Satan’s master stroke (Part 2 of 2)
(Editorial of Le Sel de la terre 94, Autumn 2015)
4. Should we return to the old principle :
“No practical agreement without doctrinal agreement” ?
Today, under Pope Francis, it is no longer possible to argue for a supposed improvement in the situation in Rome, but this does not stop certain people from raising objections to a return to the “old principle”. Here are some objections which are voiced and the responses which can be made to them:
Between “no practical agreement without doctrinal agreement” and “practical agreement without doctrinal agreement”, there is a middle way which is in conformity with the thought of Archbishop Lefebvre.
1st Response: The Devil fishes in troubled waters. In a matter of such importance (since the Faith is in danger), we must be clear.
2nd Response: The thought of Archbishop Lefebvre evolved with events. The more Conciliar Rome showed itself to be stubborn in its adherence to Modernism, the more he took his distance. After the failure of the negotiations, he took up a very clear position, which is the one we have explained above (i.e. in the first part of this article). Those who today want to make a practical agreement with Rome while claiming to be faithful to Archbishop Lefebvre are obliged to suppose that Archbishop Lefebvre would have changed his mind. It is more correct to think that Archbishop Lefebvre would, on the contrary, be even more wary of today’s Rome, because of the fact that it is even more Modernist than in 1988.
But if the Pope grants us something (like the label of “Catholic Association” in Argentina, or even ordinary jurisdiction to confess validly and licitly during the Holy Year), without asking us for anything in exchange, then we are not going to refuse! It binds us to nothing.
Response: “Timeo Daneos et dona ferentes”1, replies Virgil. We should instead have the wisdom and prudence to at least recall that we remain separated by a wall – i.e. the wall which separates Catholic doctrine from Modernism. Otherwise we could end up thinking that these little gifts are the proof that collaboration is possible2.
During the Communist persecutions, Catholics who wanted to resist chose rather the policy of never accepting anything from the Communists (see “Le piège des pains au jambon” by Rose Hu, in Sel de la Terre 61, Summer 2007, p. 703).
By refusing to follow the Society of Saint Pius X, you are dividing Tradition, whereas it needs to be united vis-à-vis Rome, in order to be stronger.
1st Response: Our strength lies above all in the truth which we defend. By “muting” this truth (by accepting a “practical agreement” with those who do not profess it), we lose our strength, just as Sampson lost his by allowing his hair to be cut.
2nd Response: Bishop de Galarreta had foreseen that if we continued down this path of a practical agreement, “many superiors and priests will have a legitimate problem of conscience and will oppose it4”.
3rd Response: Who causes division: the one who changes policy – without saying so clearly – or the one who does not want to change and simply explains why he does not want to change?
But nothing has been signed! So, we can keep the current situation, while waiting for a better Pope with whom we will be able to make an agreement.
Response: Signing will be the end of the process. But once you accept in principle to place yourself under the direct authority of Modernists, you are committing yourself to a process of rapprochement. This is a process which is already well underway: in effect, since 2011, at least, there has been no serious condemnation of the errors and faults of Modernist Rome by the superior authority of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X. Some underlings have been allowed to speak out, but even they less and less5.
One cannot say, without further qualification, that principles – even practical ones – remain unchangeable. As a result, you are exaggerating when you make of this principle an unchangeable rule6.
Response: It is true that prudence must take account of circumstances and that the application of the principles can vary. Saint Thomas Aquinas (II-IIae, q. 49, a.2) shows that the practical syllogism of prudence contains a universal Major (a first proposition) and a particular Minor (a second proposition).
This Minor, which is the observation of a concrete fact, is changeable according to the circumstances. But it is not a “principle” in the sense used here7.
The Major, however, is a principle, a general rule of action founded on human nature and therefore invariable: it is in this sense that the word “principle” is used in the quotes of Cardinal Pie, Monseigneur Freppel, Fréderic Le Play, etc.:
Let us not hope to seize once more, by means of secret capitulations, that which Heaven itself refuses to give us. The reign of expediency is over; the reign of principles is beginning (Cardinal Pie, First Pastoral Letter, 25 November 1849).
In a society which is everywhere collapsing, it seemed to me that the first thing to do was to straighten out ideas. What is necessary is to concentrate on improving the fundamentals in light of the principles. There is no other rule of reform than that of seeking what is true and confessing it, whatever may happen (Fréderic Le Play in 1865).
Let us know how to recognize that abandoning the principles is the real cause of our disasters (The Count de Chambord, 8 May 1871).
The greatest misfortune for any era or country is when truth is abandoned or diminished. One can recover from anything else; one never recovers from sacrificing principles (Monseigneur Freppel, 19 January 1873).
It is clear that, for these distinguished minds, the principles of which they speak are not variable rules.
Conclusion: let us keep the “old principle”
Undoubtedly the principle “no canonical agreement before a doctrinal agreement” is not one of the very first principles of the Natural Law (like the Ten Commandments). It is rather to be ranked amongst those common truths admitted by prudent people.
However, in the current circumstances, after more than 25 years’ experience of witnessing that those groups which have gone over to Conciliar Rome always end up abandoning the fight for the Faith, after observing that the situation in Rome, far from improving, is actually only worsening, it appears clearly that only the observation of this principle – left as a testament by Archbishop Lefebvre – will allow us to resist “Satan’s master stroke”.
- “I fear the Greeks, even when they are bearing gifts”. These words were put in the mouth of Laocoön by Virgil in his Aeneid at the moment when the Trojans caught sight of the famous Horse…
- “The talks and meetings with Cardinal Ratzinger and his collaborators, even though they took place in an atmosphere of courtesy and charity, have convinced us that the time for a frank and efficacious collaboration has not yet arrived” (Letter of Archbishop Lefebvre to John Paul II, 2 June 1988).
- For the story in English, see: Joy in Suffering by Rose Hu, SSPX Korea, 2011, pages 83-84.
- Document of Bishop de Galarreta following the meeting in Albano of October 2011. Available in French on laportelatine.org
- To cite some recent examples:
1. The sermon of Father de la Rocque (SSPX) of 6 September 2015, in which he said he did not want to participate in the Holy Year, was removed within 24 hours from the La Porte Latine website (website of the SSPX French District).
2. The book by François-Xavier Péron entitled Le Synode sur la famille. La Révolution du pape François (The Synod on the Family – Pope Francis’ Revolution), has been forbidden from being sold in the priories of the Society of Saint Pius X in France, whereas the book relates facts and texts in an objective manner and in a measured tone, is prefaced by Father Antoine (Superior of the Capuchins of Morgon, France) and whereas several priests of the Society of Saint Pius X collaborated in it, as well as Father Joseph, Capuchin, formerly Father Régis de Cacqueray (one time Society of Saint Pius X District Superior of France, before entering the Capuchins at Morgon, France).
- The Editorial of Le Sel de la Terre 92 was devoted to “The Importance of the principles”. The text was reproduced in an abridged form in our Letter to Friends and Benefactors n° 20 (September 2015 ; on this Website). In it, the following is notably affirmed: “The principles, even those which are practical, remain unchangeable”. “One cannot say this without further qualification. Otherwise there would be confusion”, we read in the Courrier de Rome (June 2015, p.7). But the confusion comes, rather, from the fact that the author of the latter article uses the word “principle” to designate the Minor of the syllogism, which is the principle of the conclusion. But to speak in this manner is to give another meaning to the word “principle”. In order to designate this Minor, Saint Thomas Aquinas (in the article quoted above) uses more correctly the word “primum” (which can be translated as “premise”) rather than “principle” (“principium”), according to the better editions (the Leonine Edition – which can be found on the website www.corpusthomisticum.org/ – and the edition, in French, of Father Pègues from 1925. Only the Major of the syllogism of prudence can be called “practical principle”.
- See the previous note.