great deal has been said here and there in relation to the "Bordeaux
I have let some time pass and have fallen somewhat behind my
schedule (may readers please excuse me), to avoid reacting in the heat of
the moment and adding fuel to the flames.
The following note is purely doctrinal, since it is in doctrine
that we must seek our certainties when our points of reference seem to
will not give in to the craze of controversy by acting like playground
children arguing about "who started it".
The SSPX is currently torn apart by one of the worst crises in its
may say that it is just another mere family quarrel!
Here I will endeavour to show, as simply as possible, the hidden
sides of this crisis and the stakes of the dispute.
One cannot overlook the fact that whatever the disciplinary outcome
of this issue, the questions raised will remain unless they are resolved
at the root...
They are liable to call into question the survival of the SSPX, or
at least jeopardize – for some time – the services provided by the
Society to perplexed Catholics.
Leaving their pride aside, the members (and why not also the
Faithful) of the Society must therefore address two most serious issues
raised in the context of what is now known as the "Laguérie Affair".
supernatural is invisible
story starts with an issue that Fr. Laguérie raised himself, i.e. the
training of seminarians and the criteria of religious vocations.
Saint Pius X, our patron saint, made considerable efforts in his
time to uphold what one could call the "roman theology of
Canon Lahitton gave a decisive work on this issue, with the Pope's
works on the principle that the supernatural does not give rise to any
perceptible or intellectual experience, in the order of the created.
A supernatural vocation can therefore not be discerned on the basis
of a humanly motivated judgement.
The supernatural is invisible!
In order to discern a vocation, it is enough to ascertain that the
candidate is fitting for the priesthood, i.e. that he has the moral and
intellectual capacities required to become a priest, and also that he has
proper and straight intentions.
Once the call of the Bishop has formalized these requisites, there
is unmistakably a priestly vocation.
It is this doctrine of vocations that was taught at Ecône in my
Barielle, much missed, had produced a small booklet on the subject, "Ai-je
la vocation?", which many of us have read.
days, the directors require of candidates other abilities, which remain
unrevealed despite the requests of various priests and school directors,
who need to know these criteria in order to orientate candidates
There have been cases of seminarians expelled for reasons such as
having "too much influence", or lacking "not
docility but docibility", not obedience but malleability...
The use of these "new criteria" has caused
badly-managed departures from the Seminary, thus surprising the faithful,
who witness the return of young men who seemed perfectly fit to become
priests and who are sent back to "square one" for no decisive
apparent reason, after three, four or sometimes even five years.
second authority could strengthen the superior's decisions.
the "Laguérie Affair" also triggers a second fundamental
prodigy child of Tradition, Fr. Laguérie has been called subversive on
the grounds that he dared to send figures, detailing the problem that has
persisted at Ecône for several years now, to thirty of his fellow "elder"
of the Society's best components in France has thus been called a "mutineer",
one of the most faithful disciples of Archbishop Lefebvre has been accused
as a rebel, merely because he appealed against the sanction imposed...
Some consider that the authority in the Society should be allowed
to impose sanctions on a purely discretionary basis, and do not even so
much as acknowledge the principle of a possibility of legal recourse to a
second authority able to counterbalance or moderate the superior's
The current crisis within the Church allegedly justifies the
absolute power of the superior general of the SSPX.
In my opinion, such extremist views are based on an error of
Far from reducing authority within the Society, a legal
organisation of the Superior General's powers would stabilise and
strengthen the whole Society (and, at the same time, would consolidate the
said powers), by increasing its longevity and making it a proper
institution rather than a militant movement.
for making a principle of refusing any recourse, this inopportunely
restricts the development of the Society.
There is, however, a divine right authority, in itself absolute and
unlimited in its order: the authority of the pope.
"Apostolica sedes a nemine judicatur", as the
adage says – the Holy See may be judged by no-one.
However, as regards human law, there is no such thing as an
Worse, such an authority can only represent itself: it must
therefore necessarily confine itself in its exercise, whilst at the same
time centralizing matters more and more as time goes by.
That makes double reasons for withdrawal into oneself and double
reasons for opposing to change and thus dying-down!
A twofold weakness, despite any potential shows of force!
the most daily practice, this absolute authority is weak because it is
exercised on a solitary basis.
It must therefore limit in advance the chances of its own
interventions, by aiming at all costs at security among the members of the
Security in the recruitment of candidates to the priesthood: could
this be the reason for the crisis affecting our seminaries?
New criteria are devised, not made known but more restrictive than
the traditional criteria, since what is required is submissive individuals...
Security in the spreading of catholic Tradition among the faithful.
For a long time now, we have regularly heard Society
representatives advise not to let newcomers too hastily into our churches
and chapels, to avoid "contamination" by unassimilated elements.
Could it not be the constitutional weakness of the Society referred
to above that would explain – and, to a certain extent, justify – such
This requirement for security, due to the weakness of the
structures of the Society, could well be placing a brake on the daily
development of Traditional Catholicism.
this viewpoint, the so-called "Laguérie Affair", far
from being an impediment or a scandal, is actually a historic opportunity
for the Traditional Catholic movement, which must now react and
acknowledge, ever more as always, its substitution duty in the terrible
crisis currently affecting the Catholic Church.
There are precedents of such legal substitution.
The Society has set up a canonical department dealing with marriage
Why not create a body able to regulate – under the terms of the
code – the Society's own internal functioning?
Why not open a canonical office able to deal with recourse made by
members who consider that they have been unjustly sanctioned?
priest friend of mine, in the conciliar Church, told me, with a mocking
smile: "Since the Society rejected Church law by consecrating four
Bishops without permission from Rome, it placed itself once and for all
outside of the scope of the law.
On this basis, any recourse is meaningless".
Should we accept this type of logical line, most unfavourable to
Should we let ourselves be expelled from the Church, on the grounds
that we consecrated four bishops for the good of the Church?
In my opinion, that would be joining in the game of those who
eagerly await the destabilization of our Institute together with the
destruction of its work of restoration in favour of the Church.
another standpoint, the Society Headquarters express fear.
If Fr. Laguérie's right to appeal is taken into account, it would
entail the creation of extraordinary legal structures, leading to a form
of two-headed authority.
According to Bishop Fellay, if such structures existed within the
Society, the authority would be two-headed...
Bishop Fellay wrote to Fr. Laguérie that a court of appeal within
the Society would be tantamount to "a kind of soviet",
judging the Superior's decisions.
This, however, would not be the case.
There is not the slightest question of a revolutionary soviet that
would substitute for the Superior's executive powers.
It is not a matter of judging Bishop Fellay, but of re-judging Fr.
When the French "Conseil d'Etat" enacts a decree
quashing an administrative decision made by the President of France, it
does not substitute for the President nor does it create any two-headed
must simply acknowledge that a Superior is never almighty.
According to the tripartite division of powers, which is used in
Canon Law, it is naturally acceptable to say that the Superior has the
last word as regards the executive, since he is responsible for the
running of the organisation in question.
But regarding the legislative power, the supreme authority is held
exclusively by the General Chapter.
In the case of a serious crisis such as this, it would seem quite
conceivable for the four bishops (free from any executive duties and
subject to the Superior General) to form a kind of "council of wise
men", which would not play any part in the functioning of the
Society, but which would, by virtue of the universal character of the
episcopate, attend to the safekeeping of faith and justice.
Far from diminishing the Superior's powers, such an arrangement
would strengthen him by providing him with powers properly subject to law.
can always oppose that such was not the way Archbishop Lefebvre governed,
and that is doubtless!
However, how many crises did the Society have to live through in
its early years!
In those days, our founder's personal aura gave him persuasion
abilities that remain without comparison.
see no other solution, under the present circumstances, in order to
maintain law and order within the SSPX, than to comply with the universal
law of the Church and set up a disciplinary body.
Each bishop has his own court of justice.
For the Society to consider circumventing the requirement to
implement law and order within itself would be tantamount to rejecting the
equilibrium of general law by voluntarily refusing to abide by parts of
on this basis, could the Society mature properly, as an organization
founded by Providence for the good of the Church and the salvation of as
many souls as possible?