NOTE: A few posts down, there is a PDF version of this rebuttal that fits on ONE SHEET OF PAPER (front/back). You can download it and print out several copies to carry in your wallet, to distribute as flyers, etc.
Rebuttal to Fr. Laisney's article, "A Striking Contrast"
Original rebuttal by Sean Johnson
Adapted/modified/edited by Matthew
"A Striking Contrast"
by Fr. Francois Laisney (SSPX - Singapore) There is a striking contrast between the recent episcopal consecration by Bishop Williamson and those done by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988.
Archbishop Lefebvre had founded the Society of St. Pius X, as a proper "society of common life without vows," duly canonically approved by Bishop Charriere on 1st November 1970. There is no similar "society" with Bishop Williamson, the "sacerdotal union Marcel Lefebvre" has no real authority - Bishop Williamson himself said that such authority was now impossible - absolutely no canonical standing and no rules.
1. Archbishop Lefebvre would not have scrapped his plans to form priests, had he received a "No" answer. (Remember the 1988 Consecrations?)
2. Are we criticizing the theological/canonical foundation of the SSPX vs. St. Marcel Initiative, or the consecrations themselves? Verdict: Neither here nor there. A miss.Archbishop Lefebvre always strove to respect Canon Law, and obtained the approval of the proper authorities for his seminary of Econe and other priories until the illegal suppression of the SSPX in 1975 made it impossible; even then he filed two appeals at Rome, which Cardinal Billot buried. Since such appeal has "suspensive power," the SSPX legally still exists in fact though often not recognized. It has been practically recognized since. This clearly shows that Archbishop Lefebvre had never neglected Canon Law, never thought that "faith" would dispense him from the Canon Law! But where is such respect of Canon Law on Bishop Williamson's part? It is nowhere to be seen.
1. "Faith trumping canon law" is a cardinal belief of Traditional Catholics. Behold how the neo-SSPX has become like Ecclesia Dei or the Indult!
2. +Williamson's respect for canon law is proven by his admission that he has no such authority to start a Society -- even though this placed him at odds with other main figures in the Resistance, such as Fr. Pfeiffer.
3. St. Thomas Aquinas and the SSPX have taught that "necessity is a cause excusing from the law"
4. Fr. Laisney here pulls the rug out from under not only the Resistance, but the entire SSPX apostolate. A suicidal argument!
5. Again, he attacks the Resistance and Bishop Williamson, but a criticism of the consecrations themselves is notably absent.Verdict: Absurd. A major miss.The Society of St. Pius X has lived and grown for 18 years, showing its vitality by its six seminaries, its solidly established chapels, schools, missions, organized in districts as is normal for a Catholic religious society. It had in 1988 more than 200 priests, plus more than 200 seminarians, brothers, sisters, oblates, etc. The "loose association" of priests with Bishop Williamson does not have even three years existence, with no regular order, practically no seminaries (the one in the Phillipines in south of Manilla was closed because their hostess was so disgusted by the disorder!): they already have big divisions among themselves (to the point that some have already made civil lawsuits against others) and some are already openly sedevacantists, thus manifesting no unity among themselves: hence no solidity.
1. This is an argument of PRACTICALITY for the consecrations. But practical concerns are BELOW Canon Law, which in turn is below Theological concerns (like necessity for the salvation of souls).
2. So if the only issue was "the bishop is too busy; he needs helpers", that wouldn't be sufficient to disobey Canon Law (which requires Papal permission for consecrating a bishop).
3. The SSPX has never offered this argument before for the 1988 consecrations; it is certainly not their main argument for them.Verdict: His weakest argument, quickly dismissed. Another miss.It is claimed that Bishop Faure "intends" to open a seminary: how can he claim a "survival operation" for something that does not yet exist? What a contrast!
1. Sounds more like heckling or nit-picking
2. The answer to his question: The same way Archbishop Lefebvre intended to provide for the survival of the true priesthood, and instruct the little band of seminarians who approached him in 1969, by founding a seminary which did not yet exist.Verdict: Another miss.Archbishop Lefebvre had already asked Cardinal Ratzinger in the early 80s for the consecration of a bishop, and for a whole year before the 1988 consecrations, he made every effort to have it done with the proper papal mandate - to the point that the Pope approved on May 5th 1988 the principle of a consecration by Archbishop Lefebvre. He then, on May 6th, asked for the practical realization of this approval, requesting a date for the seminary: he had himself already postponed several times the date; Rome waited three weeks to give him a date, and the very letter offering a date asked for new candidates which made it impossible to be ready for that date: this dishonesty manifested that Rome did not intend to observe the approval given on May 5th, and by indefinate delays would [make] it void. This [convinced] Archbishop Lefebvre not to delay any more his "survival operation." But where are the efforts of Bishop Williamson to obtain any approval by the Pope? Absolutely none! What a contrast!
1. This is the FIRST argument that actually addresses the issue! (the 1988 consecrations vs. 2015 consecration)
2. His attack is DISINGENUOUS and ARBITRARY: The four SSPX bishops made no attempt to appeal to Rome for permission to consecrate Bishop Licinio Rangel for Campos in 1991.
3. There would be no point asking Rome first; Rome is itself responsible for the State of Necessity which is the mother of these consecrations!
4. So for Rome to give permission would be to admit its own guilt (its own role in the causing the State of Necessity)
See the SSPX justification for the 1988 Consecrations on its website: http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/SiSiNoNo/1999_September/The_1988_Consecrations.htmVerdict: Arbitrary and hypocritical condemnation.The recognition of the authority of the Pope was very clear and concretely manifested by the protocol; only the dishonesty of Rome made this protocol void. But the recognition of the authority of the Pope by Bishop Williamson is only a theoretical recognition, denied in practice and by his many declarations rejecting ANY submission to the current Pope.
1. Who is saying this? It sure sounds like an Ecclesia Dei/Indult priest (who say our "Recognize the Pope" bark has no bite) or a Sedevacantist (who claim that necessity doesn't excuse a decades-long, widespread Resistance to the Pope)
2. This is a deviation from the position of +Lefebvre, who never gave the Doctrine of Necessity a "shelf-life".Verdict: More proof that the SSPX is morphing into the Ecclesia Dei position. Another miss.St. Augustine says that what makes a martyr is not the fact of suffering and death but the cause for which one dies (thus there [are] no Muslim martyrs!)[.] Archbishop Lefebvre resisted real abuses AFTER they were done, not before! But Bishop Williamson and his followers resisted BEFORE any compromise by the SSPX was made, and even three years later such compromise is anywhere to be seen. Archbishop Lefebvre resisted BIG and evident scandals, such as the novelties of Vatican II (religious liberty, ecumenism, collegiality), the new liturgy, with its communion in the hand, and many other "approved" practices and finally the huge scandal of Assisi in 1986. Bishop Williamson opposes some ambiguous words ina proposed April 2012 declaration, which was made void and completely discarded within months: the disproportion of the cause is [again] striking.
1. Fr. Laisney would have you believe that anything short of a signed deal is not a compromise.
2. What about: The changing of the prudential precondition from the conversion of Rome; the expulsion of Bishop Williamson; the contradiction of the 2006 General Chapter declaration; the installment of six weak conditions (only three of which are considered essential) for the acceptance of an accord; the branding campaign whereby peace is made with Vatican II, all the scandalous statements of Bishop Fellay admitting that Vatican II belongs to the tradition of the Church; that religious liberty in Dignitatis Humanae was "very limited" (and therefore implicitly acceptable); that the fight for tradition has been shifted away from the fight for Christ the King, and reduced to the fight for the Mass (a la Ecclesia Dei); that so many of the Roman scandals are passed over in silence; that the distinction between the Conciliar Church and the Catholic Church (or eternal Rome vs Modernist Rome) has been eliminated; etc; Verdict: No, plenty of compromises HAVE ALREADY OCCURRED in the SSPX; that is why a deal with Rome is so close. Another miss.To assure the survival of the SSPX, Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four bishops between 35 and 52 years younger than he was in 1988. Bishop Williamson intends to assure a survival...consecrating a bishop who is just one year younger than himself, very past secular retirement age and very close to bishops' retirement age! Again, what a contrast!"
1. Bishop Williamson preserving tradition in numbers rather than across generations; both validly help preserve Tradition.
2. Would Fr. Laisney truly be happier had Bishop Williamson consecrated one or more young men?
3. He likely would have brought up charges of conscrating men unfit for office due to lack of learning, experience.Verdict: Irrelevant. Another miss.
So far as the merits of the letter itself are concerned, the "striking contrast" (insofar as it exists) applies more to the differences between the neo-SSPX and the Resistance, than anything specific to the episcopal consecrations of 1988 and 2015.
Regarding those consecrations, they were nearly identical in all respects: They both featured practically the same Apostolic Mandate; they both based themselves on the state of necessity; they both explicitly announced the withholding of any apostolic mission (i.e., jurisdiction); and they both took place from a desire to provide for tradition.
In another article ("Initial Thoughts on the Episcopal Consecration"), I observed that Bishop Fellay would have to choose his response to this consecration very carefully, so as not to tie his hands regarding his own ability to perform an "unauthorized" consecration at a later date, should he ever snap out of Rome's spell. Unfortunately, he has basically forecasted to Rome (by these types of letters) an idea that going forward, all unapproved consecrations are not an option, or, that consecrations can only be performed with the consent of Rome. It is difficult, in the new Regime, to imagine Menzingen being willing to perform a consecration to perpetuate the SSPX without the permission of Rome. That being the case, what can clergy and laity expect from Menzingen in the future? No bishops at all? Bishops picked by Rome?