Accordists: Saying Everything and its Opposite

Accordists: Saying Everything and its Opposite

A few days ago, FSSPX/News published another accordist apologetic by Fr. Paul Robinson, the central premise of which was this:

Those Resistance people who claim Archbishop Lefebvre changed his posture towards Rome after the 1988 episcopal consecrations, and thereafter refused to consider a practical accord with unconverted Rome, are thereby impugning the integrity of Archbishop Lefebvre, who always evinced a willingness to negotiate a settlement with Rome.

Essentially, Fr. Robinson is making the argument that Archbishop Lefebvre never would -or could- have changed this posture towards Rome, and that to allege he could have done so is to accuse him of lacking principle.

I find this line of argumentation ironic, since it was the accordista par excellance, Fr. Gregoire Celier, whose 2008 book “Benedict XVI and the Traditionalists” makes exactly the opposite argument: Archbishop Lefebvre was a practical, not a conceptual thinker, and was therefore quite open to changing his positions as circumstances changed.  

Where is Fr. Robinson’s rebuttal of his accordist colleague, Fr. Celier?

To be consistent, it should be forthcoming, but you will be waiting a long time before seeing it.

The truth is that the accordists are unwittingly making contradictory arguments, but both with the same end in mind: To show Archbishop Lefebvre was, and must always be, hunting for a deal.

For Fr. Celier, he wanted to show that Archbishop Lefebvre was always open to change, and therefore the Resistance was wrong to say he would have definitively precluded a practical accord: The right circumstances (short of the conversion of Rome) could again make him amenable to a practical accord…even amidst the worst, most overtly modernist pontificate in the history of the Church.

But that apparently is no wound to the integrity of Archbishop Lefebvre.

Fr. Robinson, on the other hand, takes the opposite track:

Archbishop Lefebvre never changed, and to say he did is to make him an unreliable leader of Tradition, wounding his integrity.  Thus, if Archbishop Lefebvre was open to negotiations before the consecrations, it must be that he was open to them after the consecrations.  Anything else makes the Archbishop a fraud (or at least minimizes his reliability as a guide amidst the crisis in the Church).

Either way, the polarized and disparate arguments advanced by Fr. Celier and Fr. Robinson tend toward the same goal (i.e., They are both advanced with the aim of convincing you Archbishop Lefebvre never precluded a deal with unconverted Rome, and they are willing to remold him in their own image toward that end).

To rebut their mutually exclusive accordist arguments is not difficult: 

So far as Fr. Celier’s “practical” Archbishop Lefebvre is concerned, we quite agree he possessed this frame of mind (which is why we did not argue against Fr. Celier’s 4th criteria in his book on how to read Archbishop Lefebvre in proper context in this older article), though we do resent the conclusion Fr. Celier wants to rend from this observation, and in fact we use his own argument against him:

The 1988 consecrations -along with Archbishop Lefebvre’s final judgment that the Romans were not dealing with him in good faith- represented precisely such changes in circumstances which, far from making the Archbishop perpetually open to an accord, disposed him to abandon diplomacy altogether, and refocus his gaze upon the doctrinal quality of the Romans’ faith:

When they come back to Tradition, we can speak of diplomacy and accords.  

This was the practical Archbishop Lefebvre.

As regards Fr. Robinson’s opposite argument (i.e., Any change in policy = lack of integrity), he first needs to take it up with Fr. Celier! 

It is he, not us, who is wounding the integrity of Archbishop Lefebvre, by making him open to contradicting the position he espoused from 1988 until his death, despite their being no change for the better in Rome (as Bishop de Galarreta himself acknowledged at Albano, Italy in late 2011…and that was before Francis the Destroyer came into Rome!).

Moreover, Fr. Robinson will be at a loss to explain how Archbishop Lefebvre could change his policy regarding Novus Ordo Mass attendance (a fact not even he will deny).  Yet, according to Fr. Robinson’s premise (i.e., To say Archbishop Lefebvre changed his policy is to wound his integrity, and imply he was an unreliable guide for Tradition), he falls under his own condemnation:

Acknowledging reality is a wound to the Archbishop!

So Fr. Robinson is trapped:

  1. Either he must become solipsistic, and pretend Archbishop Lefebvre never changed his posture regarding Novus Ordo attendance;
  2. Or, he must admit his premise is unsustainable;
  3. Or, if he persists in his premise, he must acknowledge that he does so only at the expense of wounding Archbishop Lefebvre’s integrity.

The reality is that it is Fr. Robinson’s position which presents an affront to the integrity of Archbishop Lefebvre, who seeing his many years of diplomacy were finally all for nought, had the humility to acknowledge that Rome was not acting in good faith, and consequently changed his position to safeguard Tradition.  Taking this view of Archbishop Lefebvre’s changing posture towards Rome, far from impugning his integrity, edifies the faithful, by recalling the humble and courageous example he bequeathed to us.

What would have been an affront to Archbishop Lefebvre’s integrity, would be if he had known Rome was negotiating in bad faith, had no intention of restoring Tradition, and nevertheless continued to negotiate an accord with unconverted Rome anyway (as Bishop Fellay is doing today)!

These few words ought to suffice not only to demonstrate the invalidity of Fr. Robinson’s central premise, but also show the accordists openly contradicting and rebutting each other (unwittingly, to be sure!), saying pretty much everything and its opposite in order to convince you that Archbishop Lefebvre was always open to getting himself a deal, regardless of the circumstances in Rome.

That, my friends, is a wound to the integrity of Archbishop Lefebvre.

For more on the subject, in addition to this article, I refer you to this newly published article by our friends over at the Psalm 129 Blog.