Bishop Faure’s Episcopal Consecration
Below is the text of the “Official Press Communiqué” issued by the Menzingen via dici.org on the evening following Bishop Faure’s consecration. The reader is advised to read it through carefully. It is not especially exciting and one can easily read it without a single word sinking in, so a second reading may be required, if you can stay awake that long.
Communiqué of the General House of the Society of St. Pius X
Concerning the Episcopal Consecration of Fr. Faure
On March 19th 2015 Bishop Richard Williamson performed the episcopal consecration of Fr. Jean-Michel Faure at the Benedictine Monastery of the Holy Cross in Nova Friburgo, Brazil.
Bishop Williamson and Fr. Faure have not been members of the Society of St. Pius X since 2012 and 2014, respectively, because of their violent criticisms of any relations with the Roman authorities. According to them, such contacts were incompatible with the apostolic work of Archbishop Lefebvre.
The Society of St. Pius X regrets sincerely that this spirit of opposition has led to an episcopal consecration. In 1988 Archbishop Lefebvre had clearly indicated his intention to consecrate auxiliary bishops who would have no jurisdiction, because of the state of necessity in which the Society of St. Pius X and faithful Catholics found themselves at that time. His sole goal was to make available to the faithful the sacraments which priests ordained by the bishops would offer. After having done everything conceivable to gain permission from the Holy See, Archbishop Lefebvre proceeded with the solemn consecrations on June 30, 1988 before several thousand priests and faithful and hundreds of journalists from around the world. It was abundantly clear from all the circumstances that, despite the lack of authorization from Rome, this action done in the most public manner was for the good of the Church and of souls.
The Society of St. Pius X denounces this episcopal consecration of Father Faure, which, despite the assertions of both clerics concerned, is not at all comparable to the consecrations of 1988. All the declarations of Bishop Williamson and Fr. Faure prove abundantly that they no longer recognize the Roman authorities, except in a purely rhetorical manner.
The Society of St. Pius X still maintains that the present state of necessity renders legitimate its action throughout the world, without denying the legitimate authority of those for whom it continues to pray at every Mass. The Society intends to continue its work of priestly formation according to its statutes. It has every intention to keep the deposit of the Faith and the purity of the Church’s moral teaching, in opposition to errors, from wherever they may come, in order to pass on such Faith and morals in the traditional liturgy and by preaching, in accordance with the missionary spirit of its founder: Credidimus caritati [1 John 4:16].
Menzingen, March 19, 2015
A few things are apparent on a first reading, but even more on a second and third. Firstly, what is this communiqué supposed to be about, exactly? If we go by the title, it is supposed to be about the consecration of Fr. Faure. Why is it, then, that they spend most of the time telling us what the Society of St. Pius X does? Self-absorbed? Lost for words? Insinuating? Or does the answer lie with whom these press communiqués and DICI in general are aimed at, for whose consumption are they primarily intended (hint: Roman authorities)? “We’re not like them, we’re good guys!” being the main message.
1. Not one of us...
The communiqué (am I alone in wincing at the officious, bureaucratic sound of that word?) begins with an untruth. Bishop Williamson was expelled in 2012, but Fr. Faure had only been sent a letter of warning. He had not in fact been expelled from the SSPX, as he indicates in his recent interview. If a letter of warning (known as a “monition”) itself amounts to expulsion, then what is the point of sending out a letter of warning? Why warn someone about something that has already taken place? If not, and if such a letter is worth the paper it is written on, then surely an actual expulsion ought to follow before it can be claimed that a priest has been expelled.
Look at this another way, if following the right procedure and form matters at all, why not follow them? And if you are going to ignore them whenever it suits, why make such a big thing of claiming to follow them, surely it would be more honest to be openly despotic, rather than trying to cloak despotism in the mantle of law and procedure? The point is not a merely rhetorical one, it puts on display the hypocrisy of Menzingen’s rule for all the world to see. This is not the first time that the SSPX has shown scant regard for its own laws and constitutions when they prove inconvenient. Fr. Pfeiffer and Fr. Hewko, for example, are both equally shunned as outcasts by SSPX clergy even though only one of them so far has ever actually been officially expelled, the other only warned. There are other Resistance priests who have never even had a letter of monition and who are still listed in Cor Unum as being SSPX priests, despite their being active in the Resistance. So for all their reliance on following the proper “form”, the letter of the law, (whilst driving a coach and six horses through its spirit), even the letter of the law is as good as meaningless to them when it suits. The supposed “expulsion” of Fr. Faure in 2014 is just one further proof of that.
2. It’s all about “Relations with Rome”!
We notice furthermore, that the communiqué does not actually say whether either Bishop Williamson or Fr. Faure left the SSPX of their own accord or were expelled. It says merely that they, “have not been members of the Society of St. Pius X since…” and then says that this was: “because of their violent criticisms of any relations with the Roman authorities.” Why “violent” criticism, did Fr. Faure actually throw things at Bishop Fellay at the 2012 General Chapter? Why the need for such rhetoric in a press communiqué? And as for their criticising “any relations” with Rome: is this not just a little dishonest, to put it mildly?! “Relations” (another of those words whose use I find jarring!) between the SSPX and Rome have arguably existed in one form or another all the way along (not always very warm “relations,” admittedly...). In the 1990s Rome would do or say something modernist and the SSPX would criticise them for it. In the early 2000s Rome wooed over Campos from the fight, and the SSPX criticised them, and said that Rome could not be trusted. At about the same time, we now know, Rome was making overtures to the SSPX. Some priests, such as Fr. Schmidberger, were very keen on the idea, but the majority were not. So nothing, for the moment, came of it. Incidentally, that is why (readers may recall) there were a spate of reports in the secular media around twelve years ago (I remember seeing it in the Times and the Daily Telegraph, for example) saying that an agreement between Rome and the SSPX was imminent. It turned out not to be true, and so the “rumour” was promptly forgotten about. Unbeknownst to all but the inner-circle of initiates, however, things were still continuing quietly, behind the scenes.
The question which is begged, then, is why it was only in 2012 and 2014 respectively that these two clerics ceased to belong to the SSPX, given that relations had been going on for so long and that they criticised any relations, and violently too! We are told that they think that “any relations with Rome” are “incompatible with the apostolic work of Archbishop Lefebvre.” If that were true, why did they not both leave in 2001, when talk of a SSPX-Rome agreement first surfaced, in 2005 when it re-surfaced, in 2009 when Bishop Fellay visited the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or at any other point along the way?
3. Spirit of Opposition
In case it seems as if I am labouring the issue, let me point out that it is important in view of what comes next. Immediately after talking about the “opposition” of Fr. Faure and Bishop Williamson to “relations” with Rome, the press communiqué laments that this “spirit of opposition” led to an episcopal consecration. That the lament for this “spirit of opposition” comes right after the mention of “violently oppos[ing] any relations” with Rome can surely only mean that the opposition mentioned is an opposition to Rome or to the SSPX’s recent goings on with the modernists in Rome. It is possible that the spirit of opposition could mean opposition to Menzingen and its new direction… but then the new direction is towards Rome, so in effect does that not amount to the same thing? What this does mean is that Menzingen themselves admit that it is opposition to modernist Rome and the SSPX getting too close to the modernists in Rome which is behind the consecration. And they find it regrettable on that account. That in itself has implications...
4. Not at all like 1988!
Having “regretted” the consecration, the communiqué goes on to “denounce” it, but here, rather tellingly, they forget to say why. Reasons typically given by compromisers for denouncing their fellow Traditionalists tend to include something along the lines of “disobedience to the Roman Pontiff,” or something like that. Archbishop Lefebvre’s critics in 1988 certainly were not shy about coming forward with reasons why they thought he was wrong. I cannot think of one of them who simply wrote “We denounce him!” and left it at that! But the SSPX simply says that it denounces the consecration and then informs us that it is: “...not at all comparable to the consecrations of 1988.”
Well now, let us see if that is true. Bishop Williamson, who was the consecrator in 2015, was himself consecrated in 1988. Fr. Faure, consecrated in 2015, was originally intended to be consecrated in 1988, and was nevertheless present at those consecrations as one of the most senior members of the SSPX already at that time. In 1988, in place of a mandate from Rome, an emergency mandate was read out, lamenting the impossibility of obtaining a normal mandate from Rome since Rome itself was occupied by the modernists and actively working to destroy Tradition. At the 2015 consecration an emergency mandate was read out which states exactly the same thing. The sermon by Archbishop Lefebvre made clear that he felt he was duty bound to consecrate new Bishops for the survival of Tradition, since one cannot trust the Romans. The sermon in 2015 made clear exactly the same thing, with the added caveat that, since they have now changed direction towards Rome, the SSPX cannot be trusted to preserve and fight for Tradition either. Archbishop Lefebvre could not have incurred excommunication in 1988 because he sincerely believed that he had to do it, he was acting out of necessity, and even if he were mistaken, the subjective intention is enough to absolve one from any penalty. Can anyone doubt that this consecration was done out of the same necessity, subjective if not also objective? The Menzingen communiqué does not even attempt to suggest excommunication, and does not even mention the word, but it does not preclude the idea either. They will let someone else do the dirty work of making that accusation and allow the lie to spread and they will not point out that their own defence also applies to Bishop Williamson and Fr. Faure.
After all, they have provided us with very little in the way of major differences between the 1988 consecrations and those of 2015. The main differences, then, appear to be the location (A Benedictine monastery as opposed to Écône - in what way does that matter?), the number and age of candidates and the short notice given. The latter two are, as has been said, not ideal, but hardly grounds for denunciation! And if Menzingen has a real objection specifically to Bishop Williamson not giving plenty of notice, one might have expected them to at least say so!
5. Who has changed their stance towards Rome?
“All the declarations of Bishop Williamson and Fr. Faure prove abundantly that they no longer recognize the Roman authorities, except in a purely rhetorical manner.”
Menzingen is in a very tricky situation. Feeling compelled to condemn the consecration and reassure their new friends in Rome, but unable to say how the doctrine or response to the crisis in the Church of Bishops Williamson and Faure is in any way different to their own, they are reduced to hinting at sedevacantism. If only Bps. Williamson and Faure actually were sedevacantists, then life for Menzingen would be so much simpler! As it is, there is a difference in doctrine, there is a difference in position - but not one which Menzingen can own up to. They are in a “catch-22” situation. They have altered their own stance away from that of Archbishop Lefebvre and the old SSPX, a stance which Bps. Williamson and Faure still hold. And they have spent their time lying to and deceiving the faithful, telling them: “We haven't changed!” If now they were to condemn Bishop Williamson and Bishop Faure for being too “disobedient,” “schismatic,” “hard-line,” “extremist,” “integrist,” etc. [insert your favourite adjective here!] they would have to admit that they themselves have changed. So they simply hint at it. The two bishops, they say, no longer (note the implication: they once did, but not any longer) recognise the Roman authorities except in a purely rhetorical way. Whereas we, the neo-SSPX, on the other hand…? What is being implied, presumably is that the SSPX intends to recognise the Roman authorities… ...in a practical way?
The final paragraph is a masterpiece of diplomacy from people highly skilled in the art of appearing to say something which they haven’t actually said. Reference is made to “the present state of necessity” but we are given no hint as to exactly what is causing it, or what that state of necessity is. No reference to the council or modernism. We are told that the SSPX: “intends to continue its work of priestly formation” and nothing else. As has been said so often before, it is tantamount to a lie to constantly refer to the SSPX as being solely for the purpose of forming priests. Most or all religious orders form their priests. The SSPX was created with more in mind. It was created in the form of a missionary order. Isn’t a missionary normally concerned with his missions and Mass centres, with the souls to whom he ministers?
“It has every intention of keeping the deposit of the Faith and the purity of the Church’s moral teaching, in opposition to errors, from wherever they may come…”
For an order of priests to say that it intends to keep the Faith is like a married man saying that he intends to stay married, or a worker saying that he intends to keep coming in to work, or a customer telling the merchant that he intends to keep paying for what he buys. It ought to be taken as read, so much so that one must wonder at someone who feels the need to say so. Furthermore, there is something missing here. Keeping the Faith in opposition to errors - does that mean keeping the Faith and opposing errors, condemning errors, condemning the purveyors of error… or does it just mean keeping the Faith as opposed to “keeping error”? Why put it like that? Why not just say “The SSPX intends to keep the Faith and to condemn error.”? And what exactly is meant by “wherever it may come from”? Is there any doubt about which errors the SSPX ought to be opposing (and used to oppose)? Is there any doubt at all about where those errors come from? Archbishop Lefebvre showed not the slightest hesitation in naming the errors and the culprits in 1988 - why now the sudden reticence? No mention of Vatican II, no mention of modernism. Why might that be?
6. How would today’s Menzingen have reacted to Archbishop Lefebvre?
One final thing needs to be said regarding Menzingen’s “regret” that the consecration was “done out of a spirit of opposition,” and that is to look a little more closely at the consecrations of 1988. In what way was this famous event not done in a spirit of opposition to the conciliar church? Did not Archbishop Lefebvre himself say, constantly, that he opposed the conciliar church, the conciliar revolution and all the changes which it brought about? Did this opposition to conciliarism not have something to do with the consecrations in 1988? Anyone who is unsure may wish to re-read the text of the Archbishop’s sermon at that great occasion. They will find it in Issue 9 of The Recusant (August 2013). These consecrations, said Archbishop Lefebvre, were done:
“...in order to manifest our attachment to the Eternal Rome, to the Pope, and to all those who have preceded these last Popes who, unfortunately since the Second Vatican Council, have thought it their duty to adhere to grievous errors which are demolishing the Church and the Catholic Priesthood.”
Do I detect a faint hint of opposition to “Roman authorities” in what he says? Notice the presence of that word “error”, as in “the errors of the Council,” not “philosophical tendencies” (which are still present even today!) as the US District website would have it, but real errors, promoted by men in high places, which are currently destroying the Church. The Archbishop then goes on to say that the consecration of new Bishops is essential to continue to provide souls with the traditional sacraments as a channel of God’s grace, which, he laments, “is disappearing everywhere in the conciliar Church. They are following roads which are not Catholic roads: they simply lead to apostasy.”
No question there about “wherever the errors are coming from”! He goes on:
“Continue the Church! Indeed, since the Council, what we condemned in the past the present Roman authorities have embraced and are professing. How is it possible? We have condemned them: Liberalism, Communism., Socialism, Modernism, Sillonism. All the errors which we have condemned are now professed, adopted and supported by the authorities of the Church.”
“This ecumenism and all these errors, this collegiality - all this is contrary to the Faith of the Church, and is in the process of destroying the Church. This is why we are convinced that, by the act of these consecrations today, we are obeying the call of these Popes and as a consequence the call of God, since they represent Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Church.”
Such a spirit of opposition! How regrettable!
From all of the above and much more besides, the following seem to us to be reasonable conclusions from Menzingen’s reaction to the consecration of Bishop Faure.
1. If the Archbishop Lefebvre of 1988 were contemporary with the Menzingen of today, he would find himself condemned by them;
2. The SSPX of today does not dare to name the error or the culprit when it thinks modern Rome is looking. In front of the Romans, the SSPX is vague and uncritical and shows no opposition, but it does go out of its way to condemn “a spirit of opposition” in others;
3. The SSPX of today “regrets” and “denounces” any episcopal consecrations done without the approval of modern Rome;
4. The SSPX of today will denounce anyone whose recognition of the Roman authorities may be termed “rhetorical,” which is to say anyone who in their view does not take sufficiently concrete practical steps to show their subjection and non-resistance to modern Rome; furthermore that they themselves presumably, so as not to fall under their own condemnation, intend to take such steps some time soon and show the world that their “recognition” is not merely “rhetorical”;
5. The SSPX of today will never again consecrate bishops without papal mandate. If ever Bishop Fellay and Bishop de Galarreta do consecrate successors for themselves in the coming years (itself a doubtful prospect), it will only be with Roman approval. Which means candidates approved by modern Rome;
6. As a consequence, the future of Tradition will and must pass through the hands of Bishop Faure and whatever other Bishops are consecrated by him and Bishop Williamson as their successors.
Let us pray for the two Bishops, that they remain faithful usque ad mortem.
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