Aside from some small grammatical changes I made, which you will find in brackets, these are the exact words of Father Wegner. Feel free to correct any mistakes I made or to fill in missing parts (the question marks).
Father Wegner’s sermon in Toronto May 13, 2012
These past weeks, the newspapers, the internet, (the) television were full of news about the Society. From all sides, all kinds of reactions. Now, to better understand our situation and to better know what to do, today I want to recall a little bit the history of the Society and Rome, and I want to try to give an idea of what should be our reaction as faithful.
You know, in 1988, Archbishop Lefebvre, knowing he was already a certain age, he said, “I have to guarantee the future of the Society.” And he had relations and talks with Rome in order to ask for at least one bishop for the Society. We all know that at the time, these talks, they end abruptly, since there was no way (that) Rome would grant us a bishop, since there was a clear situation of “we don’t want the Society to exist anymore.” Archbishop Lefebvre said, “I have to consecrate four bishops.” What he did, and what ended up with this document of excommunication of the four bishops, and which started a period of many years without any contacts between the Society and Rome.
It’s strange. In the year 2000, it was the year of the Jubilee, and the Society organized a big pilgrimage going to Rome, and there, the Roman authorities - looking at this big crowd of some 5 or 6 thousand faithful praying - looking at these 300 priests present, the sisters, the religious - seeing the serious(ness) of these persons - they started to recontact, and there was the first meeting at the time between the four bishops of the Society and Cardinal Hoyos. True, after long years of somewhat persecution, the Society would say, “We don’t trust you. We just want – what we first want to see (is) clear signs that you’re positive to us - Tradition.” And so there were two conditions fixed to make sure that Rome really wants the good of Tradition. And you know, these two preconditions with (?) were first of all the liberation of the Mass (for) all priests, and the second one, the lifting of the Decree of the Excommunications. This was in the year 2000. And I can tell you many people, or some one of my faithful, a contractor, he said to me “Father, what the Bishop is asking, what the Society is asking is an exaggeration. Never Rome will do this for you.” And he said, “I’m the boss in my company. If one of my employees would come up to me with similar conditions, if he would say, ‘I will work for you, if you do this and that,’ I would just tell him this, ‘I don’t believe you.’ I would just send him away.” This is what many people were feeling, thinking when the Society stated – fixed –these conditions. And the contacts between Rome and the Society went on. There were regular contacts once, twice, sometimes three times a year, but that’s it.
In 2006, during the General Chapter of the Society, looking at the situation between the Society and Rome, the General Chapter first of all renewed the Declaration – the famous Declaration of Archbishop Lefebvre from the year 1974 - stating clearly that the Society would always fight against the novelties of Vatican 2, would always fight against the loss of faith. And the Society stated – decided – to start a first crusade of the Rosary. And the first crusade of the Rosary just wanted to collect one million rosaries. And the goal was fixed to want to pray these rosaries for the freeing up of the Mas, to make and to help to give the graces from heaven, that the Pope - that Rome - would give the right to every priest to say the Mass. And this Rosary Crusade was announced in 2006, in July, after the General Chapter and was started. And more or less immediately, there was the first announcement that the Pope was ready to free up the Mass. But now this took some time. It was the first announcement in October 2006, the second one in December 2006. Finally, in July 2007, there was (the) issue of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, which said that every priest would say the old Mass, that every priest would use the traditional breviary, that every faithful had the right to ask, for example, that a child could be baptized in a traditional rite, and that the children could receive the sacraments – the sacrament of Confirmation – its rites – the full blessings of objects. Every priest would use the traditional ritual. Sure, this document is not perfect. We would have liked that the Pope would never have spoken about these two rites – the extraordinary rite and the ordinary rite. But it was a big step and you know that not all the bishops in the world, they’re in favor of this document. Even now, that oftentimes they make it difficult for the faithful, difficult for the priests, to celebrate or to assist at the Mass in the traditional rite. It was a positive step. Once this first condition was fulfilled, the Society started the second Rosary Crusade - thirty million rosaries and asking for the lifting of the excommunications. Nobody would believe it would happen.
And I can tell you, it was in January of 2009, I was over in Europe on a visit, and the Bishop, speak(ing) about the situation here in Canada, he told me, “Father, crazy things will happen within the next days.” And he told me that Rome wanted to lift the excommunications, and he said “Father, Bishop Williamson gave an interview in Germany two months ago. The media withheld this interview for a certain time. And the media, now knowing that the Pope wants to lift the excommunications, told him, “If you issue a document to lift the excommunications, we will publish this interview and we will tell all the world that you are behind somebody denying the holocaust.” So Rome knew that this decision to lift the excommunications would be followed by an attack on the Pope and the Church. And nevertheless, the Pope, he would do what would be the last thing, he would lift the excommunications. Again, there are some imperfections in this document, but the step was made.
After these conditions were fulfilled, discussions started between Rome and the Society, and during two years, both sides would get together to explain the different positions, to discuss, for example, collegiality, religious liberty, the magisterium of the Church. These discussions helped both sides to see clearly where the other would stand. And it came out that the big discussion(s), the big point(s) are doctrines - the new doctrines of Vatican 2. And it was stated afterwards, that these differences, they cannot be resolved in short term. And what nobody was expecting, immediately after these discussions, Rome came up with a document - with a preambule for the Society – with a gift to the Society - (?) the structure within the Church. Never the Society was asking for this. This coming from Rome: “We want to give you a status within the Church. We want to give you a place. Hear what would we suggest to you and hear our conditions.” And you know that Mgr. Fellay, he gave two negative answers to this document. One, on the first of December last year, and one on the 12th of January of this year. And on the 16th (of ) March, the response of Rome was, “You have to accept the document. We can rediscuss the conditions, but you have to pronounce before April 15th.” And Mgr. Fellay answered to Rome that there will never be a discussion about the Faith and it is impossible for us to negotiate on the (?) . But we always will continue to preach the Faith and to criticize the errors. Monsignor at first stated also, that he would never accept a solution which would not give the total liberty for the Society and the economy of action. And it was this document that made all the media say, “Bishop Fellay accepted the solution from Rome.” (?) It’s not this. He said the document which is studied by Rome for us has to be very clear. The most important in all this for us is the Faith. We have to serve God. We have to serve God or respect Him. It is clear for us, whatever happens, they have to guarantee the liberty for the Society which will continue to practice our Faith. The liberty to preach our Faith. But there’s also the principle: to be Catholic and to stay Catholic, we have to be Roman. There’s no Catholic Church without having Christ on top of it. And there’s no Catholic Church where there’s no Pope. It’s strong. There are acts. There are teachings of the Pope where we have to say, “That’s not Tradition. That’s not what we find in Holy Scripture. In this point we cannot follow him.” But does that mean that he’s no longer Pope? Does that mean that there’s no point, no (?) that Jesus Christ speaks through him? Does that mean that Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost quit Rome? Does that mean that we have the right to say, “ (?) , we decide “. This idea and this mindset! People saying Rome is just the Antichrist is the mindset of the non-Catholic. What should we do? What do we have to do?
I will give you the opinion of an outsider. You know we redesigned the Angelus and it was a company – it has nothing to do with the Faith – to help for this work. And in this company, the director - he’s the director of concept and strategy - and he went to Menzingen to see and to speak about the Society. After 6 hours of discussion with the Bishop, he said, “Monsignor, the Society is wrong. The strategy of the Society is wrong. What you are doing is what you were doing 20, 30, 40 years ago. When the Society started, there was this discussion, for example, of the new mass and the old mass and you were fighting. You were defending yourself. You were regressed and you had enemies. And since you were regressed, you kept your faith. And some way, you had to progress some. What’s old from the Church, nowadays. Everything you can read about the Church is just ruins. (The)Closing of Church(es), priests leaving their ministry, empty Churches. What you are doing today is just fighting of empty ruins.” And he said, ”You should start to build … if you explain nowadays to young people.” And he said, “I can give you an example of my own person. I’m a Catholic but I don’t practice anymore. Once I saw the nice pictures of your liturgy. Once I could speak with your priests about the rites of the Mass and they discovered to me the (?) you have. I started to love Tradition. That’s what you have to do. You have to build and you have to stop the battle in empty ruins.” What we have to do is to pay attention not to form this (?) errors of the Council.
You know this week, for example, were published letters which has been sent from (the) three Bishops of the Society to Mgr. Fellay. And the answer of the letter – the answer of Mgr. Fellay – published on the internet. What’s the point of moral theology? If you write me a letter which is confidential - it’s your letter and I would post it in the back of the Church – I’m pretty sure you will not be very content. And I can tell you, for me, it would be a mortal sin. A letter to me – sent confidential – a private letter – I have no right to publish it. And if I want to publish it, I have to ask permission from the person who sent it. I have no idea who put these letters on the internet, but I know the person who did, committed the sin, and it breaks me, and in some way, if I wouldn’t be in charge of the faithful here in Canada, I would never have read this letter because (it was) not destined to me. And when I see now some faithful - seeing the reactions of some faithful – even priests – it’s the error of the Council. They are doing collegiality. We have the Society, we have the Superior General – our Superior . It’s up to him to make decisions. It’s not up to the faithful. It’s not up to me. It’s therefore that we have a Superior. And I can tell you I’m happy that I don’t have this responsibility.
You know, this week, I received a letter – I read a letter – from somebody – from a priest – an old priest - not a member of the Society, and he said, “Where’s the problem? Where’s the problem? Mgr. Fellay is Superior General in the Society for 18 years.” And he said, ”Without wanting to do bad to Mgr. Lefebvre, if you’re looking on this 18 years of Tradition, you can say that in some way, Mgr. Fellay had as much success, or perhaps even more success than Archbishop Lefebvre. And at every point, his decisions - even if people laughed - well now we can say at every point he made the good decision – the right decision - and he merits that we trust him.” Where’s the point? Just obey. Just accept. True, we will think, “We’ll see what will happen.” But we can be sure he’s our good shepherd. For us, the most important thing this time is prayer.
Well, we’re at the end of our Rosary Crusade which will end at Pentecost. Grab the rosary this week and say it once or twice or three times, and through these prayers that we started to do to the Holy Ghost, that God will give the grace in this situation that the will of God will have fruit. That’s what we want to ask for today. That we seek refuge in Our Lady, that she will be the one, the Immaculate, for to proceed in this battle and to remain, that (her) Immaculate Heart will be victorious in this fight. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.