Tag Archives: SSPX

The 5 Foundresses of St. Joseph Monastery, New Mexico, Receive the Benedictine Habit

https://sspx.org/en/news-events/news/5-foundresses-st-joseph-monastery-new-mexico-receive-benedictine-habit-41581

Since the time of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica, holy siblings, there have been both male and female Benedictine monasteries often founded near to each other in memory of the closeness of the first Benedictine Family.

Since Archbishop Lefebvre blessed the foundation of the men’s Benedictine Monastery in the United States in 1991, Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery, the monks have been asked countless times by young ladies, “When will there be a Benedictine convent in the USA for American girls?”  But as the years passed, despite no lack of desire and prayers and efforts, it seemed a convent would never begin.  The monks themselves were engaged in truly heroic efforts to survive and build their own monastery in the extreme hardship of a dry and unforgiving rocky terrain on an arid mountaintop in Southwest New Mexico.  So, for 25 years or so, English-speaking young ladies with a calling to join the Benedictines had no option other than to leave their homeland and culture, learn a new language, and enter a French Benedictine Convent.  This difficulty proved very hard on many.

But years of hope and prayers and sacrifices finally bore fruit in God’s time, and He chose 2018 to be the blessed year which finally saw the founding of the Monastery of St. Joseph, a Benedictine Convent for North America! It has been founded with the blessing and special patronage and charity of His Excellency Bishop Bernard Fellay.  In February of 2018 he personally preached the first retreat and counselled 10 young ladies who were strongly considering the Benedictine life. Five of them immediately began their postulancy, and by October 17th, were ready to take the step of becoming novices and officially the Foundresses of this American convent. Bishop Fellay had promised in February that he would come back and officiate at this ceremony, and to the delight of both communities, he was able to keep his promise.  His beautiful sermon at the Mass is below.

https://sspx.org/sites/sspx/files/sermon_bishop_fellay_invesiture_sisters.pdf

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A crisis not seen since the Protestant Revolution

An excellent letter from the US District Superior, covering the current Passion of the Church:

https://sspx.org/en/news-events/news/revelation-after-revelation-continues-crisis-church-not-seen-1517-40891

Instead of the normal monthly newsletter, Fr. Wegner discusses in depth the scandals, coverups, causes, and possible solutions to the situation in which the Church finds herself today:


Dear friend,

I write to you today with a heavy heart. Holy Mother Church, which has been assailed by crisis after crisis for the past half-century, is in the midst of a scandal so profound that some are likening it to the catastrophe that was the Protestant Reformation. The deplorable offenses to divine and natural law carried out, then covered up, by religious, priests, and bishops first came to light on a large scale over a decade ago. Believing that the Church’s authorities had taken sufficient steps to rectify this tidal wave of abuse, many Catholics now find themselves questioning their faith as new revelations emerge that, not only have known abusers been permitted to continue in active ministry, but that some of the highest authorities in the Church, including, allegedly, Pope Francis, knew about it and cooperated in a coverup.

The fallout from this crisis is both devastating and predictable. Discouraged faithful leave the Church and souls are lost. A new Pew Research poll states the following:

Catholicism has experienced a greater net loss due to religious switching than has any other religious tradition in the U.S.  Overall, 13% of all U.S. adults are former Catholics — people who say they were raised in the faith, but now identify as religious ‘nones,’ as Protestants, or with another religion. By contrast, 2% of U.S. adults are converts to Catholicism — people who now identify as Catholic after having been raised in another religion (or no religion). This means that there are 6.5 former Catholics in the U.S. for every convert to the faith.  No other religious group analyzed in the 2014 Religious Landscape Study has experienced anything close to this ratio of losses to gains via religious switching.”

Sadly, Not A New Scandal

This is not the first time that rampant immorality threatened the Church. On August 30, 1568 — 450 years ago — Pope St. Pius V issued the bull Horrendum Illud Scelus (“That Horrible Crime”) which, among other things, stripped religious and clerics of the impunity they otherwise enjoyed for committing acts “by which corrupt and obscene cities were destroyed by fire through divine condemnation[.]” Knowing that the sin of Sodom would only spread if stronger measures were not taken, Pius V decreed that “any priest or member of the clergy . . . who commits such an execrable crime, by force of the present law be deprived of every clerical privilege, of every post, dignity and ecclesiastical benefice, and having been degraded by an ecclesiastical judge, let him be immediately delivered to the secular authority[.]”

It is hard to imagine such strong medicine for grave moral ills being prescribed by Rome today, yet that is what the Church requires if she is ever to recover. In the meantime, the People of God cannot sit idly by waiting for a new Pius V to ascend to the Papal Throne with a divine mandate to secure the faithful and drive the unrepentant from the temple.

What is the Cause?

The current crisis did not happen overnight, and it did not begin with Pope Francis. Our dear founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, warned of it. He foresaw the profundity of the crisis that began during the Second Vatican Council. Way back in 1986, in his Open Letter to Confused Catholics, he predicted that the desire to change the priesthood, to modernize it, would have disastrous consequences.

“People would have us believe that the present times justify all sorts of license, that it is impossible under present day conditions to live a chaste life, that the vows of virginity for religious people are an anachronism. The experience of the last twenty years shows that the attacks made on the priesthood under the pretext of adapting it to the present time are fatal to it.

In these sad times they want free-love for the laity and marriage for the clergy. If you perceive in this apparent illogicality an implacable logic having as its objective the ruin of Christian society, you are seeing things as they are, and your assessment is correct.”

If Rome refuses to curb the doctrinal and moral crisis in Church, then the priesthood suffers and, consequently, so do the faithful. Without good priests, it is hard to have good fathers and mothers; without good fathers and mothers, families suffer; without good families, the faith is lost.

The Role of the SSPX in this Crisis

While we wait, and pray, for Rome to come back to her senses, we don’t simply sit on the sidelines. The Archbishop founded the Society of Saint Pius X with the express goal of preserving and supporting the traditional priesthood. And the priests of the Society have striven to bring the sacraments and traditional catechesis to families and fellow priests all over the world. So, we have a lot of work to do.

In order to accomplish this holy work, as always, I need your help. The need is great, and our resources are limited. As is typical every year, the summer is a slow time for donations, so I am continually challenged to find the resources necessary to support our priests and brothers. There is always some new need that crops up — a failed boiler, a leaky roof.

Right now, in addition to our usual expenses for travel and the daily needs of our priests, we have several extraordinary expenses, including our annual insurance expenses and repairs to the roof in our Brother’s Novitiate in Winona, Minnesota. Without your help, I don’t know how I will meet these extraordinary expenses.

Can you help me? You have always come through for me in the past.

Once again, I humbly ask you to prayerfully consider making a sacrificial gift to help support the SSPX.

“I do not want to hear from His lips the terrible words…”

I implore you to prayerfully focus on the profound good the SSPX has accomplished and the work that is still to come. I ask you, especially, to remember to pray for the souls who are lost because of this current confusion in the Church. At a time when many priests, and even bishops, have lost their way, and have abandoned their episcopal duty, please consider what Archbishop Lefebvre said was the main reason he persisted in his work, despite all of the difficulties, including threats from those in the Vatican who wished to derail the work of the Society.

If you wish to know the real reason for my persistence, it is this:  At the hour of my death, when Our Lord asks me, ‘What have you done with your episcopate, what have you done with your episcopal and priestly grace?’ I do not want to hear from His lips the terrible words, ‘You have helped to destroy the Church along with the rest of them.’

None of the Archbishop’s work would be possible without your generosity. By helping to maintain the SSPX, by funding our practical needs, you are clearing a pathway for our priests to reach as many souls as possible. Please consider making an offering of your first fruits to this holy endeavor. A donation of $100, $50, or even $20 will make a difference.

With confidence in your prayer and support and my promise to pray for you,

I remain yours in Christ,
Father Jürgen Wegner
United States District Superior

US District Superior’s Letter on the current crisis

https://sspx.org/en/news-events/news/current-abuse-crisis-us-district-superior-fr-wegners-letter-faithful-40743

Imagine hearing our corrupt hierarchy vow to laicize perverted clerics! Ha!

Dear faithful,

I write to you with a heavy heart. Over the past several months, new revelations of sexual abuse and coverups have been reported by ecclesiastical, legal, and media sources the world over. The resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick over credible allegations he abused minors and seminarians for decades was soon followed by the stunning testimony of Archbishop Carlo Viganò which implicates the Holy Father himself in covering-up McCarrick’s unspeakable crimes. Additionally, judicial and independent inquiries continue to turn-up further evidence that the sex-abuse crisis which rocked the Catholic Church over a decade ago is far from over.

It is against this sorrowful backdrop that I wish to reiterate that the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) takes any and all reports of illicit and illegal behavior on the part of its clergy, religious, employees and volunteers with utmost seriousness. Every report is submitted to a thoroughgoing investigation by the appropriate authorities within the Society and full cooperation is given to all law enforcement and official investigative agencies concerned, particularly when reports involve minor children. Moreover, any priest or religious of the SSPX found guilty of immorality is subject to sanctions under canon law, including removal from active ministry and laicization.

In an effort to forestall the spread of sin within its ranks, the SSPX abides by the Church’s longstanding and prudent prohibition on admitting men harboring same-sex or other unnatural sexual attractions to any of its seminaries, including St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Virginia. If, after admission to either seminary or holy orders, credible evidence is found of immoral inclinations or acts by an individual, said individual is immediately expelled from the seminary and/or the Society. And, if the evidence warrants, the matter is immediately referred to the ecclesiastical and secular authorities.

I understand that in this time of confusion and crisis, there is a temptation to look for easy answers and a simple causal chain to explain away the corruption in the Church. Be careful. While we cannot discount the adverse effect the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath has had on the Mystical Body of Christ, I fear that the roots of the sexual-abuse crisis run much deeper. For now, we must do everything we can to uphold the tenets of divine and natural law in our daily lives while working to re-spread the Gospel in a world that has forgotten that what it needs most above all is God.

I ask that you beseech the Queen of Heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all of the saints, especially St. Michael the Archangel, in lending us here below the spiritual assistance we need to weather this storm. Pray, too, for the priests, religious, and seminarians of the SSPX, along with those charged with their formation. Pray that we have the wisdom and discernment to form holy clerics dedicated to serving Jesus Christ through the administration of the traditional sacramental rites and the promulgation of sound catechesis.

With blessings in the Lord,

Fr. Jurgen Wegner

Archbishop Lefebvre & the Holy Ghost Fathers (3)

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The third article in the series about the battle between the Holy Ghost Fathers & Archbishop Lefebvre.

The Year of All Dangers

On March 7, 1968, the weekly Rivarol published an article by Archbishop Lefebvre entitled: “Some Light on the Present Crisis in the Church.” This public stance caused quite a stir among the members of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost. The Superior General denounced the “doctrines that question the truths considered until now to be the immutable foundations of the Catholic Faith” and expressed his dismay at seeing them spread inside the Church by the action of her ministers. He recalled the divine foundation of the institution of the Church and the assistance of the Holy Ghost, promised to the Magisterium in order to reject error and heresy. He lashed out at the “joint efforts of the Communists and Freemasons to modify both the Magisterium and the hierarchical structure of the Church.” In their eyes, collegiality and the spirit of democracy are the perfect means to “ruin the Faith by corrupting the Magisterium of the Church, to stifle personal authority by making it depend upon multiple organisms that it is far easier to infiltrate and influence.”

Archbishop Lefebvre recalled how Christ asked persons, the Apostles, and not a collective group, to feed his flock. The Magisterium can never be made subject to a majority. In both teaching and governing, collegiality paralyzes authority and makes the salt of the Gospel lose its savor:

Only in our times has there begun to be talk of the Church in a permanent state of Council, of the Church in continuous collegiality. The results have not taken long to appear. Everything is upside down: the Faith, morals, discipline.” The consequences could already be seen: “The Church’s power of resistance to Communism, heresy and immorality has considerably diminished.

Lucid and clearsighted as it was, the article was bitterly discussed in the congregation and earned its author and the Provincial of France several letters of protest. At the seminary of Chevilly, the director, professors and students voiced their unease and their refusal. Fr. Hirtz, General Councilor, wrote to Fr. Morvan, the Provincial of France, on April 12 to tell him just how well he understood and shared the various reactions. He believed that the Superior General’s declarations, publicly expressed in a “classified” journal, “cause a serious prejudice, sow division and disarray among the members of the Congregation and, alas, compromise the success of our upcoming General Chapter” (Béguerie, p. 405).

The Opening of the Chapter

This was the atmosphere when the General Chapter began in Rome on Sunday, September 8, 1968.

In his report, Archbishop Lefebvre proposed several reforms, such as entrusting the General Assistants and Councilors with more responsibilities, reorganizing the provinces, postponing the date of religious professions, accepting non-religious missionary candidates, etc. He also presented the resignation of the General Council, but this did not mean that the congregation was without a head.

In fact, the Chapter was supposed to be purely administrative, since the superiors had been elected in 1962 for a twelve-year term. Archbishop Lefebvre intended to go to the end of his term, but in 1967, he began to consider resigning. After an interview with Cardinal Antoniutti, prefect of the Congregation for Religious, on March 14, 1968, he wrote to tell him on May 7 of his decision to resign from his charge. Indeed, it would have been difficult for him to remain, as his Assistants had announced to him their intention of resigning as soon as the Chapter opened, “no matter what” (Perrin, p. 167).

During the first work session, on Monday, September 9, the chapter members neutralized the powers of the Superior General in the direction of the Chapter. In order to do so, they abolished the two-thirds majority rule prescribed in the Constitutions. A simple majority was then enough to adopt the following motion to relegate the Superior General to the role of an honorary president and hand the direction over to an elected central committee. Archbishop Lefebvre protested, asking that the Superior General be president by right of this Committee in charge of directing the Chapter’s work. In the end, his request was refused by a vote of 63 to 40 on Wednesday, September 11. What a humiliation!

The chapter members did, however, accept the presence of the Secretary General with a vote of 54 to 52. Whatever denials were later made, it is clear that the Chapter was organized democratically in order to “make a profound reform by returning to the Gospels, to the founders, and by adequately adapting to today’s world” (Fr. Morvan’s report on the departure of Archbishop Lefebvre).

At 11:30 a.m., the First Assistant announced that he would preside over the session, and Archbishop Lefebvre left the Chapter. The work continued in a peculiar atmosphere. The rules in effect were suspended, the secrecy on the deliberations was abolished, the novitiate was replaced by periods of spiritual formation and internships, obedience gave way to co-responsibility, dialogue, team work, and group dynamics, and the missions became a “dialogue of salvation” in the ecumenical spirit of the times. Some students and young fathers appealed to the Chapter as “experts on the mentality of young people” and this appeal was voted in (Béguerie, p. 442).

On September 30, at the 4:00 p.m. general assembly, Archbishop Lefebvre reappeared and read a text he had prepared during his stay in Assisi, where he had gone to reflect and pray. He exhorted his brethren to remain faithful to the spirit of Fr. Libermann and to strive for holiness, which is essentially apostolic. The means to do so are “the religious life and community life which bring about the life of self-denial, the life of prayer, and the life of fraternal charity…”. He lamented the state of mind that was spreading and leading to the rejection of these means:

Their individualism, their selfishness, and their thirst for freedom and independence have prevailed against the religious life, community life, the life of obedience, and prudence with respect to the world, the life of real detachment from the goods and comforts of this world. They have prevailed against the realities of life in community which is our mortification and compels us to practice charity and live the life of prayer.

On October 4, the freshly resigned Superior General went to the Sacred Congregation for Religious. In the absence of the prefect, Cardinal Antoniutti, he was received by Archbishop Mauro the new secretary. Archbishop Lefebvre explained to him that he was no longer a member of any committee and that he was no more than a simple spectator of the revolution in progress. The secretary responded:

You understand, after the Council, you have to understand…I am going to give you some advice that I have just given to another Superior General who came to see me about the same thing. ‘Go on,’ I said to him, ‘take a little trip to the United States. It will do you good.’ As for the chapter and even for the congregation’s present business, leave it to your assistants! (Bishop Tissier, p. 373).

The authority of the Superior General collapsed because it was not supported. There was nothing left but to throw in the towel. The final word had been spoken!

For the Honor of Archbishop Lefebvre

During the Chapter, very few defended Archbishop Lefebvre and the authority of the Superior General. Luc Perrin quotes the beautiful declaration of the Brazilian Fr. Cristovao Arnaud Freire on September 20:

The goal of the Chapter is to adapt, not to destroy… It is surprising to hear criticism of the Pope, the bishops and the Superiors from priests who are among us but who are really enemies of the Church and who let their passions lead them. From the very beginning, the Chapter has been dominated by a pressure group moved by personal grievances against Archbishop Lefebvre and incapable of distinguishing between his person and the Superior General… This Chapter is really a confabulation. That is why he has decided to withdraw from it and to return to the bush, contenting himself with praying to Our Lady of Fatima for the authors of all this evil.

Archbishop Lefebvre continued to take care of the day-to-day business and strived to maintain cordial relations with all. He even made suggestions to the Chapter as to the nature and end of the institute. In the end, Fr. Joseph Lecuyer was elected Superior General on October 28. On November 1, Archbishop Lefebvre left the General House and took refuge at the Institute of the Holy Ghost, on Via Machiavelli. Thus ended his mandate as superior, reduced to naught by the conciliar torment.

The last public act of Archbishop Lefebvre was to appear at an audience granted by Pope Paul VI to the members of the Chapter on November 11, 1968. After that, he withdrew for good. Providence had its plans. One day, he had confided to Fr. Michael O’Carroll: “If ever I have to leave the congregation, I will found a traditional seminary and in three years I will have 150 seminarians” (Bishop Tissier, p. 375).

A new chapter was about to begin. It would be written in Ecône.

— Fr. Christian Thouvenot

Archbishop Lefebvre & the Holy Ghost Fathers (2)

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Following up from the previous post, here is the second article, continuing the story of the early days of Archbishop Lefebvre & the Holy Ghost Fathers:

https://fsspx.news/en/news-events/news/story-archbishop-lefebvre%E2%80%99s-resignation-2-40484

A Contested Superior

As member of the Coetus Internationalis Patrum, the group of conservative conciliar Fathers who tried to counteract the progressivist schemes and resist the imprecision and erroneous opinions expressed in the aula, Archbishop Lefebvre did not have the unanimous support of his congregation. Many were disappointed to see the Superior General of their congregation take sides against the innovators. Especially since he was not the only Spiritan bishop participating in the Council.

Forty-six Spiritan bishops participated in the sessions. Eleven of them, all French-speaking, expressed their growing unease as their superior’s position as a discordant voice became more and more pronounced. They drew up a document in which they mentioned the “disobliging remarks” from French bishops and cardinals in Rome, many of whom stayed at the French Seminary. On November 30, 1963, these eleven bishops presented their grievance to Archbishop Lefebvre, reproaching him for supporting Verbe, the journal of the Cité Catholique, for criticizing the newspaper La Croix, the press organ of the bishops of France, for his letter on wearing the cassock, that was not in keeping with the spirit of the times since it went against the dispositions of the French episcopate allowing clergyman suits, for Fr. Lecuyer’s departure from the Roman Seminary, and for his choice of the Canon Berto, who was not a Spiritan, as theological adviser to assist him at the Council. They also reproached him for taking a public stance at the Council (see Philippe Béguerie, Vers Ecône, Desclée de Brouwer, 2010, p. 255-257).

His calls to order on the priestly spirit, the necessity of prayer, the religious and apostolic life, and his warnings against Communism, secularism, and materialism were scarcely in keeping with the spirit of the conciliar aggiornamento either.

The time had come for a general reassessment of the methods of apostolate and the organization of missions. Besides the liturgical novelties and the unconditional openness to any and all experiments, the religious were quite taken with psychology and psychoanalysis. The magic word was seeking personal fulfillment, as Luc Perrin explains in his study (“Mgr Lefebvre, d’une élection à une demission”, in Histoire, monde et cultures religieuses, #10, June 2009, p. 165). The Spiritan province in Holland experienced an emblematic crisis: in a few years’ time, the scholasticates, novitiates and seminaries were emptied. The habit, the rules, the community prayers, the liturgy, the taking of and fidelity to the vows, everything was abandoned or transformed (see Côme de Prévigny, “Mgr Lefebvre: d’un chapitre à l’autre” in Fideliter, #244, p. 74).

A revolutionary wind had blown in.

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For a True Aggiornamento

For the time being, after the promulgation of the decree Perfectae Caritatis on October 28, 1965, Archbishop Lefebvre loyally undertook to reform his Congregation. The letter he signed on January 6, 1966 ordered the local superiors to have their communities study the conciliar texts and collect the suggestions they inspired in preparation for an administrative General Chapter. To this end, he created four commissions to prepare the reforms of the legislation, the formation, the religious discipline and the apostolate. But he intended to conduct all these reforms in such a way as to bring about a “true aggiornamento of the congregation regarding the religious virtues.”

Amidst all the talk of “independent learning and independent training”, Archbishop Lefebvre spoke up forcefully against this “abdication of authority in what is its essential role,” and against “the lack of realism which ends up causing chaos and indiscipline, represents a bonus to those who are daring and strong-headed, and leads to good, humble, and submissive religious being scorned.”

“Let us have our aggiornamento not in the spirit of a destructive neo-Protestantism that ruins the sources of sanctity” but “driven by the holy desires that have inspired all saints who were involved in reform. They were reformers because they loved our Lord on the Cross, and practiced obedience, poverty, and chastity. There, they acquired the spirit of sacrifice, oblation, and prayer which made them into apostles.” (Bp. Tissier, p. 364).

Despite his efforts to limit the effects of the conciliar reforms, a general slackness was spreading in the congregation. The first thing to go was the discipline of the religious life, but there were also many departures and a lack of perseverance among the candidates, and the life of prayer and contemplation was depreciated, giving way to activism in the accomplishment of the congregation’s works. To remedy this situation, Archbishop Lefebvre drew up an ambitious project in the beginning of 1967, hoping to implement a better formation for members and a better preparation to the priesthood and the missionary religious life.

In the meantime, the preparations for the Chapter were well under way. He entrusted it to the prayers of Padre Pio, whom he visited on Easter Monday, 1967. The holy Capuchin took a very dim view of the changes that would soon lead his own religious family to write up new constitutions. On September 12, 1968, he would write to Pope Paul VI these revealing lines:

I pray to our Lord that the Capuchin order continue its traditions of serious religious austerity, evangelical poverty, and observance of the rule and constitutions, while renewing its vitality and interior spirit according to the directives of the Second Vatican Council.

One might as well try to make a circle square… This attitude reveals the torment so many Catholics experienced during those years.

Already published: The Story of Archbishop Lefebvre’s Resignation (1)

Archbishop Lefebvre & the Holy Ghost Fathers

 

The Society is publishing a series on the battle between the Holy Ghost Fathers & Archbishop Lefebvre, over the doctrine & morality crisis that began to attack the Church in full force during the days of the Council.  Archbishop Lefebvre, saintly man that he was, handled his Congregation with such love & care, addressing the problem head on.  The following is the first article:

Fifty years ago, in the midst of the raging upheaval caused by the Council, one man found himself faced with the weighty task of assembling a Chapter to update his religious congregation and adapt it to the times. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers at the time, and in the midst of the dilapidating chaos, the experimental activities, the contestation and the upheaval, he chose to withdraw.

The story of the forced resignation of the Superior of one of the Church’s most important religious congregations is a page of history that reveals much about the crisis the Church is living through.

Elected by a Large Majority Six Years Earlier

In 1968, Archbishop Lefebvre had been superior of his congregation for six years. He was elected by his fellow religious with a large majority on July 26, 1962, in the second round of votes, and Pope John XIII approved the election two days later. The former archbishop of Dakar who had become bishop of Tulle six months earlier, left his diocese in Corrèze and moved to Paris, rue Lhomond, to the General House of the Spiritan Fathers. Assistant to the papal throne and member of the Preparatory Commission for Vatican Council II, his election as head of his congregation coincided with the opening of this assembly. All throughout the Council’s five sessions, he kept the members of his religious family updated on the debates, the texts adopted, and the decision made.

This study does not intend to present everything Archbishop Lefebvre said during the Council. Readers can find all his speeches in I Accuse the Council. The idea is rather to show how, over a period of six years, the situation became inextricably untenable. When he was elected in 1962, Archbishop Lefebvre inherited a delicate situation that can give readers an idea of the great difficulties involved in governing an institution that had fallen prey to the indecision and questioning of the period that followed World Wars.

A Headwind Mandate

Divisions and a harmful atmosphere were developing above all in France and particularly in Chevilly-Larue, the congregation’s main scholasticate. Authors with modern tendencies and experiments in self-management and self-formation were developing dangerously. Archbishop Lefebvre undertook to put an end to this. He demanded that the library containing the condemned works of Fr. Congar and Fr. Chenu be purged.

He transferred Fr. Fourmond, who was trying to eliminate apologetics and the treatise on the Blessed Virgin Mary from his theology class. In the spring of 1963, he sent precise directives to the superiors of the major scholasticates, ordering them “to remove all those imbued with Modernist ideas from teaching positions.” He exhorted them to show discernment in their choice of preachers for retreats and conferences, and authors for journals.

We must avoid everything that is likely to undermine respect for the Church and the Pope, and everything that minimizes the historical truth of the Scriptures, the value of Tradition, the fundamental notions of morality and sin, and personal responsibility. We must prevent the invasion of the spirit of the world in religious communities.

(Bp. Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Marcel Lefebvre: The Biography, Angelus Press, p. 345)

Archbishop Lefebvre renewed the teaching staff in the scholasticates, especially the deans of studies. In philosophy, he denounced the “great evils of our time, idealism and subjectivism. Thomistic philosophy alone gives us knowledge of the real.” In theology, he insisted upon “the importance of the Magisterium, and on Tradition and its relations with the ministry of sacraments and sacrifice”. He prescribed refectory readings of the main encyclicals and papal documents from Pius IX to the present, especially the acts of St. Pius X.

As for the liturgy, his orders were to follow the prescriptions from Rome, “avoid everything that comes from the personal initiatives of so-called liturgists”, keep the language of the Church, never fuse the para-liturgy with the liturgy, not to celebrate Mass facing the people, and not to receive Communion standing up.

The Reformation Turns into a Tornado

At the end of the year 1963, he insisted yet again on the very alarming situation in some of the Spiritan houses. Bishop Tissier de Mallerais describes the prelate’s appalling description:

Ruin of authority, unbridled freedom, the right to judge and criticize everything, the absence of humility. The loss of respect for colleagues, authority, and for themselves. The loss of modesty in dress, in looks, in reading and television. (…) Scorn for traditions, giving up Latin and Gregorian chant, and abandoning scholastic philosophy and theology.

Unfortunately, although Archbishop Lefebvre was lucid, he lacked decisive men capable of implementing the much-needed reforms. In Chevilly, he accepted the resignation of the rector and the replacement of three professors, but the new rector nominated in 1964 later admitted that he had betrayed his trust: “I pulled the wool over his eyes and used methods that were not to his liking. The students were my brothers, not my inferiors!” This attitude reveals an inability to practice “a truly fatherly authority that was both strong, capable of training priests, and able to withstand the craze for the new theology and for revolutionary teaching methods.” (Bp. Tissier, p. 348)

During the years of the Council, the direction Archbishop Lefebvre wished to give was more and more openly contested even within his congregation and under pressure from the other bishops, especially French bishops.

Coming tomorrow: The Impossible Aggiornamento

SSPX District Superior preaches on the North American martyrs & more

Fr. Jurgen Wedgner, US District Superior for the SSPX, speaks on the North American martyrs, the importance of the sign of the cross, the youth & purity.  Having met this man recently, I can definitely say he is a very gracious, holy priest.

“We begged God to accept our lives and our blood and unite them to His life and His blood for the salvation of these tribes.”  ~ St. Isaac Jogues

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