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The double-standard of ecumenism
Traditionalists not welcome

2-5-2013

From the heart of where the Society of St. Pius X was born of the Roman Catholic Church, another salvo has been fired against the priestly society, and by none other than the local ordinary, Bishop Charles Morerod of the Swiss diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg.

Bishop Charles Morerod
Bishop Morerod

Bishop Morerod published a decree on January 20th,[1] stating that because Society priests are considered suspensio a divinis:[2]

it is forbidden to the priests of the Priestly Society of St, Pius X to use Catholic churches and chapels for all priestly service, particularly for the dispensation of the sacraments.

This declaration is even more troubling when we realize that it comes just after the bishop ecumenically affirmed in the same decree:

If such a pastoral necessity arises, Catholic churches and chapels can be made available to faith communities of Old Catholic, Evangelical Reformed, Lutheran, Orthodox and Anglican churches.

So once again, we witness the double-standard of ecumenism through the application of “ecumenical hospitality”.

Suffice to say that it is unnecessary to once again address the issue of the true canonical status of the SSPX’s priests – which would be likened to beating a dead horse - particularly as this is actually not the crux of the matter. In fact, although Bishop Morerod makes this a sticking point for his decretal stance, he actually provides the main reason why the SSPX is typically blackballed quoting Pope Benedict XVI:

...the fact that the SSPX has no canonical status is not based ultimately on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons.[3]

Thus here we see the fundamental problem and the cause of Bishop Moreord’s prohibition of the SSPX.

This incident also provides another example of the continual inconsistency of how ecclesiastical authorities treat the Society of St. Pius X. While the SSPX has in the past been granted permission to publicly celebrate Mass in the major and minor basilicas of Rome,[4] the basilica of Lourdes,[5] and other noteworthy places, yet its priests find themselves locked out of a quaint Swiss chapel! Meanwhile we find that heretical Christian sects, such as the Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Baptists,[6] as well as Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and pagan religions[7] are allowed to use Catholic sanctuaries – even altars – all under the aegis of ecumenism.

As comical as this tragic contradiction is, Bishop Morerod has unfortunately provided an even more serious one. In response to an outpouring of criticism for his proscription of the SSPX, His Excellency published a clarification on February 4th in which he justifies his “ecumenical hospitality” to the Orthodox (who are not in communion with the Catholic Church) and the lack thereof towards the Society of St. Pius X (which he deems is in some sort of limbolistic “partial communion”):


St. Mary Major Basilica:
USA SSPX District Superior,
Fr. Peter Scott offers Mass
for American pilgrims during  Jubilee Pilgrimage in 2000
 
Assisi I in 1986
Assisi I in 1986: Buddhist monks worship a Buddha on the
high altar of St. Francis Basilica

First of all, differently from the Orthodox or Protestants who can use the churches of the diocese under certain conditions and in case of need (for instance, because they do not have a nearby church, or due to construction in their own church, this possibility often being reciprocal), the priests of the SSPX present themselves as Catholics. The dialogue with the SSPX is not properly speaking "ecumenical", but an internal dialogue…

(...)

…The difficulty proper to these priests, compared to Orthodox priests or Protestant pastors, is that their ministry in fact contributes - perhaps not in their intent - to divide the Catholic Church from the inside.[8]

So ironies of ironies – it seems that the SSPX would fare better if it were to declare itself a schismatic sect (which it certainly is not) rather than continue insisting that it is completely Roman Catholic. Thus the Society is being penalized for its loyalty to the Catholic Church and remaining inside her, instead of outside!

Perhaps though, the most sorrowful aspect of this entire affair is that Bishop Morerod is well-acquainted with the Society of St. Pius X, having been one of the members of the Rome-SSPX Theological Commission. Thus he not only knows the SSPX on a personal level, but also what the priestly society stands for: the Catholic Faith. We may also presume that he is at least precursory acquainted with the Society’s position on its canonical status – and that it has been proven correct on at least two occasions (despite years of denial from ecclesiastical authorities)[9] – and thus the common accusations made against the SSPX should not be taken at face value.

Despite that Bishop Morerod is a Dominican (and hence possesses a Thomistic background), nevertheless should we really be so surprised to see how the errors of Modernism have affected his thinking, which is merely a consequence of the post-conciliar era?

It is easy to harbor bitterness and resentment against such petty prohibitions as recently laid upon the SSPX by Bishop Morerod. However, it was Archbishop Lefebvre himself – who like His Divine Master was loaded down with contempt – preached that traditionalists should avoid these sentiments in this battle for the Faith.

The Archbishop’s successor as Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay, re-emphasized this salient point recently during an ordination sermon in regards to the fulfillment of the priesthood:

Archbishop Lefebvre during the early days of Econe
Archbishop Lefebvre during
the early days of Econe

It is hard sometimes, when we see the enemy, when we feel that we are in a painfully tight spot, to forget our discomfort and to throw ourselves into Christ’s Passion for those souls, for them too. “Bless those who curse you” (Lk 6:28); this is the law of the Gospel.

Perhaps then our best reaction to Bishop Morerod’s recent actions against Tradition is to offer some intercessory prayers to St. Thomas Aquinas, that the light of Objective Truth as contained in the Summa may eventually pierce through and eventually dispel the modernist clouds of confusion that presently occupy his mind.


Footnotes

1 Cf. the original French version on the Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg diocesan website. A partial English translation was published on the Rorate Caeli blog on February 2, 2013.

2 Latin for “suspended from divine things”, i.e.,, administering the sacraments or offering Mass, even in private.

3 In his decree of January 21, 2009 that lifted the excommunications of the SSPX’s bishops.

4 The most important examples were during the Pilgrimage of Tradition for the Jubilee Year in 2000.

5 As annually done since 2008.

6 E.g., a few years ago in Kansas City, Missouri, a Baptist church had a fire and without hesitation the lay administrator of nearby St. James Catholic Church offered the building for worship services. In contradiction to this “ecumenical hospitality”, there is the historic incident of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church - while the local ordinary (Bishop John Sullivan in 1980) categorically refused to sell this closed-down church to the SSPX, he was more than willing to try and sell it (twice in fact) to a Protestant group!

7 Two outstanding incidents are the Assisi I prayer religious meeting in 1986 during which a statue of Buddha was placed on the high altar in Basilica of St. Francis and prayed to by Buddhist monks, and the Hindu service carried out in the Fatima Basilica in 2004 – which sparked the SSPX’s pilgrimage of reparation in 2005. Of course, here in the USA was the Buddhist incident at the Grand Rapids basilica in 2004.

8 Questions liees a la Fraternite Saint-Pie X: Mgr Charles Morerod clarifie un decret; an English translation of the French original was provided by Rorate Caeli blog on February 4, 2013.

9 The liberalization of the traditional Mass and the lifting of the excommunication of its bishops.

 
 
 

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