Sermon of Bishop Bernard Fellay in Flavigny on Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

Source: FSSPX News


When we speak of the Temple (where the purification of the Blessed Virgin took place) we think of the Church, and today we would like to explain briefly the situation in which we presently stand.

As a matter of fact, there is nothing very special, nothing really new except a turmoil which indicates that the devil is taking a great deal of trouble, and this time even greater trouble than usual. Priests well versed in the discernment of spirits, know quite well that any thought inducing doubt, anxiety, distrust, does not come from God. Quite clearly, the spirit of the devil is inspiring this frenetic agitation which pervades some circles nowadays and is trying to perturb, to cause distrust among the faithful, among the priests, making them believe that the Superior General is having secret dealings in order  to go and sign or obtain, so they say, an apostolic administration before Easter.

There is nothing true in all this. It is all boloney! The only thing true is that since the private audience we had with Benedict XVI, we have met with Cardinal Castrillon on November 15 last. We once again told him all our reservations, what we expected from Rome, telling him: "Listen, normal Catholic life is no longer possible in the Church nowadays. Since the Council, it has been made impossible… You want an agreement? We are not averse to it, but you must first make it possible. And as we absolutely want to remain Catholics, this Catholic life must be made possible again. This means first of all to correct abuses and condemn them; it means a whole series of acts, to regain control of the Church. It also means positive acts: i.e. to reintroduce this life according to the Catholic faith, with all its demands. It means to give back to the Mass its liberty, something which will set the Church back on the tracks, which will focus the Church on Our Lord Jesus Christ again."

Then we told him: "We see that Rome now agrees that there is a crisis in the Church. Nowadays, it is no longer denied in Rome, and we can even say that serious people in Rome are panic-stricken by the situation of the Church, even if in some of their discourses they say the contrary. We are absolutely sure of this because we heard it from their own mouth. They are very worried about this situation, and the pope first of all. Yet the problem arises from the fact that we disagree on the causes of this crisis. The Roman hierarchy wants to ascribe this crisis to the evil which is shaking up the world. The world is guilty if things go wrong in the Church!

So, we told Cardinal Castrillon about (the contents of) the letter of Archbishop Lefebvre addressed to Cardinal Ottaviani, one year after the Council. We showed him this letter, commenting upon it and pointing out how the Archbishop was admirably describing the consequences of the Council without speaking of abuses, without speaking of deviations; but how the Council – as it did happen – leads to the crisis we are experiencing. This text written in 1966 is up to date to a dot. This view of the Archbishop is admirable especially concerning the situation of the Church, and the Council. We insisted much, saying: "The fault lies with the Council. But this does not mean that all the errors we meet with in the Church today come from the Council. It means that the Council gathered all these errors and inoculated them into the lifeblood of the Church". I continued saying: "If you want to get out of this crisis, just forget the Society for a while, busy yourself with resolving this crisis. Once the crisis is resolved, the Society will no longer be a problem for you".

After these long discussions, the cardinal told me: "I see that all you are saying does not place you outside of the Church, so you are in the Church". And he went on: "I ask you to write to the pope and ask him to lift the excommunications". Since then that is where we stand, because obviously we are not going to ask them to remove something we do not acknowledge. We have always refused to acknowledge the validity of these excommunications, so we cannot ask them to remove something which does not exist. And even before doing this, we had asked, of course, the withdrawal of the decree of excommunication, its annulment; but even to say "annulment" already means that we would acknowledge something. We had asked this from the very beginning; it was one of the conditions we had set. And, for the first time, Rome seems to be heading in the direction we had proposed in the year 2000.

Nevertheless, it is quite obvious that before taking that step, we must try to figure out why, all of a sudden, Rome is asking that. Where does Rome want to go? And what is the objective they pursue by this change of tactics? It is rather clear that Rome, the pope would like to settle the affairs of the Society, if I may say so, and according to their plan it must be a quick settlement. On our part, we always insisted that before we can reach a practical settlement, they must eliminate the principles which, on the one hand, generate the crisis, and which, on the other hand would destroy us if we were to accept them. Thus we can in no way accept. And that is where we stand today. We demand, we ask Rome to examine these deadly principles in the Church in order to eliminate them, to reject them. This liberalism, this modernism which entered the Church really kill the Christian life, they show themselves in the collegiality, in ecumenism, in religious liberty, in this concept of the laicized state, now endorsed by Benedict XVI and repeated so many times.

The pope, in his address of December 22, tells us that by returning to the laicized state, the Church came back to the Gospel. Yet the Gospel says the opposite! The Gospel says: "He must reign". Saint Paul wonderfully explains that all authority comes from God. All authority! And if we must submit to civil authorities it is because they are God’s lieutenants. These authorities receive power over men from God. They must give an account to God, to Our Lord Jesus Christ of the way they exercised power, whether they be Hitler, Nero, Gorbachev, Chirac, you name it. At the hour of their death they all appear before Our Lord Jesus Christ to render an account of the way they exercise their power because Our Lord is their King. Whether they be pagans or Christians, it is all the same: Our Lord is King of all!

 We only have to look a little more closely at the influence of civil society on men’s life. It is so obvious that a civil society impregnated with the law of God will help the soul to work out its salvation, and the reverse is just as obvious. This civil society, in which each man daily lives, necessarily influences his life. For us it is sheer evidence that the civil society must be in harmony with the Church. Thus the principles, the laws which govern and direct human life must be impregnated to the uttermost with the law of God, the ten commandments. Though the end of civil society is only temporal, there is no contradiction between the two. There must necessarily be a harmony; this is sheer evidence for us. But we dare say that for the present Pope, it seems that the laicized state is an evidence, an axiom. It is part and parcel of those principles which need not be proved. Hence an enormous problem, a stumbling block in our relations with the Roman authorities, which can be summed up in one word : the Council. And we perceive it very clearly in this issue of religious liberty.

And so, my very dear brethren, we must carry on. We must continue quite simply and serenely on the path so well traced out by our founder Archbishop Lefebvre, and that is all. We know that the Church has the promises of indefectibility, the gates of hell shall never prevail against her. She will one day overcome this crisis. It is up to us to devote all our energy to work towards overcoming the crisis, and this, obviously, while keeping our own place. So, per force, we will have relations with Rome. It is a mistake to claim that we must not discuss with them. We expect them one day to become Catholics, and we would not discuss with them? Saint Paul, speaking of the pagans, said: "How will they convert, if they do not hear about the faith, if no one reminds them of the principles?" Do we want to invent, or do you want to demand a continual miracle from Our Lord Jesus Christ? This may happen, but God usually uses secondary causes to touch souls. Once again, without wanting to attribute to ourselves a spectacular or extraordinary role, we find ourselves in the historical circumstances in which God placed us. Here and now we must accomplish our duty of state as priest, bishop… everyone in his own place, and try to obtain as much good as possible from these authorities which are certainly still in darkness.

Let us pray! Let us pray God that this light, which we hail in Our Lord, shine forth again in the Church. Let us really have the heart of an apostle. God insisted with his Apostles to tell them that they should not place this light under a bushel. It must give forth light; we must have in our heart the desire to convert souls. If God gave us the grace to see clearly, it is a sin to keep it for ourselves. Deep in our heart, we must have the desire to win all souls – obviously according as God disposes – but we must labor, we must have a heart as big as the heart of Our Lord. He is our model. Everyday at Mass, the priest offers a sacrifice of infinite value, of a power which we can call universal. The graces of the Mass reach the whole world,  the whole Church. It would be rather ridiculous to see a priest who, as he is performing this immense act, reduces his heart to a tiny little thing. Of course, he will have particular intentions, but he must keep these immense intentions which he himself mentions at the very beginning of the Canon: he prays for the whole Church. At the offertory, he prays for all the faithful in the whole world. Let us keep this spirit and ask that it increases everyday. Let us then practice it everyday, -- obviously with prudence, and always enlightened by Our Lord Jesus Christ, by divine Providence.

Let us, on this day, entrust these great intentions, intentions of our young seminarians, and the great intentions of the Church to Our Lady. May she protect us, may she present us everyday more pure to God, as we ask in the prayer, so that, being everyday more pleasing to God, we may obtain, through our cooperation with his grace, to sanctify ourselves and others. Amen