The "Hushed" Case of Father Calmel (Revisited)



The "Hushed" Case of Father Calmel

Edit: who were the figures who resisted for a time, remained true to their vocations, and died serving the true Church, only to be obscured, ridiculed, ignored, unnoticed or placed aside? Surely, many in France know this man and felt the influence of his apostolic zeal. This is one of those great men, who fought an often lonesome fight in the Garden of Gethsemane. Fr. Roger-Thomas Calmel was persecuted mightily by the hierarchy. He was a French Dominican and taught at a school for the Dominican Sisters of Fanjeux and established a lasting legacy there which lasts to this day. Pertinacious Papist recently posted this, and we received an e-mail from a reader, Anthony. God bless for this, here's the article by Cristiana de Magistris:

Dominican religious and Thomist theologian of great importance, director of souls, esteemed and sought throughout the whole of France, Catholic writer of a convincing logic and unambiguous clarity, Fr. Roger-Thomas Calmel (1914-1975) in the difficult years of the Council and the post-council period, was characterized by his counter-revolutionary action, through his preaching, writings and above all by his example, both on a doctrinal as well as a liturgical level.

But on a particular point the resistance of this son of St. Dominic reached heroism: the Holy Mass. The Catholic Faith is founded upon the Mass because it is in the Mass that our Redemption was wrought by Christ upon Calvary and this is perpetuated in the holy Sacrifice offered day after day.

1969 was the fateful year of the liturgical revolution, prepared for at length and finally imposed with authority upon a people who neither asked for nor desired it. The birth of the new Mass was not peaceful. Against the hymns of victory of the novatores, there were the voices of those who did not want to trample upon the past––of almost two millennia––of a Mass which dated back to the apostolic tradition. This opposition was sustained by two Cardinals of the Curia (Ottaviani and Bacci), but remained completely unheeded.

The date upon which the new Ordo Missae became effective was fixed for 30thNovember, the first Sunday of Advent, and the opposition was not going to be placated.Paul VI himself, in two general audiences (19th and 26th November 1969), intervened, presenting the new rite of the Mass as the will of the Council and as a help to Christian piety.

On 26th November he said: “The New rite of the Mass: it is a change in a venerable tradition that has gone on for centuries. This is something that affects our hereditary religious patrimony, which seemed to enjoy the privilege of being untouchable and settled. It seemed to bring the prayer of our forefathers and our Saints to our lips and to give us the comfort of feeling faithful to our spiritual past, which we kept alive to pass it on to the generations ahead. It is at such a moment as this that we get a better understanding of the value of historical tradition and the communion of the Saints. This change will affect the ceremonies of the Mass. We shall become aware, perhaps with some feeling of annoyance, that the ceremonies at the altar are no longer being carried out with the same words and gestures to which we were accustomed—perhaps so much accustomed that we no longer took any notice of them. This change also touches the Faithful. It is intended to interest each one of those present, to draw them out of their customary personal devotions or their usual torpor…”. And he continued by saying that it was necessary to understand the positive meaning of the reforms and to make of the Mass “a school of spiritual depth and a peaceful but demanding school of Christian sociology.”

“We shall do well––he said in the same audience––to take into account the motives for this grave change. The first is obedience to the Council. That obedience now implies obedience to the Bishops, who interpret the Council’s prescriptions and put them into practice…”. In order to repress the opposition to the Pope, there remained nothing but the argument of authority. And it is upon this argument that the whole game of the liturgical revolution was played
Fr. Calmel, who by his articles was an assiduous collaborator of the magazineItinéraires, had already faced the subject of obedience, which had become, after the council, the main argument of the novatores. But he affirmed that it is precisely in virtue of obedience that it is necessary to refuse every compromise with the liturgical revolution: “We are not treating here of causing a schism, but of conserving the tradition.” With Aristotelian logic, he noted: “The infallibility of the Pope is limited, therefore our obedience is limited,” indicating the principle of the subordination of obedience to the truth, of authority to the tradition. The history of the Church has cases of Saints who were opposed to the authority of popes who were not saints. We call to mind St. Athanasius who was excommunicated by Pope Liberius and St. Thomas à Becket, suspended by Pope Alexander III. And above all we think of St. Joan of Arc.

On 27th November 1969, three days before the fateful day on which the Novus Ordo Missae came into effect, Fr. Calmel expressed his refusal with a declaration of exceptional importance, made public in the magazine Itinéraires. The first and last, as far as we know,of such clarity and most praiseworthy courage.

I hold to the traditional Mass, that which was codified, but not fabricated, by St. Pius V, in the XVI Century, in conformity to a centuries old usage. I therefore refuse the Ordo missae of Paul VI.

Why? Because, in reality, this Ordo Missae does not exist. What exists is a universal and permanent liturgical revolution, permitted or desired by the reigning Pope, and which, for a quarter of an hour, puts on the mask of the Ordo Missae of 3rd April 1969. It is the right of every priest to refuse to wear the mask of this liturgical revolution. And I consider it my duty as a priest to refuse to celebrate the mass in an ambiguous rite.

If we accept this new rite, which fosters the confusion between the Catholic Mass and the protestant supper––as the two cardinals (Bacci and Ottaviani) sustain and as a solid theological analysis demonstrates––then we will pass over, without delay, to an interchangeable mass (as recognized, moreover, by a protestant pastor) to a mass which is completely heretical and therefore nothing. Initiated by the Pope, then diffused by him to the national Churches, the revolutionary reform of the mass leads to hell. How can we accept to become accomplices of this?

You will ask me: by keeping the Mass of ages at all costs, have you reflected upon what you have exposed yourself to? Certainly. I risk, so to say, persevering in the way of fidelity to my priesthood, thus rendering to the High Priest, Who is our supreme Judge, the humble witness of my office as a priest. I also risk being able to reassure the faithful who have lost their way, those who are tempted to scepticism or desperation. Every priest, in fact, who remains faithful to the rite of the Mass which was codified by St. Pius V, the great Dominican Pope of the counter reform, permits the faithful to participate in the holy Sacrifice without any possible ambiguity,, to receive, without risk of being deceived, the incarnate and immolated Word of God, rendered truly present under the sacred Species. On the contrary, the priest who conforms to the new rite, composed of various pieces by Paul VI, collaborates on his part in progressively establishing a false mass where the Presence of Christ will no longer be authentic, but will be transformed into an empty memorial; therefore, the Sacrifice of the Cross will be nothing other than a religious meal where one eats a bit of bread and drinks a little wine, nothing else: just like the protestants. In not consenting to collaborate in the revolutionary establishment of an ambiguous mass, directed to the destruction of the Mass, to what temporal misfortune, to what difficulties in this world will this lead (those who will remain faithful to the Traditional Mass)? The Lord knows: therefore His grace is sufficient. In truth, the grace of the Heart of Jesus, coming to us from the holy Sacrifice and from the sacraments, is always sufficient. That is why the Lord tells us so calmly: “He that hateth his life in this world, keepeth it unto life eternal.”

I recognise unhesitatingly the authority of the Holy Father. I affirm, however, that every Pope, in the exercise of his authority, may commit abuses of authority. I retain that Pope Paul VI committed an abuse of authority of an exceptional gravity when he constructed a new rite of the mass upon a definition of the mass which has ceased to be Catholic. “The mass––he wrote in his Ordo Missae––is the gathering of the people of God, presided by a priest, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord.” This insidious definition omits a prioriwhat makes the mass Catholic, which has never been nor ever will be reduced to the protestant supper. And that is because the Catholic Mass does not treat of any memorial whatsoever; the memorial is of such a nature that it truly contains the sacrifice of the cross, because the Body and Blood of Christ are rendered truly present in virtue of the twofold consecration. Now, whilst that appears to be so clear in the rite which was codified by St. Pius V so that one can not be deceived, in that which has been fabricated by Paul V1, it remains inconstant and ambiguous. Likewise, in the Catholic Mass the priest does not exercise any presidency whatsoever: signed by a divine character which introduces him into eternity, he is the minister of Christ who celebrates the mass by means of him; it is a completely different thing to liken the priest to any pastor whatsoever, delegated by the faithful to keep their assemblies in good order. Well, whilst that is certainly evident in the rite of the Mass prescribed by St. Pius V, it is dissimulated, if not completely eliminated, in the new rite.

Simple honesty, therefore, but infinitely more the priestly honour, does not permit me to have the impudence to barter with the Catholic Mass, received on the day of my ordination. Since we are treating here of being loyal, and above all of a matter of divine gravity, there is no authority in the world, even a pontifical authority, which can stop me. On the other hand, the first proof of fidelity and love which the priest must give to God and to men is that of guarding intact the infinitely precious deposit which was entrusted to him when the Bishop imposed his hands upon him. It is above all on this proof of fidelity and love that I will be judged by the supreme Judge. I trust that the Virgin Mary, Mother of the High Priest, will obtain for me the grace to remain faithful to death to the Catholic Mass, true and without ambiguity. Tuus sum ego, salvum me fac (I am all Thine, save me).”

In the face of a text of such importance, and the taking up of a position which is so categorical, all the friends and supporters of Fr. Calmel trembled, awaiting the toughest sanctions from Rome. All, except for him, the son of St. Dominic, who continued to repeat: “Rome will do nothing, it will do nothing…”. And in fact Rome did nothing. The sanctions did not arrive. Rome remained silent before this Dominican friar who did not fear anything but the supreme Judge to Whom he would have to give an account of his priesthood.

Other priests, thanks to the declaration of Fr. Calmel, had the courage to come out into the open and to resist the abuses of power of an unjust and illegal law. Against those who recommended blind obedience to the authorities, he showed the duty of the insurrection; “The whole conduct of St. Joan of Arc showed that she had thought in this way: For certain, it is God Who permits it; but what God wants, at least whilst an army remains to me, is Christian justice and that I fight a good battle. Then she was burned….

To abandon ourselves to the grace of God does not mean to do nothing. Instead it means, remaining in love, to do all that is within our power…. He who has not meditated upon the just insurrections of history, such as the war of the Maccabees, the riding into battle of St. Joan of Arc, the expeditions of John of Austria, the revolt of Budapest, to he who has not entered into sympathy with the noble resistances of history… I refuse the right to speak of Christian abandonment…abandonment does not consist in saying: God does not want the crusade, let the Moors go free. This is the voice of laziness.”

We cannot confuse supernatural abandonment with a servile obedience. “The dilemma which is placed before all––Fr. Calmel points out––is not to choose between obedience and the faith, but between the obedience of the faith and the collaboration in the destruction of the faith.” We are all invited to do “within the limits which the revolution places upon us, the maximum possible to live the tradition with intelligence and fervour. Watch and pray.”

Fr. Calmel had understood perfectly that the form of violence exercised in the “post-conciliar Church” is an abuse of authority, exercised by demanding unconditional obedience, before which the clergy and many laypersons submit themselves, without attempting any form of resistance. “This absence of reaction––said Louis Salleron––seems to me to be tragic, because God will not save Christians without themselves, nor His Church without Her.”

“Modernism makes its victims walk under the banner of obedience––writes Fr. Calmel––, placing under the suspicion of pride any criticism whatsoever of the reforms, in the name of the respect which one owes to the pope, in the name of missionary zeal, of charity and of unity.” “To force one to remain silent out of fear,” wrote Cardinal Wyzynsky on 5thOctober 1954. It was necessary to paralyze or anesthetize under the pretext of the virtue of obedience, the holy Catholic resistance, to the point of accusing he who obeys the eternal tradition of disobedience. “But there are circumstances––Professor G. Chabot pointed out–– in which disobedience to an abusive use of authority is not only licit, but rather obligatory. In such circumstances it is a virtue to disobey.”

When they said to St. Athanasius: “You have all the bishops against you,” he replied: “This shows that they are all against the Church.” “The Catholics faithful to the Tradition, even if reduced to a handful of people, are the true Church of Jesus Christ.”

With regard to the problem of obedience in liturgical matters, Fr. Calmel stated: “The question of the new rites consists in the fact that they are ambivalent: therefore they do not express in an explicit manner the intention of Christ and of the Church. The proof is in the fact that also the heretics use it with a tranquil conscience, whilst they reject and have always rejected the Missal of St. Pius V.” “It is necessary to be either stupid or fearful (or both of these at the same time) to consider oneself bound in conscience by liturgical laws which change more often than the ladies’ fashions and which are even more uncertain.”

In 1974 at a conference he said: “The Mass belongs to the Church. The new Mass belongs only to modernism. I hold to the Mass which is Catholic, traditional, Gregorian, because it does not belong to Modernism…. Modernism is a virus. It is contagious and one must flee from it. The witness is complete. If I give witness to the Catholic Mass, it is necessary that I abstain from celebrating any other Mass. It is like the burnt incense before the idols: either one grain or nothing. Therefore, nothing.”

Notwithstanding the open resistance of Fr. Calmel against the liturgical innovations, no sanction whatsoever arrived from Rome. The logic of the Dominican father is too forceful, his doctrine too orthodox, his love for the Church and for the perennial tradition too sincere, for him to be attacked. Nobody did anything against him because it was not possible. Then they wrapped the case up in the most conspiratorial silence, to the point that Fr. Calmel––known, in part, to the traditional French world––is almost unknown to the rest of the Catholic world.

In 1975, Fr. Calmel died prematurely, crowning his desire of faithfulness and resistance. In his Declaration of 1969 he asked the Most Holy Virgin that he may “remain faithful to death to the Catholic Mass, true and without ambiguity.” The Mother of God granted the desire of this beloved son who died without ever having celebrated the new Mass, in order to remain faithful to the supreme Judge to Whom he would have to given an account of his priesthood. (Cristiana De Magistris)

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Points taken from above transcript:

  • Modernism makes its victims walk under the banner of obedience, placing under the suspicion of pride any criticism whatsoever of the reforms [Vatican II], in the name of the respect which one owes to the pope, in the name of missionary zeal, of charity and of unity."

  • "Tradition Will Triumph. We are at peace on this point. Whatever may be the hypocritical arms placed by modernism in the hands of the episcopal collegialities and even of the vicar of Christ, tradition will indeed triumph: solemn baptism, for example, which includes the anathemas against the accursed devil will not be excluded for long; the tradition of not absolving sins except after individual confession will not be excluded for long; the tradition of the traditional Catholic Mass, Latin and Gregorian, with the language, Canon and gestures in conformity with the Roman Missal of St. Pius V, will soon be restored to honor; the tradition of the Catechism of Trent, or of a manual exactly in conformity with it, will be restored without delay.

    On the major points of dogma, morals, the sacraments, the states of life, the perfection to which we are called, the tradition of the Church is known by the members of the Church whatever their rank. They hold fast to it without a bad conscience, even if the hierarchical guardians of this tradition try to intimidate them or throw them into confusion; even if they persecute them with the bitter refinements of modernist inquisitors. They are very assured that by keeping the tradition they do not cut themselves off from the visible vicar of Christ. For the visible vicar of Christ is governed by Christ in such wise that he cannot transmute the tradition of the Church, nor make it fall into oblivion. If by misfortune he should try to do it, either he or his immediate successors will be obliged to proclaim from on high what remains forever living in the Church's memory: the Apostolic tradition. The spouse of Christ stands no chance of losing her memory."

  • "There is no evolution in dogma, only perversion. The Bride of Christ never loses Her memory."

  • "The Virgin, Mother of God, the Virgin of the Stabat, of the Pentecost and of the miraculous intervention throughout history, the Virtin Mary coredemptrix will keep safe in the Holy Church not only the data instituted by the Lord but also the means from ecclesiastical origin by which the Spouse of Christ will unswervingly stand in the middle of men, both as mediator of salvation and home where God dwells, until the eternal day of the Parousia of our Beloved Savior."

  • "The only authentic and saving encounter of the church with the world is that of the Confessors without stain, of the inflexible Doctors, of the faithful Virgins and of the invincible Martyrs, covered in the red tunic colored by the blood of the Lamb. ... We must separate ourselves from the world when we are not able to do as the world wishes without offending Christ."

  • "No one in the Church, whatever his hierarchical rank, be it ever so high, no one has the power to change the Church or the Apostolic Tradition."

  • "In the Catholic Mass, the priest does not preside in just any manner; he is marked with a divine character which sets him apart for all eternity and thus he acts as the minister of Christ, who performs the Mass through him; he couldnever be likened to a Protestant minister, who is delegated by the faithful to ensure the good order of the assembly. This role is obvious in the rite of Mass established by St. Pius V; it is obscured if not suppressed entirely in the new rite."
  • "Some object that ... efeining and condemning is not the right method. Very well. Is there any other method that is true to the faith? In the absence of definitions you will only bring erring souls to a vague state of almost-believing. I fail to see how you can claim to be pastoral in this way, and to be seeking the good of sould -- truth for the mind, and conversion for the heart."

  • "Our Lord in His church is in His death-throes ... in His death-throes because His Church is being buffeted, hindered, obstructed and resisted from within in Her prime task of bringing the Redemption to souls. Not that She is about to disappear, because the gates of hell will not prevail against Her, but that Her own sons, and amongst them leadrs of the hierarchy, are mistreating Her in so vile and wicked a fashion that She can no longer move without crashing to the ground at each step, fainting with exhaustion."

  • "Why the Latin Mass ONLY? ... to receive, without risk of being deceived, the incarnate and immolated Word of God rendered truly present under the Sacred Species."

  • "The Modernist is an apostate and a traitor."

  • "The simple Christian who, consulting tradition on a major point known to all, would refuse to follow a priest, a bishop, an episcopal conference, or even a Pope who would ruin tradition on this point, would not, as some charge, be showing signs characteristic of private judgment or pride; for it is not pride or insubordination to discern what the tradition is on major points, or to refuse to betray them ... is not exercising private judgment; he is not a rebel. He is a faithful Catholic established in a tradition that comes from the Apostles and which no one in the Church can change. For no one in the Church, whatever his hierarchical rank, be it ever so high, no one has the power to change the Church or the Apostolic tradition."

  • "The Mass belongs to the Church. The new Mass belongs only to modernism. I hold to the Mass which is Catholic, traditional, Gregorian, because it does not belong to Modernism.... Modernism is a virus. It is contagious and one must flee from it. The witness is complete. If I give witness to the Catholic Mass, it is necessary that I abstain from celebrating any other Mass. It is like the burnt incense before the idols: either one grain or nothing. Therefore, nothing."



Various Disciplines Must be Integrated

"The Catholic school does not consist in a class of Catholic Doctrine, with an English class added on, plus a class of mathematics, all topped with a history class and some physical education, the whole thing interspersed with languages and natural sciences. The Catholic school does not consist in the presentation of subjects side by side, but in the presentation of the same, entire, beautiful and coherent truth, which is the constant nourishment of the teachers, and which they communicate to the children with serene enthusiasm, through the diverse disciplines, who different requirements are yet respected."

"At school, what forms children the most is contact with the beautiful works (and in the older classes contact with philosophical and theological doctrines). These works express man in the use of his liberty, and not in his knowledge of sensible nature. Consequently, the frequentation of authors, sacred or profane, ancient and modern, is of first importance. In this frequentation of authors we must be enlightened by the Faith and armed with Christian philosophy. And natural sciences are not excluded, but put in second place."

The Goal of Education Must be the Acquisition of Wisdom

"It is obvious that men and women whose minds are dominated by numbers, natural sciences and technology, are not truly civilized. They are ignorant of the main part of what we are meant to know, that is, our nature and the Lord God. They are in danger of becoming technical or scientific robots. Without changing, they cannot help to construct a human and Christian civilization. And so, whatever be the type of curricula, the dominating subject will never be scientific or technological. What will determine the orientation and the spirit of the school, what will put each subject in its place, will be Christian wisdom."

"The natural sciences by themselves pose only chemical and biological questions. By themselves, they do not pose the supreme questions of liberty, society, love, sin, grace, these vital questions that any literary work of value poses. We want our children to use their minds, their heads, that is, we want them to have knowledge about the world and about life, to recognize good from evil, true good and true evil, the noble and the vile. And this they will learn by frequenting great authors, who knew what there is in man. The human must prevail over the material. Literature must prevail over the natural sciences."

There Must be a Hierarchy in the Subjects Taught

"We must take a stand, we must choose a course of action: which one? The one in which not all subjects are put on the same level; in which their unequal dignity is recognized and respected; in which the child’s interest is not overly captivated by the less important subjects. In practice, that means we emphasize the study of authors. But authors, it is said, form aesthetes ―affected fanatics of beauty, ―critical and sterile minds, unrealistic erudites. No: because we teach them in a climate of theology and spirituality, having ourselves a Christian experience of man, enlightened by healthy doctrine; because we teach authors in the context of the present era, remaining open to the principles of modern science and technology. But the sciences are taught by teachers who judge them in relation to man’s true good ―an indispensable point of view."

"We take a stand for Thomistic philosophy, and before the senior year, a stand for English literature, as well as modern and ancient languages, the languages being studied for their culture more than for their usefulness."

Latin Must Have a Place in the Curriculum

"Our humanization is not accomplished only horizontally, through the knowledge of contemporary cultures and the study of modern languages. Our humanization is accomplished also in depth, by being rooted in our tradition. We shall not be cultivated if we remain ignorant of our fathers. The authors of the past attract us in that their works bear a message that is still and always valid and worthwhile. They are authors of the eternal, and so, in a certain way, authors of the present."

"It is not a question of short-sighted utilitarianism, of short-sighted practical usefulness. It is a question of humanization in the best meaning of the word."

The Study of History Must Form the Judgment

"The cities of the world, the homelands and civilizations, are never neutral. Whether they like it or not, they are under the influence of the City of God, or of the City of Satan. Of the City of God as Jesus made it forever, holy, immaculate, invincible, destined to be configured to Him by the Cross and by love, destined to carry the Cross as long as her pilgrimage lasts, but also assured of the infallible victory by the Cross; or of the City of Satan, her implacable enemy, with its false doctrines and its great prestige, which has set itself against the City of God, but whose attempts always end in failures."

Natural Science Must Lead Children to Wonder at the Divine Order

"Through very attentive observation of nature and life, we shall not be so interested in scientific laws as in teaching the children to admire the work of the Creator, and to learn to use it intelligently and religiously."

"Science as such is limited to what can be found out sensibly, with the senses. As such, science does not know that beings are creatures. Science textbooks do not know either that beings are creatures. But the teacher is not substantialized science; he is a man knowing deeper questions than scientific ones. He knows that beings are creatures, through his philosophic reason and his supernatural Faith. Science cannot give truths, but it cannot contradict them either, because it cannot positively demonstrate the contrary of what is true. Science has only to accept these certainties."