March 1996 - Superior General's Letter #50
Five years after Archbishop Lefebvre's death, we review his letter to Cardinal Seper in 1978 wherein he described the reasons for taking the decision to found the SSPX. He warns us principally of liberal errors and especially of the sham truce of liberal ecumenism which destroys the Church's missionary spirit. The Society will avoid the contagion of liberal ecumenism and continue its expansion throughout the world.
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
5 years since Archbishop Lefebvre's death
Nearly 20 years ago Archbishop Lefebvre, the fifth anniversary of whose death we celebrate today, wrote a letter to Cardinal Seper, laying out the reasons for taking the position he was taking, “which is the position of thousands of Catholics and numerous priests from amongst those most faithful to the Catholic Church and the Papacy”(Letter of April 13, 1978).
Archbishop Lefebvre's letter to Cardinal Seper
His words are so suitable to our present situation that we have no hesitation in quoting them at length:
“The problem at the root of our perseverance in Tradition, in spite of orders from Rome to abandon it, is the grave and profound change in the relations of the Church with the world.
World must be converted
Our Lord and the Church after Him have related themselves to the world in a very precise way. The world has to be converted and baptized, and submit to the gentle Reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the one and only way to salvation. “Go, teach all nations…” That is clear. Apostles must be sent to all nations so that they become Catholic and accept the Reign of Our Lord.
War of Satan against the Church
But in the world there are forces at enmity with Our Lord and His Reign. Satan and all the auxiliaries of Satan, conscious and unconscious, refuse that Reign, that road to salvation, and they fight for the destruction of the Church.
Hence the Church, with her Divine Founder, is engaged in a gigantic struggle. All means have been and are being used by Satan for his triumph.
Satan wants Church to pretend that it has no enemies
One of the latest and most effective stratagems is to destroy the fighting spirit of the Church by persuading her that she has no more enemies, so she must lay down her arms and enter into a dialogue of peace and understanding.
Sham truce of liberal ecumenism
That sham truce will allow the enemy to penetrate everywhere with ease and to corrupt the opposing forces.
That truce is Liberal Ecumenism, a diabolical instrument for the auto-destruction of the Church.
That Liberal Ecumenism will demand the neutralization of weapons, which are the Liturgy with the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Sacraments, the Breviary, the liturgical feasts, and the neutralization followed by the closing of Seminaries – there is no longer a need of fighters when there is no fight. Ecumenism in education means theological research – dogmas open to doubt.
It means also pluralism applied to Catholic States, so that they are suppressed and become Ecumenical States.
It means that the monasteries and the religious societies are stopped from fighting, they who were the vanguard. That amounts to a sentence of death.
SSPX will avoid the contagion of liberal ecumenism
To that devilish undertaking begun by the Council, especially in the Documents on “Non-Christian Religions”, “The Church in the Modern World” and “Religious Liberty,” and continued incessantly since the Council, we offer a flat refusal. We will not become Liberal Ecumenists, betraying the cause of the Reign of Our Lord and the cause of the Church: we wish to remain Catholics.
Who is the instigator of this false ecumenism in the Church? Who is (or who are) answerable for it? We prefer not to know. God knows.
They can lay us under as many interdicts and censures as they like, but we mean, with the grace of God and the help of the Blessed Virgin, to remain in the Catholic faith, and we refuse to collaborate in the destruction of the Church.
SSPX simply continues the Church of all time
We ask for something very simple and very legitimate: recognition that the Church of all time, the Church of our childhood, has the right to continue. It is a right based on Scripture, Tradition, the Magisterium of the Church and the whole history of the Church.
It is impressive to see twenty years later just how accurate these words are. We could say exactly the same thing, only with the added force of our experience and knowledge of the conciliar disaster, and the admissions of the Churchmen condemned in the 1950’s who triumphed 15 years later.
Danger of opening up to the world
The letter quoted above is a good explanation of our present situation with regard to Rome under the control of a gigantic Utopia of ecumenism, pluralism, “inculturation”, in brief “opening to the world”. And yet the age-old wisdom of Mother Church tells them in the words of Pius X: “You are opening wide the doors to let in those who are outside and at the same time you are letting out those who are inside”.
Behind this “opening to the world”, do we not find the enemy of our souls being strangely forgotten, as Archbishop Lefebvre wrote in the lines above, by a sort of wilful desire to ignore the subversive and destructive dealings of the eternal enemies of Church and society in our day, a desire to ignore also the fallen state of human nature, deeply wounded by original sin and personal sins, inclined henceforth to evil? As if goodness and truth would triumph on their own in such circumstances by some kind of magic!
There are plenty of examples to indicate our anxiety is correct: for instance, just as communist agents (e.g. “Peace Priests”) used to try to infiltrate the Church, so now agents of the New Age are trying to insinuate themselves into it, as they themselves admit!
Results of false ecumenism
Concerning ecumenism: how many souls have come back to the fold since the Church went ecumenical? When the very notion of returning to the fold is rejected, as in the Balamand Declaration of June, 1993, then any amount of smiles and conferences merely confirms the stray sheep in their errors, instead of bringing them to the truth. We have a striking example in the Patriarch of Constantinople, concelebrating a “Liturgy of the Word” with the Pope on June 29, 1995 (in which the Credo was recited as the Orthodox, not as Catholics recite it), and then the same patriarch a few months later in Zurich violently attacking the Papacy, the primacy of Peter.
In such times, prayer and sacrifices are needed: let us beseech the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us beg the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to come to our aid, to protect the Holy Roman Catholic Church from so many assaults from within and without.
SSPX expansion: 29 new priests
The Society will have the joy this year of ordaining 29 priests. These will be scattered throughout the world, on all five continents. Yet what are 360 priests for such an immense task? Of course, in the mystery of grace it is not quantity that matters most, but so many many starving souls calling out to us each year from more and more new countries cannot leave us indifferent. Our heart breaks as we have to tell them to “be patient” in the anguish of their suffocating souls.
More people are contacting us in Central America, in Asia, in countries of the East without our being able to bring them any relief other than a short and all too fleeting visit. Indeed new priories have been established in Sri Lanka and Guatemala. This year the island of Santo Domingo will at last see the realization of the hopes of more than 600 Catholics who have built the spacious church and adjoining priory with their own hands and who have been waiting for several years for a priest in their midst.
As for our seminaries, while the walls of the new church in Ecône are rising from ground level – no faster than the income of your generosity allows, for which we thank you with all our heart – these seminaries are not as well tilled as we would wish. This year a little under 50 young men came to join our little band. More than ever, we entrust the crusade for vocations to your prayers. Vocations are a grace which can be merited.
The large majority of these new priests will be, as in previous years, re-inforcing the countries where we have been established for the longest time, in particular France and the United States. The District of France will have over a hundred priests, while the number of priests in the USA will be approaching fifty.
May Passiontide showing us Christ conquering through his sufferings and death on the Cross be for us an urgent invitation both to watchful prayer and generous action and unshakable hope, the hope of those who know they will not be confounded, for their hope is in the Almighty;
“In thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me not be confounded for ever”.
† Bernard Fellay
Feast of the Annunciation
March 25, 1996