Bishop Bernard Fellay

Continuing Damage – II

Continuing Damage – II posted in Eleison Comments on August 3, 2013

Besides arguing that the Doctrinal Declaration of mid-April last year was refused by Rome and so is of no further interest, people claiming that there has been no significant change in the Society of St Pius X also resort to the three bishops’ recent Declaration of June 27, which was obviously designed to reassure people that the SSPX lifeboat is undamaged and still perfectly seaworthy. However, souls wishing not to drown need to take a closer look.

It is the 11th paragraph which has become notorious. In brief, the bishops here state that they intend in the future to follow Providence, whether Rome soon returns to Tradition, or it recognizes explicitly the right and duty of the SSPX to oppose in public the Conciliar errors. Now this “whether” clause is out of the question because nothing short of a divine intervention is going to make the enemies of God, firmly established within the Vatican, let go of their Council. We come to the “or” clause. What can the bishops have meant by Rome “explicitly recognizing” the “right and duty” of the SSPX to oppose the Council?

The obvious meaning is that Rome would grant to the SSPX some official status within the mainstream Church, or some form of canonical regularisation. Some such recognition is obviously what the SSPX leaders have been striving for ever since they adopted the ideas of the Parisian think-tank, GREC, well over ten years ago. But when those leaders in April of last year largely accepted Rome’s terms for such a recognition, they created such a storm of protest within the SSPX that they were forced to pretend that they no longer want any such recognition based on the mid-April terms. Then what can the “or” clause of June 27 mean?

Within a few days the French District Superior put to them exactly that question. He was told that the “or” clause does not necessarily entail any official recognition, but merely the eventuality of a weak but Catholic Pope being on the one hand Catholic enough to recognize the SSPX’s “right and duty,” etc., but on the other hand too weak and isolated within Rome to be able to impose on the Romans any official recognition, etc. And the District Superior at least appeared to be content with this answer when he immediately transmitted it to the priests of his District.

Well, knock me over with a feather! Firstly, who, just reading the text of June 27, could ever have guessed that this was what the bishops had in mind? And secondly, what in the text of June 27 excludes a range of other possibilities that the bishops would accept in the name of “following Providence”? Given that on June 17, 2012, Bishop Fellay wrote to Benedict XVI that he would continue to do all he could to pursue a reconciliation between Rome and the SSPX, what in the text of June 27 excludes the cunning Romans eventually making to the bishops such an offer of reconciliation that – always in the name of “Providence” – they could not refuse?

Good luck to anyone who accepts the interpretation of the “or” clause given to the French District Superior. However, there are many of us who will remain unconvinced that the leadership of the SSPX has given up on its mad dream of reconciling irreconcilables. Until clear proof to the contrary, we will assume that those leaders remain, however unwittingly, intent upon turning the SSPX lifeboat into a deathboat. And when everyone drowns, they will make it all the ocean’s fault!

Kyrie eleison.

Continuing Damage – I

Continuing Damage – I posted in Eleison Comments on July 27, 2013

When people wish to defend the very bad Doctrinal Declaration (DD) officially submitted by the Society of St Pius X to the Roman authorities in mid-April of last year as the basis for a practical agreement between Rome and the SSPX, they will often argue that since Rome refused the DD, the DD is of no further interest and may be forgotten. But in this month’s issue of the “Recusant,” newly arisen magazine of the Resistance in England, there appears a contrary argument which deserves careful attention. Here it is, either quoted directly from the original, or summarized:—

“The DD, as both its name and its contents make clear, is a statement saying that a number of doctrinal positions on questions of the greatest importance in the present crisis in the Church are acceptable to the SSPX. The problem is that several of the positions expressed in the DD are not acceptable.” For instance the SSPX’s General Chapter of last July was told by a leading theologian of the SSPX that “This Declaration is ( . . .) profoundly ambiguous and sins by omission against the duty to denounce clearly the principal errors which are still raging within the Church and are destroying the faith of Catholics. As it stands, this Declaration gives the impression that we would accept the ‘hermeneutic of continuity’.” “The harm done by the DD is therefore that of a doctrinally dubious public statement. Nor has it, as such, been “withdrawn” or “renounced.” In fact Bishop Fellay consistently refuses to admit that there is anything doctrinally dubious about his Declaration. At the very most he admits to having tried to be “too subtle,” but he does not admit that such subtlety is highly objectionable in matters pertaining to the defence of the Faith. Bishop Fellay complains that the whole problem is that he “has not been properly understood” even by theologically very skilled members of the SSPX. He allows, among others, Fr Themann in the USA to defend the Declaration in public conferences that have been recorded and are being distributed among the faithful.”

It is true that matters might have been worse if Rome had accepted the DD, but that does not lessen the standing damage wrought by the DD’s manifestation of what is doctrinally acceptable to the SSPX. For if Bishop Fellay says that he “withdraws” and “renounces” the DD, he certainly seems to mean no more than that it was inopportune at that moment, as being liable to cause division in the SSPX. “He has never as much as suggested that the DD is doctrinally dubious and unacceptable. And that is where the real issue has been all along, and that is the issue that is far from being solved: the Superior General seems to refuse to make any unambiguous profession of the SSPX’s position.”

In conclusion, the scandal caused by the DD has still not been repaired “Trying to downplay the seriousness of the matter for the purpose of maintaining or regaining peace and quiet among the faithful risks encouraging the mentality that doctrine does not matter all that much, as long as things run smoothly and we can keep the true Mass, etc.” Such downplaying will only make the scandal worse (End of the article in the “Recusant”).

This article states very moderately the problem of the DD not being publicly recanted or retracted by Bishop Fellay. But how can any Catholic Congregation keep and serve the Truth when it is led by a Superior who so obstinately plays at ducks and drakes with the Truth? If the SSPX is a lifeboat, either it gets rid of this deluded Captain who constantly seeks to drill holes in the floor of the lifeboat, or the SSPX turns into a deathboat. May God in his mercy open the SSPX’s eyes.

Kyrie eleison.

Resistance Advances

Resistance Advances posted in Eleison Comments on July 13, 2013

The Silver Jubilee celebration in the USA of the 1988 episcopal consecrations was a great success. A dozen priests with one bishop celebrated two pontifical Masses on June 29 and 30 in the rectory garden of Father Ronald Ringrose in Vienna, Virginia, with some 250 to 300 faithful attending each Mass. Liturgically the ceremonies may have left somewhat to be desired, because no parish has the resources of a fully operational seminary. However, much more important, the mood of the people was tranquil, with no bitterness or anger in sight, only a clear understanding that something has gone seriously wrong with the Society of St Pius X, and that to keep the Faith they must do something about it. Many had come long distances to attend, even from abroad.

On the day before, Father Ringrose hosted a day-long meeting inside his rectory for the dozen priests coming from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, England, France, Mexico and the United States. No extra organization was formed, nor was any further administrative mechanism put in place, but another Declaration was arrived at, concluding with a long quotation from Archbishop Lefebvre about the rebuilding of Christendom from ground level upwards. The mood of the priests was like that of the people, tranquil and resolute, with a unity of purpose in the simple determination to rescue what they can of what the Society leadership is now betraying.

Betraying? But did not on June 27 the three other SSPX bishops, Tissier, Fellay and de Galarreta, also issue a Declaration which seemed in large part to revert to what the SSPX has always stood for? Be careful. As the Latins said, “the poison is in the tail.” The 11th of the 12 paragraphs states that the three bishops mean to follow Providence “either when Rome returns to Tradition . . .or when she explicitly acknowledges our right to profess integrally the faith and to reject the errors which oppose it.”

Now Father Ringrose has been for the SSPX in the USA a comrade in arms for some 30 years, but he is no longer keeping it company on its new and suicidal path. Here is what he wrote in his parish bulletin about the frame of mind expressed in this 11th paragraph:

“So even if Rome remains modernist, take us in anyway. We will be satisfied to be just another of the Conciliar pantheon, along with the heretics, ecumaniacs, pantheists, or whatever else is there. The Declaration sounds as if there has been a shift back to what the SSPX always stood for, but the door to a deal (between the SSPX and Rome) remains open. Nothing has really changed. It just sounds different. The contents of the can remain the same. The label on the outside just looks a little more like Archbishop Lefebvre.”

And the people seem to be voting with their feet. Reportedly there were only 200 to 300 people attending the Society’s own small-scale Silver Jubilee celebration in Ecône, and reportedly nigh on half the chairs were empty at Ecône’s annual priestly ordinations. It certainly seems as though the betrayal is making the Society steadily weaker while, as priests and faithful wake up to what is going on, the Resistance is going to grow stronger and stronger.

Kyrie eleison.

Asian Journey

Asian Journey posted in Eleison Comments on June 15, 2013

A number of readers complained at the “Eleison Comments” of two weeks ago on authority being crippled. From its argument that on this side of the “imminent Chastisement” no further Catholic Congregation can be founded on a normal Catholic basis, they concluded that I believe there is nothing more for a bishop to do than to wait for God to intervene. But in that case why did I just spend two weeks in Asia, and why am I now in Ireland? Likewise they conclude that I will never consecrate another bishop. I say – God willing – just wait.

In fact there is a great deal for a bishop to do to visit and encourage souls striving to keep the Faith when Headquarters of the Society of St Pius X is obviously still intent upon taking it into the arms of Conciliar Rome. On June 17 Bishop Fellay wrote to Benedict XVI, “I do intend to continue to make every effort to pursue this path (of reconciliation with Rome) in order to arrive at the necessary clarifications.” And in the same vein, “Unfortunately, in the present situation of the Society” Rome’s counter-proposal of June 13 to his Doctrinal Declaration of mid-April “will not be accepted.” Then it would have been fortunate if the Society had accepted Rome’s terms?

Against this written evidence (made public by Headquarters) of Bishop Fellay’s on-going determination to sell out the Archbishop’s Society, we have quotes of his to the French District Superior that the “unfortunately” he only wrote “for the sake of the Pope,” and to the Carmelite Mother Superior in Belgium that he “never intended to pursue a practical agreement with Rome.” Alas, Bishop Fellay has such a track-record for adapting his words to his audience that quotes like these by no means disprove his intention to sell out the Archbishop’s Society. His astonishing ability to move the mental furniture around in his mind deserves an “Eleison Comments” all on its own, but in the meantime is it any wonder if what is coming to be called the “Resistance” is rising spontaneously all over the world?

Between May 24 and June 6 I visited with Fr Chazal a good part of his flock of some 400 souls, and I gave over 50 Confirmations in South Korea, the Philippines and Singapore. Fr Chazal is a character. He has brilliant insights and is very funny into the bargain. If ever you meet him, ask him to do his imitation of an Indian politician (he says the Indians are tough, and “can take it”).

In South Korea the Society’s change of direction caused a harsh split, with the result that the donor of the original chapel merely donated another. I had the pleasure of performing the marriage of the donor’s daughter. In the Philippines, just as I arrived, an older priest who fled the Newchurch years ago to work with the Society was fleeing the Newsociety to work with the Resistance. He looks like being entrusted with the beginnings of a seminary which Fr Chazal wants to launch, and he will in addition have his work cut out for him in centres throughout the central Philippines. In Singapore, a show-case in the East of Western-style materialism, still a good Chinese family with their friends have a firm grip on the change from the Society to the Newsociety. Truth will undermine this ExSPX, as Fr Chazal calls it, just as truth is undermining the Newchurch of the Novus Ordo.

Here are many souls to sustain on their way to Heaven. Do I have any candidates offering themselves for consecration as bishops?

Kyrie eleison.

Doctrinal Declaration – II

Doctrinal Declaration – II posted in Eleison Comments on April 13, 2013

The Doctrinal Declaration of April 15 of last year, drawn up by the Superior General (SG) of the Society of St Pius X as a basis for the Society’s reintegration into the mainstream Church, has emerged nearly one year later into public view. It was designed by the SG to please both the Conciliar Romans and Traditionalists (“It can be read with dark or rose-coloured glasses,” he said in public). It did please the Romans who declared that it represented an “advance” in their direction. It did not please Traditionalists who saw in it (what they knew of it) such ambiguity as to represent a betrayal of Archbishop Lefebvre’s stand for the Catholic Faith, to the point that they considered that the Romans need only have accepted it to destroy his Society.

In fact when the SG met the Romans on June 11 in Rome to receive their decision, he fully expected they would accept it. Numerous observers speculate that if they did not accept it, it was only because the intervening publication of the April 7 Letter of the Three Bishops to the SG warned the Romans that he would not be able to bring the whole Society with him into the bosom of their Conciliar Rome, as he may have given them to understand he would do, and as they wanted him to do. They did and do not want another split to start Tradition all over again.

Be all that as it may, space remains here for nothing but one major argument that the proposal of the Doctrinal Declaration, had it been accepted by Rome, would have destroyed the SSPX. Archbishop Lefebvre declared, and proved, that Vatican II was a break or rupture with previous Church teaching. On that premise arose, and rests, the Traditional Catholic movement. So, confronted by the on-going resistance of that movement to his beloved Vatican II, Benedict XVI proclaimed at the outset of his pontificate in 2005 the “hermeneutic of continuity,” whereby the Council (objectively) contradicting Tradition was to be (subjectively) so interpreted as not to contradict it. Thus there would be no break or rupture between it and Catholic Tradition!

Now see the seventh paragraph (III, 5) of the Doctrinal Declaration. It declares that Vatican II statements difficult to reconcile with all previous Church teaching, (1) “must be understood in the light of Tradition entire and uninterrupted, in line with the truths taught by the Church’s preceding Magisterium, (2) not accepting any interpretation of those statements which can lead Catholic doctrine to be exposed in opposition or rupture with Tradition and that Magisterium.”

The first part here (1) is perfectly true, so long as it means that any Conciliar novelty “difficult to reconcile” will be flatly rejected if it objectively contradicts previous Church teaching. But (1) is directly contradicted by (2) when (2) says that no Conciliar novelty may be “interpreted” as being in rupture with Tradition. It is as though one said that all football teams must wear blue shirts, but football team shirts of any other colour are all to be interpreted as being nothing other than blue! What nonsense! But it is pure “hermeneutic of continuity.”

Now, do the soldiers holding the last fortress of the Faith that is organised worldwide realize what their Commander is thinking? Do they realize that his solemn declaration of SSPX doctrine shows him to be thinking like an enemy leader? Are they happy that they are being led to think like the enemies of the Faith? All ideas must be Catholic, while non-Catholic ideas will be “interpreted” as Catholic. Wake up, comrades! Enemy thinking is in Headquarters.

Kyrie eleison.

GREC – III

GREC – III posted in Eleison Comments on April 6, 2013

Wishing to put himself in the place of God, modern man seeks to replace God’s order of the world with his own. But God’s order is real, outside of and independent of man’s mind. So modern man unhooks his mind from that reality, and selects from it only such pieces as he wishes to build into his own fantasy. Now the highest order of God’s Creation is best expressed in his Church’s doctrine. Therefore all churchmen or laymen today undergoing the influence of everything “normal” in the world around them suffer from a deep refusal or ignorance of the nature and necessity of doctrine.

Here is the essential problem of GREC, as presented in two previous issues of “Eleison Comments” (294 and 295). The Groupe de Réflexion Entre Catholiques was founded in 1997 in the salons of Paris to promote friendly meetings and exchanges between Catholics of Tradition and Catholics of the mainstream Church, in order to create a climate of mutual trust and respect which would facilitate a reconciliation between them, and an end to their unnecessary estrangement. Such a purpose gravely overlooks the importance of doctrine, not necessarily with malice aforethought, of which God is judge, but whatever foolish men may think, doctrine can no more be left out of account than can reality.

In Fr. Lelong’s book on GREC, For the Necessary Reconciliation, he tells how two Society of St Pius X priests and its Superior General “made a decisive contribution to the launching and continuance of GREC.” Even before it was launched, Fr. Du Chalard gave to Fr Lelong a friendly reception in his SSPX priory, and “in following years never ceased to support GREC in a discrete and attentive way.” At the launching of GREC, Fr. Lorans, then Rector of the SSPX Institute in Paris and exercising from Paris a decisive influence from then until now on SSPX publications, welcomed the idea of “dialogue between Catholics,” and very soon obtained from the SSPX Superior General in Switzerland approval for his participation in GREC. From then on Fr. Lorans played a leading part in all of its activities.

Those activities began on a small scale and in private. In May of 2000 was held GREC’s first public meeting to which Fr. Lorans contributed, with 150 people attending. Meetings became more and more frequent, with SSPX priests participating. Church authorities at the highest level were regularly consulted and kept informed. Fr. Lorans for his part made possible “a contact of deepening trust” and friendly exchanges with the SSPX Superior General. From 2004 GREC meetings were opened wider still to the public, and in September of that year a “theological working group” was set up with Fr. Lorans participating, and another SSPX priest and a theologian from Rome, both of whom would later be taking part in the Doctrinal Discussions between Rome and the SSPX from 2009 to 2011. GREC may well have seen in these Discussions the realization of its fondest hopes – at last the theologians were meeting in a climate which GREC had done so much to create “for the necessary reconciliation.”

Thanks be to God, the Discussions gave back to doctrine its proper primacy. They demonstrated that between Catholic and Conciliar doctrine is an unbridgeable gulf. But was GREC’s way of thinking then blocked within the SSPX? Far from it! SSPX Headquarters switched overnight from “We pursue no practical agreement without a doctrinal agreement” to “There can be no doctrinal agreement, so we pursue a practical agreement”! Alas, the springtime uprising of protest last year from within the SSPX was smothered and confused again at the General Chapter of July, but SSPX HQ’s continued pursuit of a practical agreement has hardly been smothered.

“Our help is in the name of the Lord,” in particular in the Consecration of Russia. Nowhere else.

Kyrie eleison.