This is the conclusion of our three part response to Fr. Robinson’s article on SSPX ‘regularization’
Restoration of the Church by means of priests
It was important, in the mind of the Archbishop, that the SSPX was not founded on a negative basis, but on a positive one. The SSPX was not founded to contest Rome and the Council. For the Archbishop, this would have been rather abnormal. Rather it was founded to perform a positive work, the formation of good priests….
The Archbishop did not found the SSPX to fix the crisis in the Church. He wanted the SSPX to contribute towards the restoration of the Church, of course, but in the character of a priestly society. The Church did not entrust the SSPX with the work of fixing the Church in approving its statutes; the SSPX does not have the means to fix the Church because that is up to Rome; and its founder did not establish it for the immediate purpose of fixing the Church. As such, contributing towards the restoration of the Church is only the remote end of the SSPX, while the formation of good priests is its proximate end.
This distinction is important. If the immediate purpose of the SSPX was the restoration of the Church, then it should choose any and all means for the accomplishment of that end, without focusing on the formation of good priests. But since its immediate purpose is the formation of good priests, then the means for contributing to the restoration of the Church is set in stone and cannot change, at least if the SSPX is to be faithful to its identity.
Fr. Robinson has here described a definition of a “good priest” from a priest who would work toward the restoration of the Church. The two are inseparable. No priest can be called good who does not also work for the good of the Church. The Society may have a proximate end of forming priests and a remote end of restoring the Church, but that does not mean that the formation of good priests is its essential purpose while the restoration of the Church is accidental. Fr. Robinson states himself that the priesthood is “essentially bound to the supreme act of the re-ordering of the fallen world.” Therefore it can be said that the priesthood is essentially bound to the restoration of the Church….
Archbishop Lefebvre believed in the power of well-formed priests to restore the Church. Because of this, he founded a priestly society that seeks to form priests who are known for their doctrinal purity and missionary charity. The Church herself, by approving the statutes of the SSPX, assigned that mission of forming good priests to the SSPX, and the SSPX has all of the means necessary to perform that work. But, since the illegal suppression of the SSPX in 1975, the SSPX has been put in an irregular situation, has been opposed by Church authorities, and has been prevented from spreading as much as it is capable of doing so.
For the last time, Rome is in the irregular situation, not the Society. And the spread of Tradition happens according to the individual free will acceptance of God’s grace, not by public perception or persecution. Indeed, one of the proofs that the Christian religion is true is by virtue of the conversions of countless people in the first centuries of Christendom. People were being burned, flayed, beheaded, crucified and fed to lions, and they continued to convert to the one, true faith. Would Fr. Robinson argue that the Church did not flourish as it otherwise could have if the Church had not been persecuted? God’s permissive will (that which grants us free will) is never divorced from God’s sovereign will (that which has seen and ordained all things before time). This crisis in the Church is clearly according to God’s will. It is not for the Society to try to force God’s hand or to show Him ingratitude by clamoring for “canonical normalcy.”
Because the Archbishop founded the SSPX for the formation of good priests and canonical recognition ‘as is’ would enable the SSPX to extend its work of forming good priests, the Archbishop favored a canonical recognition ‘as is’.
In what way is the Society today constricted and not able to form good priests?
Those of the doctrinal declaration position, on the other hand, see the immediate purpose of the SSPX as the restoration of the Church and so do not consider a canonical recognition ‘as is’ to be favorable for that restoration. They would like to use the SSPX’s state of canonical suppression as a means to put pressure on Rome so that Rome will condemn the errors of Vatican II. By taking this position, they have a vision that is different from that of the Archbishop, a vision in which the SSPX does not seek to contribute to the restoration of the Church primarily by the formation of priests who profess the faith, but rather primarily by pressuring Rome to profess the faith.
(To read the extended quotation of Abp Lefebvre, click on this link.)
False ideas and the wisdom of man continues to reveal itself in the ranks of the Society of St. Pius X.
Let us pray with the Psalmist that we may be protected from the snares of the devil as they will most assuredly be laid until our last breaths:
My eyes are ever towards the Lord: for he shall pluck my feet out of the snare.
They prepared a snare for my feet, and they bowed down my soul. They dug a pit before my face, and they are fallen into it.
Thou wilt bring me out of this snare, which they have hidden for me: for thou art my protector.
Let their table become as a snare before them, and a recompense, and a stumblingblock.