The following announcement has just appeared on Fr. Roy’s Canada Fidele website. After posting it, we will offer some commentary.[Google Translation:]
7 JULY 2017 / Canada Fidele
Created in 2014, the Priestly Union Marcel Lefebvre (USML) gathered priests who denounced the subversion undertaken by the leaders of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X.The three founding principles that united the members of this union were:
- A) priestly friendship without a hierarchical structure
B) the fight against apostate Rome
C) the refusal of any dogmatic sectarianism.
For several months, several members, no longer fulfilling the requirements of the founding principles, preferred to withdraw from the USML.The last three members, assembled as planned, see in these defections an indication of Providence that it is no longer appropriate to maintain the existence of the USML.
Indeed, the absence of legitimate authority and the lowering of characters all too often prevent the practice of the virtues necessary for the existence of a structure, no matter how slight.
As Archbishop Lefebvre said: “Starting with John XXIII, we can say that we are no longer in a normal time of the Church.” (Cos. 111b, 1984). What to do ?
Father Calmel very well defined the attitude that priests as well as laity should adopt in these abnormal times:
“The means, it seems to me, to allow the Christian struggle to reach its full extent by escaping internal conflicts and external rivalries, is to lead it in small units, who know each other to the extent that they But who refuse to enter into certain systematic and universal organizations. In these various units, such as a modest school, a humble convent, a brotherhood of piety, a small grouping of Christian families, an organization of pilgrimage, authority is real and indisputable; The problem of the chief does not arise practically; The work to be done is precise. It is only a question of going to the end of his grace and of his authority in the little sphere of which one is undoubtedly in charge, by being connected, without great administrative machinery, with those who do the same. (Itineraries, Authority and Holiness in the Church, No. 149 – January 1971)
The experience of recent years shows us that Father Calmel’s intuition must not remain a view of the mind but must be accepted in its practical consequences.
For our part, we will continue our ministry according to these same principles in collaboration with the confreres of good will.
Angers, July 6, 2017
Abbot Nicolas Pinaud
Abbot Olivier Rioult
Abbot Pierre Roy
The announcement of Fr. Roy was obviously precipitated by the defections of both member bishops, and several priests, leaving only the three signatories as members. Given that state of affairs, we agree with Fr Roy that Providence seems not to have endorsed that initiative.
But that is pretty much where our agreement ends.
Here are some clues (contained in Fr. Roy’s announcement) as to why Providence may not have supported that initiative:
The USML held out to members that they were free to decide for themselves whether or not they considered Francis Pope, as though the matter were optional, or up for debate. The only caveat was that one could not be “dogmatic” in their sedevacantism (i.e., The USML wanted to be libertarian in its approach). For a better understanding of why Providence may not have approved of this position, see the Sodalitium Pianum articles here, here, and here.
I will have to digress, before moving forward…
The Resistance as we know it began in the United States. Period. Sure, there was nervous talk all over the world about what Bishop Fellay might be up to. But so far as implementing practical measures (e.g., Mass circuits, chapels, coordinators, etc.), the Resistance began here.
But what did it begin as? What was it’s raison d’etre?
The Resistance began as a contingency plan: How would we carry on the apostolate of the SSPX if it reconciled and surrendered to conciliar Rome?
There was no talk here of abandoning authority and hierarchy.
Recall that the Resistance preceded Bishop Williamson’s entrance into it. That before he was expelled, we were all hopeful that he would quit or get kicked out so that he would lead us, hierarchically, as had been the case with the bishops in the SSPX. We wanted him to erect a formal religious congregation to replace the SSPX, to start seminaries, to consecrate bishops, etc.
We wanted another Archbishop Lefebvre, and another SSPX.
But Bishop Williamson had other ideas, and he began to transform the Resistance which had received him according to the vision of Fr. Calmel: From an hierarchical congregation, with seminaries and encouraging vocations, to a foxhole survival mode which sought only to persevere until the chastisement came to sort things out.
This difference of vision for the post-SSPX apostolate is one factor (among others) which started to divide the Resistance: Some like myself went along with the bishop, thinking that even if he did not share our idea of a replacement congregation for the SSPX, at least we maintained the principle of self-perpetuation in staying with the bishop. Others were not willing to endure this new vision, and broke openly with the bishop (first in this matter, then in others).
Speaking frankly, Fr. Calmel’s vision for the apostolate is not compatible with the constitution of the Church, which demands hierarchy/authority as one of its principles of unity (subordinated to the unity of true doctrine, of course). For those who have read Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson’s excellent end-times novel “Lord of the World,” you will recall that even when the worldwide priesthood had been decimated, with only one surviving Cardinal and a handful of priests, all of whom had gone into hiding amidst a bloody persecution, still, even in these conditions, an hierarchy was maintained. Even Msgr. Benson’s brilliant preview into the end-times for the Church did not conceive of a Church without hierarchy.
In any case, the priests who joined the Resistance prior to the canonical erection of the SAJM had no choice: If they were in the Resistance prior to mid-2016, they were all, for all intents and purposes, independent priests, despite the efforts of a few to “play house” with various acronyms (it was, after all, a Catholic enough desire to want to be subject to a superior). Obviously, I am excepting here the members of the exempt religious orders (e.g., Avrille, Santa Cruz, etc.).
Consequently, there is no blame to place on them. What else could they do?
But the appeal to Fr. Calmel today is misplaced (or at least misguided). The quote excerpted above by Fr. Roy (and often relied upon by Bishop Williamson) is taken from 1971. And according to it, there is no place for religious congregations in the post-conciliar Church. But that perspective overlooks the very obvious 800-lb gorilla in the room:
The SSPX had been founded less than two years prior, and continued for another 40+ years before any serious weaknesses began to manifest themselves, proving very obviously that, with all respect to Fr. Calmel (whom I admire), he was quite wrong to think religious congregations were no longer possible or fruitful in the post-conciliar era: Decades of hierarchy, amity (even amidst the continual revolutions), and effective ministry resulting in the sanctification of millions of souls over the years were the fruits of the SSPX in an era in which, allegedly, congregations were no longer ideal, useful, and in fact were alleged to be counter-productive because one strong superior could subvert the whole edifice (but has this not always been the case)?
As regards the USML, the appeal to Fr. Calmel has another motive: It allows these priests to maintain their independence and be their own bosses. They can retain their sedevacantism; they can retain their “non una cum” position (which subsists in the first); they can run things the way they personally see fit.
But this is not the Catholic spirit.
If it is true that Archbishop Lefebvre often collaborated with independent priests, it is equally demonstrable that he taught (as does the SSPX until the present day) that a priest is made for obedience and hierarchy. It matters not that the moral virtue of obedience can be abused or manipulated just like every other virtue; we do not abandon its practice because of potential abuse. Archbishop Lefebvre was so opposed to independent apostolates for his priests, that he even wrote into the SSPX Constitutions that if ever a priest were to be sent to a mission alone, he could refuse the assignment.
Obviously, the Archbishop (who had witnessed the failure of the universal episcopacy under false obedience at and after Vatican II) had the perspicacity of thought not to abandon a virtue because of potential abuse, as he organized his own fraternity hierarchically.
It is an observable fact that nearly every priest will start to show signs of “weirdness” if left on his own too long. He presents too isolated (and therefore vulnerable) a target for the devils.
Neither is it true, as Fr. Roy claims, that there is no authority and hierarchy to which the three last remaining USML priests could turn: Bishop Faure’s canonically erected SAJM is well known to all of them. But the problem is that the SAJM does not permit sedevacantists, and requires the name of the Pope to be read in the Canon of the Mass.
These priests, independently-minded, cannot brook relinquishing their own opinions in order to avail themselves of the authority and hierarchy they claim is absent.
But what of the other priests who have lingered in the wastelands from 2012 – 2016 (i.e., when the SAJM was erected)?
They were once independent by necessity. Are they now independent by preference?
Certainly, the love of independence has taken hold of some. If they had a vocation to the SSPX (i.e., hierarchy), how do they no longer have a vocation to the SAJM (i.e., hierarchy), the Constitutions of which substantially mirror those of the SSPX?
Too many have been clipped by the devil during their independence, and gone chasing off after sedevacantism, conciliarism, or even left the priesthood.
The independent apostolate was a mistake. There is no shame in admitting it. Only humility, and a recognition of the bad fruits it has produced, can set matters right.
The SAJM is now the little oasis the SSPX once was, and those Resistance priests (and faithful) who remain outside of it are just as sure to suffer the same fate as the faithful of Fr. Nelson in Powers Lake, North Dakota (USA).
The SAJM is now the epicenter of the Resistance, and its only real hope.
Independence is slow death (for the priest, faithful, and Resistance).