Gilbert Perol

GREC – IV

GREC – IV posted in Eleison Comments on April 27, 2013

A lady having read the first “Eleison Comments” on GREC (EC 294, March 2) wrote to complain that I misrepresented GREC, the Parisian group of Catholics founded in the late 1990’s to bring together Traditionalists and mainstream Catholics so that they could think and talk peacefully with one another for the good of Mother Church. I am happy to correct errors of fact which she pointed out. I have no problem admitting personal faults of mine which she highlighted. However on one major point I must disagree with her.

As for the errors of fact, Mr Gilbert Pérol was French Ambassador to the Italian government, and not to the Vatican. Also he was not a “lay collaborator,” but a personal friend of Fr Michel Lelong, a White Father. Also GREC was launched not “in the salons of Paris,” but in the flat of the Ambassador’s widow, Mrs. Huguette Pérol, who, I was told, takes full responsibility for having founded GREC, purely to help the Church, and with the help of people “competent and concerned to be faithful to the Gospel and to Tradition.”

As for my faults, she wrote that I was “full of myself” and “ignorant,” that I lacked modesty and diplomacy, that I showed insufficient respect for the dead, and that I wrote with a sarcastic tone befitting neither an educated person nor a priest. Madam, how happy I would be if these were the worst faults for which I shall have to answer before God. Do pray for my particular judgment.

However, as to the sarcasm, let me plead that if I mocked the nostalgia of Catholics today for the Catholicism of the 1950’s, I was thinking not of Ambassador Pérol in person, but of the multitudes of present-day Catholics, who, not realizing why God allowed Vatican II to split the mainstream Church from Catholic Tradition in the first place, wish to return to that sentimentalized faith of the previous decade which led directly to Vatican II! Madam, the crucial point has nothing to do with subjective persons, it has everything to do with objective doctrine.

That is why I must disagree with you as to the competence of the people helping Mrs Pérol to found GREC. That a professional diplomat like Ambassador Pérol should have resorted to diplomacy to solve major problems of doctrine is misguided, but understandable. That a Conciliar priest like Fr Lelong should have encouraged such a diplomatic undertaking is graver, but still understandable, given how Vatican II undermined all doctrine by officialising subjectivism within the Church. What is much less easy to accept is the “competence and concern for the Gospel and Tradition” on the part of priests who were trained under Archbishop Lefebvre to understand the doctrinal disaster of Vatican II. Such priests should never have encouraged, let alone taken any active part in, an essentially diplomatic effort to solve an essentially doctrinal disaster, however well-intentioned that effort may have been.

And yet, even in their case the French proverb to some extent applies: “To understand everything means to forgive everything.” The Archbishop was of an earlier and saner generation. They are all children of the world shattered by two World Wars. All credit to them for resorting to his person for their priestly formation, and while he lived he raised us all up. But they never truly absorbed his doctrine, and so once he was dead they began within a few years to fall back. But he was right, and they, and GREC – forgive me, gracious lady – are wrong. Please God they may come right.

Kyrie eleison.

GREC – I

GREC – I posted in Eleison Comments on March 2, 2013

Just over one year ago was published in France a little book of some 150 pages which has to be a big embarrassment for the leaders of a certain religious Society, because it shows how their promotion of union with the Newchurch goes back many years, at least to the 1990’s. Of course if they are proud of that promotion, they will feel no embarrassment, but if they have for many years been disguising that promotion, then let at least readers of the little book open their eyes.

“For the Necessary Reconciliation” was written by a Newchurch priest, Fr Michel Lelong, no doubt because he for one is openly proud of the leading part he played in GREC’s attempt to bring about the “necessary reconciliation” of Vatican II with Tradition, or of the Roman authorities with the Society of St Pius X. Ordained in 1948, and heavily involved in inter-religious relations even before Vatican II, he welcomed “with joy and hope” (does that ring a bell? – Gaudium et Spes?) the Council that would strive to relate the Church to modern times. One of the lay collaborators in his work was a distinguished French diplomat and high government official, Gilbert Pérol, French Ambassador to the Vatican from 1988 to 1992.

As a professional diplomat and practising Catholic, Pérol believed profoundly in reconciling the truly Catholic SSPX with the assuredly Catholic Vatican. How could there be such a clash between the two? Both were Catholic! The clash was not reasonable. So in 1995 he sketched out a solution in a brief text which would serve like a charter for what became GREC, a Parisian think-tank for Catholics, named from the initials of Groupe de Réflexion Entre Catholiques. Expressing the concern of millions of Catholics torn from the 1960’s onwards between the Council and Tradition, Pérol’s text deserves a moment’s attention.

Not being a theologian, he says, he thinks that the present situation of Church and world requires that the problem of the divisions between Catholics following on the Council “should be stated in entirely new terms.” It is rather as a diplomat that he proposes that on the one side Rome should admit that it has gravely mistreated the Tridentine rite of Mass, and it should suspend the excommunications of 1988, while on the other hand the SSPX must not totally reject the Council and it must recognize that Rome is still the highest authority in the Church.

In other words as a diplomat Pérol proposed that if only there were a little give and take on each side, then the agony could be emptied out of the clash between the Council and Tradition, and all Catholics could once more live happily ever after. Thus he and millions of other Catholics would no longer be faced with having to either abandon Rome for the sake of Tradition, or abandon Tradition for the sake of Rome. Lovely! Back to the comfort zone of the 1950’s! But the 1950’s are gone, and gone for ever. Then where is the flaw in his thinking?

It is at the very outset when he says he is no theologian. True, he may have been no professional theologian, but every Catholic must be an amateur theologian, or, better said, must know his catechism, because only in the light of its doctrine can he judge questions of the Faith. Our Lord’s warning to discern between sheep and wolves (Mt.VII, 15–20) was not addressed only to professional theologians! So Pérol’s renouncing “theology” in favour of diplomacy is yet one more example of modern man’s failure to grasp the importance of doctrine. This failure is the most important lesson to be drawn from this book on GREC.

Kyrie eleison.