Rorate Caeli

Final chapter in Thiberville affair?

[For previous posts on the Thiberville drama, read this and this.]

Brothers and Sisters,
You have a right to the truth, that is, to objective information!
Regarding the situation of Thiberville, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura has rendered its judgement.
Rome confirms the decrees issued by the Bishop of Évreux concerning the status of the previous inter-parish group of Thiberville of which Father Francis MICHEL was the parish priest.
Following the rejections of three appeals filed in Rome by Father Francis MICHEL, I have repeated to him my invitation to leave Thiberville for the exercise of his ministry.
Let us pray together for Father Francis MICHEL.
Évreux, January 14, 2011.


  1. Tom the Milkman10:42 PM

    A travesty of justice, and the ongoing desolation of the Faith.

    I'm going to reread 'Diary of a Country Priest' for the umpteenth time, and remember the Catholic faith.

  2. Anonymous12:43 AM

    a meeting between Fr. Michel and his bishop is announced.

    We'll see what is coming from this.

    The Thiberville case is quite important because we have a typically ratzingerian priest (celebrating the 2 Forms) being ousted from his flourishing parish - the best in a depressed diocese - by a typically FrenChurch liberal bishop (appointed by Benedict XVI) and the Roman Signatura backed ... the bishop. Canonically it's logical but pastorally it's a desaster.
    A very bad signal sent to all young priests in the world.
    So we can pray for Fr. Michel to be able to continue his fruitful ministry in a new situation.


  3. Just to save the readers some time, Father Michel has a thriving, predominantly traditional parish in a diocese that is dying. He even offers the Novus Ordo facing East, and presumably for his traditional leanings his bishop is persecuting him to the point of trying to drive him out.

  4. Anonymous2:40 AM

    Is there anything the faithful can do to support Fr. Michel in addition to our prayers? There must be something--a petition or protest--something that we can do to say we've had enough. The only item of action other than prayer that I believe we the faithful have is to start a worldwide financial boycott of the institutional Church of Rome, and all its dioceses. Without money the bishops can't hide behind their high priced lawyers. I think to organize a financial dam is the only way the faithful can stop this nonsense. Any good organizers out there?

  5. Anonymous3:39 AM

    The best worldwide response to situations like what Fr. Michel has been up against and continues to be for some 40 years now is the SSPX.

    A.M. LaPietra

  6. Anonymous8:42 AM

    I don't like Mr. LaPietra's conclusion but, in this case, I must agree with him. Rome has aleady said privately that Society Masses fulfil the Sunday and holyday obligation. We have reason to hope that this finding will become law very soon, hopefully (and I use the adverb correctly here) this year.

    The Society is widely accepted in some quarters in France, and Mr. Michel is very popular in his area. I am sure that the Society would let him stay in Thiberville. It would be interesting to see the outcome of that strategy.

    This is another example of how FrenChurch resists this German Pope, whereas a Polish pope was naturally popular in France. It has to do with historic rivalries and, therefore, Benedict XVI seems to be moving more cautiously in regard to French bishops. What is needed, again, is simply a public recognition of Society Masses to fulfil the obligation. That would be especially important in France, where there are so many Society chapels and apostolates.


  7. Anonymous1:49 PM

    I think this is very sad indeed - but perhaps the authorities in Rome know something we don't ? That is a possibility. I do hope, though, that something more can be done. Perhaps writing directly to the Holy Father through the agency of a good priest who has good contacts ?

    Fr. A.M.

  8. Anonymous3:50 PM

    Then one wonders that serious priests decide to join the SSPX.
    Not later than yesterday I have blogged about such situations here:


  9. Anonymous8:18 PM

    Most seem to favor some type of human response to what is a problem of supernatural origin. Perhaps the New Jerusalem must pay for its accrued sin during the 60s.

    If that is the case, wouldn't it be prudent for Fr. Michel to humbly honor his vows of ordination to obey his Bishop? Summorum pontificum indicates that what the Bishop of Nice is doing by restricting Fr. Michel's use of the EF mass is wrong, and that he needs to be corrected. At the same time, the vow of obedience makes no exceptions for politics, convenience or even piety. In this analysis, Fr. Michael is easily seen as having recklessly pursued his own course against his bishop's edict. And as such, it is the easiest of jobs for the Signatura to reject any appeals otherwise.

    What kind of small-minded individual would assume from the rejection of Fr. Michel's appeals by the Signatura that the entire Church, or the Pope himself!, agrees fully with the restrictions put on Fr. Michel? The judgment is made to decide whether or not a particular thing happened, not whether or not a particular idea is to be encouraged. Least of all, would you have the Signatura decide that insubordination of priests against their Ordinariates is to be encouraged? Oh! But of course only when that disobedience supports X, Y or Z agendas that are currently in fashion. Such a short-sighted abuse of justice in this case might encourage the EF usage in Thiberville, but what of the malignancy created by weakening the holy vows of our shepherds who are ordained specifically for our salvation?

    -Christopher Thomas

  10. Joe B9:00 PM

    "... wouldn't it be prudent for Fr. Michel to humbly honor his vows of ordination to obey his Bishop? Summorum pontificum indicates that what the Bishop of Nice is doing by restricting Fr. Michel's use of the EF mass is wrong, and that he needs to be corrected. At the same time, the vow of obedience makes no exceptions for politics, convenience or even piety. In this analysis, Fr. Michael is easily seen as having recklessly pursued his own course against his bishop's edict."

    Why is the one reckless and not the other? Who has the higher obligation to obedience, the bishop to the Holy Father, or the priest to the bishop against the Holy Father?

  11. Tom the Milkman9:28 PM

    The holy resistance of John of the Cross to his superiors comes to mind.

    Despite his later problems, I'm put in mind of Fr. Oswald Baker, whose Downham Market Mass I heard many times, whose resistance preceded Archbishop Lefebvre's.

    It's no small-minded thing to appeal to justice, to appeal to holy Tradition, to resist the desiccation of the Catholic Faith by lawful superiors.

    Such appeal is of the very fabric of Catholic faith, a fact proven time and again throughout history.

    That the Apostolic Signatura has made its decision does not dim the rectitude of Fr. Michel's resistance, nor of his appeal to authority, which not only is legal, but is morally required of him, and wholly praiseworthy. Let's pray for a righteous outcome from a meeting between Fr. Michel and his bishop.

  12. Johannes12:22 AM

    I agree with Fr. A.M. - there may be more to it than we see. We must be careful. It is easy to err when one knows everything and all aspects involved - how unspeakably imprudent it is then to judge the matters that you do not have such knowledge of. And it is not our duty.

    But if one wanted my opinion - to me it looks very much like a trap, to press Fr. Michel to do something veritably repudiable and to ostracize him explicitly from the rest of us Catholics; like Levebre and the uncanonical ordinations. It shall be well with him not to be deceived by the support that he has been given and misinterpret his own situation to be the be-all-and-end-all of the struggle between traditio and modernity. He should appeal higher if possible or ask a better bishop (likely more than one bishop has communicated some support to him) to transfer to his diocese and continue his work profitably and not unto schism or worse.

  13. Anonymous1:08 PM

    I think there is a slight misunderstanding, Thiberville is not in the diocese of Nice, but of Evreux.

  14. edited

    This case has great similarities with that of Fr. Feeney in '49. The Jesuits ordered Fr. Feeney to move to Holy Cross to teach English, despite his Jesuit superior stating that Fr. Feeney was the nations top theologian. Fr. Feeney asked his superior why he was being transferred, "was it because of my doctrine", Fr. Feeney asked. "Yes" responded his superior.

    So Fr. Feeney's anti-modernist defense of the Dogma, "Outside the Church, there is no salvation" which is lockstep in keeping with the Oath Against Modernism which he took seriously, get's him the boot from his superiors and then with Archbishop Cushing.

    Like wise, the courageous priests of England under Henry VIII, who disobeyed their bishops who sided with Henry VIII, took the high ground by remaining loyal to Rome, rather than embrace the arsenic of Heresy by obeying their bishops who obeyed their king over the Pope.

    Fr. Feeney rightfully denied the heresy embraced by his Jesuit superiors and Cardinal Cushing and disobeyed their orders rather than acquiesce to heresy. One must obey God before obeying man. No superior can expect you to deny dogma.

    To date there has been no official Church document which condemns the doctrine of Fr. Feeney. The notorious letter to Archbishop Cushing in '49 was never placed in the Acta and therefore does not bind your conscience.

    Recently, by order from Rome, St. Benedict Center in NH has been given a Chaplain from their Bishop

    The difficulty of the Thiberville case is that the issue if liturgical and not a case of embracing heresy.

  15. Sixupman9:50 AM

    Let's face it,a great number of our bishops are psuedo Catholic and covert Protestant!

    The good priest is caught in the "Catch 22" position and obedience to you bishop whether he be right or wrong. What if the said bishop sought that the priest celebrate a 'Black Mass' would it be disobedient to refuse?


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