Regularization and the Total Vindication of Archbishop Lefebvre

[FYI] Regularization and the Total Vindication of Archbishop Lefebvre

Written by Michael Matt | Editor
3/30/17

Editor’s Note: This is an expanded version of an article that appeared in a recent print-edition of The Remnant. We’re reproducing it here in the interest of furthering constructive discussion of what could become (if it happens) the most significant development in the Church since Summorum Pontificum. These discussions before the fact seem appropriate to me, but should not be construed as an attack on those who are in favor of regularization. There are good men on both sides of this issue, and what follows are merely the opinions of one man who could be very much mistaken. This is just how I see it–as an outsider–and the reader is perfectly free to dismiss my concerns, and remain my friend and brother in arms. MJM

The Remnant does not traffic in rumors. But over the past few months, rumors of an imminent Society of St. Pius X regularization have abounded, with Superior General Bishop Bernard Fellay finally confirming that these are indeed more than mere rumors, though the matter is far from settled.

Given Pope Francis’s mission to undermine all things Catholic, any SSPX “regularization” by the Vatican—regardless of the terms—is bound to give friends of the SSPX cause for concern. Bishop Fellay understands this, I believe, and knows that such concerns are rooted only in concern for the SSPX. He himself shares those concerns, in fact. His Excellency recently observed in a widely reported interview that even though Rome seems to seek regularization, “it does not mean that we go forward, we must go with great prudence and also secure our future to be able to prevent any possibility of a trap. Therefore, we are not running in this situation.”

Wise words indeed. At this point, given the injustices to which Pope Francis and his ecclesial hitmen have subjected the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, for example, for their drift toward Tradition—some of us are hard-pressed to imagine any Vatican regularization attempt being anything less than a possible trap. After all, the Pope who found a way to undermine the thousand-year-old Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta would likely be confident in his ability to find a way around the SSPX’s freshly minted personal prelature.

It is difficult under any circumstances—given that the Church is hierarchical—to imagine the Pope being bound by the terms of the prelature of any mere fraternity of Catholic priests. It was Vatican abuse of power, after all—not SSPX criticisms of the Second Vatican Council and the New Mass—that resulted in the SSPX ‘schism’ in the first place. And to argue that if similar violations should take place after “regularization” the SSPX could always “go back to the where they were” is, I believe, to overlook the overwhelming effectiveness of the Vatican’s divide-and-conquer strategy thus far.

Besides, if Pope Francis really wishes to offer a no-strings-attached regularization– what’s holding him back? With a stroke of his papal pen the SSPX would be regularized tonight, and the matter settled. The fact that he hasn’t done this leaves many of us to question his intentions.

There’s a simple matter of natural justice to keep in mind here: Is the Vatican ready to posthumously apologize to Archbishop Lefebvre for the gross injustice that was perpetrated against him, a most loyal son of the Church in the twentieth century? Is the Vatican prepared to thank the SSPX for preserving the Traditions of the Church for the past quarter century? Or is the Vatican hell-bent on pursuing an uber-Modernist agenda that will benefit from regaining control of its most powerful traditionalist opposition?

Yes, the argument goes, but the SSPX would have a personal prelature that would allow them to carry on exactly as they are! Really? Since when does the Church operate that way? We’re talking about a hierarchical institution in which the SSPX, it seems to me, could “carry on exactly as they are” so long as the guy in charge says they can. Even with a prelature they would still be subject to the whims of Pope Francis, whose general permission they will need in order to carry on “criticizing Vatican II and the New Mass.” But since when do counterrevolutionaries get the permission of the revolutionaries to oppose the Revolution? It seems absurd on its face.

In his sermon on the occasion of the episcopal consecrations of 1988 in Econe, Switzerland, Archbishop Lefebvre made it quite clear that his decision to move ahead without Vatican mandate was not merely a prudential effort to save his Society. A broken-hearted old soldier went to war that day, and he was clearly not lobbying for his little right to criticize certain elements of the Second Vatican Council. The Archbishop understood that the Devil has pulled off a coup d’état in Rome, which obliged him to make a conscious decision to stand against a Vatican that had betrayed the Church.

“We turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary,” the Archbishop said on that fateful day. “You well know…of Leo XIII’s prophetic vision revealing that one day ‘the See of Peter would become the seat of iniquity’… Has it come about today? Is it tomorrow? I do not know. But in any case it has been foretold. Iniquity may quite simply be error. Error is iniquity: to no longer profess the Faith of all time, the Catholic Faith, is a grave error. If there ever was an iniquity, it is this. And I really believe that there has never been a greater iniquity in the Church than Assisi [the 1986 ecumenical prayer meeting of the world’s religions], which is contrary to the First Commandment of God and the First Article of the Creed.”

The Archbishop then turned his thoughts to Our Lady of Good Success: “Just recently, the priest who takes care of the priory of Bogota, Colombia, brought me a book concerning the apparition of Our Lady of Good Success…Our Lady prophesied for the twentieth century, saying explicitly that during the nineteenth century and most of the twentieth century, errors would become more and more widespread in Holy Church, placing the Church in a catastrophic situation. Morals would become corrupt and the Faith would disappear. It seems impossible not to see it happening today.”

And then on a dramatic personal note, “Pardon me for continuing this account of the apparition but Our Lady speaks of a prelate who will absolutely oppose this wave of apostasy and impiety – saving the priesthood by forming good priests. I do not say that prophecy refers to me. You may draw your own conclusions. I was stupefied when reading these lines but I cannot deny them, since they are recorded and deposited in the archives of this apparition.”

Archbishop Lefebvre does not here seem overly concerned with being allowed merely to “pursue the experiment of Tradition.” He does not seem to be merely petitioning for his Society’s peaceful coexistence within the ecumenical ‘Catholic Christian community’. Rather, he is acknowledging his sacred duty before God to overtly oppose pernicious evil in the Church—evil that was warned against by Our Lady herself.

“Of course, you well know the apparitions of Our Lady at La Salette, where she says that Rome will lose the Faith, that there will be an ‘eclipse’ at Rome; an eclipse, see what Our Lady means by this,” Archbishop Lefebvre reminded his listeners that fateful day. And Our Lady of Fatima was also on his mind: “And finally, closer to us, the secret of Fatima. Without a doubt, the Third Secret of Fatima must have made an allusion to this darkness which has invaded Rome, this darkness which has invaded the world since the Council.” To which I might add, this darkness which has only become so much murkier under the reign of Pope Francis of Rome.

The Archbishop was laying the foundation of his total opposition to the Vatican and their Modernist revolution—not merely to certain problematic aspects of one or two of the Council documents. And nearly 30 years later, the situation has gone from bad to so much worse, with even many ‘neo-Catholic’ commentators sounding the alarm today that Archbishop Lefebvre raised thirty years ago. The total vindication of Archbishop Lefebvre’s historic stand for Catholic Tradition is at hand. Could that be what Pope Francis is worried about now?

What would I do, were I in Bishop Fellay’s shoes? I’m a layman and so the point is moot. It would be so much easier for me, a mere layman, to respectfully inform the progressivist traitors running the Vatican just now that, as long as they continue to war against Christ’s Church, I will continue to war against them.

I would then explain to my constituents that I simply cannot understand how I could continue to stand against the most dangerous pontificate in history once the hand of friendship and regularization has been extended from that very same pontificate, only now declaring me “acceptable” to a Vatican that I believe God finds unacceptable.

But, again, I’m not a bishop. I know and respect Bishop Fellay, who I’m more than confident is doing precisely what he believes is best for the Church. He is a good and holy priest. But he will have to be patient with his stubborn sons—in the Society and out—who fear that without the “safety net” that is the SSPX, the future of the Catholic counterrevolution as a whole may well be in jeopardy. The Fraternity of St. Peter was not the only institution to thrive with a SSPX counterbalance (some may call it an “insurance policy”). Over the years, all of us were emboldened and inspired to keep the faith and fight for it, knowing that 600 priests and a million faithful were standing strong against a diabolically disoriented Vatican.

I do not believe the Society of St. Pius X requires “regularization” in order to achieve full communion within Christ’s Church….But I fear the Vatican may well be suffering from a lack of due regularization.

What should Bishop Fellay do? I honestly don’t know. I pray that God will guide him and make him impervious to the seductions of Romanitas. It may well be God’s will that the SSPX should have an accord with the Vatican, and thus usher in a whole new era of traditionalist restoration from within. This seems hard to imagine, certainly, but we don’t know the ways of Providence and we must not position ourselves in the path of Providence, either. For all we know the time has come. We must pray that it has and that God will use the regularized SSPX (should the rumor become reality) to bring tradition back to the heart of the Church, and to prompt a true restoration of the Church along the lines of the Cluniac reforms of the 11th century.

On the other hand, a Vatican-led co-opting of the Catholic counterrevolution’s largest priestly fraternity on the very eve of the establishment of a Godless New World Order may be anything but God’s will. Any student of human nature will no doubt find it difficult to comprehend why modernists inside the Vatican would desire to approve a worldwide order of traditionalist priests who will then go on vigorously opposing the Vatican’s own agenda throughout the world. This seems counterintuitive on their part, to say the least, and it leaves many of us asking: Why do it, unless the Vatican’s intentions are less than noble.

We must remember that the Vatican achieved astonishing success undermining the Church, even when the Traditional Latin Mass was the ONLY Mass in the Roman Rite fifty years ago. They know how to get around the old Mass, they’ve proven that already. What they seem most concerned about now is principled, organized and public resistance to their agenda. They will give us the Mass so long as we shut our mouths and set aside vigorous counterrevolution.

And so as we consider the future of the Traditional Catholic movement and pray for the guidance of the Holy Ghost where the leadership of the SSPX is concerned, let’s look back to her past and recall how this all began—with unprecedented revolution in the Church that caused good men to follow Paul in resisting Peter to his face. Here is an Open Letter to the Holy Father from Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro-Mayer almost 35 years ago. May we never forget the sacrifices of these noble men, who became outcasts from the human element of Christ’s Church for the sake of Christ Himself. MJM

Open Letter to the Pope (Episcopal Manifesto)

Rio de Janeiro, Nov. 21, 1983

Holy Father:

May Your Holiness permit us with an entirely filial openness, to submit to you the following considerations:

During these last twenty years the situation in the Church is such that it looks like an occupied city.

Thousands of members of the clergy and millions of the faithful are living in a state of anguish and perplexity because of the ‘self-destruction of the Church’. They are being thrown into confusion and disorder by the errors contained in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the post-conciliar reforms and especially the Liturgical Reforms, the false notions diffused by official documents and by the abuse of power perpetrated by the hierarchy.

In these distressing circumstances, many are losing the faith, charity is becoming cold, and the concept of the true unity of the Church in time and in space is disappearing.

In our capacity as Bishops of the Holy Catholic Church, successors of the Apostles, our hearts are overwhelmed at the sight, throughout the world, of so many souls who are bewildered and yet desirous of continuing in the faith and morals which have been defined by the Magisterium of the Church and taught by her in a constant and universal manner.

It seems to us that to remain silent in these circumstances would be to become accomplices to these wicked works (cf.II Jn.II).

That is why, considering that all the measures we have undertaken in private during the last fifteen years have remained ineffectual, we find ourselves obliged to intervene in public before Your Holiness, in order to denounce the principal causes of this dramatic situation and to beseech Your Holiness to use his power as Successor of Peter to “confirm your brothers in the faith” (Lk.22,32) which has been faithfully handed down to us by Apostolic Tradition.

To that end we have attached to this letter an appendix containing the principal errors which are at the origin of this tragic situation and which, moreover, have already been condemned by your predecessors.

The following list outlines these errors, but it is not exhaustive:

1. A “latitudinarian” and ecumenical notion of the Church, divided in its Faith, condemned in particular by the Syllabus, No. 18 (DS 2918)

2. A collegial government and democratic orientation in the Church, condemned in particular by Vatican Council I (DS 3055).

3. A false notion of the natural rights of man, which clearly appears in the document on Religious Freedom [of Vatican II] and was condemned in particular by “Quanta Cura” (Pius IX) and in “Libertas praestantissimum” (Leo XIII).

4. An erroneous notion of the power of the Pope (cf DS 3115).

5. A Protestant notion of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments, condemned by the Council of Trent, session XXII.

6. Finally, and in a general manner, the free spreading of heresies, characterized by the suppression of the Holy Office.

The documents containing these errors cause an uneasiness and a disarray so much the more profound as they come from a source so much the more elevated. The Clergy and the faithful most moved by this situation are, moreover, those who are the most attached to the Church, to the authority of the Successor of Peter, to the traditional Magisterium of the Church.

Most Holy Father, it is urgently necessary that this disarray come to an end, because the flock is dispersing and the abandoned sheep are following mercenaries. We beseech you, for the good of the Catholic Faith and for the salvation of souls, to reaffirm the truths contrary to these errors, truths which have been taught for twenty centuries by the Church.

It is with the sentiments of St. Paul before St. Peter, when he reproached him for having not followed “the truth of the Gospel” (Gal. 2, 11-14), that we are addressing you. His aim was none other than to protect the faith of the flock.

St. Robert Bellarmine, expressing on this occasion a general moral principle, states that one must resist the Pontiff whose action would be prejudicial to the salvation of souls (De Rom. Pon. 1,2,x.29)

Thus it is with the purpose of coming to the aid of Your Holiness that we utter this cry of alarm, rendered all the more urgent by the errors, not to say the heresies, of the new Code of Canon Law, and by the ceremonies and addresses on the occasion of the fifth centenary of the birth of Luther. Truly, this is the limit.

May God come to your aid, Most Holy Father, we are praying without ceasing for you to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Deign to accept the sentiments of our filial devotion –

Signed: Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre

Signed: Mgr. Antonio de Castro-Mayer

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