes his faith, or a clown Mass, or any other kind of liturgical aberration.
The Catholic position is that what nourishes our faith is Catholic doctrine. Pope Pius XII said in his encyclical Mediator Dei: “Let the rule of prayer determine the rule of belief.” (no. 48), which means, as he explains, that the liturgy must reflect Catholic truth: “The liturgy is a profession of eternal truths.” (ibid.) The Pontiff also says in the same paragraph that the liturgy receives its doctrine from the teachings of the Church, and that it is also right to say: “Let the rule of belief determine the rule of prayer.”
Catholic liturgical doctrine, therefore, declares that there is a tight and mutual connection between Catholic dogma and Catholic liturgy. Consequently, the only liturgy which could nourish our faith, according to Pius XII, would be one which is determined by Catholic dogma.
How then could the New Mass nourish one’s faith? The only way in which it could is if it reflects Catholic truth, i.e., as Pius XII says, if “it is a profession of eternal truths.”
If the New Mass is a profession of eternal truths, however, then in what way is it bad, and why do we resist it and reject it?
It is obviously not a profession of eternal truths, as everyone knows, and especially Bishop Williamson, who said: “It is a rite designed to undermine Catholics’ faith, and to turn their belief away from God towards man.”
The conclusion is that Bishop Williamson is thoroughly mixed up, is totally inconsistent, is tainted by protestant and modernist thinking, and lays all the logical groundwork for a reconciliation with the modernists, for him the dreaded Fellay-ism.
Point # 3. Bishop Williamson’s posi-tion on the New Mass logically leads to reconciliation with the Modernists. Bishop Williamson sees the new religion and its New Mass as something gray, that is, as something designed to destroy your faith, but if properly understood, could actually nourish your faith.
He says: “While the new religion is false, is dangerous, and it strangles grace, and it’s helping many people to lose the faith, at the same time there are cases where it it can be used and is used to build the faith.”
He cites the following as proof of this general principle: “Some Novus Ordo priests are nourishing and building the faith in the Novus Ordo parish.” “There have been eucharistic miracles with the Novus Ordo Mass. They are still occurring.”
Let us analyze these statements. If Novus Ordo priests can nourish and build the faith by being conservative Novus Ordo priests, then we must conclude that the conservative use of the New Mass nourishes and builds the faith. If this is true, then certainly the use of the traditional Latin Mass in the context of the new religion would build and nourish the faith.
Logically this principle leads to this conclusion: that we must remain in the Novus Ordo, seek out conservative priests, go to Motu Proprio Masses, and try to resolve the problems of the Church from within the Novus Ordo. It means that there is nothing wrong intrisically with the New Mass, but that it is a vehicle of destroying one’s faith only when it is not offered conservatively.
Bishop Fellay is striving to incorporate the Society of Saint Pius X into the Novus Ordo structures precisely to work from within them, and to help bring about a conservative Novus Ordo religion, since he has no intrinsic objection to the New Mass or Vatican II. Bishop Williamson hands to Bishop Fellay on a silver platter all of the logic for such a reconciliation, and at the same time destroys the theological underpinning of his own resistance movement.
Point # 4. Miracles are performed by God only in confirmation of the truth. Bishop Williamson cites four eucharistic miracles, claiming that there are yet others, which have taken place at the New Mass. He does this in order to prove that the Novus Ordo Mass has the ability to give grace and sanctify souls.
It is Catholic doctrine that God performs miracles only in confirmation of the truth. It would be blasphemous to assert that He does so in confirmation of error, since it would be against His holiness and truthfulness to do so.
Yet Bishop Williamson condemns the New Mass as something pernicious: “The whole of the new religion, and the Novus Ordo Mass is an essential part of the new religion, is designed to get you away from the Catholic Faith…” “It is a rite designed to undermine Catholics’ faith, and to turn their belief away from God towards man.”
What, however, is the conclusion from Bishop Williamson’s claim that there have been eucharisitic miracles at the New Mass? The answer is very simple: The New Mass is a holy Catholic Mass which sanctifies souls. God says so with His miracles!
If this be so, then why on earth are we resisting the New Mass? Why do we not just go to it, and be happy with it? According to Bishop Williamson, God has given His stamp of approval to the New Mass.
Point # 5. Who am I to judge? Bishop Williamson reduces the question of attendance to a completely personal judgement. For him, the New Mass and the new religion in general are not intrinsically wrong. They are wrong only in certain circumstances, that is, when they threaten your interior faith. If you take measures to deflect these dangers, then the New Mass and new religion can actually give grace and sanctify your soul.
For this reason he divorces the decision about attendance at the New Mass from all objective reality, and makes the whole thing a personal choice: “You make your own judgements.” “I’ve got to make my own decisions in my own circumstances.”
Although he complains in the same speech of Bergoglio’s subjectivization of morality, is not Bishop Williamson doing exactly the same thing here? Indeed, if the New Mass is objectively non-Catholic worship — and we firmly hold that it is — then to attend it would be a far greater sin than that of sodomy. Bergoglio pronounced his unforgettable “Who am I to judge?” about an allegedly sodomite priest in the Vatican. Does not Bishop Williamson, in saying that you must judge for yourselves, detach attendance at the New Mass from any objective and clear norm?
We see again in Bishop Williamson the protestant and modernist influence by making the decision about the central act of Catholic worship a purely subjective judgement.
A very bizarre footnote. As I listened carefully to Bishop Williamson’s conference on YouTube, I noticed that, as he began to speak about this thorny issue, a notice popped up on the page:
U.S. copyright law does allow for critical analysis of a video for Fair Use but those users (Novus Ordo Watch, etc. who are downloading parts of this video to push a sedevacantist agenda without linking to or crediting the full video seem to be doing so just to attack His Excellency. We must all study our faith and pray for our clergy, including, especially, Pope [sic] Francis.
This channel does NOT support the sedevacantist error or attendance at the Novus Ordo Missæ, except under circumstances spoken of by Archbishop Lefebvre, e.g., passive assistance at funerals and weddings.
First of all, let it be said that criticism of Bishop Williamson’s liberal and inconsistent positions in no way urges the cause of sedevacantism, but to the contrary, merely points out the absurdity of the recognize and resist position.
Second, no one is “attacking His Excellency.” We are merely pointing out his errors. Indeed, he has been quite vocal in recent months about his objections to sedevacantism.
Third, the “channel,” i.e., the promoters of the video, and presumably followers of Bishop Williamson, have flung at him what is for them the greatest insult of all, namely that he has contradicted Archbishop Lefebvre on this issue, and they publicly disavow Bishop Williamson’s position on attendance at the New Mass.
Fourth, those who allege that Archbishop Lefebvre permitted only passive attendance under certain circumstances should explain how, as part of the May 5, 1988 agreement with the Modernists, he accepted to have a New Mass offered at Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet in Paris.
Truth be Told: The New Mass is a Faith-killer
Over the past fifty years, we have witnessed the breathtaking phenomenon of the loss of faith on the part of at least 90% of those who call themselves Catholics. While they still retain a purely material (i.e. institutional) membership in the Catholic Church, they adhere to false doctrines and reject many Catholic dogmas.
What is the cause of this massive breakdown of faith? Have these hundreds of millions of Catholics busied themselves with reading the documents of Vatican II, or the endless and befuddled encyclicals of John Paul II and Benedict XVI? Is this why they have lost the faith?
No. The reason why they have lost the faith is that they have attended the faith-killing new liturgy every single Sunday, from which Catholic doctrine has been eliminated, and replaced with protestant and modernist heresies. Pius XII said that the liturgy must determine the law of belief, and indeed the new liturgy has. This liturgical abomination has determined the law of disbelief, the law of heresy.
One has only to read Father Cekada’s book, Work of Human Hands, in order to realize how much evil was poured into what is now known as the New Mass.
This rotten New Mass is what also killed the faith of the priests who said the Mass. It was the most efficacious of all of the causes of loss of faith for them. They, in turn, transmitted their contagion of disbelief to their parishioners in the form of false doctrine in sermons, catechisms, and their general behavior.
The New Mass is an evil tree which has borne evil fruit. Good fruit cannot come from an evil tree. Evil fruit cannot come from a good tree. Bishop Williamson is saying that the New Mass produces good fruit. This means that, in his eyes, it must be a good tree.
Bishop Williamson is clearly mixed up about the nature of the new religion and of the New Mass. If one looks at the entire answer to the question on YouTube, one sees him flip-flopping back and forth between, on the one hand, damning fulminations against the new religion and the New Mass as the work of the devil, and on the other hand, assertions that the new religion “can nourish and build your faith” and that the New Mass is a source of grace.
Why is Bishop Williamson mixed up? Because Archbishop Lefebvre was mixed up.
Despite the great good that Archbishop Lefebvre did in making the traditional movement both popular and worldwide, as well as the good that he did in ordaining so many priests to offer the traditional Latin Mass, he nevertheless did a great deal of harm to the movement by failing to set it on a proper theological foundation.
In August of 1987, Archbishop Lefebvre wrote a private letter to those whom he intended to consecrate bishops, telling them that “the Chair of Peter and the positions of authority in Rome are occupied by antichrists.” Yet, for the next nine months, he carried on negotiations with the then Novus Ordo Cardinal Ratzinger in order to have his Fraternity of priests absorbed into the Novus Ordo. On October 18th, 1987, Archishop Lefebvre told a journalist of 30 days: “An important step has been taken on the path of reconciliation, and I have hope.” On December 7th, 1987, he said to the Italian newspaper La Stampa: “The problem is that of the bishops who are against us and want to put us out of the churches. There is a wall of opposition between us and it is necessary that Rome save us.”
Negotiations with Ratzinger (one of the antichrists) proceeded all during the winter and spring.
In May of 1988, he signed a protocol (preliminary agreement) with Ratzinger, in which, as part of the terms of reconciliation, John Paul II (for the Archbishop the antichrist) would name the bishop to be consecrated from among the members of the Fraternity, and as a token of acceptance of the New Mass, the Archbishop agreed to have a New Mass celebrated at the Fraternity’s church in Paris.
The next day the Archbishop repudiated the document. He wanted absolutely the permission to consecrate a bishop on June 30th. Over the next eight weeks he went on a campaign of vitriol against John Paul II accusing him of being a non-Catholic and an antichrist.
On June 15th, the Archbishop gave a conference in which he said that John Paul II is the pope but he is not Catholic. He says that John Paul II is excommunicated and outside of the Church, but is the head of the Church. On June 16th, he expresses his hope to a journalist that John Paul II (the antichrist, the modernist, the excommunicate who is outside the Church) will recognize his consecrations.
On June 30, 1988, he consecrated four bishops without the permission of the “antichrists” in Rome. He again gave a virulent sermon against the Modernists in Rome.
After the ceremony, however, he told a group of journalists “in five years everything will be reconciled.”
Archbishop Lefebvre, as can be clearly seen, was a man of self-contradiction.
Bishop Williamson, who is an avid follower of Archbishop Lefebvre, learned well from his master. He learned more than anyone else that Vatican II, the New Mass, and the new religion, are all both Catholic and non-Catholic, are both acceptable and unacceptable, are something to shun and something to embrace.
Archbishop Lefebvre and his clergy have been consistent in one thing: never to take a clear, permanent and unchanging position concerning Vatican II, the New Mass, and the new religion. During the forty-five years of their existence, they have continually zig-zagged and flip-flopped on all the issues which lie at the foundation of the traditional movement.
At the root of this incongruity is the refusal to consider the Vatican II popes as false popes. For if you say that Bergoglio is the pope, you are asserting that his religion is Catholic. Papacy and Catholic Faith are two things which are intrinsically inseparable. Everyone knows this. Even common sense dictates it.
“And what concord hath Christ with Belial?” (II Corinthians VI: 15) Bishop Williamson abhors the moves made by Bishop Fellay toward a reconciliation with the Modernists. Yet in this one response to the lady’s question, Bishop Williamson lays down all of the confusion and inconsistency which leads to a reconciliation with the Belial of the Novus Ordo.
 The exact question was: “During the week I go to a Novus Ordo Mass that’s said in a very reverent way, where I believe that the priests believe that they are changing the bread and wine.”
 For as long as I have known Bishop Williamson (43 years), he has been very quick to believe reports of miracles, apparitions, and messages.
 All these rites contain valid consecratory words of the bread. They also have valid essential forms for the wine if one considers only the first words, “This is the chalice of my Blood…” to be sufficient for validity. I do not wish to enter here into a discussion about this point in this article. The point here is that, despite a valid consecration, a Mass can be non-Catholic owing to false ceremonies surrounding the essential rite.
 Archbishop Lefebvre on June 19th, 1988.