State of Necessity?  Where are We?

by Fr. Phillipe Nansenet (SSPX)


French Original

[English translation courtesy of]


“What do you ask of God’s Church? The faith.”

This is the essential mission of the Church: to preach the faith, in time and out of time, to provide the sacraments to faithful souls, while guiding them along the way of salvation. But if those who are in charge of distributing these treasures abuse their power by spreading heresy by the bucketload, drying up the source of grace and dissolving Christian ways, one finds oneself in a perilous situation, which we call a “state of necessity”. It seems useful today, indispensable even, to remind ourselves what this expression actually means, and the consequences it implies, at the (rather low) risk of stating the obvious.

Let us begin by noting that we’re dealing with a perilous situation indeed, but one which implies a certain “stability”: the crisis we have been experiencing has lasted fifty years already and is likely to last for a long time to come. The weariness of this or that person can in no way diminish this state of necessity.

What necessity are we talking about? We let Archbishop Lefebvre explain it to us:

“Note that, in entire countries, bishops no longer exercise their authority with a view to faithfully and accurately transmit the faith and grace, and note also that Rome seems to quietly approve of them. A bishop has the duty to do everything he can for the transmission of the faith and grace to the faithful who legitimately ask for it.. even if priests only have a fictitious incardination.”1

Let’s pause here for a moment.

“Note that..”: Msgr. Lefebvre looks at facts. When we speak of a state of necessity, it is a matter of fact, independent of our desire (which of course is to see the preaching of the faith return as soon as possible to the top of the Church). Rather than indulging in a dangerous and incorrigible optimism, we prefer, following the founder of the Society, to see reality.

“A bishop has the duty to do everything he can for the transmission of the faith and grace to the faithful who legitimately ask for it..”: it is when faced with this fact (an unprecendented crisis in the Church) that a bishop and faithful priests find themselves in the necessity of making up for the serious spiritual deficiencies in which the modernists plunge the poor faithful. But it is not merely a question of making up for a simple lack: we must also protect these faithful from false teachings, which lead to the loss of faith and morals. That is why Archbishop Lefebvre asserted in his famous declaration: “It is therefore impossible for any conscientious and faithful Catholic to adopt this reform and to submit to it in any way whatsoever. The only attitude of fidelity to the Church and to Catholic doctrine, for our own salvation, is the categorical refusal to accept this reform.”2 This state of necessity, therefore, does not merely allow us to make up for the severe negligence of the pastors, but also to protect the sheep from the deadly poison conveyed by the conciliar reforms.

”..even if priests only have a fictitious incardination”: let us imagine for a moment that Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society were not condemned by the conciliar church and were treated normally. It is hardly conceivable, as the Revolution always starts of by violently persecuting its victim, before trying to get him to become legitimized by them [the revolutionaries] by attracting him on the slippery slope of compromise. But if this impossibility would have been realized anyway, it would not have changed anything to the state of necessity: to every “conscious and faithful” Catholic there would have always remained the necessity to refuse “this reform and to submit to it in any way whatsoever”, in other words, the necessity of having recourse exclusively to priests who preach the true Faith (by publicly denouncing error and its authors), who celebrate the rites of all time, and who teach Catholic morality. This state of necessity stems from the crisis of the faith, and not from the unjust and void condemnations incurred by the Society and its founder. As one confrere, venerable on account of his his age and his position in the Society, recently said:

“The state of the Church is such that we can administer the sacraments validly; this is what is called the state of necessity, upon which supplied jurisdiction is based!”3

In other words, the state of necessity is dogmatic and not canonical. The crisis is not limited to the condemnation of the Society. The state of necessity concerns not only a few traditional priests and faithful, but the whole world. The Society has always endeavored to ask that Tradition not be the privilege of some, but that it should become the treasure of the whole Church. Bishop Fellay told the Roman authorities:

“If you want to get out of this crisis, forget for a moment the Society, and concern yourselves with solving this crisis! Once the crisis is resolved, the Society will no longer be a problem to you.”4

Thus the canonical “gifts” which might be granted as little presents, will not make the necessity disappear. This venerable confrere we mentioned before put it like this:

“The state of necessity remains and Rome has not changed in any way … Sure, Rome wants us to address the bishops, and thus to recognize that there is no necessity, but that won’t deceive us: the state of the Church become more disasterous each passing day! […] Let us all reassure ourselves: we always retain the possibility of confessing and celebrating our marriages as we’ve always done, without asking the local ordinary or priest, because of this state of necessity.”5

As long as the poisoned principles of Vatican II are preached and advanced, this state of necessity will remain, and our struggle will be legitimate and indispensable.

Nevetheless, here and there, one hears that the state of necessity today is retreating, even about to disappear. In light of what we have just reminded ourselves of, we only need to look at the facts, rather than at our desires. Have traditional doctrine and discipline been restored to a place of honor by the pope, the cardinals and the bishops? Clearly not. And given the fact that they wish, by a Motu Proprio, to confuse in one and the same rite the Mass of all time and Luther’s bastard mass6 (giving, of course, precedence to the latter), it is more than ever imperative to preserve the faithful from the growing confusion: in this sense, the last ten years are an urgent warning to us! We are told that some bishops, by raising their voices, tend to distinguish themselves from others. Let us welcome their determination. But is this really something new? We remember a cardinal Gagnon, Oddi or Stickler (who dared to write the preface, a few years ago, of a re-edition of the Short Critical Study).

If we think that the state of necessity is retreating, we should not forget that the Revolution has always needed, in order to advance, to oppose the progressives as well as the moderate conservatives. Let us read, for example, this courageous statement:

“We must admit realistically and with feelings of deep pain, that Christians today in large measure feel lost, confused, perplexed and even disappointed; ideas opposed to the truth which has been revealed and always taught are being scattered abroad in abundance; heresies, in the full and proper sense of the word, have been spread in the area of dogma and morals, creating doubts, confusions and rebellions; the liturgy has been tampered with; immersed in an intellectual and moral relativism and therefore in permissiveness, Christians are tempted by atheism, agnosticism, vaguely moral enlightenment and by a sociological Christianity devoid of defined dogmas or an objective morality.” 7

Would we be able to guess the author of these remarks, which seem to announce the dawn of a renewal? It is Pope John Paul II, in 1981. This realistic observation did not prevent the same pope from committing unprecedented scandals in the history of the Church: a visit to the synagogue of Rome, the meetings in Assisi, kissing of the Koran etc. : nothing of the sort that makes the state of necessity retreat! That is why Bishop Fellay declared again in Rome:

“If you want to regain our confidence, words will not suffice, we needs deeds. We need a turnaround. One must condemn what must be condemned, heresies, errors. Whether in matters of faith, whether in morality, discipline, or the liturgy, these acts of condemnation must be known. That said, positive actions are also needed. It is necessary that a Catholic life which is now made impossible in the official Church, that such a normal, traditional life be made possible again. And this can only be done by promoting Tradition.” 8

Such common sense reminds us of the prudence of Archbishop Lefebvre, who wrote in his Spiritual Journey:

“I can hear them say: “You exaggerate! There are many good bishops who pray, who have the Faith, who are edifying…” Were they saints, as soon as they accept the false religious liberty, hence the secular State; false ecumenism, and hence the admission of many ways of salvation; of liturgical reform, and hence of the practical negation of the Sacrifice of the Mass; of the new catechisms with all their errors and heresies, they officially contribute to the revoluion within the Church and to its destruction!”9

Because we are obliged to observe that the apostasy is growing at the top of the Church, we must more than ever protect the souls from this modernist scandal. As Bishop Fellay wrote in 2002:

“All of us, in order to preserve this unity, and in the name of our Catholic conscience, have to discard and refuse to take the broad and easy highway proposed by the reforms. It is in order to ease our consciences that we are where we are, and these are not at all eased if we throw ourselves precipitately on a path that we have refused for thirty years … in order to remain Catholic. In the name of the faith of our baptism, it is in the name of the promises of our baptism that we have promised to remain faithful that we say “no” to all that does not assure the safety of our salvation. That is our right, that is our duty.” 10

A year earlier he said :

“If Rome calls us like firefighters to help put out the fire, we will not refuse, but before we enter the inferno, we would ask that they cut off the gas, the source of the fire.”11

Does this not echo what Archbishop Lefebvre wrote at the end of his life, in his Spiritual Journey? He affirmed:

“It is, therefore, a strict duty for every priest wanting to remain Catholic to separate himself from this Conciliar Church for as long as it does not rediscover the Tradition of the Church and of the Catholic Faith.”12

Fr. Philippe Nansenet

  1. Marcel Lefebvre, The Biography by Msgr. Tissier de Mallerais, Clovis, 2002, p. 552 ↩
  2. Declaration of 21 November, 1974 ↩
  3. Le Seignadou, June 2017 ↩
  4. Msgr. Fellay, Sermon on 2 February, 2006, Flavigny ↩
  5. Le Seignadou, June 2017 ↩
  6. We must remembere that these energetic expressions were written by Archbishop Lefebvre ↩
  7. Quoted by Romano Amerio in Iota Unum, p. 14-15 ↩
  8. Msgr. Fellay, conference in Paris, 11 November, 2005 ↩
  9. Msgr. Lefebvre, Spiritual Journey, Iris, 2010, p. 14 ↩
  10. Msgr. Fellay, Letter to Friends and Benefactors, n° 62, June, 2002 ↩
  11. Msgr. Fellay, Letter to Friends and Benefactors, n° 60, May, 2001 ↩
  12. Msgr. Lefebvre, Spiritual Journey, Iris, 2010, p. 40 ↩