Letter to the Faithful
[In Response to Fr. Christian Bouchacourt’s May 7 Letter of Condemnation]
Fr. Thierry Gaudray
[One of the 7 Signatory Deans of the SSPX French District]
May 26, 2017
Note: That which follows is an improved Google Translation
The deans’ letter about marriages in Tradition surprised you. Being in the impossibility of replying to all the mail that I received as a result of his reading, I choose to write a common text. Many expressed their gratitude. Others, I know, do not believe they can approve the method used. Others may not agree with the very content of the deans’ letter.
Agitation is a bad counselor. It is in prayer and in the concern to work for the salvation of souls – and first of all his own – that the defense of the faith must be considered, and it is in this spirit that I write. It is in peace that can be overcome the desires, the fears, and the hopes that too easily obscure the judgment. On the other hand, it is not a question of taking refuge in silence while precisely the souls are lost. The Church is infiltrated by enemies who do not sleep and have succeeded in apostatizing millions of baptized people. Silence can and must be kept under certain circumstances. But when you are driven back, when you have to do something that is not honest, then the refusal must be clear. That certain priests do not at once consider the consequences of the acts to be imposed upon them, does not change the nature of things. Time will do its work of decanting for all souls of good will.
We were reproached for taking the faithful as hostages by submitting a problem that they were not able to solve. I reject this accusation primarily because marriage is a public thing. Its celebration regards the spouses who are ministers of the sacrament, as well as all the faithful. Of course, the deans’ letter requires some reflection and some have misunderstood it. But with such arguments, as to renounce the least course of catechism. Should we refuse to condemn the mistakes of the Council because they are often difficult to understand?
I will go further and I will return the accusation: It is the priests who were taken hostage and that is why they could not keep silent. No sooner had Rome published her text, than the whole Fraternity was obliged to render “profound and public thanks” to the Holy Father. In an “authorized comment” published by the General House on the internet, it was immediately announced which direction the priests of the Fraternity would take. The DICI magazine makes it a chorus to announce that priests were going to enter the framework imposed by Rome and the superiors of the Fraternity. Should it be enough to obey without flinching? Do priests need to change the way they minister without thinking? Beyond the question of law, I will again try to expose the problem of conscience that arises.
Today, the main assault of the underworld against poor humanity is on marriage. No one can ignore this attack because the family is the basic cell of society. All have the duty to defend marital union in its nature, its end and its properties. Moreover, the baptized who confess the sacramental character of Christian marriage must protect the profession of faith which is implied by all matrimonial consent. The future spouses who will be the ministers of this sacrament (a priest does not “marry”) have no right to celebrate it in an equivocal manner. The priests have the duty to remind them and help them to protect themselves from the hustle and bustle of the modernist clergy.
On April 4, 2017, Cardinal Müller expressed the authorization granted by the Holy Father to the bishops of the whole world to delegate a diocesan priest to bless the marriage of the faithful of the Fraternity, or, in case of impossibility, to concede to the priests of the Fraternity the necessary faculties. It was then announced that this decision of the Holy Father would change our current practice. As you know, it consists in urging the faithful to take advantage of the provisions of Canon 1098. This latter makes it possible to marry without recourse to the conciliar clergy because of the serious damage to the faith that this entails. From now on, he would have to turn to the bishops and act according to their answers. Some priests offer minimal co-operation to this new practice by simply informing the bishops (without speaking to the faithful …) of what they think to do in the line or in the context of Cardinal Müller’s letter.
This is where a real problem of conscience arises. Is it permissible to align or enter into this framework? It is enough to envisage the different possible answers – answers that one will have provoked – to realize the immense difficulty.
The possibility of bringing a modernist priest to a wedding ceremony is obviously unthinkable. I do not think I need to dwell on this.
Now if the bishop wants to send a priest from his diocese (or come himself), how can he reproach him for doing exactly what the pope invites him to do? How can one deeply thank the pope for his decision, write to the bishop as part of this decision, and then refuse the bishop’s positive answer? How can we rent a decision and see a “serious inconvenience” when it is applied? It is also impossible to resort to false arguments, for example to say that it is the couple who refuses the presence of a conciliar priest, or that it is the perplexity that this engendered among our faithful which would oblige us to refuse the proposal of the bishop. The pastor must precede the sheep. The priests of the Fraternity do not take shelter behind the perplexity of the faithful, but they illuminate it.
If the bishop refuses any delegation, how can we say then that recourse to canon 1098 would be strengthened when the serious inconvenience would be reduced to a personal question? It is no longer the future spouses who refuse to have recourse to an authority dangerous to the faith, but it is a bishop who refuses to such a priest in a certain place at a given moment a delegation that he believed himself obliged to request. The logic of this approach does not even allow us to see an injustice that was never the fundamental problem.
Finally, if the bishop gives the delegation without any condition but always within the framework of Cardinal Müller’s letter, how can it be proclaimed joyously without provoking “debates of conscience among the faithful who adhere to the Fraternity” the other marriages that have been or will be celebrated in our chapels? By entering into the pontifical dispositions, it would be admitted that two kinds of marriage should be celebrated among us, and that an unjust hierarchy should be established between them. Instead of honoring the courageous faithful who have recourse to the ministry of the priests of Tradition, we will look at them with compassion because they have not had the good fortune to find an obliging bishop or with hostility because they did not want to enter into explicitly established provisions to achieve an illusory “full communion”.
Finally, is this conciliar stamp which is supposed to “secure” the marriages of our faithful not an invitation to turn to the diocesan officials which pronounce by thousands of true “Catholic divorces” in the name of the code of 1983, revised in a way even more lax by Francois? The poor spouses who are ready to put their faith in danger, to violate their matrimonial commitments and to commit adultery will unfortunately still find a priest to bless them, even in the traditional rite. Is it then right to weaken the convictions of all the faithful in order to lessen the betrayal of some?
The announcement of a directory, which was supposed to establish a discipline for the celebration of marriages in the Fraternity, required a reaction from the priests, since the good of the faithful was directly at stake. The nature of the “official communique” clearly indicates the line of the board of directors announced. The question is public by its nature and by the will of the superiors of the Fraternity. The accused deans preferred to express their opposition before the announced orders were actually answered.
Some confreres are determined not to take account of this directory. It is true that the letter to the deans itself shows that the use of canon 1098 is in no way under the authority of superiors. Neither the diocesan bishops nor the superiors of the Fraternity can arrogate to themselves the right to govern the right of the faithful to marry without “serious inconvenience”. That said, the priest exercises his priesthood in a society of which he assumes official positions. Personally I do not see how a priest could adopt this attitude without attracting all the same reproaches as the priests who depend on the shameful commission Ecclesia Dei.
The deans were reproached for wanting to defeat the efforts of the Generalate to obtain a personal prelature from Rome. Is that their intention? The letter itself of the deans evokes this apprehension. So there is no mystery. Such convoluted procedures for the simple celebration of marriages augured for insuperable difficulties for the exercise of priestly ministry in the full profession of the Catholic faith. However, the above objections retain their value outside of this context and call for answers.