Betrayal by Three New Priests
On Sunday night, May 20, when the Archbishop arrived back at the Seminary at a late hour from Kansas, somewhat tired and travel-weary, no sooner had he stepped out of the car than he was served with a civil court summons in a suit to evict the Society from the seminary property here in Connecticut, a suit filed by Fathers Cekada, Dolan, Jenkins, Kelly and Sanborn. Those standing by noticed and will not easily forget the look of pain on the face of the Archbishop, who it must be remembered was their Father in the Priesthood. Now according to the old Code of Canon Law, anyone citing a Catholic Bishop before a civil judge incurs automatic excommunication (Canon 2341). Hence, according to the only Code of Canon Law which they themselves recognize, these five priests are excommunicated!
Then a few days later, an event which should have taken by surprise no Catholic familiar with the Gospel story of the betrayal of Our Lord, but which has nevertheless caused deep shock and heart-ache and scandal to countless Catholics: of the four newly ordained Priests who had freely requested and received Ordination within the Society of St. Pius X at the hands of its Founder, Archbishop Lefebvre, after freely taking on the evening before with their hand on the Gospels a solemn oath of Fidelity to their Superiors, two of the four, on the stormy afternoon of May 23, amidst flashes of lightning and torrents of rain, walked out of the Seminary and went to join the nine Priests who defected last year, and two days later a third, already absent, announced that he was doing the same. And it was night.
A few facts will highlight the nature of this deed. Firstly, we now know that very soon after the defection of the Nine one year ago, these three actually told someone that they intended to lie low in order to get the priesthood. Certainly over the course of one whole year their words and actions in the Seminary were of a nature to persuade everyone, priests, seminarians and even visitors from outside, that they would be loyal to the Society. Did they for one whole year live a lie?
Secondly, on the very eve of their Ordination, in accordance with the Traditional requirements of Mother Church, all three took a solemn Oath of Fidelity at the Altar of God, with their hand touching the Gospels before the Blessed Sacrament in the opened Tabernacle, swearing amongst other things that they would respectfully obey their Superiors in the Society of St. Pius X. The complete text of this Oath and the signatures of all three are enclosed with this letter.
The alterations made to the text by one of them suggest he was not at ease, and indeed to swear such an Oath at all each of them must have found or been given a way of justifying or rationalizing to himself and to others what he did. However, if before God they here committed perjury, then their receiving of Holy Orders in such a state will have been, thirdly, a grave sacrilege.
Fourthly, towards the end of the Traditional Ordination ceremony, each of the three placed his hands between the hands of the Archbishop, for the Archbishop to ask him in Latin, "Do you promise to me and my successors reverence and obedience?" Each of the three answered distinctly, "Promitto", meaning "I promise".
Fifthly, the at least apparent breaking, within ten days, of these solemn Oaths and Promises, taken together withpiece all the other circumstances of this latest defection, has caused and will continue to cause a terrible scandal to Catholics; not only to those attached to Tradition who supported and assisted these three because they trusted them to follow Archbishop Lefebvre in defense of the Faith, but also to countless others not yet attached to Tradition who will wrongly but understandably say that if Tradition fosters such disloyalty, then they want none of it.
By way of comment upon these facts, let three quotations for the moment suffice. On May 27 of this year, Fr. Sanborn said from the pulpit in Traverse City, Michigan, "I am very pleased to announce three of the four Priests who were ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre on May 13 have decided to come with us. This makes me very happy because I trained them, and so not all the fruits of my labor as Rector of the Seminary were lost." (Does Fr. Sanborn realize what fruits he is laying claim to?).
On April 28 of last year, just after the split between the Society and the Nine, Archbishop Lefebvre said at the Seminary to all the seminarians, including the three who have just defected: "I hope you will make the good choice. But you must choose. If you agree with the position and attitude and orientation of Fr. Kelly, then follow Fr. Kelly. If you think Mgr. Lefebvre is right, then follow the attitude of Msgr. and the Fraternity. But you must be clear .... honest. Do not say: I will be silent until after my ordination. That is wrong! God knows that! That is a lie before God..... not before me. I am nothing. But before God! You cannot do that! " That is precisely what Fr. Dolan said, i.e. "I knew how to keep quiet until my ordination". I cannot understand him doing that! A future priest doing that??"
And on May 30 of this year, one of the three latest defectors, when reproached by a lady that such a blow as these actions of theirs might have killed the Archbishop, replied "Oh, he's 78 years old anyway. Mark you, I'm grateful to him, because without him I wouldn't be a priest".
People might ask how such a thing could happen inside a Seminary, and whether the same will not happen again. The answer is that Jesus saw to the very depths of the human heart (John VI, 65,71), but still chose to allow an Apostle to be unfaithful. As for Jesus' Priests, we can only see into human hearts, in the words of the Ordination Rite itself, "as far as human frailty allows us to know". Also there comes a point of mistrust at which the service of God seizes up and a Catholic Seminary can no longer operate, because charity "believes all things and hopes in all things" (1 Cor. XIII 7). However we are keeping our eyes open, and one seminarian has already been asked to leave since the defection, who under questioning clearly shared the defectors' way of thinking.
Fr. Richard Williamsonhttp://www.sspxseminary.org/publications/rectors-letters-separator/rectors-letter/68.html