The Motu proprio on the Traditional Mass and the state of necessity in the Church

Source: FSSPX News


 Sermon given by Bishop Fellay on the thirtieth anniversary of St. Nicolas-du-Chardonnet. – Excerpts.

Today, we are celebrating a Mass of thanksgiving for the 30th anniversary of the restitution to Traditional Catholic worship of this Church of St. Nicolas-du-Chardonnet, and of course this thanksgiving ascends first and foremost to God. God who permitted this surprising event. God who has clearly blessed it…


It is good to recall the spirit of these men of the Church who decided one day to take possession of a Church. It was a heroic deed which overthrew all discipline, which overturned, at least to outward appearances, the principle of obedience. Now, when we consider these priestly figures, each one of these priests were attached with all their hearts to this submission to authority, this exercise of obedience, so indispensable to the Christian. (…) It was truly out of necessity, after having exhausted all of the usual means, that they decided on this course of action. Mgr. Ducaud-Bourget had asked Cardinal Marty for a Church, and he had been to the civil authorities: nothing, nothing, nothing! An unheard of situation in which the shepherds themselves became persecutors. (…)

 It is when we are forced by the reality of the facts that we are obliged to take the situation as it is. What was evil just 50 years ago, suddenly became sacred, and those who tried to continue with what was sacred 50 years ago, are today cursed, excommunicated. It required awesome courage to rise up, to resist this pressure from an entire group. And not just any group: “You are against 2,500 bishops, you are against the Pope.” And it is these bishops, these pastors who, since the Council are suffocating Catholic life…

 The state of necessity: in precise terms this is when man, in order to arrive at his highest ends – his eternal life – is obliged to diverge from his usual, normal route. He can no longer do otherwise. And this is the state we find in the juridical situation of this Church. This does not mean that we want this situation. We do not want to place ourselves outside of the law. But we are forced to, because the authorities of the Church do not want to change the situation, and so we find ourselves in this state of necessity. And do not imagine that this apparent disobedience affects only us. Today every soul who wants to live faithfully, who wants to serve God as the Church has always done, as Our Lord asked in the Gospels, finds himself in this necessity of choosing a different path from the one imposed by the authorities of the Church. We are acting thus in order to stay in communion with the Church which includes communion throughout all times. Yes, we want to be united to St. Peter, St. Paul, to the Apostles, to all the saints of all the ages.

 And tomorrow, what will become of St. Nicolas?

 It is said, and we may believe it, that Benedict XVI wants to restore traditional worship to the Church. Despite much hesitation, despite fierce opposition, he has not given up his plan which should one day be communicated to us in the form of a Motu proprio. When will this happen? We do not know. What are the terms of this text? We have no idea. According to what we have been told, we might hope that the Old and the New Mass be given equal rights. Of course, this is not enough. But it is a first step. And humanly speaking, it is probably a necessary step.

 If this happens, I do not think we should expect a mass movement of return to the Old Mass. This is first of all, a situation of law which would be reestablished and which would allow easier access to this Mass for those in the Church who desire it. But for this to succeed in being established in the face of obstruction of the bishops at the present time, it would take an iron will which up until now, we have not seen in Rome. On the other hand, who knows if this energy might not be found in the beneficiaries – the faithful, the priests – who desire this Mass. Who knows if, little by little, having regained a taste for the Old Mass, the number of priests will increase, and finally – after Heaven knows how many years! – we will see the ancient rite supplanting the new, and finding its true place in the Church. I do not believe this will happen overnight. We must not delude ourselves.

 On the other hand, we should not think that what we have described as a state of necessity is restricted only to the Mass. The New Mass does not form the entirety of the crisis in the Church. It is much rather the consequence, and on certain points, the instrument: it spreads modern ideas such as irenicism, ecumenism – according to which everyone is good, everyone goes to Heaven – and also religious liberty and collegiality, this demolition of the personal hierarchical authority in the Church. It is the New Mass which spreads these ideas, but it is not the cause of them.

Also, my dear brethren, do not be surprised if the Society hardly moves at all when invitations arrive from Rome to a new reconciliation after the appearance of such a Motu proprio. Because this will take time. There is an entire state of mind in the Church which has to be changed, and even more than a state of mind, there are principles. The authorities in the Church must acknowledge these deadly principles which have paralyzed the Church for the past forty years. As long as this is not done, it is very difficult to consider a practical agreement. Why? Because when these principles rule the life of Church, as soon as there is the least disagreement, it will be resolved in the name of, and by, these bad principles. This means that a practical agreement in these circumstances is doomed to failure at the outset. It would cast doubt on all of this combat which we are celebrating today, it would be in absolutely total contradiction with everything we have said up to this moment. This is not what we want, obviously we want a normal state of affairs. But this does not depend on us. If we find ourselves in this situation it is not because we have desired it. Once again, it is through necessity. And this necessity continues.

 During our audience with the Pope in August 2005, we summed it up in a very brief sentence. We said to him: “Normal traditional Catholic life in the Church today is impossible.” And we gave him examples of priests, monks, nuns, and faithful who even today come to the Society, to Tradition, saying: ‘I cannot go on. In all conscience, I cannot continue to obey. Every time I try to do something, it is demolished.’” This means that what we have to do – and probably for a long time – is quite simply continue along these lines, in the steps traced out for us by our predecessors, by Archbishop Lefebvre, Mgr. Ducaud-Bourget, Fr. Coache, Fr. Serralda, all of these courageous priests. We ourselves have no great merit, we can only say that we are maintaining this courage, with God’s help.

 This Mass is a votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin, for, if we are holding out, if we are resisting, in what way are we any better than anyone else? But it is because we have the benefit of special protection. We ask for it and we should do so. It is the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and there is no doubt that this era of the Church through which we are living – a most turbulent era – God has placed under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. Her apparitions, at Lourdes, La Salette and Fatima certainly indicate that we are living in the time of Mary. Of course, what we would love to see is her victory! It will come. But since these apparitions, it could be said that we are in a very distinctive time in the Church.

 At Fatima, we hear that God wants to save the world, our souls, through devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Blessed Virgin give us as the means to achieve this, penitence and prayer; she particularly recommends the Rosary. An intervention unprecedented in the entire history of the Church: a very precise means. Why not believe in it? My dear brethren, if you are here, it is because you do believe in it. We invite you to keep this devotion, that it may truly accomplish in you an ever more intimate union with the Blessed Virgin Mary. May Our Lady be truly our mother. A mother who protects her children and who has the power to do so because it has been given to her by God: Mother and Mediatrix of all graces! And it is this protection which we call down upon this place and upon all those who come here, that they may have the strength to live every day as true Catholics in today’s world. May God grant us the grace of true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary so that through Her, we may attain ever closer union with God, in order to attain eternal salvation, both for our soul and for that of our neighbor. Amen.