Sacre Bleu! ( Deep background: Rome/SSPX )

I am posting this in the sense that it may – repeat, may – indicate the problematic nature of relying solely on “official” announcements from either Menzingen or Rome as the politics of the matter at hand play themselves out.

The original article is on the following French website:

And the following is a painstaking translation into English by a team of skilled linguists:

Review of “Towards a Necessary Reconciliation” by Fr. Michel Lelong, promoted by GREC By Gentiloup (posted November 14, 2012)
From the web site Un évêque s’est levé !

I just finished reading the book by Fr. Michel Lelong, entitled: Towards the Necessary Reconciliation [Pour la nécessaire réconciliation (pub: December 2011)].

It is a small work of 159 pages, not exciting but quickly read. It is an exposé of GREC, “Groupe de Réflexion Entre Catholiques” [Catholic Think Tank].

This booklet summarizes the work accomplished by GREC, it is a sort of glowing report by the author who was present from the beginning of this organization. His goal is to open up the SSPX to reconciliation with conciliar Rome. Nevertheless, this little book unintentionally clarifies the downward slide of the head of the SSPX and why the ralliement [an apropos French word for the effort to rejoin with Rome] with conciliar Rome was able to corrupt the spirit at the heart of the SSPX.

This “think tank” was founded in 1997 with the goal of integrating the SSPX into modernist Rome and convincing it to accept the Second Vatican Council.

The founders were Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Pérol and Fr. Michel Lelong, author of the book and fervent defender of inter-religious dialogue and the Council. Mr Pérol had been the Ambassador of France to Rome.

GREC’s goal is not ambiguous. It is clearly defined throughout this book by different protagonists as being “Interpreting Vatican II in the light of Tradition,” according to the formula John-Paul II gave to Archbishop Lefebvre in 1978.

Fr. Michel Lelong is convinced of the benefits of the Council, especially of Nostra Aetate, and is a specialist in dialoguing with Muslims.

The Ambassador’s idea was to enter into dialogue with traditional Catholics of the SSPX in the same way that he had dialogued with other religions and from which, to his regret, the SSPX had been excluded.

Fr. Alain Lorans, one of the four founders of GREC, was the spokesman for the SSPX District of France. He immediately obtained permission from Bishop Fellay to participate in the dialogue “for a necessary reconciliation.” He has been very attentive in keeping Bishop Fellay up-to-date with the progress of this dialogue.

The ‘Charter’ of this group was defined by Mr. Pérol shortly before his death: it is “to interpret Vatican II in light of Tradition,” which Benedict XVI himself calls the hermeneutic of continuity, in opposition to the hermeneutic of rupture, as Archbishop Lefebvre ruefully observed at the end of his long quest to reach a tentative agreement with this Conciliar Church. In the end, he could see that an agreement was impossible, hence the consecrations of the four bishops in 1988.

Commencing its activities with a small committee formed around Mrs. Pérol, Fr. Michel Lelong and Fr. Emmanuel le Chalard, the Group “did not cease to give discreet and special support to GREC.”

Two other priests contributed decisively to the creation and life of our Catholic think tank. One of them who has since returned to God was the Dominican, Fr. Olivier de La Brosse, the other, Fr. Lorans of the SSPX. I [Fr. Lelong] got to know them in 1997 during a dinner to which we had been invited by Mrs. Pérol. On that day GREC was born. Page 24

Details: This meeting took place in Rome at Madame Pérol’s home.
• Fr. Olivier de La Brosse, who died in 2009, was the spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference of France.
• Fr. Lorans was the spokesman for the [SSPX] District of France.He had obtained permission from Bishop Fellay to dialogue for a necessary reconciliation with the group.

Thus we have the four founders of GREC:

• Mrs. Pérol
• Fr. Michel Lelong
• Fr. Lorans
• Fr. de la Brosse

In the months that followed, the protagonists remained quietly within their respective communities.

Soon after, conferences would be organized, but without fanfare, for it was necessary that this should remain confidential.

Fr. Michel Lelong wrote, “When we meet in friendship, I often think of Gilbert Pérol who, while actively participating in Christian-Muslim dialogue, had the idea of this dialogue between Catholics.” Page 27

The apostolic nuncios supported this group, along with various other personalities of the conciliar church who regularly informed the Pope of the progress of the dialog.

The SSPX District Superior of France, Fr. Ribeton, joined the group and, a little later, so did the head of The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

To shorten this exposé, you should know that the initiative of the lifting of the excommunications of the four bishops of the SSPX can be traced back to GREC who had already requested it as a part of the celebration of Jubilee year 2000! In any case Fr. Lelong claims it explicitly in this book and provides many quotations from exchanges of letters among the group, the Roman authorities, and the superior of the SSPX.

When Mgr Fellay tells us that the lifting of the excommunications is one of points of the Society’s roadmap, that is also false!

They keep returning to the term “full communion.”

As far as I’m concerned, having been a priest for fifty years and having devoted my ministry to the relationship between the Church and the Muslims, I am deeply attached to the teachings of Vatican II and I am trying to raise awareness and understanding of those [teachings] among our fellow Catholics who follow Archbishop Lefebvre and his successors. (Fr. M. Lelong Page 42)

Thus, the message is clear—Bishop Fellay does not come to play as a naïve schoolboy pretending suddenly to discover in 2012, through a letter from the Pope, the expectation of SSPX recognition of Vatican II. This has been clear from the debut of the discussions with GREC!

On January 6, 2004, Fr. de la Brosse sent a letter to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos (Ecclesia Dei Commission) to give an account of the “Tradition and Modernity” colloquium organized by GREC on November 22, 2003, in Paris:

At our request, Bishop Philippe Breton was appointed by Bishop Ricard, President of CEF [French Bishops Conference], as the “affiliated bishop” of the group, to attend the meetings and provide the opening prayer, with Fr. Lorans of the SSPX presiding over the final prayer. . . .

Thus the very purpose of the colloquium seems to have been established: French Catholics of various and even opposite sensitivities have freely agreed to engage in a dialogue that does not prejudge a total reconciliation in any way—a field reserved to competent superiors—but this opens the possibility, when the times comes, that the dialogue caucus will find before them partners capable of understanding and mutual respect. . . .

The number of participants was 40 people, all of whom were invited individually by group members. . . .
Very great discretion was observed at the express request of Bishop Ricard, which corresponded to our intentions. No professional journalists were present in the room. No information or comments have been leaked during the following days, neither in the Catholic nor the secular press. (Page 45 – 46)

Thus, thanks to support from the Apostolic Nuncio and also to the efforts of Frs. La Brosse and Barthe, Cardinal Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, was kept informed of our activities. The election of Benedict XVI was welcomed . . . with great hope. . . . We know, indeed, how during the first months of his pontificate the new Pope met with Bishop Fellay and made statements and decisions that clearly manifested his desire to reestablish unity in the Church through a hermeneutic of continuity and not of rupture with regards to the teachings of Vatican II. (Pages 48-49) and

Father Lelong and I propose to inform them of this development, of our work methods as well as the results as a whole to our concerned partners, that is to say, on a priority basis: the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, then the Apostolic Nunciature, the Bishops Conference of France, and the superiors of the Fraternities of St. Pius X and St. Peter. I added some traditional religious communities who had said they were interested and may wish to become participants in some of GREC’s projects. (pp.47-48)

After the Motu Proprio of 2007, the organizers of GREC sent a new letter to the Pope, asking him again to lift the excommunications.

From page 55 follows a history of GREC’s activities and of the key figures of different sides who are to be involved in this process.

Following the Pope’s meeting with Bishop Fellay in 2005, GREC expanded the SSPX side [NB] to include, among others: a very active, very involved Fr. Célier, Jacques-Régis du Cray, even earlier, Marie-Alix Doutrebente.

[Editor’s note: Not a few SSPX priests, (outside those cited, who themselves are very involved), have participated in GREC’s work, often as speakers. Some are cited in the book, others are not, whom I know by implication from elsewhere. I prefer to not reveal their names, since I do not accurately know their current position regarding the ralliement.]

It was then that the colloquia revealed the “doctrinal and spiritual convergence” between the two parties.

On June 10, 2010, a GREC meeting was held with the purpose of declaring its support of the Pope following “a particularly unfair media campaign,” around “Fr. Matthew Rouge, Rector of St. Clotilde Basilica in Paris . . . and Fr. Lorans, in charge of SSPX communications.”
That evening, thanks to two speakers’ presentations and the discussion that followed, we sensed how much a reconciliation between all Catholics around Pope Benedict XVI was expected and hoped for, thanks to him.
GREC devoted its meetings to Vatican II, Archbishop Lefebvre, and the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, with the participation of historians and theologians providing different points of view, so as to make its contribution during the 2010-2011 academic year.(Page 69)

At the time of this writing, one can hope that these meetings will lead to an agreement without delay. But the SSPX must understand that if it has much to offer to Rome, it also has much to receive from it. It must therefore stop rejecting Vatican II outright and accept the guiding principles in interpreting them as proposed by the Holy Father today. (Father Michel Lelong Page 85)

The stories of different GREC actors follow, including those (for the SSPX) of Fr. Lorans, Marie-Alix Doutrebente and Jacques-Régis du Cray.

A very important place is given to Fr. Paul Aulagnier, who began when he was District Superior of France, before the foundation of GREC, to open a dialogue in 1992 with conciliarists (notably with Dom de Lesquen, Abbot of Notre Dame de Randol). He continued this role later after becoming a member of the IBP [Institute de bon pasteur/Good Shepherd Institute]. Still very active in support of the ralliement, he has already rejoined and has obtained a parish in the conciliar structure.

Beginning in 1992, as District Superior of the SSPX in France, I was happy to initiate new contacts with recognized ecclesiastical authorities.
One day, when passing by Randol . . . Abbot Dom de Lesquen was talking to a young man in the forecourt of the monastery. Knowing the role he had played with Dom Gérard during his rapprochement with Rome on July 10, 1988, I approached him and spoke with him . . . about the rapprochement with Rome, of a normalization of the SSPX with Rome . . . (Fr. Aulagnier Page 104)

To understand the process of ralliement, it suffices to know the underground work of the group whose members admit to it.

Reminder: this book was published in December 2011

It is very important to be familiar with this book so as to know what is important in the future not to do: no doctrinal discussions at any level so long as Rome has not converted.

This was the point made by Archbishop Lefebvre and which has prevailed until the narrowly missed ralliement in June 2012:

“No practical agreement without a doctrinal agreement.”

Inferiors do not form the superiors, and yet, after a practical agreement, the SSPX would find itself under the authority of a modernist pope and conciliar congregations.

The truth does not support the least compromise with error, and yet the process initiated by GREC is nothing other than a search for compromise.

In conclusion, here is what Fr. Hewko has to say:


Fr. Ludovic Barrielle (so highly revered by the Archbishop) commented in 1982:

I am writing this to serve as a lesson for everyone. The day that the SSPX abandons the spirit and rules of its Founder, it will be lost. Furthermore, all our brothers who, in the future, allow themselves to judge and condemn the Founder and his principles, will show no hesitation in eventually taking away from the Society the traditional teaching of the Church and the Mass instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Quoted by Fr. Hewko in his Open Letter to His Excellency Bishop Fellay, Society Priests, Religious and Faithful, dated November 8, 2012.

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14 comments on “Sacre Bleu! ( Deep background: Rome/SSPX )

  1. Hey gpmtrad,

    Why don’t you read stuff like this :

    instead of the conspiracy theory stuff of Bishop Williamson et al ? Have you ever even met Bishop Fellay and spoken to him ? If you had, you wouldn’t be going along with this other crowd. He’s not a compromiser nor does he have a different spirit than Archbishop Lefebvre.

    Time for you to spend more time reading other spiritual works and leave those blogs alone.

  2. This happens to be from someone who’s long been engaged with your heroes, Jack.

    If it bears up, the accordion players will be tossed out of the musicians union on their ears.

    Just putting it out there, pal.

    And I didn’t notice that the article had much to do with +W.

  3. Oh, and I did read that, Jack.

    If the article proves true, what does that say for your Swiss hero?

    • @gpmtrad,

      My apologies on my tone, I didn’t mean to communicate in a harsh fashion. My mistake, I ask your pardon and forgiveness.

      As to the article, I get that it doesn’t mention Bishop Williamson, but it does include a quote from Fr. Hewko who unfortunately has also now left the Society. It is also well known and mentioned in several of the communications from the Society ( and also the sermons that Fr. Pfeiffer and Chazal have posted on youtube) that Bishop Williamson was the catalyst behind their actions. So that is what prompted my statements; this article smacks of the same vein of thinking, IMO.

      Why post this stuff ? I mean how can we seriously follow such rumors and gossip and allow them to influence our thinking ? Does posting this and other articles do souls any good, or as tradical often says, just contribute to the FUD out there and cause confusion to souls ? I think the latter is usually the case. So then, it should be left out of the public forum as it can do damage and harm that we will ultimately be held at least somewhat accountable for spreading it.

      As for my ‘Swiss heros’ as you call them, I stand by this principle: you can’t judge the subjective intentions of a man, only the objective ones. Clearly Bishop Fellay objectively, in his sermons and statements has been clear in his attachment to tradition and the Society as founded by Archbishop Lefebvre. As a former member of the first order of the Society, I can attest that after my meetings with him, it is clear that he does not have other motivations but to do the will of God. That is clear. Our society tends to be suspicious of any person’s true intentions( without any real solid objective proof) and in turn make a subjective judgement about them.Its not right.

      As for Bishop Williamson, I am in agreement with Rosariel; having also met and spoke with His Excellency, he too may be sincere in his beliefs. However, they are not grounded on reason or reality: and they especially cannot be based on virtue in light of his 4 years disobedience. To the point: I don’t regard anyone a ‘hero’. I look at the facts and objective statements around me and since I have also the experience of knowing most of the priests and bishops, I am able to make a clearer judgement regarding their actions and intentions. If Bishop Fellay had a different course and attitude; it would be objectively clear and I’d be the first one to say so. I say let’s leave the speculation and rumors to the sedevacantists and the birds and live our lives in peace without this nonsense…its exactly what the devil wants :to disturb our peace of soul and get us worrying about this stuff and neglecting our own spiritual welfare. Let’s take the objective view of things until they are proven (objectively) otherwise. That way we are sure to be in line with what is really true and not place ourselves and our judgements in the hands of gossipers.

  4. As they said a long time ago, if the stars from Heaven have fallen, who are we to presume? In other words, anyone can fall. anyone can make mistakes. The bishops were chosen by Archbishop Lefebvre for their qualities and among them, piety. I believe, until someone proves otherwise, that Bishop Fellay meant well, but I also believe that he made some big mistakes, he has admitted that. Also, by the very same token, I believe firmly that Bishop Williamson means well, and the way things have worked out, he may have been the most prescient of all of the bishops. I pray for them both and I pray for the Society. By the way, one can judge actions but one cannot judge, because we cannot know, intentions.

  5. Interesting that this theme is being regurgitated now.

    It had been quiet on the ‘attack the SSPX’ front for a while. I guess it is necessary to keep up the FUD in order to cloud the judgement of anyone interested in the on going battle for the Faith.

    Stepping back, what does this ‘book / blog posting’ say?

    Well first, it is the opinion of someone outside the SSPX giving his own viewpoint of what is being done.

    There also appears to have been a number of assumptions / errors being made and an attempt at a ‘guilt by association’ line of reasoning.

    For example:

    A. If SSPX priests give conferences on the position of the SSPX, is that a bad thing? We’ve organized conferences at the University and local priests have attended.

    B. The SSPX priests from my local mass centre have regular interactions with the clergy in the city. Not to worry, there is nothing nefarious, the priests in question are interested in ‘Tradition’ and discussing things quietly without the interference of the local bishops.

    C. Fr. Lorans hasn’t been quoted as to the motivations behind any involvement of the SSPX. I remember reading another piece about the involvement – it may be the link below.

    D. Also the wikipedia article does not list Fr. Lorans as a ‘founder’ but as a member – I read the french version and yes I speak french.

    Finally there was this bit in June when the GREC FUD was being spread earlier:

    So with all due respect to the author, in my opinion this doesn’t ‘prove’ anything. It is simply a conspiracy theory hurled in the continuing campaign of FUD.

    Paraphrasing Sherlock Holmes: The game is a FUD.



  6. Tradical– sacre bleu!! Je me trouve en accord de toi. Presque.

    I too found the article and the forum to have a certain slant that caused me no little discomfort, and I do confess that my French is by no means of a level beyond elementary, as may be obvious by my attempt above.

    My own maybe over simplistic, maybe even ignorant perspective on these recent very troubling events is similar to Aristotle’s teaching that virtue lies between two extremes.

    Neither the nastiness of jackbalarat nor the nastiness of the conspirisists, although certain truths may be found in both sides!, could possibly be the whole truth of the matter.

    Our best weapon, our best fall-back position is given to us by Our Lord and Our Lady: watch and wait. Weigh all things. Pray the Rosary!

    May God bless Bishop Fellay and Our Lady guide him, and St Michael the Archangel protect him in these battles, both external and internal.

    And everyone ought to remember that I have no idea what I’m talking about, but I sure do feel better for having said it. Thanks for listening.

  7. Jack, many thanks for your gracious words. We are in tense times and I have one heckuva time, even daily, coming off more like Mr. Rogers than “Mr. T”.

    Your note about subjective vs. objective intention is correct. Hopefully, whatever I have posted before and recently is consistent with that particular monitum. If not, mea maxima culpa.

    There’s not a man on either side of this kerfuffle I personally dislike or upon whom I wish anything but grace, sanctification and eternal glory. Seriously.

    I am deeply concerned, however, with the organizational behavior ( which, in my book, always flows from the head ) of the Society – and not just the public, official face it puts on. Recent actions against individuals, reported on another forum only within the last hour, from Fr. Rostand exemplify my concern. Yet another self-sacrificing Trad with an exemplary record of service to the Society gets slammed – hard and very personally – for being “associated with” folks who just ain’t buyin’ the party line from Menzingen.

    I’ve said before and now repeat that it was necessary for +F to reconcile with +W, that a breakup might be avoided. It didn’t happen. +W is as eccentric as he is scholarly and unquestionably interested in saving souls the way the Church always has. There simply had to have been a better way of assuaging his idiosyncrasies than throwing him to the wolves. That dreadful decision only deepened the gulf and will lead to many unfortunate words and actions in the future – probably on both sides.

    And that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about, Jack. +F may be headed for canonization some day. Good for him. Hope he makes it. Meantime, I still think he’s an “organizational manager” who has made a number of substantive, highly public, mistakes and needs to think very, very hard about turning over the reins to a competent successor.

    In the objective order, that is purely a “management” issue. And, in the same order, there are a number of serious questions regarding: GREC; the situation involving very large sums over which a certain lay, German lawyer, with “possibly anti-Traditionalist Catholic friends” in high places, has substantial oversight and input; and the manifest, explicit contradictions raised ( including the risible “I been bushwhacked!” confession by +F hisself ) by many observant souls concerning the “discussions” with Rome…. beginning with, just when the *%&^ did they ACTUALLY begin???

    Was it, as GREC claims, a secretive negotiation carried out under the benign paternity of BOTH +F and HH Benoit XVI in the EARLY 2000s….?

    Or, was it the “talks” put out for public consumption much more recently?

    I think these are entirely reasonable matters to raise, Jack. Both the Vatican and Menzingen are hugely public and their statements, policies and decisions ( even if deliberately withheld to avoid public scrutiny ) matter a very great deal.

    And, frankly, if +F comes off as pure as Caesar’s wife on all counts – good on ‘im!

    Meanwhile, the pray, pay and obey crowd have a genuine need to know.

  8. Before you use the expression, Sacre bleu, again, you should know what you are referring to. It is an old French profanity against Our Lady – Holy Blue – meant as an insult to her. Please inform yourself on this (a simple Google search will suffice), and while you’re at it, look into the true One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church – united under His Holiness Benedict XVI – as well.

    A faithful Catholic woman

    • A faithful Catholic woman? Who charges in all guns a blazin? Insulting unnecessarily an innocent and very decent Catholic gentleman? Are you sure you understand the term you have used, Madame? Je ne suis pas certain mais je crois que le mot juste rhyme avec “mienne”.

  9. A FWIW followup to “FCW” ….

    If you are new here ( and not from the army of trolls* invading Trad fora in the US and the UK lately ), please take my wiseacre answer in context…..

    I am not always serious ( even though I play it that way on AQ ).

    My intention to check out your claim was, however. And I will report back.

    * The penalties for being which are escalating!

  10. From my French translator friend ( paraphrased )

    [ Using ] Petit Robert, Hachette’s French/English dictionary, and online [ sources ]. All refer to it as an alternative to using the Lord’s name, in the same way we would say “golldurnit, or dagnabbit.” [ The translator point out that the ] idea was that “bleu” is very similar sounding to “Dieu” and avoids the using of the Lord’s name..

    [ On ] holy ejaculations–which are indulgenced. One can exclaim “Holy Mother of God!” not as a means of swearing, but as a plea for assistance. [ A ] priest state[d] that the best way to make the distinction is to finish the phrase with, “help us” or some other plea. [ The aspiration ] “Jesus, Mary and Joseph” earns an indulgence of 300 days!

    [ In the translator’s opinion ]: ” “Sacre Bleu” or “sacrebleu” is no more a blasphemy against Our Lady than say “gosh” is against Our Lord. . . of course, it is all a matter of intent.”

    So, to put a finer point on it, I will refrain from repeating its use on this forum – even though it appears that there is nothing wrong with doing so – to protect pious ears.

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