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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

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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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First native Irishman ordained since 2007

May many more Irishman follow suit.  More St. Patricks must be raised in the Emerald Isle, so overcome by the current cataclysmic crisis in the Church.  We pray for that grace & rejoice when even one soul is heroically able to keep the unblemished faith in a Church & world gone so wrong.

May the Immaculate Heart, whose Feast it is today, shield all good priests within the folds of her motherly heart.

On June 22, 2018, in Dillwyn, VA, Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais ordained Fr. Thomas O’Hart, a native of Ireland. This was the first Irish ordination for the SSPX since Fr. David Sherry’s in 2007.

On Sunday, July 29, Fr. O’Hart celebrated a Solemn High First Mass in his county in Athlone, at the Corpus Christi Church.

One week later, the new priest celebrated another first Mass in the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Dun Laoghaire.

The Church attaches many graces to these Masses, and the faithful can receive a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions.

O Lord, grant us priests, many holy priests!

Resist & persevere

 

Reform must begin from the top. The restoration will come from a restored, converted clergy.  How will this be done?  Well, the remnant that keeps the Faith will charge forward & persevere without compromise, until God deigns to give us the day of victory.  Resist the heretics, including the one that sits on the Chair of Peter, but always give an account of the Faith that we still adhere to.  So obstinate in their heresy, I’m convinced it will take a “St. Paul moment” to convert the modern Church back to her roots.

May St. John Vianney, whose feast it is, intercede for the Church he loved so well.

https://sspx.org/en/news-events/news/many-are-still-asking-who-new-superior-general-39732

An official statement announced his age, his nationality, and the different positions he has filled since his ordination, but journalists are saying he is different from his predecessor.

Fr. Davide Pagliarani responded to this claim in an interview in 2011 with the website of the District of Italy of which he was the superior at the time:

As in any human association, so too in the Society there are different nuances and sensibilities among the various members. To think that it can be otherwise would be a bit childish. Nevertheless, I think that one easily falls into the oversimplifications that you just mentioned if calm good judgment is lost or one speaks on the basis of preconceived prejudices: one ends up creating parties and unthinkingly siding with some rather than others.

To the members of the Society it is clear that the identity of their own congregation is structured around a definite, precise axis that is called Tradition; upon this principle, which is universally shared within the Society, the unity of the Society itself is built, and I think that objectively it is impossible to find a stronger principle of identity and cohesion: precisely this basic cohesion on the essentials is what allows the individuals to have variously nuanced views on any matters of opinion.

Yes, but what is his position on the relations with Rome?

Some observers say he is against them. Fr. Pagliarani answered this claim, too, in the same interview:

The canonical situation in which the Society presently finds itself is the result of its resistance to the errors that infest the Church; consequently, the possibility of the Society arriving at a regular canonical situation does not depend on us but on the hierarchy’s acceptance of the contribution that Tradition can make to the restoration of the Church.

And he explained:

The Roman spirit with which the Society wants to serve the Roman Church (consists in doing) whatever is possible so that the Church can reclaim Her Tradition, starting with Rome itself. The history of the Church teaches us that no universal, effective and lasting reform is possible unless Rome makes that reform its own and it starts from Rome.

The upcoming months will show pressing journalists and anxious observers whether this analysis by Fr. Pagliarani is still that of the new Superior General, or whether the man elected as head of the Society of St. Pius X is now different…

The priests and faithful of Tradition already know the answer.

— Fr. Alain Lorans.
Editorial from Nouvelles de Chrétienté §172, to be published later this month.

Tradition condemns them

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The following  is taken from The Mass of All Time by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.  Let this speak for itself, that the innovations & “reforms” are against the will of God & detrimental to the Catholic Church.

A new rite already condemned by several Popes and Councils

It is a conception more Protestant than Catholic which expresses everything which has been unduly exalted and everything which has been diminished.

Contrary to the teachings of the 22nd session of the Council of Trent, contrary to the encyclical Mediator Dei of Pius XII, the role of the faithful in the participation of the Mass has been exaggerated, and the role of the priest has been belittled to that of a mere president.

It has exaggerated the place given to the liturgy of the Word and lessened the place given to the propitiatory Sacrifice. It has exalted the communal meal and secularized it, at the expense of respect for and faith in the Real Presence effected by transubstantiation.

In suppressing the sacred language, it has pluralized the rites ad infinitum, profaning them by incorporating worldly or pagan elements, and it has spread false translations at the expense of the true faith and genuine piety of the faithful.

And yet the Councils of Florence and Trent had both declared anathemas against all of these changes, while affirming that our Mass in its Canon dated back to Apostolic times.

The popes St. Pius V and Clement VIII insisted on the necessity of avoiding changes and transformation and of preserving perpetually this Roman Rite hallowed by Tradition.

The desacralization of the Mass and its secularization lead to the laicization of the priesthood, in the Protestant manner.

How can this reform of the Mass be reconciled with the canons of the Council of Trent and the condemnations in the Bull Auctorem Fidei of Pius VI?

3. “It is Tradition which condemns them, not me”

I do not set myself up as a judge; I am nothing, I am merely an echo of a Magisterium which is clear, which is evident, which is in all of the books, the papal encyclicals, council documents, basically in all of the theological books prior to the Council. What is being said now does not at all conform with the Magisterium which has been professed for two thousand years. Therefore it is the Tradition of the Church, her Magisterium which condemns them. Not me