Statement on Fátima Crusaders (of Spokane)

Authored By: Bishop Lawrence Welsh

STATEMENT ON TRIDENTINE LATIN RITE CHURCH (FATIMA CRUSADERS)

By Bishop Lawrence Welsh

After much consultation and prayer, I have given approval for the to publish the series of articles regarding the Fatima Crusaders, which begins in this issue. In the history of the Catholic Church, after almost every general Council there have been groups which have broken away from the mainstream of the church. They have done this in reaction to the restatement of the Christian tradition by the Fathers of that particular Council.

It is a very sad phenomeon but also very human. In faith we grieve to see the fabric of the church so divided. Our life as Christians is directed toward the unity of all men and women in Christ. Whatever divides the church is to be mourned because it divides Christ himself.

SINCERE

We are sure that the Catholics who have joined the Fatima Crusaders are sincere in their belief. The series presents the sorrows, the traumas, and the difficulties they have experienced for the sake of their belief. They are seeking to do God's will as they understand it.

Yet, as Bishop of Spokane, I do not feel that I can stand by silently while people from this group cause confusion in the minds of some of our Catholic people.

The Fatima Crusaders or the Tridentine Latin Rite Church cannot be identified as a legitimate expression of the Roman Catholic faith. Their denial of the papacy as incorporated in the lives of the last four popes is a denial of the church itself. How can one believe in the presence of Christ in the church and the power of his Spirit while denying the concrete presence of the office of the Pope?

NOT LEGITIMATELY CATHOLICS

There is no such thing as a legitimate expression of the Catholic tradition that is not in union with the Holy Father. The Fatima Crusaders are therefore not legitimately Catholics. Their celebration of the sacraments is not a legitimate part of the life of the church. Bishop Schuckardt has received no mission from the church universal and does not accept the unity of the apostolic office. Yet these are some of the very elements which make the Church Roman Catholic.

The past 18 years have been very challenging for the church. Given the direction by the bishops of the church in union with the Holy Father, Catholics have been about the difficult task of reform and renewal. There have been extreme reactions at times and clearly abuses at times, but guided by the official teaching office of the church it has sought to live by and to teach the mainstream of Catholic tradition as it has been known for 2,000 years.

As your bishop, I must caution you, the faithful of this diocese, to protect yourselves from any error including this effort by the Fatima Crusaders. Their presentation of Catholic tradition distorts the mainstream of Catholic faith by a certain selected historical perception of Catholic life. They take a far too pessimistic view of world order.

TEACHING AUTHORITY DENIED

Furthermore, they deny the teaching authority of the Second Vatican Council and the last four popes. Implicitly Bishop Schuckardt has set himself up as the final and last arbiter of Catholic tradition. This follows the pattern used by all so-called reformers of the past.

They are above the then current expression of Catholic tradition. History over and over again has demonstrated that such movements are not from the Holy Spirit. Whatever the admitted weaknesses and sinfulness of the Roman Cathoic Church, the Fatima Crusaders stand opposed to the unity, Catholicity, and apostolicity of the church. I truly believe the series that begins this week helps to identify this more clearly. I am grateful to Bob Cubbage and the staff for their very competent and professional efforts to bring this story to the Catholic people of our diocese.

This document was taken from "Cults, Sects, and the New Age," by Rev. James J. LeBar, available from Our Sunday Visitor Press, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750.

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