Rorate Caeli

First Public Acknowledgement of the Consecration of New Bishops for the SSPX - Letter by SSPX France Superior: Get Ready

Last September, Rorate Caeli first published the rumors of a Consecration of new bishops for the traditional Catholic Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). The SSPX last consecrated bishops in June 1988, and currently has three of those then consecrated still performing duties for the Society. As is to be expected, those three bishops are now much older, and considerably overstretched. 

As is well remembered, those 1988 consecrations were deeply controversial, unleashing forces throughout the Church -- including the regularization and foundation of several religious institutes (including the FSSP and Le Barroux), and leading to the second major document on the "liberalization" of the Traditional Mass, the motu proprio "Ecclesia Dei".

Now, the Superior of the Society for France (the second largest, after the US, and still most influential District of the SSPX), Father Benoît de Jorna, is the first leader of the SSPX to publicly acknowledge the reality that consecrations will be needed soon, if only for realistic reasons of human affairs. [Our translation.]


Letter to friends and benefactors n. 95: let us be strong!

Father Benoît de Jorna

June 19, 2024

The virtue of strength will be sorely needed on a crucial occasion: the announcement of new consecrations to continue the "operation-survival" of Catholic Tradition.

Dear friends and benefactors,

Thirty-six years ago, on June 30, 1988, Archbishop Lefebvre performed "operation-survival" on Catholic Tradition by consecrating four auxiliary bishops for the Society of St. Pius X.

The venerable prelate had done everything in his power to avoid this consecration, including going to Rome time and again to open the eyes of the ecclesiastical authorities to the very serious crisis - perhaps the worst in its history - that the Church was going through: doctrinal and moral drift, liturgical decomposition, the fading of religious practice, the worrying disappearance of priestly and religious vocations, and as a consequence, the ever more rapid erasure of the Christian imprint in our countries, followed by the implementation of persecution laws concerning the secrecy of confession, evangelical preaching, the defense of life, the maintenance of moral norms and the affirmation of the nature of things. 

But nothing helped. Faced with this inexplicable blindness, Archbishop Lefebvre understood, in prayer and meditation, that God's will was that he should give himself auxiliaries, then successors, in the episcopal office of conferring the sacrament of confirmation and the sacrament of Holy Orders, so that the Church might continue. It had not even been twenty years that the Society of St. Pius X had been founded.

These episcopal consecrations confronted every Catholic attached to Tradition with the "tragic necessity of choosing."

It was impossible to remain neutral, to pass along, to pretend not to choose. Either you accepted the "Ecône priests," ordained by the new bishops, or you refused to have anything to do with them.

It was an impressive battle, dividing families, friends, associations, and chapels. Even if, contrary to Abp. Perl's prediction, 80% of the faithful remained faithful, and less than 20% felt they had to break away.

The Society of St. Pius X has now celebrated its half-centenary. Since 1988, it has more than tripled its number of priests, from 200 to 700. It has multiplied its priories, chapels, and schools, as well as its works of piety and doctrine, including now on the Internet, where thousands of texts, recordings and videos are available for Christian formation and understanding, both of the Church's current situation and of the providential role played by the Society of St. Pius X in it, without having chosen it.

For Catholics attached to Tradition who have recourse to the ministry of the Society of St. Pius X, religious life has thus become somewhat easier, in France at least. I once knew a man who, in the 70s, in order to attend a real Mass, had to take the train from Holland to join Monsignor Ducaud-Bourget in Paris. That is no longer the case: if he were still alive today, he wouldn't have to travel those hundreds of kilometers, as he would benefit from four places of worship of the Society of St. Pius X in his own country, others in Belgium, and finally places of worship in France close to the border.

This relative ease of living a Christian life faithful to Tradition is, like Aesop's words, the best of things and the worst of things. It i good, because it makes it easier for more souls to benefit from the riches of grace. But it is also a danger, because it can lead us to fall asleep in comfort, and lose the vigor, dynamism, and impetus of our spiritual life.

I'm thinking in particular of our young people. They've only ever known the Society of St Pius X to be fairly well established in churches and chapels, or at least in decent, convenient places of worship, far from the dingy, filthy sheds of the early days. They had always been familiar with the network of truly Catholic schools, and their parents had never felt the anguish of knowing how to pass on a Christian education in the absence of a Catholic school worthy of the name. For them, the auxiliary bishops of the Society of St. Pius X are a normal institution, having somehow always existed, without them asking themselves when and how they were consecrated.

The danger is that, through this ease (beneficial in itself), they lose the taste for effort, the sense of battle, the love of sacrifice. I am not saying that all of them are seriously affected, because I see many generous, faithful and courageous young "Trads", and I'm delighted to see them. But, at the same time, it's impossible not to notice the proportion of those who, so to speak, only intermittently follow the line of absolute fidelity to the faith taught to us by Abp. Lefebvre.

Is it not a tangible reality that these young people come from families fully committed to the struggle of the Society of St. Pius X, these young people who have attended only the chapels and schools of the Society of St. Pius X, and who are discovered to be Christian one day, worldly the next; one day Society of St. Pius X, one day Ecclesia Dei, or even charismatic; one day traditional Mass, one day new Mass; one day Pentecost pilgrimage in one direction, one day pilgrimage in the opposite direction?

And yet, to keep the faith intact today, we can't waver, compromise, fudge or water it down: there would be a mortal danger of sliding down the slope of complacency. On the contrary - and this is not easy - you have to constantly go upstream, go against the prevailing thinking, react to the evil that surrounds us and tries to come within us. And it is tiresome, and it is painful, and it is wearisome, and it is discouraging. We feel like putting down the bag, stretching out on the side of the road for a few moments, to stop being systematically "in reaction", at least for a while.

There is a great temptation here, which affects us all, but particularly young people, who naturally like change and novelty. On the other hand, monotony and the repetition of the same (small) difficulties eat away at their energy, their good dispositions, and their firmest resolutions.

That is when we all need, young and old, young and old, the virtue of strength, which constantly renews our absolute, intangible determination to remain faithful to the end, despite the passage of time. "This virtue of strength," emphasizes St Thomas Aquinas, "is particularly necessary for us to endure a little evil when it lasts a long time." For this endurance of a small but interminable evil is akin to that (probably mythical) method of torture known as the "torture of the drop of water". It is just a drop of water falling on the head, which does not really hurt, just causes a little discomfort. But the indefinite repetition, for hours and days on end, becomes absolutely unbearable.

What we need today, especially our young people, is this virtue of strength, which enables us to bear the minor inconveniences of a life totally faithful to Catholic Tradition, to maintain the straight line of faith, not to compromise with what doesn't suit it, even if this "intransigence" is sometimes a little difficult personally, familially, amicably, professionally.

If the virtue of strength is absolutely necessary for us to persevere in a Christian life totally faithful to Tradition, to endure its minor inconveniences and relative monotony, we're also going to need it in the near future to face up to the ecclesial event that's beginning to take shape.

As I said at the outset, on June 30 1988, Archbishop Lefebvre performed "operation-survival" of Catholic Tradition by consecrating four auxiliary bishops. These bishops, who were quite young at the time, are obviously less so thirty-six years later. Since the ecclesiastical situation has not improved since 1988, it has become necessary to consider giving them assistants, who will one day become their replacements.

When such a decision is announced by the Superior General, we can expect a media frenzy [Rorate note: our emphasis] against the "fundamentalists", the "rebels", the "schismatics", the "disobedient", to name but a few. At that point, we will have to face arguments, insults, scorn, rejection, perhaps even break-ups with people close to us.

The virtue of strength will be very necessary for us on this crucial occasion, and through it we must all demonstrate our absolute fidelity to the Catholic faith, to the true Tradition of the Church, to Our Lord Jesus Christ King of individuals, families and societies, and also to the Society of Saint Pius X, the ark of rescue raised up by Providence in the midst of the deluge that threatens to engulf the Church and civilization.