US District Newsletter September 2019: The Crisis Continues in the Amazon
The US District Superior of the Society of Saint Pius X writes to faithful about the abuse scandal, the crisis of the Faith shown by the Amazon Synod, and what the SSPX is striving for in its work:
Last year I wrote to you against the alarming backdrop of the sex-abuse crisis that has once again embroiled the Catholic Church. New revelations of abuse and coverup gave rise to understandable feelings of outrage by Catholics the world over. Since then, very little has been done to resolve the matter, despite promises from the highest authorities in the Church that this next sorrowful chapter in the abuse scandal would be addressed urgently and decisively. Now, another scandal has appeared on the horizon, one that goes to the very heart of the Catholic Faith, namely the scandal of indifferentism.
As you may know, a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region is scheduled to be held this October which, inter alia, will address religious, cultural, and ecological questions that are ostensibly unique to the country of Brazil and its indigenous peoples. The Instrumentum Laboris (working document) recently prepared for this synod is riddled with alarming and misleading statements that equivocate the Catholic Faith and the “natural religions” of Brazil’s native communities which have yet to be illumined by the Light of Christ.
For instance, this document identifies the Amazon as a unique source of divine revelation, where God is unveiled in a unique manner by the region’s natural resources and beauty. Another section refers to “dialogue with spirits.” And according to paragraph 25,
The life of Amazonian communities not yet affected by the influence of Western civilization is reflected in the beliefs and rites concerning the actions of spirits, of divinity—referred to in multiple ways—with and in the territory, with and in relation to nature.
But what is this other than animism and paganism? And more crucially, what does any of this have to do with the Catholic Faith?
Although a working document is not a binding ecclesiastical declaration, the Amazon synod’s Instrumentum Laboris is one more example in a disturbing trend within the Church to find false religions praiseworthy while marginalizing Catholicism as “one way among many” in a diverse, globalized world.
Earlier this year, in February, Pope Francis co-signed the so-called Abu Dhabi Declaration on Human Fraternity alongside Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, the Great Imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque. In that document’s most troubling paragraph, it declared: “The pluralism and the diversity of religions…are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings.” But did not Our Lord teach that He alone is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jn. 14:6)? Has not St. Paul affirmed that the Catholic Church alone is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15)? To accept the Abu Dhabi Declaration’s formulation is tantamount to accepting that God has acted against Himself and His own divine Revelation.
My friend, these and other scandalous statements that have become commonplace in the Church are not abstract formulations intended for theologians to debate and puzzle over. Their pragmatic effect is manifested in dwindling church attendance, increased intermarriage between Catholics and non-Christians, declining birth rates, the decimation of priestly and religious life, and outright apostasy. In Western liberal societies such as the United States, many—including Catholics!—speak of “their truth” and “your truth,” as if every man and woman has been vested with the right to shape reality around their subjective preferences. This ideology of radicalized individualism would have been the subject of ruthless parody in saner times; today, it is the dominant lens through which people view the world.
Our dear founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, warned of this attitude, and the resulting indifferentism, over 30 years ago in his Open Letter to Confused Catholics.
If each man’s faith is according to his conscience—if it is conscience that produces faith—then there is no reason to believe that one faith saves any better than another.
For nearly 50 years, the Society of Saint Pius X, has worked tirelessly to combat the scandal of indifferentism by preaching to all who listen that what they need above all else is salvation through Our Lord Jesus Christ. By preserving the authentic Catholic priesthood and the administration of the sacraments in accordance with the traditional Roman Rite, the SSPX has brought countless souls to God during a period of history where so many are running in the opposite direction. In the spirit of the Archbishop, who spent his life dedicated to the social Kingship of Christ, the Society does not equivocate between true and false religion, nor will it ever make peace with indifferentism when the truth has already been revealed by Our Lord.
If there is any silver lining in any of this bad news, it is that today we see many who are waking up to the things about which Archbishop Lefebvre warned all along. There is tremendous growth in those attending the traditional Mass and embracing traditional values. The fruits of the SSPX’s commitment to upholding and preaching the truth can be seen in the growth in our apostolate and the number of faithful to whom we minister. In St. Mary’s, Kansas, we are embarking on a project to build a new church that will be the largest in the state of Kansas. This is because St. Mary’s has grown to be the largest traditional parish in the world. What was once a tiny outpost has become a place of refuge and hope for all traditional Catholics.
Throughout the United States every Sunday, close to 30,000 people attend the traditional Mass in our chapels. Of those, over half are under the age of 21! The growth is such that even those outside of the Society are noticing. We continue to gain new converts to tradition all the time. In the past couple of years, since we received the document on marriage from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, I have visited with over 50 bishops. When I spoke with one bishop of the growth—the Mass attendance, the number of marriages and baptisms, and the number of confessions heard monthly—he said he wants to come to our parishes and see how we are doing this!
All of this work, which we perform by the grace of God, is accompanied by practical costs. And that is why I continue to beg your assistance.
Our priests will continue to reach souls hungry for the truth, but we need your help. Every donation you make to the SSPX goes toward covering our clergy’s travel expenses, lodging, food, and health care. In addition, the Society’s schools, publishing ventures, online and social-media presence, and spiritual retreats are maintained through your generosity. All of these aspects of the SSPX’s apostolate operate in concert to overcome indifferentism and error while ensuring that future generations of faithful Catholics receive the means of salvation, including baptism, confirmation, confession, and Holy Communion.
Won’t you please make a donation today to support our work saving souls and promoting the return to tradition? Please visit us online at www.sspx.gifts.
If you already support us on the local level, in your chapel, thank you! Please consider an extra gift to support the growth that is needed outside of your local area. And pray for vocations! If we are to continue growing at this rate—and with the number of young people I mentioned earlier, it looks like we will!—we will need many more holy priests.
As always, you remain in my prayers.
Fr. Jürgen Wegner
District Superior of the United States