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제목 The Good Samaritan & SSPX -12th Sun. after Pentecost(2015-08-16)
작성자 관리자 작성일 2015-08-17




The Good Samaritan & SSPX

-12th Sunday after Pentecost(16th Aug. 2015)


My dear brethren,


 Often we hear people questioning the canonical situation of the Society of St Pius X. Today’s parable of the Good Samaritan is perhaps the best way to explain our position, our situation.

 The Fathers of the Church often commented this parable, showing that our Lord Jesus Christ was like the Good Samaritan: mankind had fallen into the hands of the Devil, who like a thief deprived it from its original justice and from the gifts it had received from God. It laid “half-dead on the road-side”. The Old Testament priests and Levites passed by, but did not care. Then coming down from Heaven as coming from a foreign country like the Samaritan, our Lord Jesus Christ came and cared: He cleaned and bounded the wounds, and put us on his donkey and led us to the inn, that is, to the Catholic Church, where He gave orders to care for the person “until His return”. He gave to the caretaker “two coins” symbolising charity (with its two Commandments of the love of God and love of the neighbour), by which the Church cares for the wounded.
 
 Similarly the modernist changes of the 1960s/1970s left many souls wounded and half-dead on the wayside. Local priests and clergy passed by and did not care for them. They appealed to Archbishop Lefebvre and to the Society of St Pius X and we, following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Good Samaritan – though we were strangers as the Good Samaritan – we cared for them, and bound their wounds with the oil and wine, i.e. with the Traditional doctrine and Sacraments especially with the Traditional Mass. We helped them either to return to the Church or to remain in the Church. But we were treated like Samaritans were treated by Jews, with all kinds of criticisms and rejection.
 
 When the Society of St Pius X was started, Archbishop Lefebvre obtained the proper canonical approval by Bishop Charrière of Fribourg where he had the first house; he obtained the proper canonical permission from Bishop Adam, in whose diocese Ecône is located, for the opening of the seminary first as a house of spirituality and then as a complete seminary. Such canonical approvals are normally required because the Church is a social body, in which there is need to have order and proper relations, and these are regulated by Canon Law. Archbishop Lefebvre respected these rules.
  
 But from 1969 to 1974 he grew from 9 to 90 seminarians; at the very same time many French bishops were closing their seminaries and thus resented the work of Archbishop Lefebvre. They did not want priests attached to the Traditional Mass in their diocese, so they managed to obtain a “visitation” of the seminary, i.e. an inspection; the two visitors came late 1974. They mentioned such dangerous ideas, so opposed to Catholic dogma that Archbishop Lefebvre published his famous declaration of 21st November 1974, in which he beautifully states:

We hold fast, with all our heart and with all our soul, to Catholic Rome, Guardian of the Catholic faith and of the traditions necessary to preserve this faith, to Eternal Rome, Mistress of wisdom and truth.
We refuse, on the other hand, and have always refused to follow the Rome of neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant tendencies which were clearly evident in the Second Vatican Council and, after the Council, in all the reforms which issued from it.


 To understand this declaration one should remember the following. Since Vatican II did not define any dogma, it does not belong to the “extra-ordinary magisterium” of the Church; it is thus not guaranteed from errors. At most it belongs to the “ordinary magisterium.” Now the criterion of infallibility for the ordinary magisterium is continuity, is universality in place AND IN TIME: that which has always been taught by all and everywhere, that certainly belongs to the Deposit of Faith. So even if a council teaches – non ex-cathedra – something that is opposed to the continuous teaching of the Church, it is not only the right but even the duty of every Catholic to reject such teaching. Thus, far from being a rebel, Archbishop Lefebvre was doing his duty in remaining fully attached to “Eternal Rome” and rejecting the novelties of Vatican II.
 
 Moreover one needs to know that the Church teaches with St Thomas Aquinas that there are two kinds of virtues, theological virtues and moral virtues. The theological virtues are the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. Of these virtues, St Thomas teaches that there can be no excess: one cannot have too much faith in God, too much hope in God, too much love of God. But the moral virtues consist in the right measure between a default and an excess. Thus for instance the virtue of fortitude consists in the right measure between the default (weakness) and the excess (violence): this is particularly evident in the education of children, where many parents fail and sin often by weakness and lack of discipline, but others sin by excess by violence and harshness. The right measure of firmness and goodness, of discipline and kindness is not always easy to reach.

 Similarly the virtue of obedience consists in the right measure between the default disobedience and the excess servility. Disobedience is when one does not fulfil a legitimate command and order; this is the most common failure among children. Excess is by servility when one executes an illegitimate order and command, opposed to the Law of God.


 Thus in the Old Testament one sees the slaves of Absalom fulfilling their master’s orders and killing Absalom’s brother: were the slaves obedient? No! This was a sin by excess against the virtue of obedience, the sin of servility. Of course, Absalom’s sin was worse, and he bore more responsibility, but the slaves were wrong too: they should have objected and resisted such immoral command. Of those who obey blindly like this, our Lord Jesus Christ said: “if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit” (Mt. 15:14). Both fall into the pit, the leader and the follower, the one who commands evil and the one who executes it. No one can say: it is not my fault, I obeyed. This is not the true virtue of obedience, but rather the sin by excess against the true virtue of obedience.

 In the New Testament we see thus St Peter saying: “We ought to obey God, rather than men” (Acts 5:29). He said that to the Sanhedrin who was commanding him and the other Apostles not to preach in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
 Hence the position of Archbishop Lefebvre resisting the novelties of Vatican II in order to remain faithful to what the Church had always taught, resisting the new liturgy in order to remain faithful to the liturgy of all times canonised by St Pius V, and now resisting the new morals in order to remain faithful to the morals of all time, such position is a position required by the very virtue of obedience, resisting the excess of servility, which unfortunately can even be found within the Church.

 Some people think that obedience in the Church is like a theological virtue, without excess; this is explicitly against the Church’s teaching. Indeed St Thomas Aquinas in two articles contrasts very clearly these two questions: in his Summa 2nd part of the 2nd part, question 104, he asks: article 4: Whether God must be obeyed in all things? Answer: Yes! Article 5: Whether subjects are bound to obey their superiors [Prelates, in Latin = religious superiors] in all things? Answer: No! Not in all things. Then he shows how when the order of a superior goes against higher orders – and ultimately against the Law of God – then it is the duty of the inferior NOT to comply, but rather to resist (with due reverence for the authority itself).

 So it happened that in 1975, archbishop Bugnini, who was the secretary of the congregation for the liturgy, sent a letter to all the bishops of the world practically forbidding any priest to say the Traditional Mass, except if he was above 75 years and had no attendance (only one server).


 Such order had no value for many reasons: first it was not confirmed by the pope and was never put in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the official publication of the Vatican containing all the acts of the Pope. Secondly because it went directly against the explicit “Indult” of Pope St Pius V in his bulla Quo Primum, giving to all priests “in perpetuity” the right to say the Traditional Mass, and no bishop, no archbishop could forbid it, hence Bugnini could not. Thirdly because of the principle given by Pope Benedict XVI: that which the Church held as its most sacred treasure, the holiest action, could not from one day to the next become banned and prohibited! Even if he had the authority to do so (which he had not), he could not have done so, because authority is not arbitrary in the Church, it is “unto edification and not unto destruction” (2 Cor. 10:8, 13:10).

 At that time not only Archbishop Lefebvre and his Society, but also many priests not connected with the Society of St. Pius X, decided to keep the Traditional Mass in spite of this abusive order: they were truly obedient, resisting an abuse of authority. But they found themselves cast aside, treated as pariah, accused of being disobedient [false accusation: they were in fact truly obedient as explained above], and then bishops started to take sanctions against these priests, sometimes going as far as suspending them. These sanctions were not valid because their cause was wrong: if a sanction lacks a just cause, it is not valid in the Church: there cannot be a valid sanction without a valid offense.
 
 In that same year, on 6th May 1975, Bishop Mamie, bishop of Fribourg successor of Bishop Charrière, withdrew the approbation of the Society of St. Pius X by his predecessor. Now there is an additional flaw there: according to the Canon Law, a bishop can erect a new religious order or house in his diocese, but once erected he cannot suppress it, even if he had good reasons for it: only Rome can suppress it; the reason of this law is in order to provide stability to these foundations, and not to be subject to the whims of the bishops. So evidently bishop Mamie acted against Canon Law. Thus Archbishop Lefebvre appealed to Rome against this decision of Bishop Mamie.

 Now there were three Cardinals, Card. Tabera, Wright and Garonne, who had met with Archbishop Lefebvre in February 1975, supposedly for a “complement of investigation” after the visitation of Ecône, but in fact they acted more like a tribunal. These three cardinals wrote to Bishop Mamie pretending to give him authority to suppress the Society of St. Pius X, and the appeal of Archbishop Lefebvre was answered: “The Pope took the matter in his own hands, so it is ok.” Archbishop Lefebvre made a second appeal against this first one, appeal to the “Apostolic Signature”, the Supreme Court in the Church, saying: “you claim that the Pope took the matter in his own hands; show me the documents!” Where are the documents by which these three cardinals received power to judge me and my Society? What is the extent of these powers? This second appeal was NEVER answered; just buried by order of Cardinal Villot, who was then the Secretary of State (thus it was none of his business!)

 According to the Canon Law, such appeals are “suspensive” of the sanctions: in other words, the suppression of the Society of St. Pius X is not valid until the judge would judge this appeal and confirm that sanction. Since it was never judged, one logically concludes that, according to Canon Law the Society of St. Pius X is still fully in existence.
 
 But then we found ourselves in a difficult situation: there was an appearance of suppression, though in reality the Society of St. Pius X still existed. Then Cardinal Villot wrote a letter to bishops of the world saying: “give no support to Archbishop Lefebvre!” Hence the next year, the normal “dimissorial letters” required from the bishop of the diocese of origin of the candidates for ordination were not given to Archbishop Lefebvre for the ordinations.


 He was faced with a dilemma: either to give up in front of this opposition using or rather abusing canon law against the ordination of priests attached to the Traditional Mass, and then close this seminaries and his society which would no longer have its raison d’être; or to consider the need of the souls wounded by modernism and begging him to send them good priests, faithfully attached to the doctrine of all times, the liturgy of all times, the morals of all times. This was very much the dilemma of the Good Samaritan: to say that since he was a stranger it was none of his business, or to care for the wounded. Like the Good Samaritan, he chose to care for the souls who begged his help.

 Thus our canonical situation became “irregular”, yet in conformity with the great principle of Canon Law: “prima lex salus animarum – the first law is the salvation of souls”. Our situation is not in conformity with the letter of the law, but it is in conformity with the spirit of the law. Sanctions came against him, but because they were motivated by the supposed suppression of the Society of St. Pius X, which itself was against Canon Law, these sanctions are null and void, lacking their very cause.
   
 The same happened in 1988, at a deeper level. After the scandal of Assisi (Oct. 1986) and of the answers to the Dubia, Archbishop Lefebvre announced (1987) that he would consecrate bishops to continue his work; Cardinal Ratzinger then realised that they had failed to do anything for him, so he decided a second visitation of the Society of St. Pius X by Cardinal Gagnon, who was much better than the first visitors; Cardinal Gagnon was very happy with what he saw, and even wrote in the visitors’ book of the seminary of Ecône that he hoped the good that was done there would be spread all over the world!


 The goodness of the work of the Archbishop and the legitimacy of his request was practically recognised by the signature of the Protocol of 5th May 1988, in which the Pope through Cardinal Ratzinger agreed that Archbishop Lefebvre could consecrate one bishop. But then the Roman curia played cat and mouse with the Archbishop, postponing and postponing the date and practical realisation of this consecration, so that Archbishop Lefebvre – whose health was getting lower and lower – decided to go ahead on 30th June 1988.
 
 There were then the supposed excommunications of 2nd July. But According to Canon Law, given the situation of necessity, these excommunications did not exist: the Canon itself says that it does not apply in such situation. Whatever they were, Pope Benedict XVI has lifted them up in January 2009, so that NO ONE can claim that we are excommunicated.
 
 Our canonical situation remains irregular. But our position – as explained above – is simple: the irregularity of our situation is not our fault; it is the fault of those who tried to forbid the Traditional Mass against the whole Tradition of the Church. Our fidelity to Tradition has helped many and inspired many in the Church in the right direction – even those who do not have the courage to stand fully for Tradition. All the priests and faithful who today go to the Traditional Mass can be grateful to Archbishop Lefebvre: without him, they would not have it.

 And the Traditional Mass has been the source of many graces for many souls, especially for priests and religious: it is the future of the Church; this is where the souls will find the nourishment they need to keep the Faith and live it in the midst of this “perverse generation” (Act. 2:40).
  
 So we continue our work in peace, on a line of complete fidelity: fidelity to the faith of all times, fidelity to the liturgy of all times, fidelity to the morals of the saints, fidelity to the Church. We continue to help the souls who want this traditional teaching and liturgy and morals; and we wait for the time when the Good Lord will bring back more order in the Church, each one doing his duty where he is, where God has placed him.
 
 May the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Virgin most Faithful, protect our work and each one of us, each one of you, and help us to persevere until the end, until the eternal reward promised to fidelity:


“Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of thy Master!” (Mt. 25:21) Amen.


Fr. F. Laisney (sspxasia)