This story was published more than ten years ago in Fidelity Magazine. However, its relevance is important to our understanding of the traditional Catholic movement and how it operates. Indeed, Fr. John Rizzo’s story of his time and escape from the SSPX may sound like fiction to some readers of this site, but it is a very true story.
It seems to me that Fr. Rizzo was persecuted because he was willing to stand up for what he believed in. The fact of the matter is that Fr. Rizzo did the right thing by telling on one of his superiors, but then had to face unjust disciplinary action because of what he believed in the form of hate mail, faxes, and threatening phone calls in the middle of the night. Not only this, but the lug nuts on his tires were probably tampered with so that he would not be able to escape his persecutors.
What makes this story so heartrending is that Fr. Rizzo was a priest who went into the SSPX wanting to serve God. However, he was not prepared to face the many problems that exist in some traditionalist organizations. It is important for me to emphasize that not all traditionalists are of the stripe that is depicted here. Far from it. I have known many traditionalist priests and religious who are wonderful people and who exemplify the Gospel to all around them. It seems to me that here we are dealing with a few squeaky wheels or an entire group of squeaky wheels.
Please note here too that mention is made of Fr. (now Bishop) Daniel Dolan. I must admit that this is an interesting portrayal of the man. I have not met Dolan or Fr. Anthony Cekada, but I have read their writings and listened to their sermons. However, I do not know anything about the veracity of the statements made here. Unless someone tells me otherwise, I believe that they are true with regard to the strange stories that happened in Oyster Bay, New York.
Finally, I think that Fr. Rizzo is a good example of how some traditionalists go back to the Church. For Fr. Rizzo, it was the amount of persecution that he had to endure from his superiors that forced his decision. Not only this, but the fact that the SSPX was in schism from Rome. As for me, I left my traditionalist parish because I couldn’t stand the abuse that was being hurled from the pulpit and the many out-of-context quotations that made no sense whatsoever when read in their proper place.
I wonder how many other people have left the traditionalist movement over the years and become conservative Catholics, but I will probably write more about this elsewhere.
Our Lady, Queen of the Clergy, pray for us!
St. Joseph, pray for us!
St. Tarcisius, pray for us!