Rorate Caeli

A Call for Unity

Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum...
The division of the Traditional Catholic world was a master stroke by the enemies of the 1962 Missal and of the Roman Catechism. They have managed to sow discord between friends and to establish fratricidal hatred among priests who used to march together hand in hand. The first group began to treat their brothers as radicals, the second called the others sellouts. The former were convinced that those who remained under Abp. Lefebvre would soon fall in total schism, and the latter thought with certitude that their former brothers would abandon both Mass and Catechism.

What can we say more than a quarter-century later? That, on both sides, these judgments were, in great measure, overreactions.

On its own side, for all its known problems, the Society of Saint Pius X did not become schismatic or a parallel "church". It has always kept contacts with Rome and has made what it considered necessary in order to regularize its situation with the successive popes, even if, for reasons that its superiors considers prudential (and with which we ourselves may prudentially disagree), regularization has not been achieved for the moment. On the other side, the Ecclesia Dei communities never abandoned the Traditional Mass, nor traditional Catechesis.

It must be said in all honesty: on the side of the SSPX, recognition of the Pope remains, and the desire for its work to be recognized is still sought, according to different measures that vary from person to person. On the side of the Ecclesia Dei communities, there remains a disapproval of the new Mass (regardless of the fact that it is considered both valid and legitimate) and of the alteration of traditional doctrine, both of which are also expressed differently from person to person. The exceptions within these groups confirm the rule in both communities.

A problem has been that, throughout the years, some religious authorities, while the situation remained by itself already quite confusing, proclaimed fatwas, dogmatizing attitudes that would require a certain pliancy and lots of understanding. We heard, for instance: "Visiting the SSPXers? Don't even think about it, or you'll be excommunicated!" Or still: "Go to a Mass with those sellouts? You'll lose your faith there!"

In the documentary on the life of Abp. Lefebvre which was recently released in America, a famous professor and journalist, Jean Madiran, who had distanced himself from the SSPX in 1988, made nonetheless this brave declaration regarding the Lefebvre consecrations: "It is hard for me to say today that he was mistaken." Since he passed away in 2013, it is, at least in a small way, his testament. That the most famous French layman of the Traditionalist struggle is willing to affirm this soon before dying should make us ponder. Many faithful in the young generation refuse this mutual demonization whose only motivation seems to be the fear of having some sheep escape to the neighboring pasture.

Now, is this text an appeal to mix everything up? Absolutely not. May each one continue to advance in one's own post. The scenario that has come up in the past few decades, even more so after the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of Benedict XVI, is the worst thing that the Progressives could have imagined considering the very dire circumstances of the 1969-1988 period: a Society of Saint Pius X that remains somewhat strong, and that keeps presenting to Rome its doctrinal misgivings; and Ecclesia Dei communities that spreaded out throughout the world, slowly but surely, and with great determination, making clear to the bishops every single day what the Church has always willed and stood for, especially in liturgical matters. Are not both in a way the heirs of Marcel Lefebvre, who unfailingly asked for the "experience of Tradition" to be allowed?

Now then, what is to be done in the future? The forceful proclamation of the faith! And to work cum et sub Petro without complaining! May the fans of the Ecclesia Dei and Summorum Pontificum communities not be afraid of the first response. And may those of the Society of Saint Pius X not shy away from the second. In times of troubled waters and unknown obstacles, the unity of all likeminded traditional Catholics is essential, with mutual tolerance and acceptance.

[Posting time: Jan.20, 2014, 0000 GMT]