The 2018 General Chapter is on the horizon, and accommodationists in the SSPX are making their strategic moves now as opposed to waiting until the actual gathering in July to influence the outcome in their favor.
Rumor has it that Bp. Fellay either doesn’t want to be re-elected or would turn down a nomination if asked. Who knows? Either way, Society top brass is ramping up their efforts to equip those who will attend the meeting with the talking points needed to ward off those who follow the wisdom of Abp. Lefebvre regarding SSPX-Rome relations.
This crafty public relations campaign is what was behind Dr. Brian McCall’s article on SSPX unity published in Catholic Family News in January. It was also what drove Fr. Paul Robinson to write his essay on Abp. Lefebvre’s integrity that appeared on SSPX.com. It was also what motivated Fr. Dominique Bourmaud to write an article for the December edition of The Angelus wherein he argues the cause of conciliation.
In his essay, Fr. Bourmaud claims there is a “real danger” if the SSPX “ignores” the “Pope and bishops.” The danger is that the SSPX may be “turning our small communities into religious ghettos” if it refuses to “exhibit the proper respect” to the “ecclesiastical superiors.”
Fr. Bourmaud claims that to refuse the proper respect to the Pope would mean the SSPX has – in effect – fallen into sedevacantism. The SSPX would adopt a “schismatic attitude” if it doesn’t make a deal with Rome, he implies. A deal with Rome is essential to keeping the SSPX from sliding into a “schismatic,” “dangerous” “ghetto” mentality, as the Resistance has.
Fr. Bourmaud, whether he knows it or not, borrows heavily, almost word for word, from arguments made by Dom Gerard, the priests of the Diocese of Campos, and Fr. Aulagnier — arguments thoroughly refuted by the SSPX decades ago.
In 2003, Fr. Aulagnier was kicked out of the SSPX because he spoke out publicly in favor of a deal with the Conciliar Church. He was interviewed by The Wanderer about his rationale. His argument was the exact same as Fr. Bourmaud.
“I think that there is a danger in seeing this conflict last for ages. The Church is a visible and hierarchical society. If one lives too long in an autarchy, one ends up losing the meaning of what a hierarchy is. We are thus in danger.”
“If we remain satisfied with our situation, then there is a danger of ‘psychological schism’,” he added.
Fr. Violette, the Canadian District Superior at the time, refuted Fr. Aulagnier with logic, prudential judgment, and by drawing upon Abp Lefebvre.
Fr. Aulagnier has “created a very difficult situation within the Society trying to sway its members in pursuing an accord with Rome thus trying to cause division and even rebellion against the legitimate authority,” wrote Fr. Violette.
“Our resistance is not rebellion. It is the necessary attitude of Catholics who want to keep the faith when faced with prelates who attack, deny or threaten it.”
“The fact that we keep the faith and we continue to speak with the Roman authorities shows there is no danger of schism because we still recognize their authority.”
“The solution to this crisis will come from Rome when the Roman authorities come back to the integrity of the Faith. But until then we do well to continue our resistance. How long this will take is not our problem but God’s. But we cannot for the sake of a fake unity join those who promote errors, who reduce the Church to a human institution…”
“As Archbishop Lefebvre said: by cutting themselves off from the previous popes, the modern Roman authorities are the ones who are schismatic. When Rome returns to the Faith the only matter for discussion will be who will become a bishop and who will he replace?”
This is precisely what the Resistance believes yet is derided as “sedevacantists” by present-day SSPX authorities.
Fr. Michel Simoulin in 2014 invoked the same argument of Fr. Aulagnier in an essay titled “Avoiding a false spirit of resistance.”
“Another danger, that is not hypothetical, but very real: that of no longer wishing to return to our legitimate place among the societies recognized by Rome, of losing the desire for the Church and for Rome. No longer desiring a normal relation with Rome and the Church is a shadow of the schismatic spirit.”
Again, we only need look to His Excellency Abp. Lefebvre during his famous One and Two- Years After the Consecrations interviews for how to respond to this.
The Archbishop, when asked about the danger of schism, responded by saying “we truly represent the Catholic Church such as it was before, because we are continuing what it always did. It is we who have the notes of the visible Church: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. That is what makes the visible Church.”
A year later, he said “we are in the thick of a great fight, a great fight. We are fighting a fight guaranteed by a whole line of popes. Hence, we should have no hesitation or fear, hesitation such as, “Why should we be going on our own? After all, why not join Rome, why not join the pope?” Yes, if Rome and the Pope were in line with Tradition, if they were carrying on the work of all the Popes of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, of course. But they themselves admit that they have set out on a new path.”
“It is the fight of the City of Satan against the City of God. Clearly. So we do not have to worry. We must after all trust in the grace of God.”
He then said “we must not waver for one moment” because the way the crisis is going to end is “God’s mystery.” We “must not waver for one moment either in not being with those who are in the process of betraying us.”
Notice that there is no “fear” or “worry” of a “ghetto” or “schismatic” mentality setting in among the SSPX by the Archbishop. He is totally at peace and content with not being in relation with those who are destroying the Church.
Benedictine monk Dom Gerard also made the argument that to be in an “irregular” relationship with Rome would have a negative effect on souls, claiming, in the late 80s, that if the “tradition of the Church” would “be pushed out of her official, visible perimeter” then souls would be prejudiced towards it.
Fr. Schmidberger, then the Superior General of the SSPX, rebuked Dom Gerard.
“It seems rather contrary to the plan of Divine Providence that the Catholic Tradition of the Church be re-integrated into the pluralism of the Conciliar Church, as long as the latter dishonors the Catholic Church and scandalizes its unity and visibility,” Fr. wrote.
“It is an honor for Le Barroux to have been rejected by the other Benedictines for its integral fidelity to the Mass of All Times, and thus to have become a wonderful sign of contradict…when the laws of the Church are abused everywhere…it is better not to succumb to this scheme.”
Fr. Schmidberger expressed similar satisfaction with being outside the bounds of the Conciliar Church in his book on the Time Bombs of Vatican II:
“My dear friends, in these circumstances I have to warn you against illusions and false solutions to this problem. The problem will not be resolved by appointing here and there a conservative bishop who is still wearing his collar or who is still a little Marian or has personal devotion to the Pope. Nor will the solution to this problem be to establish a Society, such as that of St. Peter’s…and giving to this Society here and there the right to celebrate the traditional Mass. Neither will the solution lie in an Indult Mass here and there…”
Yet, oddly enough. Fr. Schmidberger wrote a memo in 2016 indicating he had adopted the scrupulous approach of Fr. Aulagnier. Here is the salient paragraph of his memo:
“Let us not lose sight of the danger that the faithful and certain confreres may get used to the abnormal situation and regard it as normal. If the faithful or some confreres feel comfortable in this situation of freedom relating to independence from the hierarchy, then this indicates a creeping loss of the sensus Ecclesiae.”
What can be said in respond to such a situation?
The argument that the SSPX would side into “schism” or a “ghetto” mentality because it doesn’t accept a deal with Rome is 1) completely and utterly fallacious 2) was refuted and never believed by Abp. Lefebvre 3) a line of argumentation used by those ‘Tradition-minded’ priests who wanted to make a deal with Rome and 4) a line of argumentation thoroughly rebuked time and again by SSPX superiors since the late 1980s.
That the SSPX – in 2018 – has published an article in The Angelus that uses word for word the same arguments of Fr. Aulagnier indicates the SSPX has been over-run by liberal forces totally uninterested in keeping with the SSPX’s policies of the past.
By publishing Fr. Bourmaud’s article, the SSPX has shown 1) they have in fact changed their approach to Rome 2) they have departed from the wise words of Abp. Lefebvre, Fr. Violette and Fr. Schmidberger, and 3) that they are making the same mistaken arguments as Dom Gerard, Campos, and other priests of the SSPX who joined the Conciliar Church in years past.
The SSPX has no rational argument as to how it can make a deal with Rome without betraying its former approach to the Conciliar Church. They have become the very groups and priests they once swore off as traitors.
Let those faithful who have eyes to see the contradictions of the SSPX remain strong in the faith. The priests of the SSPX no longer see what they are doing and are blind leading the blind into the pit. As it was written, “even the elect shall be deceived.”