Controversy as SSPX purchase historic church in France

Controversy as SSPX purchase historic church in France

The Society of St. Pius X’s purchase of the former chapel of the Convent of the Visitation at Le Puy en Velay has caused a political storm in the southern French town.

In mid-July the Society, which was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970 after publicly contesting key teachings of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), received a construction permit for the long-abandoned building.

The town of Le Puy en Velay forms one of the starting points for the St. Jacques of Compostela pilgrimage path. In 2016, the town also hosted the Jubilee of Atonement, a rare feast that is next due to be held in 2157. As such, it is a strategic location for the Lefebvrist group.

“Historically, the site is more significant than Lourdes,” project leader, Father Pierre Barrère from Saint François Régis d’Unieux priory in the Loire region, told L’Eveil newspaper.

Two years ago, the Society launched an online appeal for donations enabling it to purchase the building. Further funds will also be necessary for its restoration.

Criticizing the transformation of other churches “into mosques, fast food joints, bars or party rooms, Society members say they want to “restore churches threatened with disappearance as places of worship.”

Historic anti-revolutionary location

But the profaning of churches is just one of the concerns of the Lefebvrist group, which regards the Velay region as a “second Vendée,” a region in south-west France famous for its opposition to the 1789 French Revolution.

Abandoned in the wake of those events, the chapel was at first transformed into a revolutionary tribunal. Members of the anti-revolutionary Chouan group from Velay were condemned and executed there during the late 18th century, along with a number of refractory priests, who refused to take an oath supporting the Revolution.

“The chapel’s history plunges us into the heart of Catholic and Royalist resistance [to the Revolution],” Father Barrère told L’Eveil.

“It is a symbol of resistance to a state of mind that wants to attack God,” Father Barrère said.

However, the purchase has also aroused opposition from members of the municipal council of the 18,000-resident commune. On July 18, four concerned councilors addressed a letter to the prefect of the Haute Loire region.

“The establishment of this fundamentalist Catholic sect in Le Puy en Velay is not innocuous and may cause problems for public order,” the letter claimed.

“On its website, the Society has not hidden its sympathy for P. Pétain, whom it describes as a ‘great figure of the Catholic faith’,” it said.

Marshal Philippe Pétain headed France’s collaborationist government during World War II.

A revealing purchase

Left-wing councilor, Laurent Johanny, blamed the purchase on the policies of Laurent Wauquiez, the president of the Auvergne Rhône Alpes region and a former mayor of Le Puy en Velay.

“He has reached out traditionalists with his national policy and this rapprochement is significant at local level,” Johanny told La Croix, while admitting that the letter was not likely to have much impact since the purchase has already been concluded.

Contacted by La Croix several times, the Le Puy en Velay municipality did not wish to comment.

The Society, however, regards its agreement with the commune as making good sense.

“The municipality wanted to avoid any modification of the exterior of the building,” said Father Loïc Duverger, assistant superior of the Society and responsible for purchases.

“Members of the Society’s community already live in Le Puy and celebrated Mass in a rented hall,” he said.

“It is important for them to have a place of worship and the city also hosts many people during summer,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Diocese of Le Puy en Velay said it was unable to comment on the project despite the fact that it’s office is located just meters from the cathedral.

“The bishop of Puy has no canonical authority over the Society,” said its vicar-general Father Emmanuel Dursapt. “We can neither encourage nor oppose the project.”

He added that he was not concerned about the possibility that a new parish might attract local Catholics.

“Let’s have confidence in people,” he said. “These days, we don’t want to make enemies unnecessarily.”

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4 comments on “Controversy as SSPX purchase historic church in France

  1. …” the Lefebvrist group.” As long as this term is used, with the outrageous things happening in the institutional Church, those looking for the true means of salvation will be prompted to look elsewhere. The SSPX is a Catholic group and any indication to the contrary is simply a lie. In the meantime, what’s coming out of Rome these days (with idiotic statements from the holy father himself regarding protestant groups being a “means of salvation” and “capital punishment” vs Abortion) we are left to wonder who will it be that will right this sinking ship?

  2. When Captain James Lawrence, USN, (1781-1813), uttered the words ” Don’t give up the Ship”, as he lay dying aboard his ship the Chesapeake in the War of 1812, he did not know this would be the rallying cry for the US Navy during the Battle of Lake Erie and was emblazoned on the battle flag of Oliver Hazzard Perry, during that battle. And it became the rallying cry throughout the fleet during the war with the British in 1812. There really is no one to help right the sinking ship of the Catholic Church, because no men of honor or bravery are left. The SSPX might be able to do it, but those effeminate, clergy in control in the Vatican, will never give up their homosexual lifestyle, still supported by the pew-sitting sheep, because they have no where else to go. They are unemployable, lack any job skills, and produce nothing! This latest pronouncement from this Argentinian Marxist is just a deflection from the real problems of greed, corruption and, sexual depravity that infect this Church. It might be best to let the ship sink with these reprobates in control! At least then, there will be a place to start for the Church’s recovery.

  3. The above article is from the English-language edition of the liberal French Catholic “La Croix.” The editor of the English-language edition is Robert Mickens, who was dropped by The Tablet (a.k.a. The Pill) in England and the National un-Catholic Reporter for being too liberal for them!

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