How far does the Apple fall from the Tree? Fr. Pfeiffer as the Apple and Bishop Williamson as the Tree. - Updated Again


Update Mach 24, 2015: As noted here a friend reviewed one of the source YouTube videos used to create the infamous Recusant article.  He has discovered that Fr. Pfeiffer's chronicler missed the important aspect of Unity - The Pope.  I have upgraded Fr. Pfeiffer's mark to 1 for Unity.  I'll have to review the rest at a later time to determine if Fr. Pfeiffer can achieve a passing mark - or at least surpass Bishop Williamson.

Early on in the conflict between Bishop Williamson et al who form the alleged 'resistance' and the SSPX, I discerned that there were two keys to understanding the differences betwixt the parties.

Doctrinal and Cultural.

The cultural aspect was obvious but the doctrinal is more important.

Bishop Fellay accepts Church doctrine:
  • St. Thomas' explanation of the Catholic principle of obedience is applicable today as it was in his time.
  • The Pope is the direct Superior of all religious (Bishops, Priests, Monks, Brothers, Nuns etc).
  • Pope Francis (and previously Pope Benedict XVI) is the Pope and can issue a command that objectively meets St. Thomas's criteria for obedience.
What the 'resistance' believes is another matter entirely as there appears to be a significant degree of heterogeneity amongst the various associates.

The first and most distinct difference is that a significant number of the 'resistance' appear to actually be Sede-Vacantist.

I recently heard that the Quebec (Canada) association of the 'resistance' has splintered in a total of three groups: la resistance, le perserverance and le endurance. Of course, it is possible that my contact was simply making a joke. However, what is fact is that the Quebec group manifested explict sede-vacantism that resulted in the return of a number of members to the SSPX Mass centres.  I also understand that there was also an 'una cum' controversy in Europe along the same lines.

Naturally, the Sede-Vacantist elements will reject any canonical regularization because, simply, they don't believe that Pope Francis and his post conciliar predecessors is/were the Vicars of Christ to whom we owe obedience.

The second aspect upon which there is some consistency from the 'resistance' clerics is their impressions on Church Teaching concerning the constitution of the Church, Her Four Marks etc.

Now it is plain to see that Bishop Williamson's explanations of the Four Marks are severely flawed (Open Letter to Bishop Williamson, english, french, I've also reviewed the topic here, here, here, here , here and ... here.) To date, Bishop Williamson, Fr. Girouard, Fr. Rua, Fr. Fuchs, had all written in some depth on the Four Marks and the 'Conciliar Church'.  Each demonstrating a high degree of commonality.

Now Fr. Pfeiffer has taken up pen, or rather someone has collected and published a set of notes of Fr. Pfeiffer's various conferences on the 'Four Marks'.

The question is will the Apple (Fr. Pfeiffer) fall far from the Tree (Bishop Williamson).

I strongly recommend that, before reading the quoted sections, the reader takes the time to read the article: The Four Marks of the Church of Christ as an antidote to the half-truths presented by the resistance.

Now, let's take a look at what Fr. Pfeiffer allegedly believes. I say allegedly because while the article is attributed to his conferences, it is still one degree removed from the author.


The first of them is that the Church is One. Another word for ‘one-ness’ is unity. What is the source of this unity? It is the Catholic Faith. The Faith is what makes us one. If you are not united in the Faith, there is no real way to achieve unity. There is only one Catholic Faith, one true doctrine. Any other doctrine, even only the tiniest difference, causes a loss of unity. Without that one Faith, there cannot be unity.
Sadly, Fr. Pfeiffer tells the same half-truth as Bishop Williamson.  Like the protestants before them, the resistance obscure those elements of Church Teaching that are inconsistent with their beliefs. This may simply a case of cognitive dissonance being alleviated by confirmation bias.  Even so, it is lethal to the souls of those who follow them in their error.

The whole truth is that the Unity of the Church consists of Unity of Faith AND Unity of Government.

So if I were marking this examination, I'd grant Fr. Pfeiffer half a mark. Mostly for effort. 0.5 Marks

UPDATE: Fr. Pfeiffer apparently did mention the Pope in the YouTube video - so his mark is upgraded to 1.0.


The Catholic Faith brings other things with it. The first of these is Holiness. It is the Faith which brings holiness. Holiness means a setting aside for God, setting apart for God. We say that a church is a holy building meaning that it is not just like any other, it has been set aside for God. Priests and religious are persons set aside for God, Sunday is a day set aside for God. The priest can bless certain articles and they then become ‘holy’, set aside for God. We cannot come to the Faith and simply continue to live like pagans. Our external actions, our thoughts, our words, everything must from then on belong to God. When we have the Faith we are made holy by it, but we cannot having that holiness without first uniting ourselves to the True Faith. When we have the true Doctrine and true holiness, the next thing that comes from that is Catholicity.
I included the whole passage because it gives a good indication of the problem that Fr. Pfeiffer has with the Doctrine of the Church.  First, it seems lost upon him that the Orthodox at the point of their schism were not at first heretics.  They simply left the Church by refusing to recognize the See of Peter as the Supreme Authority in the Church. Second, he appears to be mixing his judgments with peoples actions, lifestyles etc.

Fr. Pfeiffer's explanation is a great deal more verbose than what is written in the Catechism of the Council of Trent.
The Church is Holy for the following reasons: it is consecrated and dedicated to God; because the Church, as the Mystical Body of Christ, is united to its head: Our Lord Jesus Christ; and lastly the Church has the true worship of God.

The humour that Fr. Pfeiffer is imitating the verbosity of the documents of the Second Vatican Council is not lost on me.

I'd like to give Fr. Pfeiffer however, his understanding is fundamentally flawed when compared with the actual teaching of the Church of Christ.  0 marks. 


The word Catholic means ‘universal.’ Catholicity is thus a ‘universality’, an adaptability, a presence everywhere, possessing a quality which makes the One Faith and the Holiness fit into any country, any culture, any time or era. Thus the unity brought about by the One True Faith, and the holiness which accompanies that are to be found everywhere. The Catholic Faith is not just for the French, not just for old ladies, not just for people from the Middle Ages, etc. Furthermore, that Church which belongs to God desires to be everywhere. It wants God in everything: God in your marriage, God in your children, God in your clothing, God in your business, God in your country... The Catholic Faith must be in every aspect of our lives and every element of our society.
Before we unspin Fr. Pfeiffer's yarn, I think it is critical to put Church Teaching in the forefront:
The Catholic Church is Universal, "embraces ... all mankind" and includes "all the faithful who have existed from Adam to the present day, or who shall exist, in the profession of the true faith, to the end of time".  Finally, the Church is called Universal because "all who desire eternal salvation must cling to and embrace her".
Now let's unspin Fr. Pfeiffer's opinion. The first problem with Fr. Pfeiffer's assertion is the 'adaptability' of the One Faith etc to fit into any country, culture etc.  At this point, let's be clear, it isn't that the Church adapts to anyone, it is that the content of the Faith is the Truth. If I were to take Fr. Pfeiffer's words at face value and not give him the benefit of the doubt, I would conclude that he is a modernist who advocates inculturalization and holds a modernist concept of the Faith.

It is to Catholic Truth that everyone adapts, not the other way around.

The second thread that I managed to pull from Fr.Pfeiffer's ball of yarn is the conflation of the Faith in Action (moral life) and professed belief.  This focus on faith in action appears to be a recurrent theme of Fr. Pfeiffer's thoughts and muddies what should be crystal clear.

Anyway, he did capture the "One Faith and the Holiness fit into any country, any culture, any time or era."  so I would have given him a mark. Then he went and warped the doctrine with an apparently modernist notion, so I have to dock him a point. 0 Marks


Finally, the True Faith which brings with it Holiness, since it belongs everywhere because it is Catholic it must therefore be spread everywhere and will always seek to spread and propagate itself to the four corners of the world. This is what is meant when we call it Apostolic. Our Lord sent the Apostles, and the word Apostle means one who is sent out. A Catholic who is Apostolic then is one who never wastes an opportunity to spread the Faith, to give that true Doctrine and holiness to others and to bring others to it. The Apostolic Church is the Church which wants to spread to all things, to all people and to all places. 
Definitely a 0 marks.  The Catechism of the Council of Trent states simply that: 
The Church of Christ can be recognized by its Apostolic origin, for "the Holy Ghost, who presides over the Church, governs her by no other ministers than those of Apostolic succession".
The Missionary nature of the Church that strives to win souls for Christ is not considered a Mark of the Church.  Otherwise a particularly fervent protestant sect would, following Fr, Pfeiffer's definition, have a Mark of the Church.  

Strange how the longer the resistance strives against the SSPX, the more they begin to sound and teach like modernists.

Final Score: 

Fr. J. Pfeiffer: 0.5 1.0 marks
Bishop Williamson: 1.5 marks

So does Fr. Pfeiffer exceed his teacher?   

If the Recusant article is a true reflection of his thought, the answer is no.

Concluding Thoughts

How is it possible that Fr. Pfeiffer could be so 'off the mark'?  I believe most of his formation occurred under Bishop Williamson. Given Bishop Williamson's fascination with conspiracy theories and his suggested curriculum for the 'resistance' seminary, I would assume that Fr. Pfeiffer's formation was lacking in the area of Theology ... among other areas.

This conclusion is supported, if I, as a layman, can pickup a Catechism and point out the inconsistencies.

So the Apple doesn't fall very far from the Tree.



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