Who Will Continue the SSPX of Archbishop Lefebvre?

The video shown below is of a conference given by His Excellency Bishop Jean-Michel Faure on December 1, 2015 in Post Falls, Idaho. At about the 61 minute mark, a layman asks His Excellency whether he will do what His Excellency Bishop Richard Williamson has refused to do, that is, take the reins and lead the Resistance.  The layman was basically asking Bishop Faure whether he will form an organization that will continue the work of the SSPX of Archbishop Lefebvre.  Bishop Faure said he will not do so for now.  This is the first time that I have heard Bishop Faure explicitly state that he will not organize another religious society of priests for the time being.  I must say that I was rather disappointed.  It is not that I and others want another brand new organization; rather, since the neo-SSPX has deviated from the path of Archbishop Lefebvre, we want the continuation of the work of the Archbishop by the formation of a hierarchically structured society akin to the former SSPX.  This would be similar to what the Dominicans of Avrille have done, that is, they have continued the rule and spirit of the St. Dominic while the Dominicans in the Novus Ordo wallow in the Vatican II revolution.  The idea of a loose association of priests is not consonant with the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church.  Therefore, it is bound to fail; it is failing.  The mess that the Resistance finds itself in, I am convinced, is greatly due to the lack of a hierarchical structure.  Yet those that have the power to do something about it, namely the two bishops, have decided to maintain a loose structure, at least for now.  Can you imagine what would happen if the Dominicans of Avrille decided to organize loosely amongst themselves?  It would become chaotic!  No; we need an organization with an authority holding it together.


There are two main reasons why Bishop Faure said that a hierarchically structured society akin to the former SSPX would be difficult to establish at this point in time:


  1. It is dangerous to have a centralized organization (just look at what happened to the SSPX under Bishop Fellay);
  2. There are strong-willed Resistance priests who would not want to be part of an organization.

Regarding the first point, that the leadership of an organization may try to take that organization in a different direction from the one for which it was constituted, we have countless examples from history.  Just look at what happened to the Catholic Church during and after the Second Vatican Council; the Vicars of Christ themselves have betrayed His one and only Church!  Should we be surprised then that it has and will happen over and over again with lesser societies?  With Bishop Faure’s line of reasoning, why then does he support the hierarchical structure of the Dominicans of Avrille?  After all, they could be subverted from within as well.  Sorry, but the line of thought of this first point just doesn’t make much sense.


Regarding the second point, I know two strong-willed Resistance priests that actually want to be part of an organization.  They claim that they continue to be members of the SSPX, but since the neo-SSPX has veered off the Archbishop’s path, they have called upon the Resistance bishops to continue the work of the Archbishop by restoring the SSPX as it was under the Archbishop.  I say, “Give them a chance to prove themselves.”  If they end up refusing to submit in obedience, there is always the door.  Nevertheless, if there are strong-willed priests that don’t want to be part of an organization, so what?  They will not and do not need to join.  They can continue being independent.  Should the Resistance bishops then forsake the priests who do want to be part of an organization because of some who do not?  I hope not.  As a matter of fact, I will bet dollars to donuts that the lack of an organization prevents priests still in the neo-SSPX from leaving because they figure that they would have nowhere else to go.  If the Resistance bishops, instead, start an organization, they will have priests both inside and outside of the neo-SSPX flocking to join them.


We definitely thank Bishop Faure for starting a seminary with the Dominicans of Avrille to form priests, but this is only a part of the solution.  We need a hierarchical organization for existing priests.  Let us pray, then, that the Resistance bishops change their mind on this matter.  If not, let us petition them to consecrate a priest to the episcopacy who does want to continue the work of Archbishop Lefebvre via a hierarchically structured society akin to the former SSPX.  If it is only a matter of strategy (as one Resistance bishop has said, “There is more than one way to skin a cat”), then they should not be opposed to doing so.  The difference in good fruits between a structure and loose network will show itself, I am certain, in the structure bearing more.  Unfortunately, if the Resistance bishops continue to insist on not starting a structure or refuse to consecrate a priest to the episcopacy who wants to start one, can they then claim to be continuing the work of Archbishop Lefebvre (which was only the work of the Catholic Church) in its entirety?  I don’t believe so.  And if they acknowledge that they are not continuing the work of the Archbishop in its entirety, let us pray to Our Lord and Our Lady to send us a bishop who will do so.


Internal SSPX Resistance Is Futile

For those who support internal clergy and lay resistance within the SSPX, I firmly believe your resistance is futile.  The time has long passed for internal resistance.  Bishop Fellay and the SSPX leaders have firmly shown that they will not change from their current path of desiring to place themselves under Modernist Rome.  We have three years and a tsunami of evidence to prove this.


In this category of internal resistance, I include those priests and laity who publicly display their resistance against the new direction.  Amongst the priests, I believe internal public resistance is few and far in between.  These priests will either be kicked out or moved to a remote location.  Nevertheless, they will not achieve their goal of turning the tide of their leadership away from the direction towards Modernist Rome.  The reality is they belong, as in any organization, to a religious union in which the purpose and goals are defined by the leadership.  In July 2012, all the leaders of the SSPX gathered and published a declaration of their new position.  It is now three years later and there have been no signs of movement away from that position.  Therefore, I believe it is time for the SSPX priests and laity who do not support the new direction to make their move out of the SSPX.  Those who think they can continue to internally resist with hope of success are fooling themselves.  If anything, they place themselves in danger of adopting the new direction.  Look how many have done exactly this thus far.


Remember that Archbishop Lefebvre taught that it is the superiors that make the subjects.  This was true then and it is true now.

Question: May I Ever Assist at the Novus Ordo Missae? Answer: No!

The supreme moral principle is “one ought to do good and avoid evil”.  A secondary principle that follows from this supreme moral principle is that “it is morally illicit to do evil so that good may come about”.  In other words, “a good end does not justify using evil means”.  To understand what constitutes a good versus evil act, we need to look at the three determinants of a moral act – object, end, and circumstances.  The object of the act is that to which the act is willfully directed.  The object constitutes the substance of the act, that is, the object gives the act its species.  In stealing $5 from a stranger to buy food to satisfy one’s hunger, for example, “stealing” is the object.  The end is the purpose for which the act is committed.  In this example, “to satisfy one’s hunger” is the end.  Circumstances are factors surrounding the object of the act.  In this example, “$5 from a stranger” are the circumstances.  All three determinants must be good in order for the moral act to be good.  On the other hand, if even one determinant is evil, then the moral act as a whole is evil.  Since the object of a moral act constitutes the substance of the act, it holds the primary place in assessing the goodness or evilness of the act.  This is so much the case that no matter how good the end or the circumstances, an evil object renders a moral act “intrinsically” evil.  Further note that the object is the “means” used to achieve the “end”.  And as mentioned above, one cannot use evil means to justify a good end.


The three determinants of a moral act do not take into account the knowledge or awareness on the part of the subject of the goodness or badness of the act.  The three determinants deal with the goodness or badness of the act itself and not the guilt of the subject before God.  In regards to the guilt of the subject before God, the three determinants only constitute the “matter” for sin.  It is the subject’s knowledge and awareness of the evilness of the object, end, and/or circumstances that constitute the “form” for sin.  Therefore, an act that is “materially” sinful is not necessarily “formally” sinful.  In other words, one may perform an act that is evil in its object, end, and circumstances and yet not be guilty of sin before God because he was inculpably ignorant of the evil.  This is very important to understand when correcting those who are performing evil acts; judge the act, but leave the judgement of the soul to God.


So what does this have to do with the question of whether one may assist at the Novus Ordo Missae?  Well, if one accepts that the Novus Ordo Missae is “intrinsically” evil, then there can be no end or circumstance, however good, that can morally justify oneself assisting, or giving another the counsel that it is morally licit to assist, at a Mass celebrated using the Novus Ordo Rite.  I want to make clear, however, that it is not the intention of this article to show that the Novus Ordo Missae is “intrinsically” evil.  There are many good books, such as “The Ottaviani Intervention” and “The Problem of the Liturgical Reform”, that show this is the case.  Rather, it is the intention of this article to show:


1) that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre did teach that the Novus Ordo Missae, as officially promulgated (read “published” for those who believe it was not truly promulgated) by Pope Paul VI, is “intrinsically” evil,


2) what the attitude of a priest who accepts that the Novus Ordo Missae is “intrinsically” evil should be when giving counsel to a person who asks him about the moral liceity of assisting at it.


Another thing that must be made clear from the outset is that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre did not teach that the Novus Ordo Missae is “intrinsically” evil because it is necessarily invalid or because it contains explicit heresy.  Rather, the Novus Ordo Missae is “intrinsically” evil because of its omissions in unequivocally expressing the Catholic Church’s teaching in regards to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  The very definition of evil is “the privation of a due good”.


Before we begin with quoting Archbishop Lefebvre and the official position of his Society of St. Pius X in regards to the “intrinsic” evilness of the Novus Ordo Missae, let us first read several quotes of others that point to the “intrinsic” evilness of the Novus Ordo Missae, regardless of whether those quoted understood the gravity of what they were saying.


“We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren, that is for the Protestants.”
(Archbishop Bugnini, quoted in “Osservatore Romano”, March 19, 1965)


“They (the Protestant ministers) were not simply there as observers, but as consultants as well, and they participate fully in the discussions on Catholic liturgical renewal. It wouldn’t mean much if they just listened, but they contributed.”
(Monsignor Baum, quoted in “The Detroit News”, June 27, 1967)


“With the new Liturgy, non-Catholic communities will be able to celebrate the Lord’s Supper with the same prayers as the Catholic Church. Theologically this is possible.”
(Max Thurian, Protestant Minister of Taize, quoted in “La Croix”, May 30, 1969)


“….. the Novus Ordo Missae ….. represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session 22 of the Council of Trent. The “canons” of the rite definitely fixed at that time erected an insurmountable barrier against any heresy which might attack the integrity of the Mystery.”
(Letter of Cardinals Alfredo Ottaviani and Antonio Bacci to Pope Paul VI included in “The Short Critical Study of the New Order of Mass” – September 25, 1969)


“Today’s liturgical study has brought our respective liturgies to a remarkable similarity, so that there is very little difference in the sacrificial phrasing of the prayer of oblation in the Series Three and that of Eucharistic Prayer II in the Missa Normativa (Novus Ordo Missae).”
(Dr. Ronald Jasper, Anglican Observer on the Consilium, quoted in the London “Catholic Herald”, December 22, 1972)


“The liturgical reform is a major conquest of the Catholic Church and has its ecumenical dimensions since the other churches and Christian denominations see in it not only something to be admired, but equally a sign of further progress to come.”
(Archbishop Bugnini, quoted in “Notitiae”, No. 92, April 1974, p. 126)


“To tell the truth, it is a different liturgy of the Mass. This needs to be said without ambiguity. The Roman Rite as we knew it no longer exists. It has been destroyed.”
(Father Joseph Gelineau, “Demain la Liturgie”, Paris, 1976, p. 9-10)


“There was with Pope Paul VI an ecumenical intention to remove, or at least to correct, or at least to relax, what was too Catholic, in the traditional sense, in the Mass and, I repeat, to get the Catholic Mass closer to the Calvinist service.”
(Jean Guitton, close friend of Pope Paul VI, quoted in “Apropos” (17), December 19, 1993, p. 8ff)


Let us now read quotes from Archbishop Lefebvre and the official position of his Society of St. Pius X.


“This Mass is not bad in a merely accidental or extrinsic way.  There is something in it that is truly bad.  It was based on a model of the Mass according to Cranmer and Taize (1959).  As I said in Rome to those who interviewed me:  ‘It is a poisoned Mass!'”
(Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1981, quoted in “The Biography of Marcel Lefebvre”, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, 2004, Angelus Press, p. 465)


“Your perplexity takes perhaps the following form: may I assist at a sacrilegious Mass (i.e., one that does not follow the liturgical rules – my note) which is nevertheless valid, in the absence of any other, in order to satisfy my Sunday obligation? The answer is simple: these Masses cannot be the object of an obligation; we must moreover apply to them the rules of moral theology and canon law as regards the participation or the attendance at an action which endangers the faith or may be sacrilegious.


“The New Mass, even when said with piety and respect for the liturgical rules, is subject to the same reservations since it is impregnated with the spirit of Protestantism. It bears within it a poison harmful to the faith.”
(Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, “Open Letter to Confused Catholics”, 1986, Angelus Press, p. 29)


“Q: But does not Michael Davies say that attending the Novus Ordo Mass fulfills one’s Sunday duty? And that Archbishop Lefebvre said the same thing?


“A: When Michael Davies says it, it is because he claims that the officially promulgated Novus Ordo Mass cannot be intrinsically evil, otherwise the Catholic Church would be defectible. When Archbishop Lefebvre said it, he meant that the Novus Ordo Mass is objectively and intrinsically evil, but Catholics unaware of, or disbelieving in, that evil, because of the rite’s official promulgation, may subjectively fulfill their Sunday duty by attending the new Mass. The third Commandment says, thou shalt keep the Sabbath holy, not, thou shalt attend a semi-Protestant Mass.”
(Bishop Richard Williamson, Letters of the Rector of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, December 1, 1996)


“Since the expression of intrinsically evil is an extremely strong one, I think it is better to reserve it to the greater evil of the positive expression of heresy, and to keep the expression ‘evil in itself’ to the lesser evil of the omission of the profession of Faith. But one must acknowledge that this omission is in the New Mass in itself, in the Latin original version.”
(Fr. Francois Laisney, from an article entitled “Is the Novus Ordo Missae Evil?”, “The Angelus”, March 1997 Issue)


“The dissimulation of Catholic elements and the pandering to Protestants which are evident in the Novus Ordo Missae render it a danger to our faith, and, as such, evil, given that it lacks the good which the sacred rite of Mass ought to have……


“If the Novus Ordo Missae is not truly Catholic, then it cannot oblige for one’s Sunday obligation. Many Catholics who do assist at it are unaware of its all pervasive degree of serious innovation and are exempt from guilt. However, any Catholic who is aware of its harm, does not have the right to participate. He could only then assist at it by a mere physical presence without positively taking part in it, and then and for major family reasons (weddings, funerals, etc).”
(“Most Frequenty Asked Questions of the Society of St. Pius X”, Fathers of the Holy Cross Seminary, 1997, Question #5 regarding the Novus Ordo Missae)


“The doctrine of the Paschal mystery, with its serious doctrinal deficiencies, is, then, at origin of the liturgical reform. Certainly, the reformed missal does not deny Catholic dogma outright, but its authors have so oriented the gestures and the words, they have made such significant omissions and introduced numerous ambiguous expressions, and all in order to make the rite conform to the theology of the Paschal mystery and to give expression to it. Consequently, the new missal no longer propagates the ‘lex credendi’ of the Church, but rather a doctrine that smacks of heterodoxy. That is why one cannot say that the reformed rite of Mass of 1969 is ‘orthodox’ in the etymological sense of the word: it does not offer ‘right praise’ to God. Equally, one cannot say that the rite of Mass resulting from the reform of 1969 is that of the Church, even if it was conceived by churchmen. And lastly, one cannot say that the new missal is for the faithful ‘the first and indispensable source of the true Christian spirit,’ where the Church ‘communicates in abundance the treasures of the depositum fidei, of the truth of Christ.’ In light of these serious deficiencies, ‘the only attitude of fidelity to the Church and to Catholic doctrine appropriate for our salvation is a categorical refusal to accept this reformation.’”
(“The Problem of the Liturgical Reform”, The Society of St. Pius X, 2001, Angelus Press, para. 122)


“Well, the Society is definitely against the New Mass. We even say that it is ‘intrinsically evil’. That’s a delicate label that needs a little explanation. By this we mean that the New Mass in itself – the New Mass as the New Mass, as it is written – is evil, because as such you find in it the definition of evil. The definition of evil is ‘the privation of a due good’. Something that should be in the New Mass is not there and that’s evil. What is really Catholic has been taken out of the New Mass. The Catholic specification of the Mass has been taken away. That’s enough to say that it is evil. And look at the terrible fruits.”
(Bishop Bernard Fellay, conference given in Kansas City, Missouri on March 5, 2002)


“However, regardless of the gravity of the sacrilege, the New Mass still remains a sacrilege, and it is still in itself sinful. Furthermore, it is never permitted to knowingly and willingly participate in an evil or sinful thing, even if it is only venially sinful. For the end does not justify the means. Consequently, although it is a good thing to want to assist at Mass and satisfy one’s Sunday obligation, it is never permitted to use a sinful means to do this. To assist at the New Mass, for a person who is aware of the objective sacrilege involved, is consequently at least a venial sin. It is opportunism. Consequently, it is not permissible for a traditional Catholic, who understands that the New Mass is insulting to Our Divine Savior, to assist at the New Mass, and this even if there is no danger of scandal to others or of the perversion of one’s own Faith (as in an older person, for example), and even if it is the only Mass available.”
(Fr. Peter Scott, from the “Questions & Answers” section, “The Angelus”, September 2002 Issue)


“Now, even if one wanted to contest the heretical elements of the New Mass, the sole refusal to profess Catholic dogmas quintessential to the Mass renders the new liturgy deficient. It is like a captain who refuses to provide his shipmen with a proper diet. They soon become sick with scurvy due, not so much to direct poison, as from vitamin deficiency. Such is the new Mass. At best, it provides a deficient spiritual diet to the faithful. The correct definition of evil – lack of a due good – clearly shows that the New Mass is evil in and of itself regardless of the circumstances. It is not evil by positive profession of heresy. It is evil by lacking what Catholic dogma should profess: the True Sacrifice, the Real Presence, the ministerial priesthood.”
(Taken from article entitled “Is the New Mass Legit” published on www.sspx.org on May 25, 2011, author unknown)


I think these quotes are more than sufficient to demonstrate the position of Archbishop Lefebvre and his Society of St. Pius X in regards to the “intrinsic” evilness of the Novus Ordo Missae.


Now given that a priest, Fr. Smith, accepts this position of Archbishop Lefebvre and his Society of St. Pius X, imagine the following scenario:


Betty tells Fr. Smith that the priest who celebrates the Novus Ordo Missae at the parish she assists at on Sundays in order to fulfill her Sunday obligation rejects the heresies of Vatican II and even preaches against them, without directly offending the local bishop, in his sermons. He celebrates the Mass in Latin with the outmost respect, piety, and devotion, and according to the official rubrics. Furthermore, he celebrates the Mass on an altar with the tabernacle in the middle and he refuses to give Communion in the hand. Because of these good circumstances, Betty believes that her faith is not in danger and that her attendance is not a scandal to anybody else. She does wish that she could assist at a Traditional Mass, but the closest one is a 3 hrs. drive. She is willing to drive to the Traditional Mass at least once every three months, but between Traditional Masses she believes that she will lose her faith if she goes without Mass and Holy Communion every week.


Response #1 of Fr. Smith:


Dear Betty, you seem to be a very sincere person and of good will. I see that you love God and want to worship Him at His Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. You surely have the right intention. The circumstances under which you assist at Mass also seem decent. I can understand your dilemma given the current worldwide crisis in the lack of Traditional Masses. Therefore, so long as your good intentions and the decent circumstances continue to exist, and so long as you continue to sincerely believe that you cannot go without Mass, do whatever you need to keep the Faith. If that means you need to assist at the Novus Ordo Missae, then go ahead. God bless you.”


Response #2 of Fr. Smith:


Dear Betty, you seem to be a very sincere person and of good will. I see that you love God and want to worship Him at His Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. You surely have the right intention. The circumstances under which you assist at Mass also seem decent. I can understand your dilemma given the current worldwide crisis in the lack of Traditional Masses. However, the Novus Ordo Missae is intrinsically evil. Here are the reasons…….Therefore, I cannot in good conscience tell you that it is morally licit for you to assist at the Novus Ordo Missae. I suggest that you try to make it to the Traditional Mass once a month instead of every three months. For the other Sundays, in order to sanctify the day, I suggest praying 15 decades of the Holy Rosary, read the Ordinary and Proper of the Traditional Mass missal for that day, do some spiritual reading, and spend some time in mental prayer. God bless you.”


Response #1 of Fr. Smith is not consistent with his belief regarding the “intrinsic” evilness of the Novus Ordo Missae, whereas Response #2 is consistent with his belief. In Response #1, Fr. Smith is pandering to the subjective state of mind of Betty. He is giving her a response based on her perception and not what he believes to be objectively true.  This is subjectivism.  Without informing her of the truth, he is not helping her to properly form her mind. Rather, he keeps her in the state of error. Hence, it is evil counsel. In Response #2, however, Fr. Smith sympathizes with her situation, but firmly gives her the truth so that she can properly form her mind and consequently make the morally good decision. Hence, his counsel here is good.  Now Betty, armed with the truth, may or may not heed Fr. Smith’s counsel.  Nevertheless, the decision she makes will be between her conscience and God. Fr. Smith, on his part, has done his duty.

Archbishop LeFebvre Forums 2.0

For those who frequent forums, this may be of interest.  For some reason the old Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre Forum has been halted, at least temporarily.  However, there is a new forum along the same lines started by a poster who goes by the name of Tradfly.  Here is the link:




Another solid Resistance forum is Cor Marie, which can be found at this link:



“No Canonical Agreement Prior to a Doctrinal Resolution” Is a Catholic Principle

NOTE:  This article was originally published on February 24, 2014.  It contained errors that have been corrected in the revised version below.  Nonetheless, the errors in the original did not detract from the thesis.


Since especially after the 1988 Episcopal Consecrations, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre held to the principle that he would not negotiate with Rome for a canonical regularization until she accepted the teachings of the pre-Vatican II Magisterium:


“I shall not accept being in the position where I was put during the dialogue.  No more.  I will place the discussion at the doctrinal level:  ‘Do you agree with the great encyclicals of all the popes who preceded you?  Do you agree with Quanta Cura of Pius IX, Immortale Dei and Libertas of Leo XIII, Pascendi Gregis of Pius X, Quas Primas of Pius XI, Humani Generis of Pius XII?  Are you in full communion with these Popes and their teachings?  Do you still accept the entire Anti-Modernist Oath?  Are you in favor of the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ?  If you do not accept the doctrine of your predecessors, it is useless to talk!  As long as you do not accept the correction of the Council, in consideration of the doctrine of these Popes, your predecessors, no dialogue is possible.  It is useless.’”1


After the Archbishop’s death in 1991, the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) leadership continued to keep the same principle and fortified it during the 2006 SSPX General Chapter:


“…….the contacts made from time to time with the authorities in Rome have no other purpose than to help them embrace once again that Tradition which the Church cannot repudiate without losing her identity.  The purpose is not just to benefit the Society, nor to arrive at some merely practical impossible agreement.”2


It was not until February 2, 2012 that this principle was publicly made known to have changed.  During a sermon a St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Bishop Bernard Fellay said the following:


“We told them (i.e., Rome) very clearly, if you accept us as is, without change, without obliging us to accept these things (i.e., Vatican II, etc.), then we are ready.”3


So the SSPX leadership was willing to become canonically regularized as long as Rome did not expect the SSPX to change from its current position.  However, this caused an uproar within the SSPX, including the other three SSPX Bishops:


“Your Excellency, Fathers, take care!  You want to lead the Society to a point where it will no longer be able to turn back, to a profound division of no return and, if you end up to such an agreement, it will be with powerful destroying influences who will not keep it.  If up until now the bishops of the Society have protected it, it is precisely because Mgr. Lefebvre refused a practical agreement.  Since the situation has not changed substantially, since the condition prescribed by the Chapter of 2006 was by no means carried out (a doctrinal change in Rome which would permit a practical agreement), at least listen to your Founder.  It was right 25 years ago.  It is right still today.  On his behalf, we entreat you:  do not engage the Society in a purely practical agreement.”4


Bishop Fellay and the First and Second Assistants of the SSPX, Frs. Niklaus Pfluger and Alain-Marc Nely, responded to the three SSPX Bishops and questioned their acceptance of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI:


“Reading your letter one seriously wonders if you still believe that the visible Church with its seat in Rome is truly the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a Church horribly disfigured for sure from head to foot, but a Church which nevertheless still has for its head Our Lord Jesus Christ. One has the impression that you are so scandalised that you no longer accept that that could still be true. It Benedict XVI still the legitimate pope for you?”5


This response brought about a debate within and without the SSPX as to how exactly the Conciliar Church (i.e., the new religion started at Vatican II) is related to the Catholic Church.  Is the Conciliar Church really and truly distinct from the Catholic Church or can we only speak of it in an analogical sense?  When Archbishop Lefebvre referenced the “Conciliar Church”, what did he really mean?  The debate became so heated that there were some who used this disagreement to claim that those who resisted the new position of the SSPX leadership were really Sedevacantists.  Others claimed that the “resistors” had a false understanding of ecclesiology and that this false understanding was the basis of their resistance.6  Whereas there can be legitimate debate about how we are to understand the crisis of Faith in Rome and how it has “infected” the Catholic Church, it is the purpose of this article to show that this debate need not take place.  After all, there was hardly a peep on this matter amongst the SSPX clergy prior to the leadership’s change in position.  Instead, we shall show that the principle of “no canonical agreement prior to a doctrinal resolution” (or more accurately, “no canonical agreement in union with the errors of the present teaching Magisterium prior to the doctrinal resolution of the unity in the Faith” – we shall keep to the former wording as it is the one most often used) is itself a Catholic principle due to its intimate relationship with fundamental Catholic doctrine on the unity of the Church and therefore cannot be transgressed without offending the sensus Catholicus (Catholic sense).


We look to Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical “Satis Cognitum” to know and understand what constitutes the unity of the Catholic Church:


“But He (i.e., Jesus Christ), indeed, Who made this one Church, also gave it unity, that is, He made it such that all who are to belong to it must be united by the closest bonds, so as to form one society, one kingdom, one body…..


“Wherefore, in His divine wisdom, He ordained in His Church Unity of Faith; a virtue which is the first of those bonds which unite man to God, and whence we receive the name of the faithful – ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (Eph. iv., 5).  That is, as there is one Lord and one baptism, so should all Christians, without exception, have but one faith.  And so the Apostle St. Paul not merely begs, but entreats and implores Christians to be all of the same mind, and to avoid difference of opinions:  ‘I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms amongst you, and that you be perfect in the same mind and in the same judgment’ (I Cor. i., 10).  Such passages certainly need no interpreter; they speak clearly enough for themselves.  Besides, all who profess Christianity allow that there can be but one faithIt is of the greatest importance and indeed of absolute necessity, as to which many are deceived, that the nature and character of this unity should be recognized.”7


Pope Leo XIII continues:


“Besides Holy Writ it was absolutely necessary to insure this union of men’s minds – to effect and preserve unity of ideas – that there should be another principle.  This the wisdom of God requires:  for He could not have willed that the faith should be one if He did not provide means sufficient for the preservation of this unity; and this Holy Writ clearly sets forth as We shall presently point out.  Assuredly the infinite power of God is not bound by anything, all things obey it as so many passive instruments.  In regard to this external principle, therefore, we must inquire which one of all the means in His power Christ did actually adopt.  For this purpose it is necessary to recall in thought the institution of Christianity.”8


This “external principle” that Pope Leo XIII goes on to speak about is the Magisterium of the Church and ultimately the Pope.


Note that Pope Leo XIII states that “Faith” is “a virtue which is the first of those which unites man to God”.  Hence, unity in the Faith is of the “greatest importance and indeed of absolute necessity”.  In addition to the unity in the Faith, Pope Leo XIII states that an external principle, the Magisterium of the Church headed by the Pope, is “absolutely necessary” to insure unity in the Faith.  We may then legitimately ask, “Which principle, unity in the Faith or the Magisterium of the Church, is a more important for our salvation?”


To answer the above question, let us first look at it from the perspective of ends.  In the quote above, Pope Leo XIII implies that the Magisterium of the Church exists for the sake of insuring unity in the Faith.  The First Vatican Council implies this same doctrine when it taught that the successors of St. Peter are duty bound to teach and preserve the Catholic Faith:


“For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter, that by His revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that by His assistance they might inviolably keep and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith delivered through the ages.”9


A thing that exists for the sake of another thing makes that thing for which it exists the superior of the two.


Secondly, let us look at it from the perspective of necessity.  St. Paul teaches, “Without faith it is impossible to please God”.10  This is because the theological virtue of faith enables us to firmly believe in Jesus Christ and all that He taught (i.e., the Deposit of Faith), and Our Lord cannot forgo our belief in Him as He is “the way, and the truth, and the life”.11  The theological virtue of faith and those doctrines of the Deposit of Faith that all must explicitly believe, then, are intrinsically necessary for our salvation.  On the other hand, the Magisterium of the Church is the means Christ “actually adopted” to preserve the unity in the Faith.  In other words, Our Lord did not need to assign St. Peter and his successors to teach and govern the Church.  He could have done this Himself until the end of the world or could have even established His angels or saints as His representatives on earth.  The Magisterium of the Church, then, is necessary for our salvation (i.e., by insuring the unity of the Faith), not by an intrinsic necessity but by Divine decree.


From the above arguments of ends and necessity, we conclude that the principle of the unity in the Faith is more important for our salvation than is the Magisterium of the Church.


Let us continue.


As is the unity in the Faith, the unity of government is a bond of the unity of the Church.  Now if the principle of the unity in the Faith is more important for our salvation than is the Magisterium of the Church, then the government of the Church by the same Magisterium cannot be a more important bond of the unity of the Church than is the unity in the Faith.  To understand this clearly, we must keep in mind that teaching authority (magisterium) takes precedence over jurisdiction (government).  We must also keep in mind that the unity of the Church is itself directed towards our salvation.  Once understood, we will see that if a pope was to teach a doctrine different than that of Christ, he would fail in his duty as head of the Magisterium of the Church in insuring unity in the Faith (and consequently the unity of the Church) and ultimately endangering our salvation.  Therefore, any attempt to impose this heretical teaching, as head of the government of the Church, by censures or penalties would be an abuse of the authority, both in teaching and government, for which it had been given him by Christ.


Now throughout the history of the Church, the Popes have generally been faithful to their office to teach and preserve the Faith.  However, we live in an age where several popes since the Second Vatican Council have taught a new doctrine, thereby posing a problem of conscience for bishops, priests, and faithful alike.  What do we do?  Well, we had and still have a model to follow, and that is the mission and memory of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.  Most definitely the Archbishop made mistakes on the way (e.g., signing the 1988 Protocol), but nobody would be flawless given this unprecedented Church crisis.  Nonetheless, one of the most important and definitive principles that the Archbishop left us is that there can be “no canonical agreement prior to a doctrinal resolution”.  As we’ve mentioned earlier, this principle is itself a Catholic one due to its intimate relationship with fundamental Catholic doctrine on the unity of the Church and therefore cannot be transgressed without offending the sensus Catholicus.


Let us continue.


“Canon law is the assemblage of rules or laws relating to faith, morals, and discipline, prescribed or propounded to Christians by ecclesiastical authority…..The definition shows that the object of canon law is ‘faith, morals, and discipline’; and nothing but these is its object.”12


Therefore, a thing or law which is used and directed away from its object cannot be said to faithfully address it.  St. Thomas Aquinas also states, “A law that is not just is not a law at all.”  The object of canon law must include “faith”, at least implicitly.  This would mean that any piece of legislation by the Church authorities that contravenes this object or at least does not assume it, cannot be said to be faithful to it.


Let us now sum up the key points:


The Magisterium exists to preserve the unity in the Faith.
Faith is intrinsically necessary for salvation.
The Magisterium of the Church is necessary for salvation, not by intrinsic necessity but by Divine decree.
Faith is more important for salvation than is the Magisterium of the Church.
Faith is a more important bond of the unity of the Church than is the government of the Church.
The unity of the Church is directed towards salvation.
Canon law has Faith as one of its objects and must therefore faithfully address it or at least assume it.


Given these key points, then, if the SSPX makes an agreement with Rome without first resolving the doctrinal differences, we can conclude that:


The agreement would not represent a true and authentic Catholic unity based on the Faith. This would hold true even if the Pope did not require the SSPX to change one ounce of its doctrinal position.  As a matter of fact, this would hold true even if the SSPX was not required to change its doctrinal position and the Pope commanded the SSPX to become regularized under the pretext that it concerns the unity of the Church.  The reason is because the Pope, as the external principle of the unity in the Faith, is directed towards preserving the Faith.  Any position of the Pope showing indifference or opposition towards the Faith makes his command, under the pretext that it is a matter of the unity of the Church, null and void because his command would not serve the purpose of achieving a true and authentic Catholic unity, which requires unity in the Faith.  It simply would not be true that the matter concerns the unity of the Church.


Since the unity in the Faith would not be one of the objects of the agreement, it could not therefore be called “canonical” in the sense that the Church has historically applied the term. The reality instead is that any agreement made between the SSPX and Rome not based on the unity in the Faith would be a mere contractual relationship analogous to that of a serf and his lord.


Those Traditional Catholics who oppose a canonical regularization of the SSPX are not heretical, schismatical, or disobedient. It is probably true that most of these Traditional Catholics do not consciously oppose it because of the reasons explained in this article; rather, they simply sense that the SSPX placing itself under the errors of the Church authorities would present a grave danger, by circumstance, to the Faith of its bishops, priests, and faithful.  The history since the 1988 Episcopal Consecrations definitely favours the judgement of these people in this respect.  Just look at what has happened to the several religious communities who have joined Rome – they have fallen in line with Vatican II.  The Archbishop did not have the luxury to witness the fall of these religious communities, but he predicted it!  Nevertheless, the key point is that their position can be defended from a theological standpoint and not one simply based on the present circumstances in which the Church finds herself.



Interview of Archbishop Lefebvre Given to “Fideliter” Magazine, November-December 1988.
Declaration of the 2006 SSPX General Chapter.
February 2, 2012 Sermon of Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX, at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Minnesota, U.S.A.
April 7, 2012 Letter from Three Bishops to the SSPX General Council.
April 14, 2012 Letter from the SSPX General Council to Three Bishops.
Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (On the Unity of the Church), June 29, 1896, Paragraph 6, Unity in Faith. Paragraph 7, The Kind of Unity of Faith Commanded by Christ.
First Vatican Council, Chapter 4, On the Infallible Teaching of the Roman Pontiff
Hebrews 11:6.
John 14:6
Addis, William and Arnold, Thomas, A Catholic Dictionary, 1887, The Catholic Publication Society Co., New York.

In Defence of the Red Light Position

Let us recall what Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre said about those who want to shake hands with the Modernists whilst giving the impression of maintaining the fight for Catholic Tradition:


“And we must not waver for one moment either in not being with those who are in the process of betraying us.  Some people are always admiring the grass in the neighbor’s field.  Instead of looking to their friends, to the Church’s defenders, to those fighting on the battlefield, they look to our enemies on the other side.  “After all, we must be charitable, we must be kind, we must not be divisive, after all, they are celebrating the Tridentine Mass, they are not as bad as everyone says” but THEY ARE BETRAYING US – Betraying us! They are shaking hands with the Church’s destroyers.  They are shaking hands with people holding modernist and liberal ideas condemned by the Church. So they are doing the devil’s work.


“Thus those who were with us and were working with us for the rights of Our Lord, for the salvation of souls, are now saying, ‘So long as they grant us the old Mass, we can shake hands with Rome, no problem.’  But we are seeing how it works out.  They are in an impossible situation.  Impossible.  One cannot both shake hands with modernists and keep following Tradition.  Not possible.  Not possible.  Now, stay in touch with them to bring them back, to convert them to Tradition, yes, if you like, that’s the right kind of ecumenism!  But give the impression that after all one almost regrets any break, that one likes talking to them?  No way!”
(Two Years after the Consecrations, Address to Priests in Econe, Switzerland, September 6, 1990).


One can safely say that many in the current SSPX leadership fit into the category of people that Archbishop Lefebvre condemned in his statement above.  However, what can one say about those SSPX priests who do not agree with the current SSPX leadership’s position, but refuse to publicly speak out against the new direction?  Would Archbishop Lefebvre condemn them too?  In order to make a fair assessment, I think that one really needs to answer this question:  Is the public silence of the SSPX priests regarding the public liberalism of their leadership a betrayal of the Faith?  I answer in the affirmative.  Without getting into subjective judgements of the souls of any SSPX priests (or laymen), the following is my argument.


One does not have to positively accept or actively promote a liberal idea in order to be a traitor. A soldier that allows the enemy in because of fear for his life is still a traitor, albeit to a lesser degree than a soldier who accepts money to let the enemy in.  The essence of the two acts are, nevertheless, the same.  Furthermore, by the priests’ public silence, they allow their leadership to publicly represent their stance (e.g., the April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration, the 2012 General Chapter Six Conditions, etc.).  To illustrate the importance of this point more clearly, here is an example.  If I were a member of a political party that was pro-life in its policy and then the leadership of the party convened and changed the policy to pro-abortion without requiring me to sign anything in agreement with the new policy but requiring me to not publicly oppose the new policy under the threat of being kicked out of the party, would it be morally licit for me to keep quiet?  No.  I would be morally obligated to publicly speak out.  What if, however, the policy was not changed but the leadership began and continued to publicly show leniency towards abortion despite private protests to retract the leniency; would it now be morally licit for me to keep quiet?  No.  I would still be morally obligated to publicly speak out.  In either case, my public silence would be a betrayal of the pro-life stance regardless if I am personally, perfectly pro-life and never positively speak or display otherwise.  The same line of reasoning, then, is applied to SSPX priests who remain publicly silent on the liberalism of their leadership.


What about the layman who assists at Masses of these SSPX priests?  Well, given the betrayal on the part of the SSPX priest, even if he were otherwise doctrinally orthodox and even if one’s own Faith is not placed in harm by attending his chapel, to actively unite in the greatest act of worship with a priest who remains publicly silent in the face of the public liberalism of his leadership is a co-operation, on the part of the layman, in that act of betrayal.  Why?  We are not speaking here about the layman simply enjoying a cup of coffee with such a priest; rather, we are speaking about the layman uniting with a priest, who is representing himself as an alter Christus in the most eminent degree, in that greatest act of worship (i.e., the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass) which itself is the most magnificent and ultimate expression of that Catholic Faith that the priest, nevertheless, fails to publicly defend in the face of the public liberalism evident in his own backyard.  The layman, by actively uniting with the priest in this greatest act of worship (which again is the magnificent and ultimate expression of the Catholic Faith), implicitly admits the moral uprightness of the priest in regards to the Catholic Faith in both the priest’s public profession and public defence of the same Catholic Faith.    Furthermore, by the fact that the priest’s leadership publicly betrays the Catholic Faith and that the priest remains publicly silent on this betrayal, the priest allows his leadership to publicly represent his stance in regards to the Catholic Faith.  Therefore, the layman also implicitly admits the moral uprightness of the priest’s leadership in regards to the Catholic Faith in both the leadership’s public profession and public defence of the same Catholic Faith.  This co-operation in the betrayal, on the part of the layman, is the case even if the layman publicly speaks out against the public liberalism of the priest’s leadership because the act of the layman’s actively uniting in the greatest act of worship with the priest undermines the layman’s own stance.  As the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.”  Therefore, it is an act of hypocrisy and of compromise on the part of the layman.

Spirit of Vatican II Song


“What could be clearer? We must [according to Rome] henceforth obey and be faithful to the Conciliar Church, no longer to the Catholic Church. Right there is our whole problem: we are suspended a divinis by the Conciliar Church, the Conciliar Church, to which we have no wish to belong! That Conciliar Church is a schismatic church because it breaks with the Catholic Church that has always been. It has its new dogmas, its new priesthood, its new institutions, its new worship… The Church that affirms such errors is at once schismatic and heretical. This Conciliar Church is, therefore, not Catholic. To whatever extent Pope, Bishops, priests, or the faithful adhere to this new church, they separate themselves from the Catholic Church.”
(Archbishop Lefebvre, Reflections on His Suspension A Divinis, July 29, 1976)