Sunday, May 13, 2012

From the SSPX: We Are In 2012 With Pope Benedict XVI

Are we seeing the reunification of the
SSPX and the Vatican?
I have posted below a wonderful article written on May 11, 2012, about the potential, and seemingly imminent, reunification of the Society of St. Pius X and the Vatican. The article is written by Father Michel Simoulin, who has been an SSPX priest for 35 years. Father Simoulin speaks very respectfully of Pope Benedict XVI and of the Vatican, which I find very encouraging. He says very plainly in this article that the SSPX, of and by itself, is not the Church, that the Church is the Vatican. As he says in his article: "The Society is not an army raised up against Rome, but an army formed for the Church."

He also explains that the initial split between Archbishop Lefebvre and the Vatican came about not because of doctrinal differences between the Society and the Vatican, but because the Vatican would not allow the Archbishop to ordain his own bishops.  This led Archbishop Lefebvre to fear that, by relinquishing his authority to Rome, adversary forces in Rome would step in and destroy the SSPX.  Knowing the contemporary history of the Church and the many forces inside and outside of Rome who hate anything that promotes traditional Catholicism, specifically and especially the Latin Mass, one can only conclude that Archbishop Lefebvre was most probably correct in his fears.

I find this article to be very enlightening and encouraging.  Father Simoulin is basically trying to encourage members of the SSPX to trust their bishop, the Holy Father and God himself to do what is right.  This viewpoint and attitude can only be applauded.  I long for the moment when I can come here and joyfully give the news that the SSPX and the Vatican have reunited.  As I have previously posted, the Church desperately needs the spiritual strength and resolve of the SSPX, and they need to be reunited with Vicar of Christ. 

Editorial from L’Seignadou on the relations with Rome, by Fr. Michel Simoulin (May 2012)

Fr. Michel Simoulin, chaplain of the Fanjeaux community wrote this editorial for Seignadou (Sign from God). He served alongside Msgr. Ducaud Bourget at Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet from 1980 to 1983, was rector of the University of St. Pius X, director at the Econe seminary, prior at Lyon, France, and SSPX District Superior of Italy. read at DICI >

I do not know what the situation will be at the time of the publication of this bulletin, but I think that it is useful to reflect together on the current events. I do not speak about this “republican” masquerade we are living through [the elections in France], but about our relations with Rome.

Recently, somebody sent me a text with this question: “When will we return to the fundamentals of our Society? When will we have the humility to respect the heritage of its founder?”

I believe that I know a little our Society – of which I have been member for 35 years – and thus to have the right to remind all that our “fundamentals” are engraved in golden letters in our statutes:
the goal of the Society is the priesthood and all that refers to it and only what relates to it, i.e., such as Our Lord Jesus-Christ wanted it when He said: Do this in memory of Me. [The SSPX is all about the priesthood]
Bishop Fellay with newly ordained priests
Such is the heritage of our founder, such are our “fundamentals”; we do not have any others, and we do not want to have others. The Society is not an army raised up against Rome, but an army formed for the Church. [The SSPX is completely and wholly Catholic and has never been anything but that.]
Then, allusion is made to Archbishop Lefebvre’s refusal to follow the path towards an agreement in 1988. And the Archbishop is quoted: “With the protocol of May 5th we would have died soon. We would not have lasted a year…” All this, of course, intended to warn us and to invite us to refuse any Roman offer, something that we should do “under pain of death”. [The protocol of May 5, 1988 was an agreement between Archbishop Lefebvre and then Cardinal Ratzinger. According to an SSPX website, the following was written on July 28, 1988: "For Archbishop Lefebvre, the essential problem with the May 5 Protocol was its failure to promise a bishop for the Society of Saint Pius X with unobstructed power to protect the faithful from modernist influences. On the contrary, the Protocol offered, for mere psychological reasons, a single bishop purposely lacking this power. In over a decade since its foundation the Society of Saint Peter still does not even have one traditional bishop, powerless or otherwise."  Father Simoulin is warning that there are those who are using the situation from 1988 to refuse to work with Rome in 2012.  Father goes on to show that everything has changed since 1988.]
Yet another echo reaches me: “in Rome serious things are happening, very serious… but I cannot tell you more!” Not that this [is] of much help for me! [Making general ominous statements only adds to confusion and fear.]

Then, let us be reasonable. To do so, it will be good to remember a little the events of 1988. After having signed the draft of an agreement on May 5th (which was not yet an agreement, but was nonetheless a very imperfect and even dangerous text, and which did not let Archbishop Lefebvre sleep in peace), on the morning of May 6th the Archbishop wrote a letter to Cardinal Ratzinger, not to retract his signature -
Yesterday, with a real satisfaction, I put my signature to the protocol prepared on the previous days. But, you noted yourself a deep disappointment at the reading of the letter that you gave me with the answer of the Holy Father about the episcopal consecration
 - but to urgently require that this consecration could take place on June 30th, in order to be certain of having a bishop to continue his work. This letter of May 6th is entirely and exclusively concerned with this one point:
If the answer were to be negative, I would find myself obliged, in conscience, to proceed to the consecration, based on the approval given by the Holy See in the protocol for the consecration of a bishop member of the Society.
Thus, the reason for stopping the process was neither a doctrinal question nor the statute offered to the Society, but the date of the consecration of the bishop that had been granted. [According to Father Simoulin, Archbishop Lefebvre felt that if he was not allowed to consecrate a bishop from within the Society who could lead it when he, Archbishop Lefebvre died, the society would be destroyed by the forces in Rome who were lined up against it.  This is not relevant in 2012.] And it should be noted that the rupture of the relations was decided then, not by Archbishop Lefebvre, but by Cardinal Ratzinger, who refused this episcopal consecration for June 30th.  
If, indeed, Archbishop Lefebvre had accepted that the protocol of May 5th were not to have been followed by this episcopal consecration, then, yes, “with the protocol of May 5th we would have died soon. We would not have lasted a year…”, because without a bishop, we would have been delivered to the good (or bad) pleasure of Rome and the bishops 
After our Jubilee [pilgrimage] of the year 2000, Rome took the initiative of new relations. Today, the same cardinal become Pope has told us that the Tridentine Mass was never abrogated (July 7, 2007):
It is thus allowed to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass according to the standard edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated;
he rehabilitated our four bishops (January 21, 2009); he accepted that we hold doctrinal discussions during two years… all things that Archbishop Lefebvre did not require in 1988. It is not exaggerated to say that Bishop Fellay obtained more than what Archbishop Lefebvre required, without however having the same prestige or moral authority. Then, must we be even more demanding than Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Fellay? [Father Simoulin is stating here that more healing of the differences between the Society and Rome has occurred under the leadership of Bishop Fellay than even Archbishop Lefebvre required for unification.  To demand more than Archbishop Lefebvre required is unreasonable and nonproductive.] 
Whatever the state of Rome is, whatever still remains worrisome in Rome, simple good sense and honesty should lead us to consider the current situation with different eyes than in 1988! [The good Father here is stating that circumstances are much different than 1988, and the threats faced by the SSPX in 1988 are not relevant to 2012] To take up the formula of one of our bishops, we should not fall into “eighty-eightism!” [Fr. Simoulin makes reference to Bishop Williamson’s warning about the dangers of getting stuck into “1950ism,” that is, into a particular period of the history of the Church.]
We are no longer in 1975 with Paul VI nor in 1988 with John Paul II, but in 2012 with Benedict XVI. [This is truly a positive and hopeful statement coming from the SSPX!] You can tell me as much as you want that the state of the Church is still very alarming, that our Pope has a sometimes strange theology, etc… we have said it enough, it seems to me, but you cannot tell me that the state of things is the same as in 1988 or even worse. To do so would be contrary to reality and to the truth, and can only be the effect of a more or less secret refusal of any reconciliation with Rome, perhaps even of a lack of faith in the holiness of the Church, composed of poor sinners but always governed by her head, Jesus-Christ, and sanctified by the Holy Ghost [Father is stating here that those who say nothing has changed since 1988 would seem to have a secret desire not to unite with Rome under any circumstances, and this even exhibits a rebellious attitude and lack of faith]  The SSPX is not the Church  and it can “respect the heritage of its founder” only by preserving his spirit, his love for the Church and his desire to serve her as a loving son, in fidelity to the founding blessings.  [I cannot applaud this statement enough.  This should remove any suspicion of Sedevacantism among the SSPX leadership]

I do not know if all realize the weight of this decision, which belongs only to Bishop Fellay, a decision that was entrusted to him again last October by our Superiors meeting in Albano, a decision considered together with his assistants: What does the Church expect from the Society in 2012? How must the Society answer to the “needs” of the Church today?  
This requires a highly supernatural virtue of prudence, to a degree that none of us has the grace to reach, because it does not pertain either to our abilities or to our responsibility. Only Bishop Fellay and his assistants have, by definition, the totality of the information required to judge rightly about the current situation. The question that each one must rather ask himself refers to our benevolence towards authority and, especially, to our trust in that authority. For twelve years Bishop Fellay has been arguing with Rome, with ups and downs, to finally arrive at the results quoted above, and even to an amazing result that perhaps nobody has even noticed: these doctrinal discussions, which did not make any noise in the market place, have enabled us to say to Rome what we think… to the point of making the discussions end abruptly! [Father is telling us that Bishop Fellay and the SSPX have been talking with Rome, and Rome has been listening for the past 12 years.] 
And yet, what hasn’t been said about the silence of the superiors around these discussions and about the documents exchanged these last months, and about their great discretion out of respect for Rome and the Holy Father? [Notice that Father Simoulin refers to Pope Benedict XVI as the Holy Father, showing his deep respect and acknowledgment of the office of Pope.] It has all been interpreted as a form of dissimulation, and even the beginning of a compromise. How can anyone doubt the uprightness of our superiors in such a gratuitous and arbitrary way?  
No one knows yet the conclusion that Benedict XVI will want to give to these twelve years of slow work, of searching for a better understanding, and to the prayers and rosaries accumulated. The time is now for prayer, as we were asked by Bishop Fellay, and for trust in the Church. The Immaculate Virgin, who we will particularly honor during this month of May, will obtain for us all the necessary graces, if we want nothing other than the victory of Her Son and of the Church.  [This statement shows the completely sincerity and purity of Father Simoulin's position.  With this kind of attitude, we can only expect good things to happen with the reunification of the SSPX and the Vatican.]
Father Simoulin has given us a beautiful explanation of just how different circumstances are in 2012 than they were in 1988.  He shows great respect and reverence for Pope Benedict XVI and feels that the Holy Father's actions - removing all restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass, removing the excommunication of the SSPX bishops and engaging in a a continuing dialog with the SSPX for the past 12 years - show that he can be trusted to do the right thing.  This is an article written by a member of the SSPX who virtually says there is no reason for there not to be a reunification between the SSPX and the Vatican. 

This gives me the greatest hope and optimism I have felt yet.  We are told that that Pope Benedict XVI will make the final decision by the end of May.  I feel beyond hopeful that we will all be celebrating and welcoming back our brothers and sisters of the Society of St. Pius X.

1 comment:

  1. The issues with Rome are very complex. What frightens many traditionalists is a premature agreement with the Roman authorities that would have detrimental effects on the Catholic life of ordinary faithful. For instance, if Bp. Fellay makes an agreement with Rome will they be asked to tone down their disagreement with Ecumenism and Religious Liberty? Will they be asked not to criticise the New Mass? If some faithful in conscience, cannot find a way of following the bishop into this agreement, where does that leave their children (schools) and Mass availability? Honestly, I have attended their Masses for 20 years and any balanced sane lay people find it awful to be in this situation of being 'seemingly' against the Pope. The problem is we cannot please God without Faith. Catholicism is the one true religion. This is simply not preached any more. What could Pope Francis offer right now - a place amongst many other groups - some more conservative, some blatantly modernist. Is the Pope convinced that the SSPX preach the truth of Catholicism in its entirety? I don't have the answers to these questions but there is an objective difficulty in coming into the fold, officially (we never left it, in reality).


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