In his Letter to Friends and Benefactors no.84 (24th May 2015) Bishop Fellay exhorts the faithful of Tradition to participate in the Holy Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis, through means of the “prior understanding” at one time recommended by Archbishop Lefebvre.
After foreseeing “a very difficult time ahead of us” (which is not “very difficult” to foresee!), Bishop Fellay uses as one example “from amongst several indicators” a conference by Cardinal Maradiaga on the subject of mercy, given in California on 20th January this year. The Superior General of the Society rightly denounces a “new mercy” which “is nothing more than complacency about sin”. He could have called it “conciliar mercy”, but for some time he has been avoiding using this very useful adjective, notably whenever it is a question of distinguishing the conciliar church from the Catholic Church.
Having analysed the words of Cardinal Maradiaga, very close collaborator of the Pope, Bishop Fellay asks himself: “Is he the interpreter of the thinking of Pope Francis? It is difficult to know [we’ve already heard the same thing about this Pope several times before from the same pen!] So many of the messages coming from Rome, for two years now, are contradictory [we’ve heard that one before too, also with Benedict XVI more than two years ago!].”
“Should we, as a consequence, deprive ourselves of the graces of a Holy Year? Quite the opposite! When the [Catholic or conciliar?] sluice-gates of grace are opened, you must receive in abundance! A Holy Year is a great grace for all the members of the Church! [Catholic Church or conciliar church?].”
Curiously, Bishop Fellay neither quotes from nor comments on the Bull promulgated by the Pope on 11th April. Instead of wondering whether Cardinal Maradiaga is “the interpreter of the thinking of Pope Francis”, why doesn’t he try to discover this thinking at its source in a text which is as official as they come?
To make up for this regrettable omission, and so as to better understand that there can be no question in this case of invoking “preliminary discernment” to unite us all in a conciliar jubilee, here are a few pearls from the text of the Bull.
· From the very opening lines, one can see that the Pope is inspired by very bad theology: “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. The whole mystery of the Christian Faith is there. […] The Father sent His Son born of the Virgin Mary to reveal his love to us in a definitive way.” Here we see again an idea dear to John Paul II and Benedict XVI: salvation is conceived principally as a revelation of God’s love, and not as an effective redemption through the expiatory sacrifice of Calvary. To give just one reference, John Paul II wrote in his encyclical on mercy (dives in misericordia, §13): “The revelation of the merciful love fo the Father … constituted the central content of the messianic mission of the Son of Man.” Of course, the cross does show us divine mercy in a sublime way, but it is formally the reparation necessary for the injustice of sin. It was there that Our Lord made satisfaction for our sins, making us propitious (i.e. pleasing) to God, whence the expression “propitiatory sacrifice” which applies as much to the Cross as to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But we know that it is precisely the propitiatory nature of the Mass which has been especially hidden in the New Rite. This one aspect alone would be enough to justify our “categorical refusal” of the New Mass.
· Pope Francis announces that “The Holy Year will begin on 8th December 2015, solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.” Later on, he adds: “I have chosen 8th December as the date because of its significance in the recent history of the Church. In this way, I will open the holy door for the fiftieth anniversary of the conclusion of the ecumenical council Vatican II. The [conciliar] Church feels the need to keep this event alive. It is because of it that a new stage in our history began.” There we have it! “The” Council having taken place over four years (four sessions) 1962-1965, the fiftieth anniversary has lasted for four years, 2012-2015. But that’s not enough, the celebration has to continue, hence the promulgation of this 2016 jubilee, which we can call truly a conciliar jubilee.
Let us note in passing that even the notion of an “extraordinary jubilee of mercy” is in no way traditional. The Italian journalist Antonio Socci explains: “A Jubilee - since the first one in the year 1300 - has always been fixed to dates which refer to the years of the birth and death of Jesus Christ. That includes extraordinary Jubilees (very rare). This one of 2016 is the first in history which does not have at its centre the historical event of Jesus Christ, of His life on earth.” That’s because it has at its centre the historical event of Vatican II, the start of a “new stage” in the history of the Church, as Francis tells us.
· And the Pope quotes emphatically “the words, rich in meaning” of “Saint John XXIII” and “Blessed Paul VI” at the opening and close of the Council.
· “It is on 20th November 2016, solemnity of Christ King of the Universe, that the Jubilee Year will be concluded. […] We confide the life of the Church, all of humanity and all the cosmos to the Lordship of Christ.” There is something Teilhardian in this last sentence. And as for the feast of “Christ, King of the Universe” it differs as much from the real feast of Christ the King (instituted by Pope Pius XI to magnify the Social Kingship of Our Lord) as the conciliar church does from the Catholic Church.
· Interreligious dialogue is simply a must! Near the end of his (too) long Bull, the Pope declares that mercy is “the link between Judaism and Islam which consider it as one of the most significant attributes of God.” And he expresses the wish “that this Jubilee Year, lived in mercy, may favour the meeting of these religions and the other noble religious traditions. May it make us more open to dialogue so as to better know and understand each other.”
· Finally, we come across a very interesting statement: “The Jubilee will be celebrated […] as a visible sign of the communion of the whole Church.” Put clearly: the conciliar jubilee will be celebrated as a visible sign of communion with the conciliar church. Is Bishop Fellay in communion with this conciliar church? If yes, he let him say so clearly. If no, why does he want to participate - and make his faithful participate - in the conciliar jubilee of conciliar mercy?
In the light of various recent events, (notably the visits of bishops to the seminaries of the Society) and of this Letter to Friends and Benefactors, we will conclude by adapting Bishop Fellay’s own opening lines (the parts which have been changed are in italics).
“It is not necessary to go on at length to note the crisis that our SSPX is in. Nevertheless, in recent months there have been a number of worrisome signs suggesting that we are being thrust into an even more intense phase of troubles and confusion. It is safe to assume that we have a difficult time ahead of us.”
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"Viva Cristo Rey!"