As I winged my way home to Paris on Monday I couldn’t help but reflect with amazement at the weekend’s events in Hungary. A congregation which had but a few short months before been part of the “SSPX Resistance” had made the intellectual journey to sedevacantism, invited Bishop Sanborn to administer Confirmations, and successfully hosted a conference with at least 40 attendees, not including clergy and myself, with at least 15 of them being professed “Novus Ordo” Catholics.
His Excellency gave an outstanding conference, which was ably and speedily translated by one of the parishioners of the chapel. The full video will be available to True Restoration Platinum Annuals and above starting on October 1st. It will also available for a la carte purchase for $9.99. The conference was not a repeat of the one given by the Bishop last December in London, which focused on Vatican II and the Catholic response. This was a much larger talk in scope, which began with the shift in worldview that started in the Renaissance and led, in part, to errors like regalism and Jansenism, and would eventually find their latter day complements in the immanentism of Kant, who H.E. noted is one of the most influential figures in the system of Modernism. H.E. then connected these developments to persons like Joseph Ratzinger and Hans Kung, who found their hour of triumph at the Second Vatican Council. His Excellency then, after a brief break for refreshments, proceeded to take one hour of questions, followed by another 30 minutes of “off-the-record” questions during which time we stopped recording and allowed people who needed to leave to do so, while those with more contentious questions were permitted to stay and speak with the Bishop.
There was a line of people who wanted to converse directly with the Bishop, and as I put away the recording equipment I came up to a group of them and let them know, through one of our interpreters, that they had asked some good questions. It was an opportunity to practice patience with one of the group who was of ill-will who managed to jump from topic to topic, throwing out false analogies and fake “gotchas.” Fr. McKenna, who could hear the decibel level in my voice rising, gently tapped me on my left shoulder as if to say, “I’ve got this, Stephen.” I got in one last comment, “It was a disciplinary change, not a change to a sacrament!” He had claimed that since “Innocent the something” (it wasn’t, it was the Fourth Lateran Council) had decreed that there were to be no more religious orders, but yet later orders were permitted, that so too could Paul VI reverse Sacramentum Ordinis by introducing a novel rite of episocopal consecration. While I compliment such people for taking the time to come and hear the Bishop, I wonder how often they are actually reading and studying as opposed to memorizing tracts and repeating parts they've memorized (as a side note, Fr. McKenna, about 5 minutes later, had to step away himself and later told me, “that’s one of maybe 5 times in my life I’ve had to walk away from a conversation about the Faith.” It wasn’t a consolation for me that I’m not built for confrontations like that, but it was a reminder that I need to work on my patience, one of many virtues in myself that need encouragement and nourishment).
After Sunday Mass I had the opportunity to show the Bishop and Fr. McKenna three gems of Budapest (of which there are many), namely: Matthias Church, which witnessed the crowning of the last Holy Roman Emperor, Charles, St. Stephen’s Basilica, where the cassocks they were wearing gained them admittance to some roped-off areas of the basilica as well as to a private viewing of the right arm of St. Stephen, which was in a chapel that was already closed for the day, and Heroes Square, in which the founding of Hungary and a thousand years of its monarchy are commemorated.
Much more could be said about this trip, including the fact that I had an opportunity to interview Bishop Sanborn on clerical vocations, a video that will be hitting True Restoration Media in the next 30 days (again, this is something available to our Platinum Annual Subscribers and above). Suffice to say there are three good lessons to take away from the weekend.
Firstly: People are thinking. The fact that so many Novus Ordos would attend a conference in which the featured speaker is a known and “notorious” sedevacantist means that people take these concepts seriously as ideas that need to be grappled with, not merely dismissed out of hand.
Secondly: Bishop Sanborn and others like him are willing to travel anywhere that people are serious about a non-una-cum Mass. This event stood in stark contrast to the London conference of last December, when those who profess to vigorously disagree with Bishop Sanborn were too cowardly to even engage with him, and who are under the sway of native clergy who propose all sorts of odd ideas, including Bishop Williamson’s “Resist the Recognize and Resist SSPX” strain of thought. The Hungarians are serious and this conference will pave the way for future visits, no doubt.
Finally: Anyone can do this who has a desire and has a modicum of organizational acumen. The clergy, and indeed the resources of True Restoration, are available for any other groups who wish for such episcopal visits. If you act seriously and deliberately, we will take you at your word and assist you in every way we can.