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Bishop Fellay on the election of Francis and the SSPX Crisis
Letter from the Superior General to Priests of the SSPX
Cor Unum, Easter 2013
Dear Members of the of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X,
An important event for the Church has just taken place, a surprising event, and a rare one, but one from which we can guess that there will be heavy consequences: the resignation of a Sovereign Pontiff. Without dwelling on the motives for Benedict XVI’s renunciation, and considering that the reasons of health which were given (loss of energy needed to ensure the good exercising of his office) are more than enough to explain what has happened, we would like briefly to reflect on the possible consequences of this act for our Society. Because with a resignation there is a corresponding election of a successor, which is what subsequently took place with Pope Francis.
This election really seems even more surprising than the resignation which preceded it. What will the new successor of Peter have in store for us? He is manifestly well outside of the norm, he wants to be so original that we must conserve the utmost prudence before passing judgement, and that as long as we haven’t yet seen his works. Nevertheless, a number of elements push us towards a certain pessimism, the joy of the progressives and modernists serving amply to nourish our disquiet. It seems that the concerns of Benedict XVI in favour of a certain restoration, at least a liturgical one, are going to be put to one side, and that there will be another emphasis put in place in the Church. The word already heard several times in the mouth of moderns is that “the little aside is over”.
Will Pope Francis restore the Church, fighting effectively against moral corruption or make it go even further in pursuing the application of the reforms of Vatican II? These two theories are certainly not exclusive of one another. In any case, the future will soon tell us. For that we only have to wait to know the names of the people who will be appointed to posts in the Curia. If the progressives appear already to have chanted the Requiem for the Old Liturgy, how will it be with the integral preaching of the Faith, with the development of ecumenism? Will there be an effective reform of the Curia? Videbimus.
For us, a new Pontificate ought to be an opportunity on the one hand to redouble our prayers, and on the other hand also, to close up our ranks. For long months now, since June 2012 to be precise, our relations with Rome have been frozen again. In effect, we can only refuse to advance on the basis of a text which promotes the hermeneutic of continuity and wanting to lead us back into Vatican II: the Doctrinal Preamble of September 2011, which we had repulsed firmly, but which reappeared in June 2012. And, obviously, it is even more out of the question to go adventuring towards canonical normalisation for as long as the doctrinal question has not been settled in the sense of the conditions laid down by the last General Chapter. There are some, on the other hand, who wish to spread the opposite message to this, claiming that Menzingen wishes an agreement with Modernist Rome at any price, as they put it. We would like to reassure anyone who has allowed doubt to enter their heart: it is absolutely out of the question.
We also believe we must draw your attention to manoeuvres aimed at destabilising, which are done as much from the outside by Mgr. Williamson and the priests who are with him, as on the inside by those who, following the advice of Mgr. Williamson, wish to found a kind of “guerrilla resistance”, or priests engaged, under cover of anonymity, in a real work of undermining under the pretext of preserving fidelity to Mgr. Lefebvre and saving the Society from a so-called suicidal agreement with the conciliar Church. Behind this wall of smoke, it has been established that the goal being pursued is the resignation of the Superior General, and they think that any means is justified in pursuing this end. Never mind the declarations, the sermons and the conferences which affirm the contrary, we’re going to look with a magnifying glass anything which we can misunderstand, in order, in an incredible process of intention, to discredit authority and make it seem lying or sneaky. It’s a real enterprise of subversion, which sows mistrust among priests and laity, and destabilises the government of our society with a view to weakening it or killing it.
Unity is obviously made primarily around the Catholic Faith, which we wish to defend and conserve. But this combat of our times must not make us forget that the link of unity is not limited to Faith alone. Justice and charity complete it. Justice demands that we respect the truth on any subject, that we reject prejudices, condemnations all made without knowing the facts, that we don’t arrogate to ourselves the powers of a judge which we don’t have. It demands respect for the established order which cannot be got rid of barring a serious necessity such as that which is strikingly evident in the Church today.
In order to restore this unity, Charity and Prudence also come in: everyone should have sufficient common sense and balance so as to not suddenly see in his brother an enemy or a traitor. And yet that is what discord produces. Let us not leave any pace in our hearts for these sirens which seek to falsely panic our little world of Tradition through a wicked dialectic. Let us not leave any place in our heart for mutual mistrust which will act like a gangrene and uselessly divide.
No Society can survive for very long without a minimum union of hearts and minds. That’s why organising a situation of constant opposition to superiors is undesirable, for it poisons the atmosphere for everyone and finally destroys the necessary and normal relations between members and their hierarchy. Moreover, that is not new. Since the start of the Society, Mgr. Lefebvre had to intervene because of apparent dialectics which brought division and sterility.
In order to remain grounded in the facts, the present issue of Cor Unum publishes documents which came in the wake of the Roman proposal of September 2011 and the responses which they received. Concerning the text of the Doctrinal Declaration which caused so much turbulence of soul last year, I refer you to the introductory text [http://strobertbellarmine.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=14959#p14959] which I drafted, so that you can put it in context.
For the present, let’s look to the future, our souls serene ounce again. Providence is good, Providence which has permitted us to consecrate our Society to St. Joseph precisely at the moment when the new Pope inaugurated his Pontificate. Even if a yet more troubled period for the Church is beginning, we have a very great confidence in St. Joseph which the last General Chapter wished to associate Our Lady, with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that we can benefit from an even greater protection! Let us live this consecration well, let us love to intensify our affection, our love for those whom Our Lord has associated most intimately with His work of Redemption and thus also our salvation. May they deign to guide us, protect us, and bless us in the pursuit of our goal, so sublime, of saving souls, through a priesthood which is ever-renewed and sanctified on the altar of the Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
May the mysteries which we live in this Holy Week, and in these times in the history of the Church, help us and purify us ever more, and that at this moment when we commemorate the departure into eternity of our venerable founder. Deign Mgr. Lefebvre to watch over us all. By the time you read these lines, Pascal time will have spread its joy, a joy which is not of this world, and that nothing can take away from us. In the face of fear or despair which lives in so many souls, which paralyses them or embitters them, let us be magnanimous towards these souls, simple or great, conquerors of this world through a conquering faith and an authentic missionary charity.
Dear members of the Society, I bless each of you through the intercession of Our Lady of the Annunciation and of St. Joseph her chaste spouse, and I pray to the good Lord that He bless all your works and to reward all the penances you do to make His Holy Name triumph.
Menzingen, 25th March, 2013