Tremors felt in Menzingen…
French SSPX in Disarray as District Superior tries to defend Removal of seven “Rebellious” Priests, Commotion at St. Nicolas in Paris
[UPDATE 19-MAY-2017 18:32 UTC: English translation of Contre-Info article added.]
As we reported on May 11, seven deans of the Lefebvrian Society of St. Pius X’s French district were removed from their positions by the district superior, Fr. Christian Bouchacourt, after disseminating and reading from the pulpit a public letter explaining their rejection of the Vatican’s recent overtures on the celebration of SSPX marriages. The open letter, which was condemned by Fr. Bouchacourt the very same day, also made clear that the seven recalcitrant SSPX priests in question are not willing to go along with any reconciliation with Modernist Rome which the Superior General, Bp. Bernard Fellay, is currently preparing together with the Vatican authorities.
Since then, there have been a number of additional developments.
The web site Contre-Info.com relates that the Sunday following the seven deans’ removal, i.e. on May 14, Fr. Bouchacourt visited St. Nicolas du Chardonnet church and in a statement read to the parishioners before the sermon, explained to them why their pastor, Fr. Patrick de la Rocque (one of the seven), had been removed, and why this demotion needed to be accepted “with a supernatural spirit”. (Fr. Denis Puga has since been appointed as the interim pastor.) As the French district superior was still speaking, up to half of the people (approx. 100) got up and temporarily left the church to show their disapproval, while approximately 15 others prayed out loud a decade of the Holy Rosary right beneath the pulpit where Fr. Bouchacourt was speaking, according to Contre-Info.
Here is an English translation of the full report:
Crisis in the SSPX: Rebellion of the Faithful at Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet
The removal of 7 French “doyens” (regional deans) of the SSPX – that is to say, most of them – from their duties immediately after having published a letter regarding marriages in Tradition [i.e. SSPX marriages] and the danger of the ongoing rapprochement with Rome, has sent shockwaves through the congregation of the Parisian Church of St. Nicolas du Chardonnet – the “Beacon of Tradition” for the last 40 years.
The parish priest, Abbé Patrick de La Rocque, is one of those sanctioned, and was given a few days to leave the church. The brutal departure of this priest, who has carried out a dynamic apostolate for several years, has of course shocked the faithful of the parish, and many of them are visibly scandalised by the sanction with which he has been hit.
This [past] Sunday, the superior of the SSPX for France, Abbé Christian Bouchacourt (who instigated the sanctions) visited Saint Nicolas du Chardonnet and, just before the homily, read a communiqué relating his view of the events and explaining why it was necessary to accept these sanctions “with a supernatural spirit”. The signatories of the letter, including the expelled priest, are accused of “subversive” maneuvering carried out in secret (which has been denied), and of sowing division among both priests and the congregation – accusations that some of the faithful throw back at the Society.
During High Mass, Abbé Bouchacourt had hardly begun to speak when a large number of the congregation (between one-third and half according to various sources) stood up and temporarily left the church in protest. Others (around 15) recited a decade of the Rosary under the pulpit and at the back of the church while the priest was speaking, which provoked a confrontation, happily not of serious consequence.
If one thing is clear from this, it is that the gulf between the administration of the SSPX and its French clergy (who are for the most part hostile to an essentially practical – and non-doctrinal – rapprochement with Rome) appears to be as wide as ever.
(“Crise dans la Fraternité Saint Pie X: rébellion de fidèles à saint Nicolas du Chardonnet”, Contre-Info.com, May 14, 2017; our translation.)
On May 15, the French daily Présent published an interview with Fr. Bouchacourt regarding the controversial move. We are pleased to be able to make the text of this interview available in English here:
[Interviewer, Anne Le Pape:] Father, how would you summarize what happened within the Society of St. Pius X these past days?
[SSPX District Superior, Fr. Christian Bouchacourt:] First came a letter from Cardinal Muller which allows [Novus Ordo] bishops to give SSPX priests jurisdiction for marriages. As a reaction, an “open letter” was written by some SSPX priests, prepared in secret – and this is what is unacceptable – without showing me the contents [beforehand]. This commentary was intended to be a warning to the [SSPX] General House which, according to the signatories, intends to sign an agreement of recognition with Rome very soon. However, nothing justifies this procedure.
Father [Patrick] de La Rocque came to see me Friday, May 5, in the evening with this text, but Le Chardonnet [=St. Nicolas parish bulletin in which the open letter appeared] had already been printed, and the text was spreading to other priests and religious communities. I hoped all day Saturday that these priests would not give a public reading of this text. Unfortunately, I failed to settle this matter internally. On Sunday morning, this news was already spreading very rapidly throughout parishes and on social media. I had to react publicly. Therefore, on Sunday evening I wrote a letter condemning what had happened.
[Le Pape:] May 13, the 100th anniversary of the first apparition of our Lady at Fatima, had been mentioned as a possible date for a declaration of the Pope regarding a personal prelature to the SSPX. Did this not play a role in getting everybody all stirred up?
[Bouchacourt:] This date was pure fantasy. No one had received any confirmation. Indeed, the Pope on his way back [from Fatima] on Saturday [May 13] answered a question on the SSPX, saying that he was still in contact with Bp. Fellay, and he added: “Walk, walk…”
[Le Pape:] With regard to the agreements, do you trust Bp. Fellay?
[Bouchacourt:] Absolutely. He is the one who has to deal with that. Everyone must stay at his place, pray, and do penance. Providence will continue to protect us from dangers.
[Le Pape:] Isn’t there in the SSPX some other way of expressing oneself than [by means of] these revolutionary methods (which, in this case, are used by people who promote the counter-revolution, incidentally)?
[Bouchacourt:] Of course! If this text had been given to me personally, it would have been transferred to the General House. Its strengths and weaknesses (because it has some) would then have been studied. But since it was published urbi et orbi [to the church and to the world, i.e. to everyone] against the will of the superiors, I couldn’t consider the text outside the circumstances of its publication.
[Le Pape:] What were the reactions of Bp. Fellay to all these events?
[Bouchacourt:] Bp. Fellay is very distressed. France is the spearhead of Tradition but can sometimes be an enfant terrible. Catholic France in our circles really wants to preserve Tradition, sometimes in a quarrelsome spirit. That is our richness too, for sure, but it needs to be regulated.
[Le Pape:] You spent all of Sunday at St. Nicolas, the heart of the crisis. What is your impression?
[Bouchacourt:] I am really hurt to see this division, which only serves the plans of the prince of division, that is Satan. Good priests are disturbed, and even more faithful; division takes place in certain priories; the fruits show that this action is not good. But do not forget: From the Cross there always come graces. I really hope that this heavy cross will allow the parish of St. Nicolas and our Society to become stronger, to fortify souls for the good fight of the faith and charity.
(Anne Le Pape, “Le combat de la foi et de la charité – Entretien avec l’abbé Christian Bouchacourt”, Présent, May 15, 2017; our translation.)
In his response to the open letter of the seven deans, Fr. Bouchacourt had complained about “the subversive manner in which this declaration was disseminated”. But was it really “subversive” and “revolutionary”?
This question was recently answered by an SSPX priest in a post by Christian Lassale, via the web site Medias-Presse.info, which is the same web site that was the first to publish the seven deans’ letter on May 7. Here is our exclusive English translation:
Question From a Reader: Was the Seven SSPX Deans’ Letter Subversive or Revolutionary?
Following the publication of the public letter from the deans and religious community superiors, Fr. Bouchacourt thought it appropriate to call this initiative “subversive”, a kind of catchword to avoid dealing with the substance of things. The question might nevertheless be asked: Was the letter from the seven deans subversive or revolutionary? Here is the response an SSPX priest gave to one of our readers.
Your question is quite legitimate. When inferiors oppose superiors, the Catholic, since he is fundamentally obedient, must first be inclined to favor authority. St. Peter told us last Sunday: “Be ye subject therefore to every human creature for God’s sake.” Unfortunately, many Catholics forget the last three words. If the authority is against God, one must obviously obey God rather than men.
1. Revolutionary: To be revolutionary is to oppose authority because it comes from God. When the authority is for God, the revolutionary opposes it. The Catholic is ordinarily submitted to authority. When authority is stolen by the revolutionary, the Catholic in turn opposes it. He must not then be considered a revolutionary but a counter-revolutionary. Just like the people of the Vendée. (I do not mean that there are revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries in the story with which we are presently occupied. I mean that a Catholic who opposes authority must not immediately be considered revolutionary.)
2. Subversion: Subversion comes from /sub/-/vertere/: to turn from underneath.
2.1. An act is subversive when it turns inferiors against superiors. In this sense, revolutionary and counter-revolutionary are subversive. So what? According to this meaning, the word subversive is actually used in a larger sense. For example, through his 1974 declaration, Archbishop Lefebvre turned inferiors against superiors, against Rome, against modern revolutionary Rome. It was a counter-revolutionary and Catholic act. Who would say he was subversive? Or that he was taking the faithful hostage?
2.2 A method is subversive when it twists a person’s understanding without the victim being aware, and thus pushes him to act contrary to his first intention, all while still being unaware. This is a betrayal of man’s highest faculty. It is like undermining: rather than attacking the castle overtly or even penetrating its enclosure via a narrow tunnel, one hollows out vast invisible spaces under its walls so that it tumbles down in a single swoop. Typically, subliminal messaging is a subversive method. For example, the “Enlightenment” thinkers abundantly employed this dark means in the simple word “equality”, without even defining it. In this sense, authority can be subversive when it wants to lead its inferiors to its own ends not by commanding them but by changing their way of seeing by means of an ambiguous teaching. In this sense, the Catholic does not have the right to be subversive, even for the purpose of making truth and goodness reign, because such a noble end can only be dishonored by such dark means.
Even when the wall appears solid, it is absolutely necessary to uncover instances of undermining, for the wall will collapse in a single swoop. For example, they repeat to us “recognizing us such as we are.” Is this an argument or a slogan? “Such as we are” is clearly a hollow phrase that explains nothing. In itself, “such as we are” means being in de facto rupture with the official authorities and in refusing the New Code. So then, this serves us both well. To put forth a grand ambiguous idea in order to cover up an operation is subversion.
We see that the Deans’ letter is in no way revolutionary since it proclaims the truth. We see that the Deans’ letter is not subversive in the strict sense—the text is perfectly clear. People understand the meaning immediately and are capable of accepting it or rejecting it. It has nothing to do with undermining, but it is clearly like a battering ram. The authors bear the weight and are visible to the defenders. If the letter’s contents are legitimate, we must conclude that the deans did nothing wrong.
May Our Lord and Our Lady grant us light and strength to faithfully serve the Truth.
A priest of the SSPX
(Christian Lassale, “Question d’un lecteur : la lettre des 7 doyens de la FSSPX était-elle subversive ou révolutionnaire?”, Medias-Presse.info, May 12, 2017; our translation; formatting given.)
After what happened to the seven deans after going public with their criticism, one may forgive this SSPX priest for preferring to remain anonymous. Our intent in translating and publishing this response in defense of the seven priests’ declaration is neither to endorse nor to criticize it but simply to inform the English-speaking public of its existence.
Meanwhile, Medias-Presse.info has published its own open letter, a declaration of lay SSPX adherents addressed to the Vatican’s Ecclesia Dei Commission (that’s the curial dicastery that deals exclusively with the SSPX), which they are encouraging all Lefebvrists to sign. This statement is a firm denunciation of the Modernist Vatican as destroyers of Christian marriage and hence totally unfit to be judges of the validity of marriages among Lefebvrists. The full text can be found here:
But wait — there is more!
In its May 18 edition, the French weekly periodical Rivarol contributed an explosive article of its own on the SSPX French-District crisis:
Among other things, the write-up claims that Fr. Bouchacourt is “known for his unconditional obedience to Bishop Fellay” and was appointed to his post of district superior for that very reason; that the original plan had been for the seven deans to go to Fr. Bouchacourt with their concerns but decided instead to make it public outright due to Fr. Bouchacourt’s alleged “inertia”; and that in early 2013, as many as 37 SSPX priests were already preparing to denounce Bp. Fellay for his rapprochement with the Vatican Modernists.
Any way you look at it, it seems clear that SSPX adherents in France are by no means going to sit idly by and watch Bp. Fellay hand over the work of Archbishop Lefebvre to Modernist Rome. Recent events indicate that when (not if anymore!) that happens, all hell will break loose.
We pray and hope that the many good-willed and pious Lefebvrist souls will finally abandon their grave anti-Catholic errors and come home to the true Catholic Church, whose First See is still — after almost six decades — vacant.