October 1999 - Superior General's Letter #57

The new seminary chapel at Econe is the pride and joy of our seminarians. The Traditional movement is growing throughout the world, despite the catastrophic collapse of the Faith. Events such as the renewal of Assisi beg us to make reparation for such an affront to the Sovereign Majesty of Almighty God. The priests of Fraternity of St. Peter are now bitterly learning how naively they put their trust in the churchmen back in 1988. Dear faithful, we must keep up the good fight without tiring.

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

It is already a year since we had the great joy of blessing the magnificent new chapel of the seminary in Econe. Everybody admires it, and it is the pride and joy of our seminarians, obviously. It is a success from all points of view, but above all it favors prayer. While the great transept capable of seating 120 seminarians resounds to the joyful praise of God and wraps the chant in its warm stone arches, the nave accommodating up to 300 faithful strengthens their faith and deepens their charity especially by the magnificent ceremonies, whose clouds of incense and majestic movements by the ministers at the altar inspire the respect and adoration due to the ineffable greatness of God.

Ah, how we would like to see you all at least occasionally partaking of that happiness which is a foretaste of Heaven! A spacious crypt, where Archbishop Lefebvre’s mortal remains will lie, hosts the early morning faithful who choose to attend “the 6 o’clock Mass” before beginning to work, thus sanctifying the rest of their day and edifying, as they are edified by, the seminarians. We shall not cease thanking Divine Providence for giving us such a beautiful church.

However, in order to finish the building as quickly as possible, we had to take on some heavy debts, and these are being paid down all too slowly to our liking. This delay is a drain upon the resources of the General House, and in particular it gets in the way of our helping the mission countries which are almost entirely dependent on the support of Menzingen. This is because up until now the General House has taken in hand the building of the Econe seminary church, and now that about half the total cost still remains to be paid, the General House has also had to take on the construction costs of our new seminary chapel in the Argentine. The zeal and enthusiasm of the architect there look like providing us with another such jewel as will leave our Argentinian colleagues little reason to envy the church built for the cradle of the Society in Econe. The Argentine’s seminary chapel is due to be blessed on December 8, 2000.

However, that beauty which our patron St. Pius X wished to be the setting for prayer, has its price. No doubt you agree with our desire to reduce as soon as possible the high rate of interest which for the moment we are having to pay to the banks. Either gifts or loans on your part would be a great help to us. We thank you in advance for your generosity which in all these years has never failed us, and we promise you our special prayers for all your intentions.

Once more we entrust to your tender care these building projects, which are highly practical signs of a religious vitality astonishing everybody, especially those who love predicting our death or imminent extinction!

Please God, next year our Society will number well over 400 priests, more than 180 seminarians, 120 sisters, 65 oblates and 55 brothers. And yet the requests reaching us from over 60 countries can only be satisfied a tiny bit at a time. The Traditional movement is obviously growing throughout the world, despite the catastrophic collapse of the Faith and the worrying revival of the modern world’s practical atheism; souls are still coming our way, no fewer in number. May the number of seminarians and priests grow in proportion! For several years now God has been granting us a relatively peaceful growth while the wholesale demolition of the Church and Christian values has redoubled on the eve of the new millenium.

In face of the scandal of Assisi being renewed this time in the Vatican (end of October), we cannot help protesting, and we ask you to join us in making reparation for such an affront to the Sovereign Majesty of Almighty God. The First Commandment is again being violated, head on, only this time in full view of the Basilica of St. Peter! How many martyrs must be turning in their graves as they have to look on in silence at scenes discrediting the heroic acts by which they themselves entered into the glory of the Lord. The memory of Sts. Peter and Paul, is being outraged by such wretched happenings. Worst of all, by their recurrence they are becoming a way of life that we could all get used to.

Such acts of idolatry are an abomination in the full sense of the word, but the attempt is being made to give them by their repetition a sort of legitimacy. Daily exposure to scandal no longer shocks, charity grows cold, the Faith disappears in a sort of mushy confusion of more or less religious feeling towards some kind of godhead supposed by people to be the true God or even Jesus Christ: indifferentism becomes the law, and woe to anyone daring to state that it is the strict duty of all men to render the one true worship to the one true God.

It baffles all understanding how the Vatican can give up fighting the age-old enemy, embrace brethren that it no longer wishes to call separated, look kindly on pagans in whom it pretends to have discovered a sudden beauty, and turn all its guns and use all its penalties on its own children who wish to remain Catholic! Yet that is what it is doing!

After pushing aside our Society of St. Pius X, Rome is now thundering against those who wish to celebrate only the old liturgy. The priests of St. Peter’s Fraternity are now bitterly learning how naively they put their trust in the churchmen who promised them the moon back in 1988 if only they would abandon the house of their father, Archbishop Lefebvre, and enter into a process of “reconciliation”… Despite their defection then, these priests are being blamed now for not integrating with their faithful into the “reality” of the Church. So, they have been in a dream all this time? Clearly,what upsets this is the exclusive celebration of the Tridentine rite. Rome made many moves this last summer, all of them heading in the same direction. The lively reaction of the Ecclesia Dei faithful, especially in the USA, seems to be forcing the Roman authorities to modify the changes they were demanding.

However, even if for now uncertainty hangs over the decisions to be taken concerning the Ecclesia Dei communities, Rome has clearly shown what direction it means to take: sooner or later, these Communities having enjoyed up till now the “protection” of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, will have to get in line; the Conciliar Church’s rite is the new rite, and anyone professing allegiance to that Church will correspondingly have to celebrate its rite. No exceptions will be allowed. To be able to continue celebrating the old rite, one will have to give Rome tangible proof, in more than just words, that one accepts the New Mass.

This condition was already laid down in the 1984 Indult, and it is of course upheld as a principle: no permission to celebrate the old rite for anyone refusing the new rite. We cannot help thinking that Rome would have treated us the same way had Archbishop Lefebvre followed through with the May 5 Protocol of 1988. From conversations between leaders of Fraternity of St. Peter and certain cardinals, it appears that Rome does not feel bound by the terms of that protocol on which the Fraternity of St. Peter was nevertheless founded!

Here we are touching on a very important point: for 30 years now we have been fighting to preserve the old rite. In its defence we have endured penalties and condemnations from Rome and the bishops rather than celebrate Paul VI’s Mass. The reasons for refusing the New Mass are firstly that as a rite it is bad and dangerous for the Faith, secondly that it was put together with the avowed purpose of bringing Catholics into line with Protestants, supposedly to bring all together again—ecumenism. Slowly, without realizing it, laity and priests using the new rite lose their sense of the Catholic Faith.

The fruits are there, clear to see for anyone willing to open his eyes. The emptying out, as soon as the New Mass was introduced—especially in First and Second World countries where religion had flourished up till then—of churches, seminaries and religious houses alike, must be mainly attributed to the radical change of what lies at the center of the Catholic life, its source, nourishment and soul: the Mass. Besides, countless people testify to just that: the faithful walked away, gave up practising their religion because they no longer found in the new rite what they were looking for: God, the strengthening of their Faith, the forgiveness of their sins, supernatural consolation and support in their trials, fervour to love God above all.

It is not a question of feelings or culture, but of a supernatural reality that has been torn out of the life of the Church. The simple fact that throughout the world souls young or old, with or without culture, look out for and want the Mass of all times speaks out against those false arguments. If such souls have felt not at home in the new ceremonies, that is to be attributed firstly to their sense of the Faith and not to any reaction on the natural level. They have sensed, without always being able to explain it theologically, that their Catholic Faith was something to which the new rite had become alien. When the elders of an Amazon tribe asked a missionary priest to celebrate the old Mass: “because that’s where the mystery is”, they said with amazingly simplicity all that needs to be said. The New Mass, by its intent to desacralize, to de-mythologize, to make everything understandable, has been emptied out of its substance: the mystery. When dealing with the Paul VI Mass it is difficult to speak of “celebrating the Holy Mysteries”.

Therefore, dear faithful we must keep up the good fight without tiring. We are at present entering on a new stage of the battle. Does the Vatican mean to shut down the old Mass before the present pope dies? Possibly. Yet the only true solution for Rome is to return to the tried and true means of sanctifying souls and to stop all the experimenting so harmful to souls. Catholics have a right to Catholic nourishment which has not been watered down with ecumenism. The Church’s past Tradition is the key to her future progress. Undertaking to build outside of Tradition means heading for disaster such as we can sense coming now, barren of fruit, deadly in effect.

May Our Lady of the Rosary, in this her month of October, deign to obtain for us much strength and patience to continue unshakably faithful to our Catholic life in the service of Holy Mother Church. And may God fill you with His grace and blessing for your great generosity. +

Bernard Fellay,

Buenos Aires, Argentina

October 17, 1999