If there could be salvation outside the Conciliar Church, then is there salvation “outside the SSPX” or other traditionalist groups?
As Catholics we are always compelled to choose between Truth and “obedience.” Moreover, we must likewise choose between practicing the dogma “outside the Church there is no salvation” and the present ecclesiastical orientation, which thinks and believes otherwise—between the immemorial teaching of the Church, which states that schismatics and heretics are “outside the Catholic Church,” and the modern ecclesiastical orientation, which started with the spirit of the council (Aggiornamento). This Modernist spirit has been continued nowadays by the New Evangelization’s fever, and is being promoted by the attitude of the “Hermeneutic of Continuity” in traditionalist groups.
In the conflict between “obedience” and Truth, better-informed Catholics have chosen the Truth, as did Archbishop Lefebvre. In his thinking, with the Church according to Tradition, the Archbishop’s sensus fidei maintained that only Truth will ensure union with the invisible Head of the Church, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, he resisted the Post-Vatican II ecclesiastical orientation (religious liberty, ecumenism and collegiality), in order to remain in the one Church of Jesus Christ. He continued to act “within the Church and according to the Church,” resisting the new ecclesiastical tide in the measure that it attempts to distance itself from the doctrines and practices of the Faith, kept and transmitted by the Catholic Church, and desiring—in spite of many disappointments—that union with the Vicar of Christ can be re-established as soon as possible without having to compromise on any point of doctrine. No matter what, this is what he stood for!
Hence, the apparent conflict between “obedience” and Truth rests on AMBIGUITY. For instance, at the time of Vatican II there were those ambiguous terms, which could be understood in one way by Catholics and in another (contradictory) way by Modernists, like some post-Conciliar prelates who want to preach about things like “unity in diversity,” or “silent apostasy while keeping the faith.” Certainly, deeds speak louder than words. In today’s Official Church Pope Francis is an ultra-Modernist prelate—a master of contrarieties, who says he is not against Catholic teaching and yet favors a humanistic world! By the same token, the ranks of traditional priests—in particular within the SSPX, the backbone of Tradition—are being infected again with such a dilemma between Truth and “obedience,” a note of our confusing time.
In the days of the Council, the teaching of novelties about humanism (man-centered Church) were opposed and then silenced by more or less honest means and men, but adherents thereof have since been installed in key positions of power during the post-Conciliar period, so that the new system DEMANDS obedience to such “personal” orientations against the whole previous Magisterium of the Church.
In this perspective, the break between the unity of faith and a pretended “unity of communion” with the hierarchy (to do what the Council says, or to be with the Pope), which omits, keeps quiet or alters the doctrine received from God and transmitted by the Church, creates in the Church militant an “extraordinary” situation—a state of affairs that is neither ordinary nor regular. Is this a crisis of Faith? Or is this a crisis of authority?
The normal and ordinary situation of the Holy Catholic Church is that the orientation, which is exteriorly commissioned to the hierarchy, should favor, or at least not contradict, the orientation which springs from the invisible Head—Our Lord Jesus Christ—and was given to the Church originally, continues to be given through grace.
The conflict is between the new orientation, which some strive to force upon the Church, and the Catholic sense of faithful; in other words, between the new direction which is imposed on the government of the Church, and the conscience that each and every bishop or priest should have in his mission of helping the salvation of souls.
In this state of “uneasiness,” the faithful find their religion attacked by those very people who are supposed to guide them, and so find themselves conscience-bound to resist those whom they would wish, in normal circumstances, to follow as Pastors, in particular the Bishops.
We could never appreciate enough the great blessing of having Archbishop Lefebvre to lead the battle for the Faith! Here is a reminder of his Catholic instinct as regards talks with Rome:
Among those words from the Vatican News on June 16, 1988, concerning the Protocol between Rome and the SSPX, there are certain expressions “to be used as a basis … for reconciliation.” At that time, the Archbishop himself, and the SSPX as well, were committed “to an attitude of study and of communicating with the Holy See, in avoiding all polemics on the subject of the points taught by Vatican II or with the reforms which followed and which they found difficult to reconcile with Tradition.” This was clearly to be “a pact of silence,” no longer to criticize the innovations of the authorities.
The bitter experience of the years following Vatican II has proven that to dialogue “in an attitude of study and communication” with the Roman hierarchy—even with different prelates and their various temperaments and ecclesiastical understandings—has been an utter drama, not only regarding the critical status of Catholic teaching throughout the world, but also in the decline of unity of teaching among bishops, priests and faithful related to the SSPX structure.
In fact, the only foreseen result of the “agreement” was the reduction to silence of the unique, authorized and solid voice, which made itself heard at the time by Archbishop Lefebvre’s battle on behalf of Catholic Tradition, confronting the auto-demolition of the Church.
As we know, Tradition does not mean exterior customs, such as Latin and rubrics. Indeed, Tradition conveys and transmits the TRUE REVELATION given to the Apostles by Our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to be kept with all its integrity and to be passed from generation to generation until the second coming of Our Blessed Lord. St. Peter, as the first Pope, did defend this Treasure and Deposit of Faith, until his martyrdom for Christ’s sake. As it was St. Peter’s duty, so must it be that of the present Pope. Evidently, that is not the case with Pope Francis.
Catholic Tradition is not to be regarded “as an SSPX-particular charisma,” as Cardinal Gagnon himself stated during his official interview with the Avvenire on June 17, 1988, “On our part [the Roman part], we have always talked of reconciliation; Archbishop Lefebvre, on his part, of recognition. The difference is not small. Reconciliation implies that both parties will make an effort to recognize past errors. Archbishop Lefebvre wants only that it be declared that he was right all the time, and this is impossible.”
In consequence, the Archbishop wanted not to be asked to recognize “errors” which he had not committed. His fight for the Treasure of the Faith should not be ended with surrender, because that would mean that Tradition would no longer be part of the Truth Revealed by God—in Whom there could be no change, Who is eternal Truth.
For the Archbishop it was clear that talking to Rome was impossible, so that “to collaborate” with a hierarchy that turns to a “living Tradition” as a way of adapting the Faith to the modern world would end—sooner or later—in some compromise or surrender, or at least in some cooperation by silence.
Unfortunately, this is the scenario in which many traditional priests and faithful are involved, in our current struggles to defend the Catholic Church. Needless to say, the real problem is still in Rome, wherein the “official authorities in keeping the true faith, but not in safeguarding there administrative individual authority in a frame which looks in exterior order yet is diabolically disoriented.”
In like manner, so it has been for traditionalist faithful (including priests and bishops) since the SSPX General Chapter of June 2012. During the three-year “theological discussions” all of us were told to keep silent. As a matter of fact, not only two SSPX bishops mostly wanted to keep silent but also very many priests desire to remain exteriorly so, and when circumstances brought pressure to bear they have chosen “obedience” instead of Truth.
So, Modernist tendencies work as virus in our blood stream, from the inside out, and from the heart to the head, and then to the members.
Was Archbishop Lefebvre right in dismissing the requirements of recognition? Could it be that his concept of Tradition is not as arbitrary as today’s superiors would like to assume? Could it be that Tradition as the simple transmission of the Deposit of Faith is not incomplete and contradictory at all?
He did not keep silent!
¡Viva Cristo Rey!