April 1983 - Superior General's Letter #24

Priests of the North-East District of the United States have rebelled against the Society's Superiors by obstinately refusing the 1962 liturgy. After vain attempts to show that the use of this liturgy is not a danger to the faith and that it should be accepted and used, the Society has expelled the rebellious priests and re-organised the district under Father Williamson.

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

Priests of the North-East District refuse to use 1962 liturgy

What was latent for many years in the relations between most of the priests of the North-East District and the Society of Saint Pius X, and was the object of continual difficulties, has just come out into the open by the support given by these priests to the refusal of the Society’s liturgy by one of the three young priests I ordained at Oyster Bay Cove on November 3, 1982.

This refusal is a result of an extremist way of thinking

Thus, their long-standing disagreement with myself and the Society has now become a public rebellion. It is the result of an extremist way of thinking and a tendency to schism in the domain of the liturgy, the papacy, and the sacraments of the reform.

They reject the liturgy which has always been used in the Society and consider it evil, the liturgy of Pope Pius XII, signed by Pope John XXIII, and so, the liturgy preceding the Council. They think and behave as if there is no Pope, suppressing all prayers for the Pope. In practice, they tend to hold almost all the sacraments of the new rites to be invalid.

This radicalism is not the attitude of the Society.

Principle which guides the SSPX in the domain of liturgy

The basic principle of the Society’s thinking and action in the painful crisis the Church is going through is the principle taught by St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica (II, II, q. 33, a.4). That one may not oppose the authority of the Church except in the case of imminent danger to the Faith. Now, there is no danger for the Faith in the liturgy of Pope Pius XII and Pope John XXIII, whereas there is great danger for the Faith in the liturgy of Pope Paul VI, which is unacceptable.

SSPX is not  a sedevacantist organization

The Society acts on the assumption that Pope John Paul II is Pope and so prays for him and strives to bring him back to Tradition by praying for him, by meeting with those around him, and by writing to him.

The Society does not say that all the sacraments according to the new post-conciliar rites are invalid, but that due to bad translations, the lack of proper intention, and the changes introduced in the matter and form, the number of invalid and doubtful sacraments is increasing. In order, then, to reach a decision in the practical order concerning the doubtfulness or invalidity of sacraments given by priests imbued with the ideas of the Council, a serious study of the various circumstances is necessary.

Many of you know the difficulties to which the attitude of these priests has given rise. Many of you have suffered from it and so will not be surprised by this clarification of the situation.

SSPX will come to the aid of traditional faithful wishing to remain faithful

We regret not being able to come immediately to the assistance of those who wish to stay with the Society, but we will heed the requests of the faithful and, with the grace of God, we will come to your aid and we will keep you united to Rome and to the Church of all time.

Priests expelled and reorganisation of the society in the North-East District

So, henceforth, Father Kelly is no longer District Superior; Father Cekada is no longer District Bursar; Father Sanborn is no longer Rector of the Seminary. These priests, and the priests who follow them, and any seminarians who might follow them, are no longer members of the Society of Saint Pius X, as of 27 April 1983. They no longer have any power, nor hold any office in the Society’s name.

Henceforth, if you have any inquiries concerning the Society in the North-East District, contact, at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Ridgefield, Father Richard Williamson, who has been provisionally nominated District Superior, or Father Roger Petit, who has been nominated District Bursar.

Most of the seminarians are remaining with us and we shall, God willing, proceed with ordinations in the first days of November.

Ordinations will continue as scheduled

We count on your prayers so that we can carry on the work of the Society in the North-East District and especially at the Seminary henceforth entrusted to Father Richard Williamson. We ask you to continue to help us so that we can continue building up the traditional Catholic Church in America. Please pray for the 24 new priests I am going to ordain on June 29th.

May God bless you through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

† Marcel Lefebvre

Ridgefield, Connecticut

April 28, 1983