An error is never properly refuted until it is uprooted. In other words truly to overcome an error one needs to show not only that it is an error, but why it is an error. Let us suppose, with last week’s “Comments,” that the June 28 statement of the Superior General of the Society of St Pius X, by looking forward to the Society’s pious priesthood resolving the Church’s crisis of Faith, commits the error of putting the cart of the priesthood before the horse of the Faith. Then let us show that this error has its roots in our age’s almost universal undervaluing of the mind and overvaluing of the will, resulting even unconsciously in a scorn for doctrine (except for the Beatles’ doctrine of “All you need is luv”).
Already towards the beginning of the Statement there occurs a hint of this error when the Statement says that the central principle condemned in Pascendi, Pius X’s great condemnation of modernism, is that of “independence.” No. The principle he constantly condemns as being at the root of modernism is rather agnosticism, the doctrine that the mind can know nothing behind what appears to the senses. Upon that unknowing follows the independence of the mind from its object, followed in turn by the will’s declaration of independence from everything else on which it does not want to depend. It is in the nature of things that the mind must first be suicided before the will can declare its independence. So when the Statement puts independence before agnosticism at the heart of Pascendi, that is a hint that the Statement is a part rather of the Church’s problem than of its solution.
And where does this downgrading of the mind and doctrine in turn come from? Primarily from Luther who called human reason a “prostitute,” and who more than anybody else launched Chistendom on the sentimental path to its self-destruction today. But that took all of 500 years? Yes, because there was natural and Catholic resistance along the way. But Luther was right when he told the Pope that in the end he would destroy him – “Pestis eram vivus, functus tua mors ero, Papa” – A plague to you I was when I had breath, But once I’m dead, O Pope, I’ll be your death.
To this radical and gigantic error of the downgrading of mind and doctrine may be attributed two sub-errors in the case of the author of the June 28 Statement: firstly, his misunderstanding of Archbishop Lefebvre, and secondly his too great understanding of Madame Cornaz (pen-name Rossinière).
Like many of us seminarians in Écône when Archbishop Lefebvre himself presided there, Bernard Fellay was rightly enchanted and bewitched by the outstanding example before our very eyes of what a Catholic priest could and should be. But the backbone of his priesthood and of his heroic fight for the Faith was not his piety – many modernists are “pious” – but his doctrine, doctrine of the eternal priesthood, profoundly allergic to liberalism and modernism. Nor did the Archbishop ever say that his Society would save the Church. Rather its priests were to safeguard the Church’s priceless treasures for better days.
The person who did say that the Society’s priests would save the Church, as Fr Ortiz has reminded us, was Madame Cornaz, a family mother from Lausanne, Switzerland, whose life spanned most of the 20th century, and who between 1928 and 1969 received communications supposedly from Heaven on how married couples should sanctify the priesthood (!). The communications started again in 1995 (!) when she met a Society priest whom she persuaded, and through him Bishop Fellay, that it was the SSPX priests who were destined by Providence to save the Church by propagating her “Homes of Christ the Priest.” With all his authority the Superior General supported her project, but the negative reaction of Society priests made him rapidly renounce it in public. Inwardly however, did her mystical vision of the Society’s exalted future stay with him? It seems quite possible. Like Martin Luther King, the Superior General “has a dream.”