SSPX's treatment: A profound injustice

The Society of St. Pius X's maintainance of the Catholic Faith as defined by Tradition has come at a heavy price, particularly in the unjust treatment metted out to the priestly society and its founder by the Church's hierarchy.

Courtesy of the French District website, we offer an extract from Fr. Regis de Cacqueray's March 2013 District Superior's Letter to Friends and Benefactors. For more details on the treatment of Archbishop Lefebvre and the SSPX, we recommend Michael Davies' 3-volume set, Apologia Pro Lefebvre.

A profound injustice

The treatment that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church has been inflicting on the Priestly Society of St. Pius X for almost 40 years is born of a profound injustice. We say this without the least bitterness, for we remember well the eighth beatitude: "Blessed are those who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."[1] But the supernatural blessings that we hope to obtain from our situation must not keep us from ardently hoping that those who have gone astray may return from their errors. For the salvation of all wandering souls, we beseech Heaven that the triumph of the truth may soon ring out, sounding the death-knell of this injustice.

In the meantime, our dear Society remains marginalized because it "refuses to follow the Rome with neo-modernist and neo-Protestant tendencies that appeared at Vatican Council II and after the Council in all the reforms that followed."[2] Even today, we are still accused of the same crime; even today, all we would have to do is sign an expression of our adherence to the Council’s doctrinal reform and the liturgical reform of the Mass, and our reintegration would be approved. Why persist in refusing to do so? Why did Bishop Fellay not take the hand that Benedict XVI held out to him in 2012? And now, the opportunity is gone, now that he is no longer pope!

Why did Bishop Fellay not take the hand that Benedict XVI held out to him in 2012?

Why? Because the pope required the Society to recognize that the New Mass and Vatican Council II are permissible as an integral part of Tradition. We must understand very profoundly the reasons that make it morally impossible for us to accept such conditions. Accepting them would submit us to the new religion that we have always fought and it would gravely empoison our souls. Allow us to repeat here why submitting ourselves to either of these two conditions is inconceivable, so that we may all keep clearly in mind the fundamental reasons for persevering on the summit where the Society stands.

First of all, as far as the New Mass is concerned, we share the very serious conclusion to which Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci came even before the promulgation of this New Mass: "It strays to an impressive degree, on the whole as well as in its details, from the Catholic theology of the holy Mass."[3] The Society remains in the wake of this first show of protestation against the New Mass. It maintains[4] in particular, that the new liturgy makes the propitiatory nature of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross[5] disappear, and that this voluntary amputation of the liturgy betrays the spirit of His divine oblation. The deepest motive for the Son of God’s coming down to earth to suffer His Passion is erased from the New Mass. He became incarnate to deliver Himself as a victim of expiation and He died on the Cross for our sins, "to appease the Father and make Him favorable to us,"[6] but the New Mass has suppressed this propitiatory object of the Sacrifice, although this was the quintessence of the Catholic spirit.

One must not therefore be surprised when we say that the New Mass, even without the outrageous demeanor to which it so often gives rise in the name of liturgical creativity, and even when it is celebrated by a pious priest, cannot be pleasing to God. Let us not react emotionally to this statement that Archbishop Lefebvre repeated so often; rather let us seek to understand why this objective conclusion cannot be denied.

The new rite no longer expresses the redeeming Sacrifice of our divine Savior as it really happened on the cross, even though its authors pretend, on principle, to have remained faithful on this point. Consequently, this new rite gravely deceives souls who think they are assisting at a Mass that has remained substantially unchanged, while in reality they are faced with a liturgy that has been turned away from its proper end. In name, the new liturgy is said to be Catholic; but its contents are not. Satan’s masterstroke has managed to give to a liturgy closer to the Protestant service of worship than to the Catholic Mass the reputation of being Catholic.

Referred to today as the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, this rite, not satisfied with no longer conveying the Catholic religion, distills a purely human religiosity that scarcely takes the time to mention that man is first of all a poor sinner and that his duty is to fight tirelessly against the three concupiscences in order to obtain his salvation. Far from it, the texts of the New Mass celebrate man and his work on earth. In vain does one look for the ancient prayers, so frequent in the traditional Mass, that invited Catholics to despise the things of earth and consecrate themselves to those of heaven. The New Mass substitutes a horizontal, profane vision for the vertical dimension of our existence.

In reality, the Catholics who continue to practice regularly for their whole lives with the New Mass are rare. It is so desacralized that men who really seek God cannot find Him in it. Many, disgusted, have deserted the reformed sanctuaries because they no longer found there the religion of their childhood. They could no longer bear this exaltation of man in which the Son of God, who died on the Cross to save them, is forgotten. They understood obscurely that this Mass no longer spoke to them of the religion that they had been taught. What was their sin? It is really a question we might ask ourselves. What did they flee? A new religion that wished to impose itself furtively upon their consciences without admitting that it was new. Often these people, who stopped going to Sunday Mass at the time, have kept the faith, while the others, immersed Sunday after Sunday in the new rites, have, alas, become disciples of the conciliar doctrine. New liturgy, new religion!

We condemn the equivocality of this New Mass

We condemn the equivocality of this New Mass. It no longer expresses Catholic dogma. It can certainly be understood in a Catholic way by a Catholic, but it can also be understood in a Protestant way by a Protestant. How can this be? Through a subtle alchemy that modifies the words, the gestures and many liturgical signs.

Expressions that are too openly Catholic are almost systematically watered down and replaced by others, vague enough for the Protestants to be able to understand them in their own way as well.

In this way, the symbols that express the dogmas of the sacramental presence, of the renewal of the sacrifice of the Cross, of the priesthood of the priest, have been diminished in number and their precision has been reduced. Henceforth, the purely spiritual presence of Christ among men, the Last Supper, a meal during which the bread was broken and shared, and the role of the assembly that celebrates with the priest are emphasized. It is absolutely astounding, from a historical point of view, to note that all the distortions worked by the artisans of the New Mass are all but identical to those that the Protestant reformers had invented to make the Catholic Mass shift towards the Protestant service of worship.

The New Mass therefore cannot be pleasing to God, since it is deceitful, harmful and equivocal:

It cannot be the object of a law applicable as such to the whole Church. Indeed, the object of liturgical law is to propose with authority the common good of the Church and all that is required for it. As the New Mass of Paul VI represents the deprivation of this good, it cannot be the object of a law; it is not only evil, but also illegitimate, in spite of all the appearances of legality with which it has been and still is surrounded."[7]

We therefore refuse to consider legitimate this evil liturgy that is opposed to the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Instead we denounce the New Mass as illegitimate and illicit. Those who are sanctified while assisting at it are sanctified in spite of it and not through it. One day, it will be forever banished from Catholic sanctuaries.

This is why, in the footsteps of Archbishop Lefebvre, we strongly recommend that our faithful never actively assist at it, even if certain reasons allow them to be present passively. Doubtless, one does not lose the faith after assisting once, and so this is not the essential reason for our opposition to the New Mass. The most profound reason for which we encourage Catholics not to assist at the New Mass is that such a cult can only displease God, and the faithful must evidently never participate in a cult that displeases God, not even to please those dear to them.

In the end, Vatican II caressed the utopia of seeing the Church and the world join hands so that humanity might advance upon new paths

As for Vatican Council II, it has now been recognized and abundantly proved, even in circles far from the Society, that it was piloted by innovating theologians whose goal was in no way to expose the Faith. Many have admitted this, and bragged of it after the Council.

What they tended towards as much as possible during the four sessions of Vatican II was an official reconciliation between the Church and the modern world. Under their strong influence, often inspired or written by them, the conciliar declarations sought to hide the truths that the modern spirit criticized the most, as if they were ashamed of them and no longer believed in them.[8] On the other hand, these same texts expressed their admiration for the modern world by praising it. They adopted not only its language and its intellectual patterns, but even its very ideas, those of the French Revolution, of the declaration of human rights, and of the modern philosophies. From then on, the official message of the Church has been in collusion with the spirit of the world.

In the end, Vatican II caressed the utopia of seeing the Church and the world join hands so that humanity might advance upon new paths. The old antagonism of all the past centuries between the Church and the world was at an end! Dialogue, elevated to the rank of a new virtue, would henceforth make it possible to rise above misunderstandings, to understand each other and to share each other’s wealth. Be it the new meaning given to religious freedom and to ecumenism, or the invention of inter-religious dialogue and the democratization of the ecclesiastic structures, they are all so many insidious and repeated deviations, deduced from liberal philosophies and introduced into the conciliar texts. And these perverse notions then acted themselves as so many metastases on the other texts that had remained traditional. Our founder did not hesitate to write:

It has only become more certain that the Council was turned away from its proper end by a group of conspirators and that it is impossible for us to enter into this conspiracy, even if there are many satisfactory texts in the Council. For the good texts only served to win the acceptance of the equivocal texts, full of mines and traps."[9]

And he also wrote, "that, generally speaking, when the Council innovated, it weakened the certitude of the truths taught by the authentic Magisterium of the Church as belonging definitively to the treasure of Tradition."[10] Indeed, the progressivist Cardinal Suenens was right when he wrote with satisfaction, "Vatican II was 1789 in the Church."

This comparison, only too true, helps to understand why we are obliged to bring up the Council over and over. If the French Revolution is the event that completely overturned the institutions of our country, and little by little, all the countries of the world, Vatican Council II was an upheaval of similar amplitude in the history of the Church. It is impossible to understand the last fifty years of the history of the Church without referring to the texts of the Council, which provide its principles and direction. The implosion that took place within the Church, then, cannot be ended so long as these are conserved. The greatest disaster that has ever happened in the history of the Church can only end on the day the Council is rejected in order to return finally to the Tradition of the Church.

Archbishop Lefebvre also observed:

I accuse the Council seems to me to be the necessary answer to Cardinal Ratzinger’s ‘I excuse the Council.’ Let me explain: I maintain, and I am going to prove, that the crisis of the Church essentially comes down to the post-conciliar reforms that have come from the Church’s most official authorities, applying the doctrine and directives of Vatican II. There is therefore nothing marginal or underground in the essential causes of the post-conciliar disaster."[11]

This common-sense reflection simply tells us that the best interpretation of the Council is given to us by the very facts that followed it. All the learned contortions that certain hermeneutics of the conciliar texts go to such pains to produce in order to save them from error are neither very serious nor very useful. Their attempts to exonerate the Council at all costs are immediately discredited by a return to the cruel reality. Facts do not lie. The field of ruins is all around us; we are walking through it as the last walls finish falling. In the times to come, disrepute will weigh ever more heavily upon those who persist in believing that the soothing words they speak are enough to suppress the evils that exist. They only do ill in acting thus, for they postpone the time when they will finally accept to recognize courageously the profound causes of the plagues that afflict the Church, in order to allow her to live once again.

Be that as it may, the Society strongly refuses to admit that Vatican Council II belongs to the Tradition of the Church. We claim on the contrary, that in many points this Council is diametrically opposed to it. That is why our Superior General refused the conditions formulated by the pope for our canonical reintegration. As soon as he learned of them, Bishop Fellay made known to Rome the Society’s non possumus. We express our gratitude to him for this courageous refusal that he addressed to the pope. We believe, besides, that Benedict XVI cannot have been so very astonished by it, since our opposition to the New Mass and to the Council has always been at the heart of the Society’s combat. We begin our novena this evening, praying that the new pope may be a traditional pope.

As for us, we continue as before

As for us, then, we continue as before. We do not know the future. In France, it is clear that things are deteriorating very quickly. Catholicism is more and more of a minority, and more and more marginalized. The Catholics can be counted: pretty soon everyone will know everyone else! The conditions created for Catholics by a hostile State are becoming brutal, scornful, mean. The precursory signs of persecutions are perceptible. They come from a government many of whose ministers are Freemasonic, under obedience to the Grand Orient of France.

How will we react if even more difficult circumstances were to arise in the future, and if a manhunt for all the baptized were to be launched? We believe that it is possible for a manhunt for Catholics to begin. It would not be the first time in our country. There have been others at times when the Church was much stronger than she is today. Let us pray for one another, that we may remain faithful to the Catholic Faith to the last instant of our existence. Let us pray that, if God grants us the honor of asking the testimony of our blood, we may obtain the grace not to refuse Him, but to give it to Him with gratitude.

Above all, do not believe that a spirit of compromise with the world would allow us to avoid this confrontation. The history of all revolutions shows that liberals are not saved by the concessions they make to the revolution. They lose their honor first, but most of the time they do not save their skin that was so dear to them. For the revolution is thirsty and is never satisfied with the pledges the liberals make to it. It wishes to see them grovel at its feet. But when they find themselves in this position, it does not resist the satisfaction of destroying the vanquished whom it despises. We obviously do not wish this upon them, as we hope that the perspectives we are evoking will not come about. But, with all interior serenity, we prefer to evoke the possibility of these things, not to frighten but in order that all may devote themselves more intensely to prayer and to their duties. Graces will certainly be given to us for tomorrow. There is therefore no use in becoming dismayed today at the unknown crosses the will be scattered throughout the years to come.

Let us not forget that only prayer, ever more profound and more generous, from the deepest depths of our soul, can ward off these perspectives, shorten the days of misfortune and soften the divine chastisements. We urge you especially, during this year 2013, to beseech St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, to put an end to the crisis of the Church. We still believe today that in France, if the bishops were to become Catholic and courageous bishops, there would be a great religious upsurge in our country, similar to the present upsurge in Russia, unfortunately in the Orthodox religion. Let the Faith be reborn and France will be reborn and regenerated. To obtain these divinely fertile resources, our France need only return to its baptismal fonts.


1 Matt. 5:3.

2 Declaration of Archbishop Lefebvre, November 21, 1974.

3 Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci in the Brief Critical Study, June 5, 1969.

4 Archbishop Lefebvre in The Mass of All Time, starting on page 257 [French edition].

5 Archbishop Lefebvre in The Mass of All Time, p. 270 [French]:

They have removed from the new ordo all the texts that clearly affirm the propitiatory object, the essential object of the Sacrifice of the Mass. One or two slight allusions can still be found, and that is all. This was done because the propitiatory object is denied by the Protestants. The prayers that explicitly expressed the idea of propitiation, such as those of the Offertory and those pronounced by the priest before the Communion have been suppressed.

6 Catechism of the Council of Trent, p. 247 Ed. DMM.

7 Fr. Jean-Michel Gleize, Vatican II en debat, p. 63.

8 In very diverse domains, take the examples of the existence of hell, the condemnation of Communism, the universal mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary...

9 Archbishop Lefebvre, I Accuse the Council, p. 10.

10 Archbishop Lefebvre, Letter to Cardinal Ottaviani, December 20, 1966.

11 Archbishop Lefebvre, They Have Uncrowned Him, pp. 233-234.