St George’s House, Wimbledon. 27th June 2012. Dear Father,
On the eve of the 20th anniversary of my priestly ordination, whilst giving thanks to Almighty God and Our Blessed Lady for such a great grace and mercy shown to me, I feel compelled to make known my thoughts on the current sufferings which have come to afflict our dear Society. In Christo sacerdote et Maria Immaculata, Fr Matthew Clifton.
Events in the Society over the last three months have led me first to sadness and anguish, and finally to despondency and anger. The terrible divisions which now undermine our Society are not the fruit of rebellion and disobedience, but clearly are the result of a seismic change of principle on the part of our Superiors in the relation to Rome. Abandoning the security and prudence of the position adopted by the Society at the last meeting of the General Chapter (2006), namely of refusing any practical agreement with the Roman authorities without there being any doctrinal resolution of the errors of the Second Vatican Council, has proved to be a disaster. Consequently, the Society which was always united and strong is now fractured and weakened – brother is turning against brother. No convincing argument has been presented as a justification for such a fundamental shift in position – the Holy Father has not altered in any way whatsoever his insistence upon the hermeneutic of continuity in relation to Tradition and the teachings of the last Council. And yet, we are simply meant to accept the contrary.
This approach could not but produce the profound malaise that now affects our Society. Additionally, the misuse of secrecy on such a grand scale by our current Superiors, accompanied by privileging a small group of trusted supports of the new policy towards Rome, has served to exacerbate this painful situation even further.
Hence, it is abundantly clear to me that those who truly bear responsibility for the current storm are not those who have attempted to preserve our Society’s firmness and unambiguous profession of the Catholic Faith in relation to the Conciliar authorities but those who chose to abandon the wisdom of insisting upon a real conversion on the part of Modernist Rome before envisaging a practical agreement.
In light of this, the Superior General's decision to exclude one of his brother bishops (chosen, as himself, by His Grace Archbishop Lefebvre) from the Chapter Meeting in July together with this refusal to ordain candidates from religious communities who have always shared with us the same battle for Tradition “until their loyalty can be ensured” are profoundly disturbing and unjust. To simply have recourse to ever-increasing sanctions against those who oppose the novelty of the new policy – alluded to by Bishop Fellay for the first time in the March edition of Cor Unum – will only serve to create ever more division and do even more harm to the Society. On the contrary, it is my profound conviction that only a return to our former position of insisting upon a real doctrinal conversion on the part of Rome before any practical agreement, will be able to restore once again peace and unity to our priestly Society, ever loyal to the example and spirit of our beloved founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.