Rorate Caeli

Notice: leaks, leakers, and standing one's ground

[May 9, 11 PM GMT] On July 5, 2007, we posted a relevant notice here in Rorate: at the time, the enemies of the motu proprio were still attempting a late move of shock and awe, and broke the embargo. We stood firm against it, such methods have no place where Catholicism is involved. 

One can almost always find the right side in a dispute by seeing who acts in good faith, and the wrong side by who acts in bad faith. That has usually been a matter that has led to the despair of conservative forces in politics: because those who are truly conservative are unwilling to do everything to win, and because their revolutionary adversaries accept the use of any weapons, and are willing to use them, the struggle is most unequal. 

That is to say that it is quite surprising when, in a disagreement between Traditional-minded Catholics, one side maintains a serene spirit, while the other makes use of... revolutionary methods. Such was the case today, as at least one person with access to internal letters of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) released two of them, dated from about one month ago, in unsanitary and hellish places which a Catholic should never be called to visit: one, sent by one bishop including the apparent agreement of other two, uninterested in what has usually been called a "practical agreement"; the other, sent in response by the General Council of the SSPX one week later, explaining the reasons for pursuing the current course. 

Five years ago, we refused as a matter of principle to publish a leak, and we were glad at the time that many good online friends did the same. We refuse today based on the same principle to publish leaks of letters sent and received in confidence - it is a repulsive kind of conduct that simply has no place in civilized affairs, much less in those between Christians. 

We wish to state only the following: first, it is clear that the General Council of Society and the Holy Father are being moved in all this by faith in Divine Providence alone. The careful prudence, the charity of all the process, the strong inspiration in Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition are very endearing - and, if the leakers wanted to sow fear and division, what transpires from the exchange is serene steadiness from those who are in charge of the affair.

Second, the current situation is not the same as it was one month ago. We hope those acting in revolutionary fashion do not insist: faith in God and good faith were what always moved Archbishop Lefebvre; faith in God and good faith, not leaks, are the matter of which heroes and saints are made.


So, who leaked the letters? We know, by the date of creation (April 19) of the PDF file of the letter sent by Bp. Fellay on April 14, that it was someone who had access to the physical letter on the days leading up to April 19. Therefore, someone had this letter since that date but, instead of leaking it then, leaked it only three weeks later - the delay marks this as an obviously desperate move in response to a changed set of circumstances.

Who was responsible for it? Also someone who did not move carefully in deleting simple traces. This person registered in a forum we never link to, but that we will mention here for documentation purposes: CathInfo. He used the name "FSPX" and leaked from Britain the texts of the two letters (the PDF file of the first, created on April 5, two days before it was sent - at that time, then, just a draft; the PDF file of the image of the second one), as well as a DOC file with an English translation of the first letter.

A friend sent us this link almost immediately after the documents were posted, and one of Rorate's contributors immediately downloaded all of them for future reference.

Then, some hours later, something curious happened: some poster on the fourth page of that same CathInfo forum thread said, "Father, you left traces", or words to that effect; afterwards, the moderator said, "how would you know?". Then this entire discussion disappeared - at this moment, we knew that there was something with the DOC file.

A new download of the DOC file revealed a slightly modified document: its Document Properties were empty (the only other difference is that the little dash, between "Letter of the Three Bishops" and "English Translation" in the filename was moved to the middle). The original file contains "Fr. X" (the actual surname of a priest in the UK District, which we will leave unmentioned at this moment) as author in the Document Properties, and "Monsieur le Supérieur Général," as title in the Document Properties (a clear sign that it was automatically created by the word processor, by using the registered owner of the software as author and the first words as title - which makes sense, since he used the French original to make his translation).

In sum: Letter of the Three Bishops- English Translation.doc Author: "Fr. X" (54k)
 Letter of the Three Bishops - English Translation.doc Author: [Empty] (29k)

We know then that the translation was created in a word processing software owned by "Fr. X", that it came from someone who had access to it, and also that it was sent from the United Kingdom. Since he chose to make the private documents public, we are quite sure that whoever composed the public translation document ("Fr. X" or someone who used "Fr. X"'s computer) does not mind having this information mentioned here.


May 10 Note: we did not plan to mention these leaks of private internal letters. We did not think any serious source would publish them. We have had our hand forced to mention these leaks because French blog Riposte Catholique could not resist posting it almost 20 hours later as if it were a scoop: audience numbers are not that important, Messieurs... When we are authorized to publish them, or one of them, or when circumstances seem to indicate that such an authorization exists at least implicitly, we will. Otherwise, you will not find this kind of material here - elsewhere, but not here: that was not the way we worked in 2007, and it is not the way we work in 2012.