Instead of the normal monthly newsletter, Fr. Wegner discusses in depth the scandals, coverups, causes, and possible solutions to the situation in which the Church finds herself today:
I write to you today with a heavy heart. Holy Mother Church, which has been assailed by crisis after crisis for the past half-century, is in the midst of a scandal so profound that some are likening it to the catastrophe that was the Protestant Reformation. The deplorable offenses to divine and natural law carried out, then covered up, by religious, priests, and bishops first came to light on a large scale over a decade ago. Believing that the Church’s authorities had taken sufficient steps to rectify this tidal wave of abuse, many Catholics now find themselves questioning their faith as new revelations emerge that, not only have known abusers been permitted to continue in active ministry, but that some of the highest authorities in the Church, including, allegedly, Pope Francis, knew about it and cooperated in a coverup.
The fallout from this crisis is both devastating and predictable. Discouraged faithful leave the Church and souls are lost. A new Pew Research poll states the following:
"Catholicism has experienced a greater net loss due to religious switching than has any other religious tradition in the U.S. Overall, 13% of all U.S. adults are former Catholics — people who say they were raised in the faith, but now identify as religious 'nones,' as Protestants, or with another religion. By contrast, 2% of U.S. adults are converts to Catholicism — people who now identify as Catholic after having been raised in another religion (or no religion). This means that there are 6.5 former Catholics in the U.S. for every convert to the faith. No other religious group analyzed in the 2014 Religious Landscape Study has experienced anything close to this ratio of losses to gains via religious switching."
Sadly, Not A New Scandal
This is not the first time that rampant immorality threatened the Church. On August 30, 1568 — 450 years ago — Pope St. Pius V issued the bull Horrendum Illud Scelus (“That Horrible Crime”) which, among other things, stripped religious and clerics of the impunity they otherwise enjoyed for committing acts “by which corrupt and obscene cities were destroyed by fire through divine condemnation[.]” Knowing that the sin of Sodom would only spread if stronger measures were not taken, Pius V decreed that “any priest or member of the clergy . . . who commits such an execrable crime, by force of the present law be deprived of every clerical privilege, of every post, dignity and ecclesiastical benefice, and having been degraded by an ecclesiastical judge, let him be immediately delivered to the secular authority[.]”
It is hard to imagine such strong medicine for grave moral ills being prescribed by Rome today, yet that is what the Church requires if she is ever to recover. In the meantime, the People of God cannot sit idly by waiting for a new Pius V to ascend to the Papal Throne with a divine mandate to secure the faithful and drive the unrepentant from the temple.
What is the Cause?
The current crisis did not happen overnight, and it did not begin with Pope Francis. Our dear founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, warned of it. He foresaw the profundity of the crisis that began during the Second Vatican Council. Way back in 1986, in his Open Letter to Confused Catholics, he predicted that the desire to change the priesthood, to modernize it, would have disastrous consequences.
"People would have us believe that the present times justify all sorts of license, that it is impossible under present day conditions to live a chaste life, that the vows of virginity for religious people are an anachronism. The experience of the last twenty years shows that the attacks made on the priesthood under the pretext of adapting it to the present time are fatal to it.
In these sad times they want free-love for the laity and marriage for the clergy. If you perceive in this apparent illogicality an implacable logic having as its objective the ruin of Christian society, you are seeing things as they are, and your assessment is correct."
If Rome refuses to curb the doctrinal and moral crisis in Church, then the priesthood suffers and, consequently, so do the faithful. Without good priests, it is hard to have good fathers and mothers; without good fathers and mothers, families suffer; without good families, the faith is lost.
The Role of the SSPX in this Crisis
While we wait, and pray, for Rome to come back to her senses, we don’t simply sit on the sidelines. The Archbishop founded the Society of Saint Pius X with the express goal of preserving and supporting the traditional priesthood. And the priests of the Society have striven to bring the sacraments and traditional catechesis to families and fellow priests all over the world. So, we have a lot of work to do.
In order to accomplish this holy work, as always, I need your help. The need is great, and our resources are limited. As is typical every year, the summer is a slow time for donations, so I am continually challenged to find the resources necessary to support our priests and brothers. There is always some new need that crops up — a failed boiler, a leaky roof.
Right now, in addition to our usual expenses for travel and the daily needs of our priests, we have several extraordinary expenses, including our annual insurance expenses and repairs to the roof in our Brother’s Novitiate in Winona, Minnesota. Without your help, I don’t know how I will meet these extraordinary expenses.
Can you help me? You have always come through for me in the past.
Once again, I humbly ask you to prayerfully consider making a sacrificial gift to help support the SSPX.
"I do not want to hear from His lips the terrible words..."
I implore you to prayerfully focus on the profound good the SSPX has accomplished and the work that is still to come. I ask you, especially, to remember to pray for the souls who are lost because of this current confusion in the Church. At a time when many priests, and even bishops, have lost their way, and have abandoned their episcopal duty, please consider what Archbishop Lefebvre said was the main reason he persisted in his work, despite all of the difficulties, including threats from those in the Vatican who wished to derail the work of the Society.
If you wish to know the real reason for my persistence, it is this: At the hour of my death, when Our Lord asks me, 'What have you done with your episcopate, what have you done with your episcopal and priestly grace?' I do not want to hear from His lips the terrible words, 'You have helped to destroy the Church along with the rest of them.'
None of the Archbishop’s work would be possible without your generosity. By helping to maintain the SSPX, by funding our practical needs, you are clearing a pathway for our priests to reach as many souls as possible. Please consider making an offering of your first fruits to this holy endeavor. A donation of $100, $50, or even $20 will make a difference.
With confidence in your prayer and support and my promise to pray for you,
I remain yours in Christ,
Father Jürgen Wegner
United States District Superior