Rorate Caeli

An achievement and a mission:
The legacy of Abp. Lefebvre and Romanitas

From the sermon pronounced on Saturday, November 16, 2013, by Fr. Vincent Ribeton, superior of the French District of the Fraternity of Saint Peter, in the Mass for the 25th anniversary of the FSSP (Saint-Sulpice, Paris):

In the message conveyed by Abp. Luigi Ventura, Apostolic Nuncio in France, the Supreme Pontiff recalled that it was in a moment of trial for the Church that the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter was born. The tears inscribed in the arms of our community testify to this painful history.

During the meeting that assembled our priests this week in Lourdes, Father Denis Coiffet recalled those circumstances. They were even more excruciating for our founders because they had received everything from Abp. Marcel Lefebvre, and because they loved him like a father. For the very fidelity to the entire tradition of the Church that this prelate had taught them, which calls for fidelity to the successor of Peter, faith on the promises of Christ to his Church: Thou art Peter and on this rock I will build my Church; and also for this spirit of Romanitas learned from Abp. Lefebvre, who had himself received it from his years of seminary in Rome, under the direction of the Reverend Father Le Floch, our founders could not see themselves joining the consecration of bishops against the will of the successor of Peter. There where Peter is, there is the Church. Animated by this faith, our founders made an act of obedience and hope. They turned, as the papal message says, with confidence towards the successor of Peter, and they were not let down in this confidence, because to that small band of ten priests the conditions foreseen in the protocol of agreement of May 5, 1988, were guaranteed, offering the faithful attached to the Missal of 1962 and to the Latin traditions the possibility of living their faith in the full communion of the Church.

By celebrating this morning this thanksgiving Mass, I invite you, my very dear faithful, to share a particular intention for our brother priests of the Society of Saint Pius X. We know that the hand of the Pope is always extended to them, and we know them to be hesitant, torn. Let us pray that they may have the courage to make the choice of Peter. Even in his decision to consecrate four bishops, Abp. Lefebvre always refused to be considered the head of an autocephalous church. He judged that the bishops that he consecrated should one day deliver their episcopate in the hands of Peter. Let us pray that they do not delay further, so that the best of what they received may be in the service of the welfare of the whole Church, and that the truth be preached in the unity of charity. That is even more urgent because the present situation forbids division. That is even more imperative because it is shoulder to shoulder [lit. coude à coude] that we must act against the culture of death in a secularized society.

The Pope's encouragement to serve the mission of reconciliation between all the faithful is an appeal that the Fraternity of Saint Peter especially wishes to put into motion. Yes, we do adhere with all our strength to this request of the Pope that "all welcome one another in the profession of the same faith and the bond of an intense fraternal charity."

[Tip: Le Forum Catholique. Image: French Seminary, Rome]