Blog Archives

SSPX, Pope, Obedience.

archbishop-marcel-lefebvre-6-2

Reading on the Internet here and there one gets the impression the SSPX depends on the Vatican’s goodwill to survive. The reasoning goes along the lines of “the SSPX should take what is offered now, because the Holy Father’s patience is now rapidly depleting, and he is the last chance for them to reach an agreement, after which they will be crushed/declared schismatic/ordered to disband”.

It seems to me this kind of comment is made in ignorance of what the SSPX is all about. Let me explain.

The idea at the basis of the SSPX is that the fidelity to the teaching of the Church comes before the fidelity to the Pope. Whilst generally the two coincide, and obedience to the Pope is due every time fidelity to the Church is not in question, when the Pope insists in wanting something that is against the teaching, then the faithful find themselves in the necessity to refuse that obedience they continue to be ready to pay in all other circumstances.

This is not a Sedevacantist position, as the authority of the Pope and his legitimacy in being Pope is not put into question.  

It would be very erroneous to think a Pope can never be wrong in doctrinal matters, because the Holy Ghost would strike him dead if he tried. Popes have been vocally and utterly wrong in doctrinal matters in the past (think of John XXII), and the protection of the Holy Ghost only kicks in in that the Holy Ghost will (predictably) strike the Pope dead before he imposes his error as a dogma of the Church.  This has never happened up to now (not even with John XXII), and therefore the Holy Ghost clearly had no reason to strike any of the Vatican II Popes dead. 

Another famous episode is the way Paul defended received truth (occasionally also against Peter). Paul doesn’t mince words:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. (Galatians 1:8)

Paul was an obedient follower of the Pope, but not a silent one, nor was his obedience unconditional, in a kind of blind Fuehrerprinzip. In Galatians we read, referring to the incident in Antioch

But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. (Galatians 2:11)

Paul opposed Peter every time he thought it necessary, full knowing the latter’s position. He did so publicly when necessary. It’s not that Peter should have been struck dead by the Holy Ghost. Peter simply happened to be wrong on a couple of issues, and not even angels would have persuaded Paul that hey, he is the Pope so that’s what it’s going to be.

A third episode is the painful story of Athanasius, about which I have written already.

The obvious consequence of this is that the SSPX will give obedience to the Pope in everything possible, but refuse obedience whenever necessary. Not one, or one hundred, excommunications are going to stop them. Not any declaration the Vatican could make that the SSPX are Schismatics, or Muslims, or Buddhists, or cats, or dogs; not any order to disband; not even an angel coming down from Heaven and telling them to, pretty please, accept the Vatican II concept of, say, religious liberty. It’s just not going to happen.

Now, I fully agree that if the SSPX had been an organisation of people merely fantasizing themselves the defenders of orthodoxy, the old excommunication would have wiped them out in just a few years. But the fact is, they truly are the defenders of the orthodoxy! Many people see it, and see that far from being rebellious to the Pope, they are obedient to the Pope in everything, except in those things which not even an Angel could persuade them to do, because it would mean to be disobedient to the very Truth from which the Pope’s authority derives. This is why the SSPX grow and prosper, whilst the V II clergy shrink and become old.

Yes, of course the Vatican is wrong, and the SSPX is right. Peter was wrong, and Paul was right! The Vatican was wrong, and Athanasius was right! It has happened in the past, it will happen in the future. It does not mean we do not owe obedience to the Church and to the Pope, it simply means we must recognise we live in one of those periods in history in which a state of necessity may apply in certain circumstances; but again, it is a state of necessity due to obedience, not rebellion.  

Mundabor 

Archbishop Lefebvre About Obedience

Archbishop Lefebvre

What follows is the integral text of a statement from Archbishop Lefebvre, published in 1988.  As always, this good man of God surprises with his ability to explain complex concepts in a simple, easy to understand,but always extremely clear way. The contrast with the usual anodyne statements trying to please everyone by at the same time endeavouring to not openly contradict Catholic teaching, typical of our time, is more than evident.

Note the similarities between the situations then and now: Rome seems to want peace, and then turns out to be exclusively interested in the neutralisation of the SSPX. Where I live it’s called duplicity, and deception.

Emphases mine.

——————————————————————————————————-

March 29, 1988

The rector of the Seminary of the Society of St. Pius X in Switzerland, Fr. Lorans, having asked me to help in drawing up this issue of the Letter from Econe, it seemed to me, in these circumstances, that it would not be without benefit to put before you again what I wrote on January 20, 1978, concerning certain objections which could be made as to our attitude with regard to the problems created by the present situation of the Church.

One of these questions was: ”How do you see obedience to the pope?” Here is the reply I gave ten years ago:

The principles governing obedience are known and are so in conformity with sane reason and common sense that one is driven to wonder how intelligent persons can make a statement like, They prefer to be mistaken with the pope, than to be with the truth against the pope.”

That is not what the natural law teaches, nor the Magisterium of the Church. Obedience presupposes an authority which gives an order or issues a law. Human authorities, even those instituted by God, have no authority other than to attain the end apportioned them by God and not to turn away from it. When an authority uses power in opposition to the law for which this power was given it, such an authority has no right to be obeyed and one must disobey it.

This need to disobey is accepted with regard to a family father who would encourage his daughter to prostitute herself, with regard to the civil authority which would oblige doctors to perform abortions and kill innocent souls, yet people accept in every case the authority of the Pope, who is supposedly infallible in his government and in all words. Such an attitude betrays a sad ignorance of history and of the true nature of papal infallibility.

A long time ago St. Paul said to St. Peter that he was “Not walking according to the truth of the Gospel” (Gal. 2:14). St. Paul encouraged the faithful not to obey him, St. Paul, if he happened to preach any other gospel than the Gospel that he had already taught them (Gal. 1:8).

St. Thomas, when he speaks of fraternal correction, alludes to St. Paul’s resistance to St. Peter and he makes the following comment: “To resist openly and in public goes beyond the measure of fraternal correction. St. Paul would not have done it towards St. Peter if he had not in some way been his equal…. We must realize, however, that if there was question of a danger for the faith, the superiors would have to be rebuked by their inferiors, even in public.” This is clear from the manner and reason for St. Paul’s acting as he did with regard to St. Peter, whose subject he was, in such a way, says the gloss of St. Augustine, “that the very head of the Church showed to superiors that if they ever chanced to leave the straight and narrow path, they should accept to be corrected by their inferiors” (St. Thomas [in the Summa TheologicaIIa, IIae, q.33, art. 4, ad 2).

The case evoked by St. Thomas is not merely imaginary because it took place with regard to John XXII during his life. This pope thought he could state as a personal opinion that the souls of the elect do not enjoy the Beatific Vision until after the Last Judgment. He wrote this opinion down in 1331 and in 1332 he preached a similar opinion with regard to the pains of the damned. He had the intention of putting forward this opinion in a solemn decree.

But the very lively action on the part of the Dominicans, above all in Paris, and of the Franciscans, made him renounce this opinion in favor of the traditional opinion defined by his successor, Benedict XII, in 1336.

And here is what Pope Leo XIII said in his Encyclical Libertas Praestantissimum, June 20,1888: “If, then, by any one in authority, something be sanctioned out of conformity with the principles of right reason, and consequently hurtful to the commonwealth, such an enactment can have no binding force of law.” And a little further on, he says: “But where the power to command is wanting, or where a law is enacted contrary to reason, or to the eternal law, or to some ordinance of God, obedience is unlawful, lest while obeying man, we become disobedient to God.”

Now our disobedience is motivated by the need to keep the Catholic Faith. The orders being given us clearly express that they are being given us in order to oblige us to submit without reserve to the Second Vatican Council, to the post-conciliar reforms, and to the prescriptions of the Holy See, that is to say, to the orientations and acts which are undermining our Faith and destroying the Church. It is impossible for us to do this. To collaborate in the destruction of the Church is to betray the Church and to betray Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now all the theologians worthy of this name teach that if the pope, by his acts, destroys the Church, we cannot obey him (Vitoria: Obras, pp.486-487; Suarez: De fide, disp.X, sec.VI, no.16; St. Robert Bellarmine: de Rom. Pont., Book 2, Ch.29; Cornelius a Lapide: ad Gal. 2,11, etc.) and he must be respectfully, but publicly, rebuked.

The principles governing obedience to the pope’s authority are the same as those governing relations between a delegated authority and its subjects. They do not apply to the Divine Authority which is always infallible and indefectible and hence incapable of failing. To the extent that God has communicated His infallibility to the pope and to the extent that the pope intends to use this infallibility, which involves four very precise conditions in its exercise, there can be no failure.

Outside of these precisely fixed conditions, the authority of the pope is fallible and so the criteria which bind us to obedience apply to his acts. Hence it is not inconceivable that there could be a duty of disobedience with regard to the pope.

The authority which was granted him was granted him for precise purposes and in the last resort for the glory of the Holy Trinity, for Our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the salvation of souls.

Whatever would be carried out by the pope in opposition to this purpose would have no legal value and no right to be obeyed, nay, rather, it would oblige us to disobey in order for us to remain obedient to God and faithful to the Church.

This holds true for everything that the recent popes have commanded in the name of Religious Liberty or ecumenism since the Council: all the reforms carried out under this heading are deprived of any legal standing or force of law. In these cases the popes use their authority contrary to the end for which this authority was given them. They have a right to be disobeyed by us.

The Society and its history show publicly this need to remain faithful to God and to the Church. The years 1974, 1975 and 1976 leave us with the memory of this incredible clash between Ecône and the Vatican, between the Pope and myself.

The result was the condemnation, the suspension a divinis, wholly null and void because the pope was tyrannically abusing his authority in order to defend laws contrary to the good of the Church and to the good of souls.

These events are an historical application of the principles concerning the duty to disobey.

That clash was the occasion for a departure of a certain number of priests who were friends or members of the Society, who were scared by the condemnation, and did not understand the duty to disobey under certain circumstances. Since then, twelve years have passed. Officially, the condemnation still stands, relations with the pope are still tense, especially as the consequences of this ecumenism are drawing us into an apostasy which forced us to react vigorously. However, the announcement of consecration of bishops in June stirred Rome into action: it at last made up its mind to fulfill our request for an Apostolic Visitation by sending on November 11, 1987, Cardinal Gagnon and Msgr. Perl. As far as we were able to judge by the speeches and reflections of our Visitors, their judgment was very favorable indeed, and the Cardinal did not hesitate to attend the Pontifical Mass on December 8th, at Econe, celebrated by the prelate suspended a divinis.

What can we conclude from all this except that our disobedience is bearing good fruit, recognized by the envoys of the authority which we disobey? And here we are now confronted with new decisions to be taken. We are more than ever encouraged to give the Society the means it needs to continue its essential work, the formation of true priests of the holy, and Catholic, and Roman Church. That is to say, to give me successors in the episcopate.

Rome understands this need, but will the pope accept these bishops from the ranks of Tradition? For ourselves it cannot be otherwise. Any other solution would be the sign that they want to align us with the conciliar revolution, and there our duty to disobey immediately revives. The negotiations are now under way and we shall soon know the true intentions of Rome. They will decide the future. We must continue to pray and to watch. May the Holy Ghost guide us through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima!

† Marcel Lefebvre

Apparitions, Obedience, Medjugorje

Fra Filippo Lippi, "Madonna delle Rocce", particular.

In my eyes, one of the main keys to a proper understanding of every apparition is one simple but at the same time very difficult word: obedience. Obedience is what we saw when the Fatima apparitions were initially – as it was very natural – seen with scepticism from the local clergy and obedience is what we saw when the apparitions to St Faustina Kowalska were considered not authentic by the Vatican. Obedience is, therefore, not only an obvious element of sainthood, but the path clearly indicated by many (perhaps: all) approved apparitions. Most certainly, no approved apparition ever incited to disobedience. In fact, it has never been prescribed by the doctor that an apparition be immediately recognised as authentic, but it has always been prescribed by the Church that Her decisions in the matter be accepted and obeyed.

God doesn’t need disobedience to have His will recognised; on the contrary, he will use obedience as a way to have it recognised.

It must be clear to every sensible Catholic that no alleged apparition can ever authorise disobedience, and that the Blessed Virgin would never ever suggest disobedience to the Church. Therefore, when the bishop (well, two bishops, really) says that there is nothing supernatural happening in Medjugorje, that’s that. To say that one wants to wait for the Pope is already disobedience; there is no need for the Pope because the cleric responsible for the verdict on apparitions is not the Pope, but the bishop. “Oh, but the Pope could reverse the decision”. Well I am sorry to say that, but you’ll have to wait and hope, and obey in the meantime.

With the train of thought of the Medjugorje crowd, I could wake up one morning and say that I am the Second Son of God; I could receive a message from papi every day at 6:30 pm and give it to the adoring crowds; and these crowds would feel free and authorised to believe that I am The Second Son – even after the Bishop has said that I am no supernatural phenomenon at all – because the Pope hasn’t pronounced himself on the matter (which would, very probably, never happen). Of course I’d have God encourage people to communion, confession, and the like, and I’d have Him talk a lot about peace, understanding among the Peoples, and all that jazz. “Thank you for listening”, I’d have God say every day. It pleases the ego of the public, so it can’t be bad.

To think in this way is not devotion. No it isn’t. Superstition and rebellion, that’s what it is.

It follows from this that even if people arrived in Medjugorje and started to fly it would still not be an authentic apparition, because no authentic apparition can incite to disobedience. You have converted? Good for you! God can convert you in the middle of a dump, but a dump it will remain.

The idea that the Blessed Virgin would go against the Church is worse than unorthodox; it is diabolical.

Unsurprisingly, disobedience in matters of authenticity leads to disobedience in all other matters. A lady on twitter informed me that God leaves every person free to choose, after death, to decide whether he really, really wants to go to hell or would, rather, not choose paradise (oh, you chose the latter? you don’t say?). I kid you not. I answered to her that this is an error. The Blessed Virgin in Medjugorje said it, was her answer.

We are at this point. Basic Christianity counts for nothing, a daily fax is the new God. But hey, an army of poor deluded devils go to communion and confession, so it must be fine. With this reasoning Jansenists were fine, too.

So let us recapitulate: forget the alleged “good fruits”, because an entire orchard of poisoned fruits is clearly visible; forget the alleged healings, because they are available in quantity at every pentecostal mega-gathering; forget the number of confessions or communions, because they are available everywhere outside of Medjugorje; forget how many people get inspired or converted, because this is something Protestants manage to do every day. The key here is the matter of obedience. It can’t be that the Blessed Virgin is disobedient, this is the purest oxymoron you’ll ever encounter.

Every “follower” of Medjugorje must seriously ask himself what he would have to abandon, if he decided to obey the Bishop. If the answer is “nothing, I am completely orthodox anyway”, there is no reason whatsoever not to obey the bishop. If the answer has any other content whatsoever (cue the lady who wants to believe that one can choose between hell and heaven after death) then what keeps one linked to Medjugorje is heresy. And I would like for the rhetoric of the “good simple people who are deceived” to be abandoned once and for all. For twenty centuries, countless illiterate peasants have accepted their bishops’ decisions in matter of miracles without any problem. This is not so difficult that every person could not, after examining his conscience, have it right in five seconds; ten seconds, tops.

The bishop is responsible. The bishop has spoken. You either obey the bishop, or you make the work of the devil.

Mundabor

P.s. The comment box is closed. These are matters of elementary truth. Truth is accepted, not discussed.

%d bloggers like this: