The Recusant

An unofficial SSPX newsletter, fighting a guerilla war for the soul of Tradition!

Bishop Fellay's Jurisdiction
and the Abuses of the SSPX

Some years ago, Bishop de Galarreta asked Dom Tomas Aquinas to step down as superior of Santa Cruz monastery in Brazil. Not long afterwards, Bishop Fellay asked him: "to call a meeting of the whole community and announce your resignation in front of them all." (Letter 12th January, 2010) By what right or law and with what jurisdiction can they do these sorts of things? So as to help "convince" him, Bishop de Galarreta promised Dom Tomas Aquinas that the US District would be sending no further vocations to Santa Cruz. To what purpose was pressure such as this being applied? The common good or the tactical removal of anyone who opposed an agreement with modernist Rome?

On 21st June 2012 Fr. Thouvenot (Secretary General of the SSPX, based in Menzingen) called the Dominican prior of Avrille to ask him: "Father, if we sign a deal with Rome, will you follow us?"  The Prior said he was unaware of the doctrinal basis on which such an agreement with Rome would be founded. Fr. Thouvenot retorted: "As it happens, you don't know this text. I can't communicate it to you. It's a secret. You have to trust us."  The prior asked for two days to reflect. The following morning, well before those two days were up, the Dominicans received a fax from Bishop Fellay letting them know of his refusal to ordain the three brothers from their community. Following this fax, Fr. Thouvenot wrote, 

"I have informed Bishop Fellay of our conversation yesterday, but visibly the simple fact that you made the community listen to the delirious sermon of Fr. Koller, like the fact that you need more than 24 hours to answer a simple question about trust in authority, was enough to convince him that it would be best to defer the ordinations. This morning he sent you a fax to inform you of this. Hoping that you will be able to tighten thigns back up and re-establish a normal relation of harmonious collaboration, I assure you of my religious devotion."

These two facts amply justify the title of this article. Unfortunately, other facts can further illustrate the gravity of the situation.

According to what principle can a prior or a superior telephone you to forbid you from inviting Bishop Williamson or a priest who is no (or who is no longer) in the SSPX to a gathering which will take place in your own home? By what authority can they forbid you from calling on Bishop Williamson to give the sacrament of confirmation to your children? By what right demand that an allied religious order exclude you from the Third Order? Etc...

In order to answer these questions, we would like to return to an article which went too little noticed, ("Bishop Fellay is the only boss..." This article contains some valuable remarks. In it, the author points out a praxis which reveals an underlying theory that has only just begun to come out into the open. The SSPX believes that it is, if not the Church, then at least the 'life boat,' and abusively behaves as if it had ordinary jurisdiction over the faithful, forgetting what it used to teach people: due to the state of necessity only has supplied jurisdiction.

We would like here to look again at some essential passages from this article, and to add a few remarks to them.

A Doctrinal Weakening

The year 2012 was marked by an abvious change in perspective. Before 2012 the Society of St. Pius X officially excluded the possibility of any "reconciliation" with Rome without the latter first coming back to the Traditional Magisterium. This position was founded on more than thirty years of dealing with Rome. But in 2012, the General Chapter explicitly allowed the possibility of a practical agreement with the current Roman authorities, without there being any doctrinal agreement, as was also confirmed on 27th June 2013 by the declaration of the Society's four-bishops-minus-one.

Fr. Jean OFM Cap., highlighted this decline in the fight for the faith:

"Over the years, Archbishop Lefebvre sought to discuss with Rome, all the way up to the Consecrations. [...] Archbishop had some more or less 'practical' declarations, such as saying 'Let us do the experiment of Tradition'. [...] Then he realised that he had gone too far, he said so, he recognised it. On 5th May [1988] when he signed the protocol, he went too far because he had compromised on the question of doctrine. He had put the practical side of things first. ... In Fideliter no.66, of December 1988, it has written on the cover: 'A une reprise des colloques je poserai mes conditions' ("If talks are renewed, I will put conditions") That's what Archbishop Lefebvre said after the consecrations, that's what he held to until the day of his death, that's what he left us. ... For years and years this principle was held onto. ... Unfortunately, for a little while now, we can say since the end of the Roman discussions, so Autumn 2011, little by little we are forced to note that the authorities of the Society have abandoned this principle."     

A Pastoral Hardening

Faced with faithful and clergy who dared to make public their opposition to this doctrinal weakening, the deviant authorities demonstrated a hardening, since as Louis Veuillot says: "There is no greater sectarian than a liberal."

One of the four bishops consacrated by Archbishop Lefebvre was thrown out, numerous priests have been forced out, children expelled from schools in the US, faithful fired, threatened with or actually denied the sacraments in France, England, Poland, Mexico, Uraguay, Argentina, Italy, etc. In France, one prior thought it fine to say to his faithful: "If I learn of people coming to Mass here who criticise the Society all week long, I won't hesitate to deny them the sacraments."

For the same reason, in June 2012 the ordinations of the Capuchins and Dominicans were cancelled. To a priest who asked the rason for this, Bishop Fellay replied: "I felt a lack of personal trust from these communities... and ordaining a priest is such a serious thing that I preferred to wait..." (9th November 2012, Paris) To appreciate just how gotesque and monstrously arbitrary this answer is, the faithful need to know that the Capuchin deacons were already on retreat with the deacons of the Society when they were told that they would not be being ordained. Let us now compare this reaction of Bishop Fellay towards allied religious communities with how Archbishop Lefebvre reacted to Roman pressure:

"You know that the Nuncio came to demmand that I not proceed withthe ordinations, so of course I said to him: 'You can't just do something like that a mere ten days before the ordinations, that's just not possible. I would say even humanly speaking. These young priests have been working for the last five years to prepare for their ordination, and ten days before the ordination, even though their parents are ready to come, even though the First Masses have been announced everywhere, at that moment I am asked not to do the ordinations. Ordinations which are legitimate. These seminarians who have done regular studies have a natural right to have the result of the preparations that they have made.' "  (Cospec 32A) 

Did Bishop Fellay have a right, was it moral, for him to act thus? Are priests who deny the sacraments to the faithful or who disturb their consciences right to do so?

A Supplied Jurisdiction...

The Compendium of Moral Theology of St. Alphonsus Ligouri says (T II, § 612, p. 362) :

"Penalties cannot be applied to non-believers, nor to persons over which one does not have jurisdiction." 

(French: « La censure ne peut être portée contre les infidèles, ni contre les personnes sur lesquelles on n’a pas de juridiction ». (Fr. Joseph Frassinetti, prior of Sainte Sabine à Gênes, Tomes I & II translated into French by Fr. P. Fourez STL, 1889)

But we know that the conciliar church refuses any jurisdiction to the SSPX. Bishop Fellay's power of jurisdiction therefore does not come from the Vatican. Bishop Fellay and his priests do not exercise any "ordinary jurisdiction" but a "supplied jurisdiction"  which is "an emergency jurisdiction given by the law to every bishop and every priest in case of necessity, for the common good, when he has not received from the authorities the necessary powers." ('Sel de a Terre' 87 pp.139-140) 

"However, it must be borne in mind that an authority which is supplied does not have the same characteristics as authority which exists ordinarily in the Church. It is exercised case-by-case, and is thus not habitual: in other words the people who benefit from it can always withdraw from it, and the supplied authority has no power to make them return. It is dependent on the  need of the faithful, given the state of crisis. To the extent that the faithful need these bishops or priests for the salvation of their souls, the Church creates this link of authority between them. All of that shows that supplied jurisdiction gives a limited authority which has to be exercised rather delicately. The jurisdictional authority of a bishop, coming not from a Roman nomination but from the necessity of the salvation of souls, must be exercised with an especial delicacy." (Archbishop Lefebvre, note of 20th Feb. 1990, quoted in 'Sel de la Terre.')

At the Mass in Lille, in 1976, Archbishop Lefebvre declared very clearly: "They say that I am the leader of Tradtion. I am not the leader of anything at all." ["On dit que je suis le chef de file de la tradition. Je ne suis le chef de file de rien du tout." ] To think that his jurisdiction was ordinary when really it is only supplied jurisdiction would be: " found our apostolate on a false and illusory basis."  (Extract from a letter of Abp. Lefebvre, quoted by Fr. Pivert in the book "Archbishop Lefebvre's Consecrations... a Schism?" Fideliter 1988, pp.55-60).

...Become A Perverse Domination

Today everything takes places as though the General House fo the Society of St. Pius X feels it has to force all the faithful and religious communities of Tradition to allign themselves with their personal choices.

The faithful has no obligation to approve of Bishop Fellay's quest for a personal prelature. In England and Italy faithful were told (by telephone!) that, due to their being involved in running websites critical of the new direction of Bishop Fellay, they would be asked not to set foot in the chapels any longer... Some religious asked a gentleman not to serve Mass any longer at the convent where he had always served the Mass: his crime was to have served the Mass of a 'resistance' priest. The 2014 ORDO with it's list of Traditional Mass Centres shows that the Benedictine Monastery of Santa Cruz (Nova Friburgo, Brazil) has been deleted from the list. And yet since the Consecrations, the theological position of this monastery has not changed one bit. Where will such a tyranny end?

The good of souls is no longer the purpose of authority. The SSPX has gone beyond the limits of supplied jurisdiction. It is usurping a role which it does not have, and this usurpation is not of the Church: it is sectarian. 

An Immoral Authority

The change of course, made obvious in 2012, has placed the Society outside the limits of its legitimate power. The repressions, exclusions and sanctions that it throws out like confetti are evidence of a serious moral drift, and attest to a despotic, self-validating mentality, entirely devoid of charity. In France, at a work meeting at a priory, the prior addressed a Knight of Our Lady, an 86 year-old gentleman, with the following words: "Fuck off!"
The man's crime: being against an agreement with Rome...

"In controvertial questions, preachers and confessors must be on their guard to ensure that they define what is a sin, above all mortal sin, based on the authority of moral theologians or even based on what numerous theologians say; such a decision requires the universal consent of the authors. In the same way, a confessor could not, without it being an injustice, refuse absolution to a penitent who has decided to act contrary to an opinion supported by one or several theologians but contested by other Catholic theologians."  (Frassinetti, Tome II, p.27)

"Since confessors have no authority to decide theological questions, I find along with De Lugo and other authors quoted by St. Alphonsus, that the penitent clearly has the right to put his opinion into practice, as long as this opinion is supported by good theologians and that as a result it has a solid probability, at least extrinsically; and that is so even if the penitent were the most ignorant man in the world and his opinion seemed absolutely false to his confessor."  (Frassinetti, Tome II, note 141 of No.148)  
And yet lots of priests publicly manifest a legitimate and well-argued theological point of view which is different to that of Bishop Fellay: Bishop Williamson (former seminary rector and former seminary teacher of Mr. Bernard Fellay), Frs. Chazal, Pfeiffer, Girouard, Fr. Jean OFM Cap., Fr. Pierre-Marie OP...
The claim that it is for the common good that anyone whose opinions are contrary to Menzingen is labelled as "subversive" has no value, since the true common good can never go contrary to the moral law, and when someone is trying quietly to change the purpose of an organisation, it just won't do to call "subversive" all those who justifiably resist precisely that insidious subversion. In reality, the Society wants to expand its power. And for that reason it no longer pays much attention to the characteristics of the jurisdiction which it has. It thinks it has the right to decide everything that goes on inside the little world made up of the faithful and religious congregations allied to it. Handing on the priesthood, preserving the Holy Mass and the True Faith, bringing the sacraments - these are goals which are no longer sufficient for a certain small number in the SSPX. Those people are dreaming of a sort of super-diocese benefitting from Papal protection...        .
Here is one last fact to help make it clear just how far the vertigo of domination can go. On 13th November 2013, after returning from his engagement Bishop fellay decided that the five fully professed religious of the Dominican community of Avrille who were living outside of their community had to 'regroup' in a house, so as to become a 'second branch' in Steffeshausen. Bishop Fellay named Bishop de Galarreta superior of this house. Letters written to Bishop Fellay and to Bishop de Galarreta asking them to show, "how such a procedure can be said to be in conformity with Tradition, with the laws of the religious and even with natural law" have remained unanswered.

The attitude of these two bishops differs from that of Archbishop Lefebvre. Fr. Schmidberger, in his letter of 27th May 1991 addressed to the relgious of Tradition recognised that Archbishop Lefebvre "...was more of a Father, counsellor and friend than an authority in the juridical sense," and that people, "had recourse to Archbishop Lefebvre as to a supplied authority." In 1991 it was obvious that, "each community is absolutely free to address themselves or not to [Bishop Fellay]. Neither he nor the Society have the slightest intention of meddling inside other communities in any way whatsoever. Also his actions must always be seen as the exercise of an extraordinary jurisdiction and not ordinary..."

In 1981 Archbishop Lefebvre solemnly protested that he did not want to be "the Master General" of the order. But in October 2012, at Bellaigue, Bishop de Galarreta told the Superior of the Dominicans of Avrille that he had to consider Bishop Fellay as taking the place of the Master General of the [Dominican] Order.

Bishop Fellay and Bishop de Galarreta therefore think that they have the right to intervene directly in the life of a religious community. They can take individual members out of their community, giving them an exclaustration without time limit - without needing to trouble themselves about Canon Law or the constitutions of the institute - or authorise them to stay outside the convent and have their own apostolate, without any control and without even letting their legitmate superiors know. They can authorise them to found a "new branch." They can, furthermore, maintain a secret correspondence with individual religious and encourage them to provide secret reports of what goes on inside, and encourage them to distrust their legitimate superiors.

As A Result, Therefore...

How can we have confidence in such bishops as those? What does the Priestly Society of St. Pius X want? An obedience without the slightest murmur and a blind trust? But how can such a thing be asked for when we know that the superior of this same Society approved as good his declaration of 15th April 2012 which recognises the current magisterium, the legitimacy of the Mass of Paul VI and the new Code of Canon Law?

Not only is the new direction of the Society not obligatory, it is dangerous and suicidal. We are therefore perfectly at liberty to criticise it in private and in public. All the punishments meted out against those who wish to continue the fight for the faith by resisting the manoeuvring towards an agreement are null and constitute an abuse of power. What's more, Bishop Fellay's punishments to silence the opponents of his policies are sins which cause a scandal for the faith. Due to their frequenting the moderns, the General House has caught the illness which is the Roman vice of subversion.   

"Using virtue and the love of God, and the abolition, in the name of virtue, of the indispensable means of formation and conservation, to blackmail the faithful into bending - that's modernism at its most basic. Modernism controls its victims in the name of obedience, thanks to the suspicion of pride which is cast on any criticism of their reforms, in the name of respect for the Pope, in the name of missionary zeal, of charity, and of unity."
(Fr. Calmel, Letter of 8th August, 1973)