Satan’s “master stroke”  (Part 1 of 2)

(Editorial of Le Sel de la terre 94, Autumn 2015)

1.  Satan Launches his “master stroke”

We know that Pope Paul VI spoke of the auto-destruction of the Church and of the smoke of Satan which had entered the Temple of God:

“The Church finds Herself in a time of anxiety, of self-criticism, we could even say of auto-destruction. It is akin to an interior upheaval, which is both acute and complex, and which no-one would have expected after the Council.”1

“Faced with the situation in the Church today, we have the impression that through some crack or fissure the smoke of Satan has entered into the Temple of God.  There are doubts, uncertainties, problems, anxiety, dissatisfaction, confrontation. The Church is no longer trusted. […] It was thought that after the Council the sun would have shone on the history of the Church.  But, instead of sun, we have had clouds, storms, darkness, searching, uncertainty. […] How was this able to happen?  An adversary power has intervened, whose name is the devil, this mysterious being to whom Saint Peter alludes in his letter.”2

Just as the High-Priest, Caiaphas, prophesied that it was necessary for Our Lord Jesus Christ to die in order to save His people3, but without understanding his prophecy, so Paul VI saw that the Church was auto-destructing via the action of Satan, but without understanding the process.

On 13 October 1974, the anniversary of the apparitions of Fatima, in a written work entitled “Satan’s Master stroke”, Archbishop Lefebvre described in a striking manner how the auto-destruction of the Church was happening.  Here are some extracts from that text:

“Satan’s master stroke will therefore be to spread the revolutionary principles introduced into the Church by the authority of the Church itself, placing this authority in a situation of incoherence and permanent contradiction; so long as this ambiguity has not been dispersed, disasters will multiply within the Church. […]  We must acknowledge that the trick has been well played and that Satan’s lie has been masterfully utilized.  The Church will destroy Herself through obedience.  […]  You must obey!  Whom or what must we obey?  We don’t know exactly.  Woe to the man who does not consent.  He thereby earns the right to be trampled under-foot, to be calumniated, to be deprived of everything which allowed him to live.  He is a heretic, a schismatic; let him die – that is all he deserves.”

“Satan has really succeeded in pulling off a master stroke: he is succeeding in having those who keep the Catholic Faith condemned by the very people who should be defending and propagating it. […]  Satan reigns through ambiguity and incoherence, which are his means of combat, and which deceive men of little Faith.  Satan’s master stroke, by which he is bringing about the auto-destruction of the Church, is therefore to use obedience in order to destroy the Faith: authority against Truth.“

2. Satan continues his “master stroke”

It is not only in the immediate aftermath of the Council that Satan used his master stroke.  He began all over again after the consecrations of 30 June 1988 in order to try to divide Tradition.  Here is how Dom Thomas Aquinas describes the scenario in the last Letter to the Friends of Santa Cruz Monastery:

“On June 30, 1988, after having prayed for a long time, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre consecrated four bishops so that Holy Church could continue Her mission.  This ceremony stirred up the predicted storm.  Rome thundered excommunication (invalid because Archbishop Lefebvre’s act was licit and necessary due to the situation in which the Church finds Herself) and the newspapers published the news with great gusto.However, Rome was not the only one to disapprove of these consecrations. Some within Tradition also opposed them: Dom Gérard Calvet, Prior of the Sainte Madeleine Monastery in Le Barroux, France, Jean Madiran, director of the Itinéraires magazine, Father Bisig4, and some others.  Dom Gérard said that it was necessary to remain within the visible perimeter of the Church.  In order to accomplish this, he regularized his canonical situation with Rome, abandoning Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer, bringing with him the Benedictine nuns of the Annonciation Monastery in France.  He also tried to bring with him in his opposition to the 1988 consecrations the Brazilian foundation of Santa Cruz.

And what were his arguments?  They were subtle and threatened to undermine the monks of Santa Cruz:

You must obey me”, he said, “because this decision does not concern the Faith.  It is a prudential question.  You must obey me because of your vows”.

These are not his exact words, but that was the essence of his argument.  Dom Gérard had already declared:  “Rome is giving us everything and is asking nothing from us.  How could we refuse?”  He thus employed every means to convince his monks, the faithful and friendly priests: to disobey him would be a mortal sin, a sin against our vows.

What were we to say faced with such an argument?   “Our Faith is exposed to great risks by this agreement with Rome.  We cannot accept it”.

“You must come back to France”, Dom Gérard told me.  “There are fifty monks in the monastery to protect your Faith”.

Even though Dom Gérard said there was no risk for our Faith, even though Dom Gérard said that his decision was purely prudential, the truth was completely different.  Even though this decision was prudential, it had serious consequences for the Faith.  By submitting himself to authorities who were not professing the Catholic Faith in all its integrity, Dom Gérard was placing our monasteries in a situation whose harmfulness would be demonstrated over time:  the New Mass celebrated by monks, Religious Liberty defended by Father Basile, the departure of several monks as well as a new orientation for the whole monastery of Le Barroux.”

3. A means of resisting pointed out by Archbishop Lefebvre

Satan’s master stroke has been working well for about fifty years.  It is to be foreseen that the devil will continue using it.  How can we resist and not allow ourselves to be tricked by it?

Archbishop Lefebvre himself gives us some good advice.

First off, distinguish the two Romes:

“We can think that there is Rome and Rome: [on one hand,] there is the Rome which is eternal in Her Faith, Her Dogmas, Her concept of the Sacrifice of the Mass; [on the other hand,] there is the temporal Rome which is influenced by the ideas of the modern world, an influence which the Council itself did not escape.5

Then we must clearly manifest our refusal to follow neo-Modernist Rome. Some weeks after writing his text on “Satan’s master stroke”, in his famous Declaration of 21 November 1974, Archbishop Lefebvre returned to this distinction of the two Romes and explained his refusal to follow neo-Modernist Rome:

“We hold fast, with all our heart and with all our soul, to Catholic Rome, Guardian of the Catholic Faith and of the traditions necessary to preserve this Faith, to Eternal Rome, Mistress of wisdom and truth.

We refuse, on the other hand, and have always refused to follow the Rome of neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant tendencies which were clearly evident in the Second Vatican Council and, after the Council, in all the reforms which issued from it. “

In his Spiritual Journey6,“written for us in 1990, as his spiritual will and testament7”, Archbishop Lefebvre reaffirmed with force the necessity of breaking with neo-Modernist Rome, once more called “Conciliar church”:

“It is, therefore, a strict duty for every priest wanting to remain Catholic to separate himself from this Conciliar Church for as long as it does not rediscover the Tradition of the Church and of the Catholic Faith!”

As Archbishop Lefebvre also said: “it is the superiors who make the subjects8” and not the opposite. Whence the necessity of maintaining a respectful distance from the Modernist Roman authorities and of observing the principle which was that of the Society of Saint Pius X between 1998 and 2012: “No canonical agreement with Rome before a doctrinal agreement”.

This principle was bequeathed by Archbishop Lefebvre after the failure of the negotiations of 1988. Here, for example, are some extracts of the article entitled “À une reprise des colloques, je poserai mes conditions” (“If talks were renewed, I would lay down my conditions”), which appeared in Fideliter No. 66 of December 1988:

“I shall not accept being in the position where I was put during the dialogue. No more. I will place the discussion on the doctrinal level: “Do you agree with the great encyclicals of all the popes who preceded you? Do you agree with Quanta Cura of Pius IX, Immortale Dei and Libertas of Leo XIII, Pascendi Gregis of Pius X, Quas Primas of Pius XI, Humani Generis of Pius XII? Are you in full communion with these Popes and their teachings? Do you still accept the entire Anti-Modernist Oath? Are you in favor of the Social Reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ? If you do not accept the doctrine of your predecessors, it is useless to talk! As long as you do not accept the correction of the Council, in consideration of the doctrine of these Popes, your predecessors, no dialogue is possible. It is useless.” Thus, the positions will be clear.”

This principle was repeated very many times by the authorities of the Society of Saint Pius X, notably by the Chapter of 2006:

“The contacts made from time to time [by the Society] with the authorities in Rome have no other purpose than to help them embrace once again that Tradition which the Church cannot repudiate without losing her identity. The purpose is not just to benefit the Society, nor to arrive at some merely practical impossible agreement. “

In 2008, Bishop Fellay judged, correctly, that this principle is based on the order of the nature of things:

“It is so clear for us that the issue of the Faith and of the spirit of Faith has priority over all that we cannot consider a practical solution before the first issue is safely resolved. […] Each day brings additional proofs that we must clarify to the maximum the underlying issues before taking one more step toward a canonical situation, which is not in itself displeasing to us. But this is a matter of following the order of the nature of things, and to start from the wrong end would unavoidably place us in an unbearable situation. We have daily proofs of this. What is at stake is nothing more nor less than our future existence.9

And yet, in March 2012 Bishop Fellay announced that he was abandoning this principle, because of the improvement in Rome since 200610, and this abandonment was supported by the General Chapter of the Society of Saint Pius X in July 2012: the condition of an agreement on doctrine no longer figures amongst the six conditions laid down for a canonical recognition.11

Since then, despite many pleas, Bishop Fellay has refused to return to the old principle. Whence the troubles which Tradition has been experiencing for three years now.

(Continue to Part 2)

  1. Paul VI, Declaration of 7 December 1968. Source in French: Documentation Catholique, 5 January 1969, Column 12.
  2. Homily of Paul VI of 6/29/1972.   Source (in French): http://notredamedesneiges.-overblog. Text in Italian:… Strangely, it is not the text itself which is reproduced, but a “report”, which is undoubtedly the work of the Curia offices.
  3. “It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people”(John XI, 50).
  4. Founder of the Society of Saint Peter
  5. « Le coup de maître de Satan » (“Satan’s Masterstroke”), 13 October, 1974.
  6. Archbishop Lefebvre, Spiritual Journey, Angelus Press, 1991.
  7. Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais , sermon of 1 January, 2015.
  8. Fideliter, 70, p.6.
  9. Letter to Friends and Benefactors, No. 73, 23 October, 2008.
  10. “The Chapter in 2006 set forth a very clear line of conduct in matters concerning our situation with respect to Rome. We give priority to the Faith, without seeking for our part a practical solution BEFORE the doctrinal question is resolved. This is not a principle, but a line of conduct that should regulate our concrete action. […] If there were a change in the situation of the Church with respect to Tradition, then that might necessitate a corresponding modification of the conclusion. […] Now there is no doubt that since 2006 we have witnessed a development in the Church, an important and extremely interesting development, although it is not very visible. […] This requires that we take up a new position with respect to the official Church. […] This is the context in which it is advisable to ask the question about some form of recognition of the Society by the official Church. […] Our new friends in Rome declare that the impact of such recognition would be extremely powerful on the whole Church.” (Bishop Fellay, Cor Unum, 18 March, 2012).
  11. Sine qua non conditions to be laid down by the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X in the case of a canonical recognition: 1 Freedom to keep, to transmit and to teach the sane doctrine of the unchanging magisterium of the Church and of the unchangeable truth of Divine Tradition ; freedom to defend, to correct and to reprove, even in public, those responsible for the errors or novelties of modernism, of liberalism, of The Second Vatican Council and their consequences ; 2 Exclusive use of the liturgy of 1962. The retention of the sacramental practice that we have at the moment (including holy orders, confirmation and marriage) ; 3 The guarantee of at least one bishop. – Desirable conditions: 1 Our own ecclesiastical tribunals, in the first instance ; 2 Exemption of houses of The Society of St Pius X in respect of diocesan bishops ; 3 A Pontifical Commission in Rome for Tradition, dependent on the Pope, with a majority of members, and the presidency, from Tradition”. (Father Christian Thouvenot, Circular Letter to Superiors of 18 July 2012. French source: