Africa, the South Pacific, and Hawaii
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
On December 18th I landed in the mainland United States back from a swift five-week visit to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii. What traveler's tales do I have to tell? A11 around the world, in widely varying circumstances, God is raising up a remnant of Catholics to keep the Faith in the midst of a world giving itself over to the Devil.
The tour began at the southern end of Africa with Confirmations in Windhoek, the capital of South-West Africa, a country whose fall into Communism is now being jointly engineered in Moscow and Washington. For while Russia gives some of her latest Mig-23 fighters to the Cubans in Angola, the American Congress imposes sanctions to paralyze South Africa, and the European bankers queue up to lend Russia billions in Western currencies to pay for the Mig-23's. Suicidal stupidity! Is anyone still surprised at the advance of Communism? In fact the Liberals rejoice in the birth of a new and better world – understand, without God – and beg the Communists to deceive them. The Communists naturally oblige, and tighten the noose around the liberals' necks, with rope, as Lenin foresaw, gladly paid for by the victims.
And where in this scene are the interests of God? While He lets the majority prepare a major scourge for their own backs to remind them that He is not mocked, He is turning a minority of Catholics more seriously to their Faith. In each of the main cities of southern Africa, Windhoek, Capetown, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Johannesburg a kernel of Catholics, most numerous in Durban and Johannesburg, is gathering with more and more conviction around the Tridentine Mass, celebrated far the most part by three Society priests, and these Catholics rejoice in being able to present their children for Confirmation by a Society bishop. In Capetown a sedevacantist priest on the right and a diocesan bishop exploiting the Indult on the left – sounds familiar? – have unsettled the Society's mission, but with a regular Society priest this situation would soon stabilize.
Not that these Catholics take much interest in politics, not even in the "problem" of apartheid. For to those, black or white, who take heaven and hell seriously, racism and anti-racism pale into insignificance, as did slavery for the early Christians. In truth, apartheid, like the Boer War (1899-1902), is a problem engineered by the liberals to force the old-fashioned Calvinist Boer into step with their Brave New World. His strength was always his religion. His downfall will be neither Mig-23's, nor apartheid, still less sanctions, but his turning aside from his old-fashioned religion and morals to delight in the sinful pleasures of Western materialism. So unless he turns back, the turmoil of Revolution is inevitable.
However – lesson for ourselves – such turmoil need not be only harmful to the Faith and so need not only be feared. In Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, the country immediately to the north of South Africa, the turmoil of a terrorist war ran from about 1966 to 1980, when the Communists gained control. Yet the Society of St. Pius X has a priory in the capital city, Harare, and is right now finishing construction of a beautiful church to hold 250 people! The priests find their ministry often more rewarding in Zimbabwe than in South Africa, and the local laity are convinced there is amongst both whites and blacks a great apostolic opening for true priests, because the terrorist war was a chastening experience for everyone. One soul in Zimbabwe told me she reckoned that with all the shortages and inconveniences typical of communist rule, it was nevertheless easier now to save one's soul in deprived Zimbabwe than in prosperous and comfortable but materialistic South Africa. What God has to do to get our attention!
After the confirmations in Harare, a long flight across the southern Indian Ocean led to the next stop, in Sydney, south-east Australia, where the Society has its Australasian head-quarters. Many Rhodesians and South Africans have taken this flight in recent years in order to escape from the past or future Revolution in Africa. However, spiritual problems do not have geographical solutions. It is true that in Australia the aborigines have proved too peaceful to serve the agitators' purposes of stirring up non-whites against whites, but the Revolution is nonetheless striding ahead amongst the whites with socialism and materialism. An interesting newsletter by a brave young man, Peter Sawyer, gave graphic details of huge new bunkers in Canberra and Melbourne, disguised at first as "telephone exchanges", but designed in fact to house vast inter-departmental Governmental computer centers. The facilities for big Government to spy on every detail of citizens' lives, "Big Brother" in George Orwell's "1984", are being put in place, linked apparently with similar facilities in the U.S.A. and elsewhere...
Meanwhile the Society in Australia has large and thriving parishes with churches in both Sydney and Melbourne, a growing parish with a church in Brisbane, many out-lying missions and a newly bought seminary building not far from Canberra where I was able to give tonsure to eight seminarians at the end of their first year of seminary studies. The building formerly of the Christian Brothers is much in need of repair, but lay helpers had already done a beautiful job of renovating the Chapel. Sound familiar? "For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, bond or free.... and there are diversities of operations, but the same God, who worketh all in all" I (Cor. XII, 13, 6). Truly, Wisdom "reacheth from end to end" of the world "mightily and ordereth all things sweetly".
The high-point of the visit to Australia was the ordaining of Winona seminarian Shane Johnson to the priesthood – see the enclosed Verbum. He is Australian, and will in a few week's time begin his ministry with the other Society priest in New Zealand, Fr. Ruben Gentili from the Argentine. At the Society's two main centers in New Zealand, Wellington and Auckland, there were numerous Confirmations, although Archbishop Lefebvre's last visit had not been so long ago. And from New Zealand the Society priests make occasional visits to the island of Fiji, way out in the Pacific. "Yes, verily, their sound hath gone forth into all the earth, and their words into the ends of the whole world" (Ps XIII, 5; Rom. X, 18). The only thing that stops the Society priests from going there more often is the air-fare, and the same must be true for the farthest-flung islands in the Pacific!
In all these distant parts all over the world, Society priests find themselves full of admiration for the work done by Catholic missionaries of yesteryear. How well many of them did their work of planting the Faith! It is often there all ready to revive under the hand of the Society priests. What a crime, that Second Vatican Council, which paralyzed missionary effort by "re-evaluating" all the false religions! For "how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be sent." But who shall send anyone when Vatican II states (Unitatis Redintegratio, #3) that "the spirit of Christ has not refrained from using non-Catholic Churches and Communities as means of salvation"?
Between New Zealand and the mainland U.S.A., it was easy to stop over for two days in Honolulu. The eight-island multi-racial state, a quarter of whose one million inhabitants are Catholic, is presently plagued with such a blatantly bad bishop as to make wholly likely the thesis of communist infiltrators in the episcopacy. Be that as it may, a group of Hawaii Catholics, quite independently of the Society of St. Pius X, have got themselves together to defend their Faith, with a weekly radio program and a monthly newspaper and the Tridentine Mass celebrated each Sunday by a "suspended" diocesan priest in a hall obtained with the backing of the Mayor of Honolulu who cannot stand the bishop! The bishop is very much aware of these Catholics, who cause him an annoyance – of the right kind – out of all proportion to their relatively insignificant numbers.
From me they asked for a day-long recollection concluding in a slightly improvised ceremony of some twenty confirmations and Mass, at which a piece of cord attached to a piece of string out of someone's trunk had to make do for the bishop's cincture! But what is that when compared with such attachment to the Faith? On the following day, Sunday Mass was attended by about a hundred souls. Stranded in midPacific, they are tempted to think no one is concerned for their struggle for the Faith, but they should know they have close friends in the same combat all over the world, Hawaii, can you hear us? Keep up the good fight! All of us are behind you!
I arrived back in Winona just in time to ordain three deacons on the Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle. With Deacon Timothy Pfeiffer from Ecône, that would make four American priests to be ordained at Winona on the Feast of St. John the Baptist, June 24. Mark the date in your diary. All are welcome. For a video-tape of some of the Ordination ceremonies so far held at Winona, write to "Roman Catholic Information", P. O. , Box 556, Rossville, KS 66531.
I also returned to Winona in time to run into a mountain of mail, and cubic yards of parcels! Please let me here thank all those who sent us a Christmas card, who will not otherwise be thanked, and let me especially thank all of you who made Christmas or end of year donations to the seminary. Your generosity has enabled us to make an appreciable dent in our debts. Very many thanks.
And the New Year? On Saturday Jan. 14 at 7 pm, any of you in the Metropolitan New York area that have not yet thrown out your TV sets may be interested to watch WNBC-TV's religion special "Splitting Faith", because it will include shots taken last autumn of priests and laity from the Society's Retreat-house in Connecticut. Of course we expect nothing very good to come out of the media where for some interesting reason the liberals are in their element, while the conservatives are always swimming against the current. But a colleague recently pointed out to H.E. the wisdom of President Reagan's handling of the media with patience and courtesy, despite all their antipathy for him. The same holds for the Catholic – even the Traditional Catholic – media. No names!
The American people have loved President Reagan for standing for sanity and against liberalism in many of its insane forms. Here he is on Communism: "Have you heard the Communists now have a million-dollar lottery for their people? The winner gets a dollar a year for a million years". On socialistic government: "Government's view of the economy? If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it". On Congress: "If "they want to bring the Panamanian economy to its knees, why don't they just go down there and run the country?" On Communism again: "If the Soviet Union let another political party come into existence, they would still be a one-party state, because everyone would join the other party."
Catholics will surely miss Reagan for many of his qualities, and we must pray for George Bush, who may pleasantly surprise us. We have the leaders we deserve, and the best of them will say they can do little good without the support of good people. And where does the goodness of good people come from? From their religion, or rather, from whatever is Catholic in their religion.
May God then give you all a New Year filled with an ever increasing knowledge and love of Himself and of your Catholic Faith.
Most sincerely yours in Our Divine Lord.
Bishop Richard Williamson