Having become Apostolic Delegate for all French-speaking Africa from 1948 to 1959, he was afterwards named
Bishop of Tulle in 1962. During this same year, his colleagues elected him as Superior General of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers, the post from which he resigned following the
aggiornamento begun by the Conciliar Church.
Having founded the Society of St. Pius X and
undertaking its government as Superior General from 1971 to 1983, he continued to
assist the Society by his wise advice until his death on Monday of Holy Week,
March 25, 1991, anniversary of the priestly ordination of the Sovereign Priest,
Our Lord Jesus Christ.
SSPX came into being after the
Second Vatican Council, at the request of seminarians desiring to be true priests according to the Tradition of the Church. Then, in view of the fact that it would be impossible to remain
an authentic priest when subjected to the ecclesiastical atmosphere of the dioceses, the idea of a priestly society was seen to be the best solution in order to be accepted by the bishops
(i.e., to be
incardinated into a diocese) and protect their
priesthood, while fulfilling a ministry much the same as secular priests.
On November 1, 1970, the Society was officially recognized by Bishop Charriere, Bishop of Fribourg in Switzerland; its constitution was warmly approved by Cardinal Wright, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, the following February.
The traditional priestly formation accomplished
seminary of Econe
became known and eventually displeased and annoyed the French bishops who feared the arrival in France of these young priests, trained
in a traditional fashion. Thence came the pressure on Rome that ended in the
illegal suppression of the
seminary (1975), and in the no less legal
sanctions against the
founder of the Society (1976).
The Society has expanded rather
rapidly and now [as of January 2010]
includes 511 priests and over 200 seminarians. The priests are distributed among the 6 seminaries and about 125 houses and churches, in 30 countries spread on the
With his residence at the General House in
Menzingen, Switzerland, the
elected Superior General since 1994 has been
Bishop Bernard Fellay
(he is currently serving his second term) and is assisted in his office by other
priests of the SSPX. The SSPX is a society of common life without vows (meaning
the vows of religion, as the SSPX is a secular religious
congregation and not a regular, or monastic order), like the Sulpicians, the White Fathers, etc.
Members of the SSPX
Composed mainly of priests, the SSPX
also has religious members who are brothers, sisters, and oblates, and by
affiliation, Third Order members.
The priesthood in the SSPX
The seminarians and priests, after a year of
spirituality, publicly pronounce their commitment on December 8, each year, and
after 10 years of temporary membership may ask to make their final commitment.
The SSPX's brothers
The brothers of the SSPX,
after fulfilling a 1-year postulancy and a 1-year novitiate, help the priests
with various functions, be they apostolic works (teaching catechism and in
primary schools, assisting with the choir), or material
tasks (sacristy work, cooking, upkeep of the priory), in order to unburden the priests from obstacles to their apostolate. They
take the vows of religion,
recite the Divine Office and are bound to other spiritual duties. Today [as of
January 2010] number 104 professed brothers in the SSPX.
The SSPX's sisters
The Priestly Society of St. Pius X is also associated with a society of
women religious: the Sisters of the Society of St. Pius X, founded also by Archbishop Lefebvre in cooperation with his
blood sister, Mother Marie Gabrielle. The SSPX sisters enjoy their own canonical autonomy
and have their own mother
superior, but work in close union with the priestly society.
After a 6-month
postulate and a 2-year novitiate, they assist the priest with
multiple tasks: primary schools, catechism, visit to the sick,
sacristy, upkeep of the houses, especially in regards to the
washing and if required, the cooking also. They also recite the
Divine Office with the priests and brothers, and have a full hour
of adoration each day. There are now [as of July 2009] 150
professed sisters dispersed amongst 19 houses of which the motherhouse, 4 novitiates, 7
schools, 8 priories, a seminary, a retreat house, a nursing home,
and a mission.
The SSPX's Missionary
Sisters of Jesus and Mary
The SSPX has
recently helped establish a congregation of missionary sisters who
assist the Society's apostolate in mission countries throughout
the world. The exterior works of the Missionary Sisters of Jesus
and Mary are directed to children and women through the teaching
of catechism, in schools, fulfilling secretarial and accounting
work, providing medical assistance as nurses or aids, sewing,
housekeeping, farming or whatever else the apostolate requires.
Candidacy is open
to ladies between the years of 16 and 35 and the postulancy lasts
for one year, followed by a 2-year novitiate period, then the vows
read more here or to apply [fsspx.org] >
The SSPX's oblates
The Society prudently
realized the need of providing to religious sisters
forced to leave their communities because of the post-conciliar
reforms a place to continue in their dedicated state of life. He also
wanted to offer a place for ladies desirous of entering religious
life, but who would not be accepted by a religious institute due to
advance age or having been widowed. For this purpose, the SSPX also
has oblate sisters, who live in the spiritual setting of the Society
and under the direction of its priests.
The SSPX's oblate sisters assist the
priests in priories, seminaries, retreat centers and schools through various tasks, from housekeeping,
sacristy care, teaching, secretarial or accounting work, and cooking.
As of now [January 2010]
there are 74 oblates in various houses of the Society throughout the
If not already professed religious, the
oblate has a year of postulancy followed by a year of novitiate. After
living a year in community, the novices are admitted to the oblates.
The SSPX's third order
Finally, for lay persons desiring to share in the
spiritual life of the Society while yet remaining in the world, a
has been established. Through their
affiliation with the Society, members of the Third Order share in its spiritual
benefits, and aid its members through their prayers, while striving to increase
their personal sanctification.
The spirit of the SSPX
The dedicated spirit of the
Society can be summarized as follows: To continue the sacred priesthood as
it was instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ and the priestly apostolate,
according to the 2000 year-old Tradition of the Church. But this Institution and
Tradition teach us that a priest's reason for existence is to perpetuate the sacrifice of the
redemption of Our Lord and to keep dispensing its fruit to all generations. From
the pierced Heart of Our Lord flows the Church and all the Holy Sacraments
through which Our Lord communicates His Own Divine Life to souls and washes them
of their sins. Thus, the sacrifice of the Mass is recognized as the
inextinguishable source of the Church’s life, the great mystery of Faith, the
synthesis of all revealed Truths, the fountain of all graces. Sacrifice and
Sacrament, the Holy Mass brings the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ among
us, and communicates Him as a miraculous nourishment.
It is this sublime role of the
priest that the Society has endeavored to perpetuate, being conscious also that
this role is the source of the reign of Our Lord in our souls, in families and
in society. It is to this "Restoration of all things in Christ," with all its zeal, that the Society engages itself totally through its
colleges and universities,
academies, high schools and grade schools, through its chapels and communities
where retreats are held,
and especially the
Spiritual Exercises of St.
Ignatius; and through its priories, real
centers of apostolic missions. To foster its fervor, the SSPX is attached to
the Church's liturgy, the great mysteries of Our
Lord Jesus Christ (especially His Sacred Heart), to the Blessed Virgin Mary
(particularly to Our Lady of Compassion), to St. Joseph (our prudent guide in spiritual and material works),
to the Holy Angels (our patrons against all diabolical influence), and of
course, St. Pius X (to keep
us in the Faith and sanctity and against the errors and vices of the modern world).