GREC

Brave Priests

Brave Priests posted in Eleison Comments on June 14, 2014

As a number of you will know, Fr Fernando Altamira is a young Argentinian priest of the Society of St Pius X, working in Bogotá, the capital city of Columbia in South America, who several months ago took a clear and public stand against the betrayal of the Faith and of Archbishop Lefebvre’s Society by Bishop Fellay and his team in Menzingen, Switzerland. Walking out of the Society’s Priory to found an alternative parish nearby, Fr Altamira was followed by the large part of his previous parishioners. As I was able to observe in mid-April, he is a pious, intelligent and hard-working priest, popular with the people. For his pains he is being “excluded” from the SSPX.

He wrote to Bishop Fellay, protesting that his “exclusion” is invalid. He sent a copy of his well-argued protest to a veteran priest of the SSPX who understands too well how the modern world operates to be fooled by Bishop Fellay. Here are Fr Jean-Michel Faure’s wise comments:—

“It is obvious that there is a problem in the Society of St Pius X. Liberals took control, and they want to be integrated into the structure of modernist Rome. And, as Fr Pfluger has said, they want to expel all anti-liberals opposed to their Operation Suicide. One more proof of the on-going Recognition of the SSPX by Rome is the churches that certain bishops of France offer to Bishop Fellay, for the Requiem Mass of Fr Lagneau, for the Jubilee Mass of Fr Marziac, on various occasions the Basilica of Lourdes, the Confirmations in Corsica, and so on.

“Secrecy is the mode of operating worthy of a liberal politician who wants to bring his electors around to a goal directly opposed to what he had promised in order to get elected. By a series of ambiguous statements skilfully graded to advance little by little, the politician brings the great majority of his followers to accept the opposite conclusion to what they were convinced of to begin with. It is Macchiavellian deceit, lying and hypocrisy, pure and simple. For this Superior General the end justifies the means, and to attain that end he does not hesitate to take positions repeatedly condemned by Archbishop Lefebvre. What would the Archbishop say of him and his two Assistants? That they are idiots, childish, naive and disobedient, that they are making the Society commit suicide and that they are betraying the fight for the Faith. And they are going to hand over to the modernists in Rome the fruits of so much generosity and so many sacrifices made by the faithful.

“The modernists in Rome have never backed down on their demands that we accept the Second Vatican Council and the legitimacy of the New Mass. In 1975 the Rector and professors of Écône advised the Archbishop to accept the Council in order to save the Mass, and they ended up rebelling and quitting the Seminary in August of 1977. Today the three ringleaders in Menzingen go so far as to accept the legitimacy of the Lutheran Mass. As the three of them say, the Society’s reluctance to go along makes us very annoying to our “new friends in Rome,” while to wait for the conversion of Rome is unrealistic, as far as they are concerned. For sure and certain God alone can clean up this situation, totally different from the situation of the Church when it was reformed by St Pius V. Like the Captain of the Titanic, Bishop Fellay and his headquarters will bring the Society’s Operation Suicide to a successful conclusion. Blind leaders of the blind. But anyone who is not blind must resist this suicide, and keep the Faith.”

If only the Society had more priests as clear-sighted and courageous as Fr Altamira and Fr Faure!

Kyrie eleison.

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.

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 – 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.

GREC – II

GREC – II posted in Eleison Comments on March 9, 2013

Before we continue with the story of GREC, namely the Parisian group of laity and clergy meeting from the late 1990’s onwards in pursuit of reconciliation between Vatican II and Catholic Tradition, we must consider the basic attitude of GREC participants. The Church’s future depends on those Catholics who will understand GREC’s error, i.e. how modern minds lose their grip on truth. To illustrate that attitude let us take at random four quotes, typical of dozens and dozens in the book For the Necessary Reconciliationby the Newchurch priest, Fr Michel Lelong, one of the founders of GREC. In a letter he wrote to the Pope in July of 2008 are to be found the first two quotes:—

“We also wish that the excommunications(of the four SSPX bishops in 1988) be lifted and that the SSPX recover its place within the Church to which it has so much to give. That is why we ask the authorities of the SSPX to put an end to the polemical statements and articles criticizing the Holy See.”Comment: (Has that not happened over the last 10 years?) But if polemics are so bad, why were a number of Church Fathers – and Archbishop Lefebvre – so polemical? Polemics are only that bad if unity is that good. But unity is only as good as that around which it unites.

“In our society so tempted by materialism, indifferentism and sectarisms, we think that in response to your request, Holy Father, all Catholics must strive together to be faithful to Christ’s recommendation, ‘Be united so that the whole world may believe’.”Comment: “United” around what? Around Catholic truth, or around the lie that Catholic truth is reconcilable with Vatican II? Then the primary and crucial question for Catholic unity is where Catholic truth is to be found. But GREC leaves questions of truth to the “theologians.” So non-theologians can be saved by lies!?

This letter of Fr Lelong was so well received by Benedict XVI that GREC leaders and sympathisers wrote again a few months later. Here are two more quotes from the second letter to the Pope:—

“For sure we were saddened that the Holy See’s recent proposals were not accepted by the SSPX authorities, but we know that to heal wounds amongst Catholics always requires generosity and patience to restore confidence on both sides and to make reconciliation possible.”Comment: Are wounds only ever to be healed, and never inflicted? Did Our Lord not twice use a lash across the backs of the money-lenders in the Temple? There is a God, his honour is to be defended above all things, and men can be wicked enough to understand nothing but the lash, be it physical or verbal.

“We think that lifting the excommunications would set in motion an irresistible process of drawing closer, with a view to an agreement between the Holy See and the SSPX, or at least an agreement with a large part of the SSPX priests and faithful.”Comment: indeed the friendly contacts between Rome and the SSPX were setting such a motion in process in January of 2009, and only an outburst from within the SSPX of the most horrible heresy of modern times – “anti-semitism” – stopped that process. But either Catholic reconciliation with Vatican II is no problem, or one has to say that that outburst was providential, because it also stopped, at least for a while, the false reconciliation.

In conclusion, GREC, like millions of modern Catholics, above all else seeks unity, non-polemics, reconciliation, agreement, etc. But where does the God of truth figure amongst all these sweet sentiments? Is he a sugar-daddy who blesses all men’s lies, just so long as they lie in unison?

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.