Regarding the Letter “Striking Contrast” by Fr. Francois Laisney (SSPX): Part I

[In response to the episcopal consecration of Bishop Jean Michel Faure]


Sean Johnson 



Long-time American diplomat and former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, was known to have said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” By this, he meant that the confusion and perplexity subsequent to significant and unexpected events allows an opportunity to push through measures and policies which, without the benefit of the distraction provided by the crisis, would otherwise not find enough support to pass.

American politicians have made such efficient use of this tactic so as to spawn suspicion that some of these crises are now deliberately “manufactured” in what are called “false flag operations” to push through policies which otherwise would not have enough broad-based support. Examples of such crises (whether naturally occuring or false flag) would be: 911 (to tighten government control over its subjects and remove civil liberties under the pretext of fighting terrorism); the “Holocaust” (to create an Israeli state in Palestine as international and worldwide banking headquarters, under the pretext of protecting the Jewish people from another “genocide;” The Sandy Hook Massacre (Used by advocates of gun control to pass Draconian restrictive gun laws, up to and including banning private possession by law abiding citizens, and imposing imprisonment for refusal to comply); etc.

You get the technique: “How can we use this situation to progress our ambitions?” is the tactic Kissinger taught the world.

Of course, the episcopal consecration of Bishop Faure is anything BUT a crisis to the faithful Catholics still following the teaching of Archbishop Lefebvre (and therefore of all the saints, Fathers, Doctors, popes, and Our Lord Jesus Christ). Rather, it is a Godsend which has guaranteed the preservation of Tradition, regardless of what Menzingen and unconverted Rome work out going forward. But if you are one of the anesthetized zombies in the pews, mesmerized by seven years of branding and conferences like “Resistance to What?,” then the consecration is likely something which catches you a bit off balance.

Per Kissinger, how can Menzingen use this to their advantage?

It is becomming apparent that Menzingen is using the March 19 consecration of Bishop Faure to further its agenda of achieving a practical accord with unconverted Rome. What is for them (and Rome) a “crisis” (because tradition has eluded their capture), is to us a great cause of joy. Yet the strategy appears to be to contrive distinctions between the episcopal consecrations of 1988 and 2015, in an attempt to show Rome just how “different” they have become from the members of the Resistance and the “old SSPX” (while simultaneously trying to reassure their clergy and faithful that they are still the same old SSPX, and still following in the footsteps of Archbishop Lefebvre).

The latest attempt comes from long-time accordist, Fr. Francois Laisney (SSPX – Singapore). After posting it here, we will follow with an evaluation of the reasons adduced for the “distinctions,” in order to appraise their weight and value.

The Letter of Fr. Laisney:
“A Striking Contrast by Fr. Francois Laisney (SSPX – Singapore)

There is a striking contrast between the recent episcopal consecration by Bishop Williamson and those done by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988.

Archbishop Lefebvre had founded the Society of St. Pius X, as a proper “society of common life without vows,” duly canonically approved by Bishop Charriere on 1st November 1970. There is no similar “society” with Bishop Williamson, the “sacerdotal union Marcel Lefebvre” has no real authority – Bishop Williamson himself said that such authority was now impossible – absolutely no canonical standing and no rules.

Archbishop Lefebvre always strove to respect Canon Law, and obtained the approval of the proper authorities for his seminary of Econe and other priories until the illegal suppression of the SSPX in 1975 made it impossible; even then he filed two appeals at Rome, which Cardinal Billot buried. Since such appeal has “suspensive power,” the SSPX legally still exists in fact though often not recognized. It has been practically recognized since. This clearly shows that Archbishop Lefebvre had never neglected Canon Law, never thought that “faith” would dispense him from the Canon Law! But where is such respect of Canon Law on Bishop Williamson’s part? It is nowhere to be seen.

The Society of St. Pius X has lived and grown for 18 years, showing its vitality by its six seminaries, its solidly established chapels, schools, missions, organized in districts as is normal for a Catholic religious society. It had in 1988 more than 200 priests, plus more than 200 seminarians, brothers, sisters, oblates, etc. The “loose association” of priests with Bishop Williamson does not have even three years existence, with no regular order, practically no seminaries (the one in the Phillipines in south of Manilla was closed because their hostess was so disgusted by the disorder!): they already have big divisions among themselves (to the point that some have already made civil lawsuits against others) and some are already openly sedevacantists, thus manifesting no unity among themselves: hence no solidity.

It is claimed that Bishop Faure “intends” to open a seminary: how can he claim a “survival operation” for something that does not yet exist? What a contrast!

Archbishop Lefebvre had already asked Cardinal Ratzinger in the early 80s for the consecration of a bishop, and for a whole year before the 1988 consecrations, he made every effort to have it done with the proper papal mandate – to the point that the Pope approved on May 5th 1988 the principle of a consecration by Archbishop Lefebvre. He then, on May 6th, asked for the practical realization of this approval, requesting a date for the seminary: he had himself already postponed several times the date; Rome waited three weeks to give him a date, and the very letter offering a date asked for new candidates which made it impossible to be ready for that date: this dishonesty manifested that Rome did not intend to observe the approval given on May 5th, and by indefinate delays would [make] it void. This [convinced] Archbishop Lefebvre not to delay any more his “survival operation.” But where are the efforts of Bishop Williamson to obtain any approval by the Pope? Absolutely none! What a contrast!

The recognition of the authority of the Pope was very clear and concretely manifested by the protocol; only the dishonesty of Rome made this protocol void. But the recognition of the authority of the Pope by Bishop Williamson is only a theoretical recognition, denied in practice and by his many declarations rejecting ANY submission to the current Pope.

St. Augustine says that what makes a martyr is not the fact of suffering and death but the cause for which one dies (thus there [are] no Muslim martyrs!)[.] Archbishop Lefebvre resisted real abuses AFTER they were done, not before! But Bishop Williamson and his followers resisted BEFORE any compromise by the SSPX was made, and even three years later such compromise is anywhere to be seen. Archbishop Lefebvre resisted BIG and evident scandals, such as the novelties of Vatican II (religious liberty, ecumenism, collegiality), the new liturgy, with its communion in the hand, and many other “approved” practices and finally the huge scandal of Assisi in 1986. Bishop Williamson opposes some ambiguous words ina proposed April 2012 declaration, which was made void and completely discarded within months: the disproportion of the cause is [again] striking.

To assure the survival of the SSPX, Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four bishops between 35 and 52 years younger than he was in 1988. Bishop Williamson intends to assure a survival…consecrating a bishop who is just one year younger than himself, very past secular retirement age and very close to bishops’ retirement age! Again, what a contrast!”

My Response:
So there you have it. What now to make of these arguments? Let us progress through them systematically and methodically, making sure to address each, so as to be able to offer a conclusion regarding the cumulative weight of the primary thesis: That there is a striking contrast between the circumstances which gave rise to, and justified, the episcopal consecrations of 1988.

The first attempt at contrasting the 1988 and 2015 consecrations offered by Fr. Laisney is that, whereas the SSPX had received canonical approval from Bishop Charriere, thereby legitimizing the Society, Bishop Williamson has neither a “society” properly speaking, nor canonical approval.

My immediate response to this line of argumentation is to ask myself, given what I know of Archbishop Lefebvre, “Had Bishop Charriere refused canonical authorization for the pius union, would he have scrapped the entire enterprise, and gone back into retirement?” There is nothing in Archbishop Lefebvre’s behavior or history to suggest that he would have followed such a course. Rather, the evidence (particularly the 1988 episcopal consecrations themselves) suggests the contrary: Archbishop Lefebvre, basing his actions firstly on the doctrine of necessity (having subordinated canonical considerations to the theological), is what justified and motivated his actions, and he would certainly have held the course and supplied for the needs of the faithful caught in the state of general grave spiritual necessity, regardless of whether canonical approval would have been forthcoming. In fact, this has always been the position of the SSPX (as evinced by the 2-part theological SiSiNoNo study which appeared in the Angelus for May and July, 1999 titled “The 1988 Episcopal Consecrations: A Theological Study.” Available online at The canonical considerations are always subordinated to the theological. Notice (as the very letter of Fr. Laisney evinces) that this is no longer the case in neo-Menzingen.

But that said, one is forced to question the relevence of Fr. Laisney’s initial distinctions regarding the 1988 and 2015 episcopal consecrations. They seem irrelevent to the issue, insofar as they do nothing toward establishing that which he sets out to prove: That the 1988 and 2015 consecrations are not at all alike. His observations might be relevent in a conversation regarding which “society” has a better canonical or theological foundation, but have nothing to do with establishing a distinction in motive, purpose, scope, or consequence for the consecrations themselves. My response, then, is that these first observations regarding canonical approval, and the existence/lack of a proper society, are neither here nor there, and out of place in a conversation regarding episcopal consecrations.

Fr. Laisney’s next attempt at distinguishing the 1988 and 2015 consecrations pertains to the respect Archbishop Lefebvre had for the canon law of the Church (as allegedly contrasted with Bishop Williamson’s lack of respect for the same), and he observes that Archbishop Lefebvre “never thought that ‘faith’ would dispense him from the Canon Law!”

There are therefore two distinct claims being made within this attempt to distinguish the behavior and position of Archbishop Lefebvre from that of Bishop Williamson: Firstly, that the former respected canon law, where the latter does not. Secondly, that Archbishop Lefebvre never thought the faith would dispense him from the observance of the law.

Firstly, let us readily admit that Archbishop Lefebvre certainly had great respect for the canon law of the Church, and all things being equal, would have preferred to work with canonical approval. But to claim Bishop Williamson lacks such respect is manifestly false and unjust, as proven by the June 1, 2014 conference in Post Falls, ID, in which His Excellency explains to Resistance faithful that his call for a loose confederation of priests is not based firstly upon any personal or strategic preferences, but because he considers himself to lack the authority to found a proper religious congregation (Part 1 of that conference is available here: For 90 minutes, His Excellency explains Archbishop Lefebvre’s great deference for authority, and it was his desire to follow in Lefebvre’s shoes that keeps him from founding a religious congregation without canonical approval. Furthermore, His Excellency was forthright in this regard, despite putting himself into open conflict with Fr. Pfeiffer and other hard-liners in order to hold that line. So to attempt to contrast Archbishop Lefebvre with Bishop Williamson based on an alleged lack of respect for canonical authority is patently absurd.

Secondly, it is equally obvious (despite the contention of Fr. Laisney to the contrary), that Archbishop Lefebvre certainly placed the faith above canonical considerations. How else could he justify the 1988 consecrations in the face of the Pope’s “no,” except by appealing to the theological principles of necessity, which transcend and trump canonical considerations? In the 2-part theological study cited above, which has long represented the “gold standard” of SSPX apologetics pertaining to justifying the 1988 consecrations, we find among so many other excellent quotes, this nugget:

“Jurisdiction ‘as if from itself’ seems to have flowed from the Pope in the history of the Church whenever a grave necessity of the Church and of souls demanded it. In such extraordinary circumstances, says Dom Grea, the episcopacy proceeded “resolute in the tacit consent of its Head rendered certain by necessity” (op. cit. vol.I, p.220). Dom Grea does not say that the consent of the pope rendered the bishops certain of the necessity. On the contrary, the necessity rendered them certain of the consent of the pope. Precisely why did the necessity render the consent of their Head “certain,” consent that in reality those bishops were ignoring? – Evidently because in necessity the positive judgment of Peter is owed. If from Christ, on the strength of his primacy, Peter has the power of extending or restricting the exercise of the power of episcopal order, from Christ he also has the duty to extend or restrict it according to the necessity of the Church and of souls. In the exercise of the power of the keys, Christ remains always the “principle agent” and “no other man can exercise [the power of the keys] as principle agent” (St. Thomas, Supplement, Q.19, A.4), but only “as instrument and minister of Christ” (ibid., Q.18, A.4). The keys of Peter are also “keys of ministry,” and therefore not even Peter can use the power of the keys arbitrarily, but must be attentive to the divine order of things. The divine order is that jurisdiction flows to others by means of Peter, yes, but such that it is supplied “in a manner sufficient for the salvation of the faithful” (St. Thomas, Contra Gentiles, Bk.4, c.72). Therefore, if Peter prevented it from being supplied sufficiently for the need of souls, he would act against the divine order and would commit a most grave fault (St. Thomas, Supplement, Q8, AA.4-9ƒƒ.).”

This passage not only demonstrates the superiority of the faith (i.e., theology) over the canon law, of which it is the source, but also that the Archbishop, SSPX, and Fr. Laisney himself have long understood that the theological argument trumps the canonical. Has it not always been taught by St. Thomas Aquinas and the SSPX that “necessity is a cause excusing from the law” (see same study referenced above)? And for Fr. Laisney now to claim that the faith (i.e., theological considerations) cannot dispense one from the canon law is simultaneously to discard a defense the entire SSPX apostolate has relied upon from the beginning. Therefore, as Fr. Laisney’s comment stands, it is a self-indictment, and admission that he (and the entire SSPX, for that matter) haven’t a leg to stand on. Is this really an argument he wants to make?

Finally, with reference to the two arguments Fr. Laisney is making regarding the alleged disrespect for canon law, and the manifestly false idea that the faith (i.e., the doctrine of necessity) cannot dispense with canon law, I am again forced to wonder what the applicability is to a discussion allegedly initiated to distinguish the differences between the 1988 and 2015 episcopal consecrations. Rather, it seems his efforts thus far have been geared towards a criticism of the Resistance and Bishop Williamson generally, rather than comparing/contrasting anything specificly relevent to the scope, purpose, or justifications for the consecrations themselves (except in this last respect, to seemingly pull the rug out from under both sides with regard to appealing to the doctrine of necessity as the ultimate justification, which is as suicidal as it is erroneous).

The third argument adduced by Fr. Laisney in support of his contention there exists striking contrasts between the two consecrations of 1988 and 2015 once again misses the mark. Rather than comparing/contrasting the consecrations, he instead compares/contrasts the SSPX at it existed in 1988, versus the Resistance in 2015. The only relevence I can perceive in going down that path is that perhaps Fr. Laisney is implying that, because of the fruitfulness of the SSPX by 1988, the greater numbers (i.e., 200 priests, 200 seminarians, 6 seminaries, etc.) necessitated the consecrations (i.e., because it was too much work for Archbishop Lefebvre to handle all this himself?).

If this is his argument (i.e., a practical justification for the consecrations), it is one I have never seen the SSPX offer before. The SSPX has always primarily justified the 1988 episcopal consecrations on the basis of the state of grave general spiritual necessity. To try to justify episcopal consecrations from practical considerations (which would exist in a position grossly subordinate even to the canonical, much less theological justifications) would certainly be insufficient grounds for disobeying a direct command of the pope to abstain from consecrating, and therefore a more serious disregard for the canon law than the fictitious accusation levied against Bishop Williamson. For these reasons, this third attempt at contrasting the 1988 and 2015 consecrations, besides being completely irrelevent to them, is the weakest of Fr. Laisney’s arguments, and quickly dispatched.

Fr. Laisney goes on to fulminate about the lack of unity within the nascent Resistance, commenting that there are lawsuits between Resistance members, and open displays of sedevacantism. Again: Is this a critique distinguishing the consecrations themselves, or a generalized criticism of the Resistance and resisters? As far as I can tell, the consecrations are not the focus of the plaintiff’s energies. Nevertheless, since he has made the statement, I might observe that lawsuits between SSPX and laity are nothing new, nor between clergy. And so far as the emergence of a few sedevacantists among the clergy, does Fr. Laisney pretend not to remember how sedevacantism was also known at Econe in the early days? Where does he think “the nine” came from? Yes Fr. Laisney, we all remember the early days, before the SSPX became so monolithic in its doctrinal unity, and for what its worth, I rather tend to think this parallel within the nascent Resistance tends to unite it to the history of Econe and Archbishop Lefebvre’s enterprise, rather than distinguishing it.

The fourth attempt at contrasting the 1988 and 2015 episcopal consecrations misses the mark yet again (see a pattern here?), instead represeting something more akin to “heckling.” He asks how Bishop Faure can intend to found a seminary to carry on “Operation Survival” for something that dies not yet exist. I suppose my response would be, “The same way Archbishop Lefebvre intended to provide for the survival of the true priesthood, and instruct the little band of seminarians who approached him in 1969, by founding a seminary which did not yet exist.”

In his fifth attempt to compare/contrast the 1988 and 2015 episcopal consecrations, Fr. Laisney finally hits upon something directly relevent to the consecrations themselves: He observes that Archbishop Lefebvre exhausted himself in an attempt to have his episcopal consecrations canonically sanctiond and approved by Rome, yet observes that Bishop Williamson made no effort to do the same.

Our first response comes from the SSPX itself, as contained in part 2 of the same theological justification for the 1988 episcopal consecrations cited above:

“But it is the pope himself who is favoring or promoting a course for the Church infected by neo-Modernism which threatens the goods fundamental to souls, goods indispensable for the salvation of souls, e.g., faith and morals. If the pope himself is the cause or partial-cause, and even, given his supreme authority, the ultimate cause of the grave and general spiritual necessity in which there is no hope of help from the lawful pastors, then what effect will recourse to the pope obtain in such circumstances? He will be physically accessible, but morally inaccessible. Recourse to him will be certainly physically possible but morally impossible, and if it be attempted, it will result naturally in the pope’s saying “No” to the act which the extraordinary circumstances require “in order that adequate provision be made” (ST, op. cit. in Part 1) for the grave general necessity of souls. Any different behavior on the part of the pope presupposes, in fact, repentance and a humble admission of his own responsibility given that the act in question – i.e., the consecration of bishops -would not be required if the pope himself was not in some measure co-responsible for the state of grave and general necessity.” (

Which is to say that, whereas in the case of 1988, Rome was carrying on a ruse with Archbishop Lefebvre, pretending it was considering giving him a bishop, events (and the Archbishop himself) later made clear this was disingenuous, and that Rome was only waiting for him to die (and the traditional movement with him). Once Archbishop Lefebvre caught onto the ruse, the perceived need for appealing to them (or even remaining in frequent contact with them) was discarded.

Bishop Williamson, having lived through this affair, knows well that appealing to Rome would be pointless (as was clearly stated in the reading of the Apostolic Mandate at the consecration, and as the SSPX used to admit, per the theological study quoted from The Angelus above).

Therefore, while this distinction made by Fr. Laisney (the first one at all relevent to the subject he claims to be discussing) is valid, it is also without value or persuasion, not only in light of the quote provided above which illustrates the futility of appealing to modernist Rome, but also because it comes across as a disingenuous and arbitrary condemnation: Fr. Laisney is perfectly aware that the four SSPX bishops made no attempt to appeal to Rome for permission to consecrate Bishop Licinio Rangel for Campos in 1991 (and used practically the same Apostolic Mandate in 1991 as was used by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988, and Bishop Williamson in 2015. Therefore, if the consecration of Bishop Faure is morally repugnant today, the consecration in which Bishop Fellay participated in 1991 was morally repugnant then.

Fr. Laisney’s 6th attempt at contrasting the 1988 and 2015 consecrations resumes the pattern of irrelevency, deviating from a discussion of the consecrations themselves, and reverting back to the already refuted allegation that Bishop Williamson rejects the authority of the Pope, and despite the latter’s own words, renders only a theoretical recognition of the Pope’s authority.

In making this argument (already refuted by referring to the June 1, 2014 Post Falls conference, in which His Excellency explains he has not the authority to found a religious congregation, and would only do so were the Pope to call him to Rome and authorize his congregation – a segment which also gives the lie to those who want to pretend he refuses any contact with Rome whatsoever), were it not already known to the reader that Fr. Laisney was an SSPX priest, one would instinctively think this accusation came either from an Ecclesia Dei priest (which has long accused the “recognize and resist” position of practical sedevacantism, or a sedevacantist priest (who does not want to allow necessity as excusing from obedience to superiors in a widespread and sustained manner). I would only add, the point already having been refuted above, that to argue along these lines is rather to enforce the suspicion of a growing convergence with the Ecclesia Dei position, by making use of their arguments, and a drift from the position of Archbishop Lefebvre (who never gave the doctrine of necessity a shelf life).

Fr. Laisney’s 7th attempted distinction is the most dumbfounding of all: In it, he pretends that whereas Archbishop Lefebvre only reacted after major scandals forced his hand, Bishop Williamson, on the other hand, reacted BEFORE any compromise was made. Apparently, Fr. Laisney would have you believe that anything short of a signed deal is not a compromise. What he seems to be unwilling to admit, is that the reason the SSPX is so close to a deal with Rome today is precisely because of the COMPROMISES THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN MADE! For example: The changing of the prudential precondition from the conversion of Rome; the expulsion of Bishop Williamson; the contradiction of the 2006 General Chapter declaration; the installment of six weak conditions (only three of which are considered essential) for the acceptance of an accord; the branding campaign whereby peace is made with Vatican II, all the scandalous statements of Bishop Fellay admitting that Vatican II belongs to the tradition of the Church; that religious liberty in Dignitatis Humanae was “very limited” (and therefore implicitly acceptable); that the fight for tradition has been shifted away from the fight for Christ the King, and reduced to the fight for the Mass (a la Ecclesia Dei); that so many of the Roman scandals are passed over in silence; that the distinction between the Conciliar Church and the Catholic Church (or eternal Rome vs Modernist Rome) has been eliminated; etc; etc.

No Fr. Laisney, there has been quite a bit more water under the bridge (and it all remains there!) than merely the scandalous April 15, 2012 doctrinal declaration (which, had it not been for Bishop Williamson throwing a monkey wrench into the gears, would already have had you accepting the legitimacy of the new Mass -which in your critique above, you seem to hint that it is communion in the hand, and not the Mass itself, that you object to- and the hermeneutic of continuity, with Vatican II deepening and enlightening “certain” aspects of the Faith).

In Fr. Laisney’s final attempt at distinguishing the 1988 and 2015 consecrations, he is successful in actually addressing the subject for only the second time in eight attempts. He observes that Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated men much younger than himself, whereas Bishop Williamson consecrated a bishop roughly the same age. Fr. Laisney then questions rhetorically how Bishop Williamson can say he intends to ensure the survival of tradition by consecrating someone the same age as himself.

The problem here lies in Fr. Laisney’s limited conception of what “ensuring the survival of tradition entails.” Fr. Laisney conceives of preserving tradition across time, hence his emphasis on age (i.e., temporal continuity). Bishop Williamson conceives of ensuring the survival of tradition in numbers (i.e., providing for another bishop in case something should happen to him). Both are ways or preserving tradition. But I would ask Fr. Laisney, “Would you have been happier had Bishop Williamson consecrated 4 young priests? Had that happened, would you not now be complaining that one bishop would have been sufficient? And had Bishop Williamson consecrated a younger man (or men), would you not be complaining that they did not have the requisite experience and learning to hold such an office?


It should be expected that letters like that of Fr. Laisney will become more and more common. That just as Menzingen is using the consecration of Bishop Faure to aggrandize itself to Rome, by showing these Romans how different they are from the Resistance (and therefore, from the old SSPX) for the purposes of securing a practical accord, so too will authors like Fr. Laisney use the opportunity to aggrandize themselves to Menzingen, tripping over eachother in displays of loyalty to the regime, but mostly in hatred of everything the old SSPX Bishop Williamson represents.

So far as the merits of the letter itself are concerned, the “striking contrast” (insofar as it exists) applies more to the differences between the neo-SSPX and the Resistance, than anything specific to the episcopal consecrations of 1988 and 2015.

Regarding those consecrations, they were nearly identical in all respects: They both featured practically the same Apostolic Mandate; they both based themselves on the state of necessity; they both explicitly announced the withholding of any apostolic mission (i.e., jurisdiction); and they both took place from a desire to provide for tradition.

In another article (“Initial Thoughts on the Episcopal Consecration”), I observed that Bishop Fellay would have to choose his response to this consecration very carefully, so as not to tie his hands regarding his own ability to perform an “unauthorized” consecration at a later date, should he ever snap out of Rome’s spell. Unfortunately, he has basically forecasted to Rome (by these types of letters) an idea that going forward, all unapproved consecrations are not an option, or, that consecrations can only be performed with the consent of Rome. It is difficult, in the new Regime, to imagine Menzingen being willing to perform a consecration to perpetuate the SSPX without the permission of Rome. That being the case, what can clergy and laity expect from Menzingen in the future?

No bishops at all?

Bishops picked by Rome?

Those seem to be the only alternative futures for a Menzingen which has eagerly placed its head into the noose, and now pulls the loop tight.

Truly, this effort is well named “Operation Suicide.”