Pope Francis and the marriages in the Society of Saint-Pius X: Non possumus – We cannot enter into a canonical structure submitting ourselves to a modernist authority
Sermon of Father Philippe François (FSSPX) given on Easter Sunday 16th April 2017 at Le Trévoux (Britanny, France) where he exercises the functions of chaplain to the Little Sisters of Saint Francis
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
My reverend sisters, my dear brethren,
The grace of the feast of Easter is to fortify our faith. And if our faith in Our Lord is fortified, by the same token our faith in His only and well-loved Bride, the Holy, Catholic and Roman Church is also fortified. And that is very necessary in the testing times in which we live.
Two weeks ago, as you have learnt, Rome granted with certain conditions to the priests of the SSPX the jurisdiction to carry out marriages. “Good news!” my cobbler said to me, “we are nearing the end of the tunnel.”
In reality, this jurisdiction was already given to us by the Church under the principles of the law which applies in times of crisis, in the state of necessity in which we find ourselves. For almost fifty years, marriages which have been carried out in the priories of the SSPX and of Tradition have been valid.
But if one accepts the decision of Rome, one must accept the new code of canon law and the conciliar tribunals which apply this new code.
Now this new code destroys marriage. It changes the definition of marriage. First of all this sacrament no longer has as its first end procreation and the catholic education of children, but it puts as its first end the good relationships between the husband and wife and their mutual support. And this definition, you see, has led to tens of thousands of marriages being annulled during the last forty years, because, as the spouses no longer got on, the conciliar ecclesiastical judges said that there had been no marriage. And these declarations of annulment of marriages, which had been concluded validly and then declared annulled, have accelerated again by the procedure which the Pope himself put in place eighteen months ago and which facilitates annulments even further.
This happened two weeks ago; and then almost two years ago it was the powers to hear confession which was accorded to the priests of the Fraternity, as if they did not already have these powers. Now these powers to hear confession validly, the Church gives to your priests in a time of crisis, because canon law foresees supplied jurisdiction in the exceptional circumstances in which we live. Archbishop Lefebvre often reminded us of one of the great principles of Saint Pius X’s code of canon law: ” the salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church”
These two events and others show us that a process of canonical regularization is in train since the time of Benedict XVI and with Pope Francis in regard to the SSPX and also in regard to the whole family of Tradition since the time of Benedict XVI and with Pope Francis .
This process of canonical regularization at present underway can be compared to the process of setting fire to a log of green wood. When one throws a log of green wood onto the fire, it is incapable of catching fire, for there is an obstacle: it is the sap. So the flame begins to lick the log in order to heat it up and to drive out the sap. Once the sap is driven off, the log takes fire. It is the same in our case, there would be an obstacle to the canonical statute – the reciprocal mistrust between the conciliar world and us. The Pope’s gestures of “ benevolence” have as their aim the removal of this obstacle. These gestures do not formally imply canonical dependence on the Roman authorities. Once the obstacle of mistrust is removed, not much will prevent the granting of the definitive statute, which is the statute of the personal prelature, which has been under discussion between the superiors of the SSPX and the Holy See for six years. So there would be the granting of this personal prelature, this time with effective dependence on the Holy See. Notably the bishop, superior of the personal prelature, will be nominated by the Pope and therefore will be able to be revoked by the Sovereign Pontiff.
So the question is posed: can we enter into such a canonical structure?
To answer this question, my dear brethren, we must ask ourselves if the situation in Rome has changed to such an extent that we could envisage a canonical solution, a thing which we regarded as impossible just a short while ago. Alas! We are forced to state that nothing essential has changed:
— The actions of the Pope are more and more serious. The accumulation of scandals during the four years of his pontificate makes us really think that with him modernism has become flesh.
— The reaction of some conservative cardinals or prelates, although it is courageous and merits being praised, does not however call into question the principles of the crisis; on the contrary they cling to the Second Vatican Council which apparently was properly interpreted by Pope Benedict XVI .
— The attitude of the Holy See with regard to Tradition is not benevolent – far from it. The experience of the Franciscans of the Immaculate reminds us of this as well as the treatment suffered by Cardinal Burke and the other cardinals who opposed, on the occasion of the synod, the post-synodal declaration on the family Amoris Laetitia. In the end the demands of Rome with regard to us are basically still the same. We must still, even if it is asked less insistently, accept the council with its religious liberty, its ecumenism and its collegiality.
So what precisely are the grounds for our previous refusal of an agreement with Rome? More exactly can we accept an agreement with a neo-modernist Rome? Such an acceptance would make us enter into conciliar pluralism. It would silence our attacks against modern errors and would put our faith in immediate danger.
Consequently the canonical solution can only be envisaged with a Rome which has been doctrinally converted and which will have proved its conversion by working for the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ and by fighting against the adversaries of this reign.
By putting ourselves in the hands of the Roman authorities we would put in peril our particular good no less than the common good of the Church.
* First of all our own good: for we are responsible for our soul and thus of our faith. Now without the faith one cannot be saved ( Hebrews 11,6) and nobody can pass off this responsibility onto others.
* Next we would put in jeopardy the common good of the Church. In fact we are not masters of the faith in the sense that we cannot modify it at our pleasure. The faith is the good of the Church, because it is through the faith that she lives the life of her Divine Spouse. The faith is a common good not only because it is common to all Catholics but also because the participation of everyone is necessary (although not in the same measure for everyone) in order to preserve it. Confirmation makes of you, my dear brethren, soldiers of Christ. Every Christian must be ready to run risks in order to defend the faith. And the priestly character, joined to the mission of the Church, gives to priests the sacred duty of preaching the faith and of defending it publicly by combatting error. We are members of the Church militant which is attacked on all sides by error. To no longer publicly raise our voices against error is to become the accomplices of error. And this is what we are living in Tradition, notably since 2011. In 2011 the abominable scandal of Assisi was renewed and the superiors of the Society unfortunately, we deplore it, were silent. In 2015 the unthinkable canonization of John-Paul II took place and the superiors of the Society were silent.
So it is impossible today to put ourselves, by a canonical solution, in the hands of the neo-modernist authorities because of their neo-modernism. That is the true obstacle to our recognition by these authorities.
In doing this, take note my dear brethren, far from challenging the authority of the Pope, we are convinced that we render to him the most important service, which is that of truth. By our prayers, we beg the Immaculate Heart of Mary to obtain for the Sovereign Pontiff the grace of doctrinal conversion, so that once again “he confirms his brothers in the faith” (Luke 22, 32). For we are Catholics, so we are Roman, we are Roman Catholics attached indefectibly to the seat of Peter, to the infallible teaching of all the successors of Peter up to Vatican Council II. We are of eternal Rome, which is the irreconcilable enemy of neo-protestant and neo-modernist Rome. There can be no peace possible with conciliar Rome.
Also we pray every day for the superiors of the SSPX that they do not fall into the trap which is being tendered to our dear Society. That they may rediscover the prudence, fearlessness and firmness of Mgr. Lefebvre in his fight for Christ the King!
So we cannot – non possumus - enter into a canonical structure submitting ourselves to a modernist authority.
We say this because it is our duty. How so?
* It is our duty firstly with regard to Our Lord and HIs Holy Church. We do not have the right to run risks by making peace with those who betray them.
* Then it is our duty for ourselves, because we have our souls to save and we cannot save ourselves without the faith whole and entire.
* Finally it is our duty with regard to the faithful who have recourse to our ministry. We do not have the right to lead them very gradually towards the poisoned pastures of Vatican II.
My reverend sisters, my dear brethren, in the present torment and confusion, we must remain faithful to authentic Catholic principles and stay rooted in them. And so that it may be the light which enlightens us and guides our steps, we must draw the practical consequences and apply them rigorously in our every-day life and in our daily attitudes. Coherence and non-contradiction are the logical consequences of full and entire adhesion to the Truth, which is Our Lord Jesus Christ. As cardinal Pie said: charity which is the bond of perfection, must be dictated and regulated by the truth and it is in this spirit of charity which we must act.
So on this Easter Sunday, the present hour is the hour of the beautiful virtue of hope, for we see perhaps with more clarity, the insufficiency of human means. But Our Lord rises from the tomb today, as yesterday, and with him His Church!
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, may Our Lady of Good Hope, who alone on Easter morning knew how to maintain hope, may the Blessed Virgin Mary maintain in our hearts the divine hope, the Holy Hope, that which pleases God, that which will not be disappointed for eternity!
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
(Sermon published in “Le Sel de la terre” n° 101)