Bp Williamson 7/20 column
#1
Nearly 20 years ago, a certain bishop of the Society of St Pius X showed that it was possible to foresee the betrayal of Archbishop Lefebvre’s SSPX which nearly happened in 2009 and 2012, and which still risks happening. Disturbed by the self-admiration and lack of seriousness which he had observed at the SSPX’s recent elective General Chapter, here is a summary (with a few direct quotes) of what he said in the Society’s house in Le Brémien, France, on 17 July, 1994 (See on the Internet: Un évêque s’est levé le Brémien, and you should find the original text in French).

It would be nice to be able to say that in the SSPX we are opening houses everywhere, we are building, we are entering new countries, we have vocations, that everybody is nice and sweet and young and enthusiastic, that we have four bishops, and so on. “But why should the SSPX have any special protection against the forces unleashed today which have swept away thousands of excellent bishops and priests in the mainstream Church ? (...) What are the Society’s qualities, what are its guarantees?” Youth, oh yes, youth is nice, good-looking, physically strong, but what about age, experience and the wisdom of years? How can youth be expected to be wise?

In the 1950s and 1960s the Church appeared to be in good health, heroically resisting the onset of the post-war world. In England and the USA, there were huge numbers of conversions each year, so that the world could seem to be on the point of converting to the Catholic faith. But what happened? Exactly the opposite. With Vatican II, the truth stopped fighting and the Catholic Church surrendered to the modern world.

So let me give you a parallel scenario for the Society. In the 1990s this lovely little Society with all its marvelous little priests is heroically resisting the failings and betrayals of the official Church. There are conversions, and people are realizing that the new Church is false and non-functional, but just when the official Church seems to be on the point of surrendering, what might we see? I do not say we shall see it, but what might we see? The Society surrendering and going over to the official Church. If the Universal Church could collapse, why not all the more a tiny Society?

And here is another consideration. Before Vatican II every Catholic Order and Society had above it the Congregations of the Roman Curia so that “if something went wrong in a Society, not excluding a failure on the part of its leaders, something always humanly possible, then one could always appeal to Rome and Rome could intervene. In olden days it would generally intervene for the best, whereas today it generally intervenes for the worst, so now “it is better not to be under Rome, but watch out, there is a price to be paid, namely that there is nobody above us, and so our General Council, our little Superior-General, are the ceiling! Danger!” The Society is thrown back on its own resources. Now Archbishop Lefebvre was 65 years old when he founded the Society. But how many old men with long experience does the Society have in 1994?

In brief why should the Society be spared the problems of the Universal Church? I do not want the Society to break up, and please God, I shall do nothing to help it do so, but I can only say I would not be surprised if it did break up. God may preserve it, but He may also allow it to go the way of all flesh, to make us realize how little we are capable of by ourselves. We need wisdom, and special help from God.
Kyrie Eleison.
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