Editor’s note: Below is an exchange of letters between a cloistered nun and Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. The first part of the piece is the nun’s letter to His Excellency, the second part is His Excellency’s reply.Abp. Viganò: Christ would not recognize His Church in ‘the sect’ that’s eclipsing the See of Peter – LifeSite
Most Reverend Excellency,
I am writing to you on the occasion of the coming Feast of Christ the King, and I permit myself to share with you a certain fundamental question:
Is there still any meaning in celebrating and invoking the grace that this liturgical feast so longed for when it was instituted?
If the King of kings and Lord of lords (cf. 1 Tim 6:15; Apoc. 19:16) were to return today in His glory, would He still recognize His Spouse, the Church?
By asking these questions, I will seem irreverent and lacking faith in the promise, “the gates of hell shall not prevail” (Mt 16:19), that resonates as a hope to cling to for those few survivors of the wind of mortal apostasy that has invaded the Church. Well, the provocative tone of these questions summarizes the feeling of confusion of the few remaining faithful, faithful in searching for some reference to the Magisterium, a valid Sacrament, and coherence of life among the shepherds. I turn to you as to a “Voice in the desert” that so many times has illuminated so many lost and disheartened souls.
I wanted to share with you this little story that happened to me:
A few days ago, a lady who brought some donations to the convent said to me: ‘You know, I don’t follow these things very much, but it seems to me that the direction the Church has taken lately is not so good…!’ From the way she spoke, the tone of her voice, I perceived that she was embarrassed for expressing herself in this way to someone whom she believed represented that ‘Church’ that she had just questioned. I could make a great speech to her: my answer was a simple appeal about the need to intensify our personal prayer, leaving the lady in her ignorance and allowing me to ‘identify’ with that ‘church’ that I do not really feel I represent… The sensation was one of great impotence, in the impossibility of being able to give exhaustive and truthful answers. A few minutes earlier I had read the exhortation of Pope Pius XI when, one hundred years ago in his Encyclical Ubi Arcano Dei he had exhorted Catholics about their duty to hasten the return of the social kingship of Christ. A sort of ‘moral duty,’ of a personal and collective commitment.
Is this commitment still valid? And how should we put it into practice if the “Church” is no longer the “Church”?
The letter Ubi Arcano Dei was the beginning of the institution of the Feast of the Kingship of Christ, which took place in 1925 precisely in order to avoid the mess that we have experienced in the recent years. In that encyclical, the Kingship of Christ was understood as the remedy to secularism and to all of those errors that – at a distance of one hundred years – have been generously welcomed by many prelates, bishops, cardinals, and even he who presents himself as the representative of Christ and who under this insignia has promoted the ruinous acceleration of the flock “deceptively” entrusted to him.
Francis is considered to be the pope, albeit an apostate, but is he the pope? Was he ever the pope?
When Pilate asked Jesus what truth was, despite having Truth Himself right in front of him, the gaze of Christ, the Judge of the world, penetrated the mediocrity of the weak man who stood before him. Pilate trembled for a moment, but the glamor of his personal pride prevailed. Christ the King returns today in the same form and looks the bishops and cardinals in the eye, those who do not recognize the Crown of Thorns that He has worn in their place, assuming the price of their betrayal, their pride, and their unworthy blindness.
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I recall having read in the Diary of Saint Faustina Kowalska – the saint of Mercy – that one day Jesus appeared to her completely scourged, covered in blood and crowned with thorns: he looked her in the eyes and said to her “The bride must resemble Her Bridegroom.” The saint understood what was meant by that call to “nuptiality,” to sharing everything. Probably this is the form of recognition of the Kingship of Christ that our historical moment is demanding personally of every true Catholic.
Yes, it seems to me that this is the vocation of the “true Church” in our time: of that little flock which, meeting the gaze of Christ the King mistreated and disfigured by blasphemy and perversion, still has the courage to give a response of love, fidelity, and consistency of conscience that is unable to deny Him, because otherwise it would deny Christ the King just as did Pilate, Herod, and all the leaders of the people.
I do not hide from you that with these lines I wanted to ask for one of your essays, which are full of Christian hope for the little remnant that is bewildered because it is without a Shepherd, without the representative of Christ who ought to guard and defend the Church entrusted to him.
I have asked you some questions that many are asking with such sorrow in their hearts, and I am certain that the Holy Spirit will give you the answers that will rekindle expectation for the return of the triumph of the Kingdom of Christ in society, in every heart, and over the entire face of the earth!
“Pacificus vocabitur, et thronus eius erit firmissimus in perpetuum!”
– A cloistered nun
Archbishop Viganò’s reply
Reverend and dearest Sister,
I read the letter you sent me with keen interest and edification. Permit me to respond to as well as I can.
Your first question is as direct as it is disarming: “If the King of Kings and Lord of Lords were to return today in His glory, would he still recognize His Bride, the Church?” Of course He would recognize Her! But not in the sect that eclipses the See of Peter, rather in the many good souls, especially in the priests, men and women religious, and in many simple faithful souls, who, even if they do not have horns of light on their brow as Moses did (Ex 34:29), are still recognizable as living members of the Church of Christ. He would not find Her at Saint Peter’s, where worship has been offered to an unclean idol; nor at Santa Marta, where the artificial poverty and inflated humility of the Tenant are a monument to his immense ego; nor at the Synod on Synodality, where the fiction of democracy serves to complete the dismantling of the divine edifice of the Catholic Church and to impose scandalous ways of life; not in the dioceses and parishes in which the conciliar ideology has replaced the Catholic Faith and cancelled Tradition. The Lord, as Head of the Church, recognizes the pulsating and living members of His Mystical Body and those who are dead and rotting, having been snatched from Christ by heresy, lust, and pride, and who are now subject to Satan. So yes: the King of kings would recognize the pusillus grex, even if he had to look for it gathered around an altar in an attic, a cellar, or the middle of the woods.
You mention that the promise of the Non prævalebunt may resound “as a hope to cling to,” and that “the provocative tone of these questions summarizes the feeling of confusion of the few remaining faithful, faithful in searching for some reference to the Magisterium, a valid Sacrament, and coherence of life among the shepherds.”
Our Lord’s promise to St. Peter is provocative, in a certain sense, because it starts from two assumptions: the first is that the gates of hell will not prevail, which tells us nothing about the level of persecution that the Church will have to endure. The second, a logical consequence of the first, is that the Church will be persecuted but not defeated. For both, we are asked to make an act of Faith in the word of the Savior and in His omnipotence, along with an act of humble realism, acknowledging our weakness and the fact that we deserve the worst punishments, both among the “modernists” and also among the “traditionalists.”
You ask me how to put into practice the appeal of Pius XI for the restoration of the social Kingship of Christ, “if the ‘Church’ is no longer the ‘Church.’” Certainly, the visible church, to which the world gives the name of Catholic Church and of which it considers Bergoglio as Pope, is no longer Church, at least with regard to those cardinals, bishops, and priests who convincedly profess another doctrine and declare themselves to be adherents of the “conciliar church” in antithesis to the “preconciliar church.” But are you and I, and the many priests, religious and faithful, part of that church or of the Church of Christ? To what extent can we superimpose the Bergoglian church and the Catholic Church, accepting that they are superimposable in some aspect? The problem is that the conciliar revolution has torn the bond of identity between the Church of Christ and the Catholic hierarchy.
Before Vatican II it was unthinkable that a pope could have openly contradicted his predecessors in doctrinal or moral questions, because the hierarchy was very clear about its role and its moral responsibility in administering the power of the Holy Keys and the authority of the Vicar of Christ and the shepherds. The Council, beginning right with the anomalous definition it gave of itself and with the rupture with the past present in the elimination of the canons and anathemas, showed how it is possible, for anyone who does not have moral sense, to hold a sacred role in the Church even though unworthy in the three aspects that you have duly enumerated: “Magisterium, valid Sacrament, and coherence of the life of the Shepherds.” These shepherds, deviants in doctrine, morality, and liturgy, do not feel bound to the fact that they are vicars of Christ, and of thus being able to govern the Church only if their authority is exercised coherently with the purposes that legitimize it. This is why they abuse their own power, usurp an authority whose divine origin they deny, and humiliate the sacred institution which in some way guarantees the authority of those Shepherds.
This rupture, this violent tear, was consummated on the spiritual level at the moment in which the authority of the prelates was secularized, just like what happened in the civil sphere. Wherever authority ceases to be sacred, sanctioned from above, exercised in the place of He who combines in himself the spiritual authority of Supreme Pontiff and the temporal authority of King and Lord, it is there corrupted into tyranny, sold with corruption, and commits suicide in anarchy. You write: “Christ the King returns today in the same form and looks the bishops and cardinals in the eye, those who do not recognize the Crown of Thorns that He has worn in their place, assuming the price of their betrayal, their pride, and their unworthy blindness.” In those same features, dear sister, we must recognize the Holy Church. And as we were scandalized in seeing her Head humiliated and mocked, scourged and bleeding, wearing the robe, holding a reed, and crowned with thorns, so we are scandalized now in seeing in an analogous way the entire Church Militant laying prostrate, wounded, covered with spit, insulted, and mocked. But if the Head wanted to embrace the Sacrifice by humiliating Himself even unto death, death on a Cross, for what reason would we presume to merit a better end, since we are His members, if we really wish to reign with Him? On which throne is the Lamb seated, if not on the royal throne of the Cross? Regnavit a ligno Deus: this was the triumph of Christ; this will be the triumph of the Church, His Mystical Body. You rightly comment: “The Bride must resemble Her Bridegroom.” And you continue: “Yes, it seems to me that this is the vocation of the ‘true Church’ in our time: of that little flock which, meeting the gaze of Christ the King mistreated and disfigured by blasphemy and perversion, still has the courage to give a response of love, fidelity, and consistency of conscience that is unable to deny Him, because otherwise it would deny Christ the King just as did Pilate, Herod, and all the leaders of the people.”
Your letter, dearest sister, is for all of us an opportunity to reflect on the mystery of the passio Ecclesiæ that is so near to what is happening in these terrible times. And I conclude by recalling the “provocation” of the Non prævalebunt: just as the Savior knew the shadow of the tomb, so we must know it will happen to the Church, and perhaps it is already happening. But He will not allow his Holy One to know corruption (Ps 16), and He will make Her rise just as He Himself rose from the dead. In this sense, the words “The Bride must resemble the Bridegroom” acquire their full significance, showing us how only by following the Divine Bridegroom up the steep slope to Golgotha will we be able to merit to follow Him in glory to the right hand of the Father.
I exhort you to draw spiritual profit from these thoughts, as I impart to you and your dear fellow sisters my fullest and fatherly blessing.
+ Carlo Maria Viganò, Archbishop
4 November 2022
S.cti Caroli Borromæi, Pont. Conf