March 1997 - Superior General's Letter #52
It has been six years since Archbishop Lefebvre's Death; we commemorate how much he suffered both physically and morally in order to found the Society. The liberals who black label the Society systematically continue destroying the Church by undermining her three-fold unity of faith, liturgy and government. The Society continues to expand.
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
Six years since Archbishop Lefebvre's death
Six years ago, Archbishop Lefebvre gave back his soul to God. We would like to begin this letter by paying homage to our venerable Founder, who died suffering both physically from illness and morally from the scorn of the world. For civil and ecclesiastical authorities alike had handed this “man” over to be condemned, who upset them so much by his love above all else of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Six years after his death we carry on his fight over the souls of millions of people anesthetized by the abundance of material goods, and plunged ever deeper in a fashionable skepticism and doctrinal relativism – the spiritual fight to remind them of their Creator’s demands, of the glorious destiny to which He is calling them, Heaven, and the frightful consequences of not responding to the divine invitation, Hell.
SSPX systematically labelled and placed into a box by liberals
Liberalism presently holds tyrannical sway over people’s minds, and woe to any of us daring to contradict it. We are swiftly dismissed as a cult, as radical extremists or fundamentalists, and our case is closed. And yet, how can truth give up its rights or prerogatives? Other men have raised this question in other times, and what they said is as relevant as ever. Here for example is Pope Pius IX, addressing the editors of a Catholic newspaper of Rodez (France) in December of 1876:
“Numbers of people are bound to accuse you of being imprudent and will call your enterprise inopportune; but the fact that truth is displeasing to many and irritates those who cling to their error, is no reason to judge it imprudent or inopportune. On the contrary, the more serious and widespread the evil being fought against, the more prudent and opportune is the truth. Otherwise we would have to admit that nothing was more imprudent and inopportune than that spreading of the Gospel which took place when the religion, laws and morals of all nations were directly opposed to it. A struggle of this kind may bring you to nothing but criticism, scorn and bitter quarrels; however, He who brought the Truth down to us upon earth told His disciples in advance that they would only be hated by all because of His name.”
Liberal's false notion of tolerance
Pius IX lashed out against the Liberal Catholicism that promotes an easy-going tolerance, or, as he called it in his Brief to the Angers members of the St. Vincent de Paul Conferences in February of 1875, “a sort of middle ground, thanks to which truth and error could be made to embrace, and an end could be put to their constant warfare – as though it were a mark of prudence to keep one’s distance from both truth and error, for fear either that truth should upset error in its domain, or that error should go beyond the limits foolishly assigned to it to keep it within bounds.”
Spirit of compromise fosters confusion
Vatican II opened the doors wide to this spirit of compromise, which is as dangerous as can be for the Church, and was so steadily condemned by the popes for more than a century. Ever since that time the Church has been dying of this spirit of compromise in which nothing remains hard and fast, while confusion, indiscipline, rebellion and chaos are fostered in all directions.
But please, let nobody accuse us of setting up an imaginary contrast between a supposedly glorious past of the Church and an inglorious present, between a clear and expressive manifestation of the Faith yesterday and a troubled and indecisive presentation of it today. Other men in authority have recognized this state of affairs in terms leaving no room for indifference, for instance Paul VI in conversation with Jean Guitton (“The Secret Paul VI”, p 168): “What strikes me when I look upon the Catholic world is how within Catholicism, a kind of non-Catholic thinking sometimes seems to have taken over, and it may be that this uncatholic thinking within Catholicism will tomorrow gain the upper hand, but it will still not be Catholic thinking. There must always be a little flock of true Catholics, however little it may be.”
Real distinction between Catholic Rome and Modernist Rome
So we are inventing nothing when, following in Archbishop Lefebvre’s footsteps, we try to distinguish between Catholic Rome and modernist Rome. Here too arises the grave problem of normalizing our relations with Rome! Into whose hands are we to entrust our future? Into the hands of those Roman authorities who declare that all of us, bishops, priests and laity alike, are excommunicated because we are in schism? Or of those who at least spare the priests and laity being excommunicated, because we are not in schism but only in danger of schism? Or again of those who consider we are all simply Catholic? How are we to choose between them? For it is a fact that the authorities in Rome are divided on our account, as we can prove by documents in our possession. So we can only continue on our present course of staying in private contact with Rome while in public we protest out loud against the Church’s self-destruction, which is the poisoned fruit of the Liberalism mortally infecting so many, many Church leaders.
For how can anyone fail to see the likeness between the Liberal Catholic outlook and of today’s ecumenism? It is the same spirit, only applied this time to relations between the Church and other “christian religions”. The same spirit leading to the same practical relativism, i.e. indifference between false religions and the one true religion.
This is the ecumenical outlook in which they are preparing the Jubilee of the year 2000. What will be left of the Church’s identity? Vatican II claimed that the Catholic Church was merely part of the church of God. Now the International Theological Commission is claiming that it is no longer true that outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation (Civilta Cattolica, Feb., 1997, article on Christianity and other religions). Yet that is one of the basic dogmas of our religion!
Church's unity of faith, liturgy and government being destroyed
This ecumenism which is meant to be bringing about the union of “christian religions”, is in fact, in the form in which it is being practiced today, destroying the unity of the Catholic Church. In the name of ecumenism, the three unities that constitute the Church are being undermined. Firstly, her unity in the Faith is being dissolved by the absolute necessity of Faith for salvation being made merely relative. Secondly, her unity in the Liturgy is being fragmented by the New Order of the Mass which was invented for purposes of ecumenism, as its author, Msgr. Bugnini, stated. Thirdly, her unity in government is being broken up by the attack on the Pope’s inalienable primacy, foundation-stone on which rests the one and only Church of Christ, for just as that primacy when properly exercised causes the union of Catholics’ hearts and wills, so when it is not exercised it causes the sheep to be scattered…
Let us pray God that He preserve in His Church the “integrity of religion” (Postcommunion of Mass of a Pope). Let us pray steadily and make sacrifices for this trial to come soon to an end!
Yet even while plunged in the heart of this crisis, we are still being granted many consolations by God: vocations seem to be slightly on the increase; here and there real churches are being built, calling for the most solemn of blessings; the consecration or dedication of a church. Thus we ourselves were able at the beginning of March to consecrate the Society’s church in Manila dedicated to Our Lady of Victories with many Catholics in attendance, while Bishop Williamson is due to consecrate the Society’s “baroque” church in Stuttgart, Germany, dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption on the second Sunday after Easter. As for the church at the Society’s seminary and mother-house in Ecône, Switzerland, photos show how the work is advancing: presently the roof is being put on, and we hope the work will be finished in little more than a year’s time.
May we then repeat our urgent appeal to your generosity, despite its having been appealed to so often, on behalf of this important project which can only with your help be brought to a conclusion!
We ask God that He deign to grant us the consolation not only of raising these temples of stone to His glory, but more than all else of making your hearts into a holy temple for Him to embellish, strengthen and honor by His constant presence, on this 25th day of March when the Word became flesh by the working of the Holy Ghost and deigned to dwell in our midst in the womb of Blessed Mary ever Virgin, the most beautiful of creatures, the most beautiful and holy of temples in which He is glorified for ever and ever.
† Bernard Fellay
Feast of the Annunciation
March 25, 1997