Should we participate in the Jubilee of Mercy ?
A. It would appear that we should participate in the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy:
1. When the gates of mercy are made wide open, we must take advantage to receive it in abundance. A Holy Year is a great grace for all the members of the Church.
2. The Council of Trent “teaches and demands that the use of indulgences, which are greatly beneficial to Christian people and are approved by the authority of this saintly council, be maintained” (DS 1835); the code of Canon Law states: “All will give great importance to the said indulgences” (can 911). It would be paradoxical to decide, just because we do not want to have anything to do with the failed council that was Vatican II, to dismiss a truth that was proclaimed by the Council of Trent, and encouraged by all that is Church tradition.
3. According to St. Alphonse de Liguori: “To become a saint, it suffices to gain as many indulgences as possible”.
4. Nobody risks his salvation by participating in the Jubilee of Mercy, unless one questions the power of the keys which are legitimately held by Francis.
5. “Even though the remission of sins were to be done in a questionable way, the interested party would nonetheless gain the full indulgence” (Saint Thomas Aquinas, Suppl. Q.25 to 2, ad 1).
6. For a circumstance to impact the Jubilee and denature it, it would have to become either the object of, or the specific goal of the Jubilee. However, the conditions required to obtain the said indulgence are the traditional ones: visit to a Jubilee church, confession, communion, recitation of the Credo, and prayers for the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff (such as the Our Father, or the prayer of the Jubilee).
7. The joy of the Jubilee is not that one of rejoicing in the Vatican II council, but rather in the grace bestowed by the head of the Church who draws it from the treasure of the infinite merits of Christ and of all the saints. The grace bestowed so abundantly will always be a reason to rejoice for those who are well disposed to receive it.
8. Archbishop Lefebvre and the Ecône Seminary went to the great pilgrimage organized by Rome during the Holy Year of 1975. So did the Society of Saint Pius X in 2000. Yet in 1975 the Vatican had noted that the holy year “coincided with the tenth anniversary of the closing of the second ecumenical Council of the Vatican”, and the decree of the holy year 2000 noted that on the occasion of the entry to the new millennium, “one should return with a renewed fidelity to the teachings the Vatican II council”.
B. Counter arguments
This Jubilee is organized by the conciliar Church; now Archbishop Lefebvre wrote in his spiritual “testament” (Spiritual Itinerary with Saint Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica, 1990):
“It is the strict duty of any priest wanting to remain catholic to separate himself from this conciliar Church, until the time it finds again the tradition of the Magisterium of the Church and of the Catholic Faith (…).”
The morality of a human act is measured not only by its end, but also by the circumstances surrounding it (Summa Theologica-II q.18 a.3). For example, carrying a pickax while going to one’s own field does not have the same moral sense as carrying the same pickax to a demonstration in front of Town Hall.
The Jubilee of the Year of Mercy is tainted by the following circumstances:
- the date of the Jubilee has been chosen to celebrate the 50 years of the Council and
- the “mercy” that Pope Francis advocates is a lax mercy which leads to sin.
Participation in the Jubilee cannot do away with these circumstances and therefore this participation is immoral.
Solutions to the above objections: [Editor: “Ad 1”, “Ad 2” are Latin shorthand for “Response to point 1 above”, “Response to point 2 above”, etc.]
Ad 1. Saint Hermenegilde refused to receive communion from the hands of an Arian bishop on Easter day, and for this reason he was put to death. And yet there is nothing more sanctifying than Holy Communion, and Easter communion is obligatory under pain of mortal sin. But in this case the circumstances made the act sinful: to receive the host from the hands of a heretic priest was a “communio in sacris” with a heretic.
Ad 2. The objector is wrong in qualifying Vatican II as a “failed council”. It is, on the contrary, a great success for the modernists who were able on this occasion to found their “Conciliar Church”. To participate in this Jubilee would be to compromise with this pseudo-church as per the circumstances afore mentioned. As for the indulgences, one can gain them in other ways than participating in the Jubilee: there are several ways to gain a plenary indulgence every day, for example by a half-hour of reading Holy Scripture or adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the recitation of the Rosary, the stations of the cross, etc.
Ad 3. The objector does not give a reference from among the works of the Saint, but from a secondary source, which itself does not give any reference. The oldest trace that we have found of this citation is in a book written to criticize indulgences1. We would therefore allow ourselves to ask for a precise source to verify the authenticity of this phrase as well as its context. Whatever the case may be, to become a saint, faith is needed to a heroic degree, and therefore avoidance of all equivocations in matters of Faith.
Ad 4. We do not question the power of the pope, but we note that he uses it badly. It is for this same reason that we refuse the new Mass, the new code of canon law, etc.
Ad 5. The objector omitted, without due notice, part of the quote from Saint Thomas: “If however, the remittance of punishment is done in an unreasonable way, so that for a pittance men would be turned away from works of penance, he [the one that confers the indulgence] sins in acting in such a way; the person in question does however gain the indulgence in its entirety”. From this, one perceives that the unreasonable aspect considered by Saint Thomas is a simple disproportion between the penance required, and the indulgence accorded. Here the gain of the indulgence is tied to the joy of Vatican II and to a false conception of the “mercy” of pope Francis, therefore being not only unreasonable but also immoral.
Ad 6. The objector plays on the word “denatures”. It is true that the Jubilee remains a Jubilee, the circumstances that make it bad do not change its nature of Jubilee. But those circumstances do enter into the object that is being morally considered for they affect its morality. The communion offered to St. Hermenegilde remained an Easter communion, but the circumstances made it sinful.
Ad 7. Even if he who participates in the Jubilee does not have the (subjective) intention to rejoice in Vatican II, he participates in a Jubilee that has been objectively designed to rejoice in this Council. One must therefore abstain from participation, unless one wants to be subjectivist.
Ad 8. The Jubilees of 1975 and 2000 were ordinary Jubilees, as those regularly held every 25 years to celebrate the anniversaries of the Incarnation. They were not therefore tied per se to the anniversary of the Council, or to a false conception of mercy. The allusions to the Council mentioned by the objector remained secondary and did not affect the morality of the act of participation for he who would simply celebrate the anniversary of the Incarnation.
In 1975 the participation of Archbishop Lefebvre in the pilgrimage organized by the “Credo” association took place at a time when he was manifesting his opposition to conciliar Rome2. There was therefore no ambiguity in this act.
We can ask ourselves if it was prudent to redo a pilgrimage to Rome in 2000. For it is on this occasion that some contacts were taken up again with the purpose of an agreement with modernistic Rome, which ended with the fall of Campos the following year. The SSPX tried to pull back, but the talks for an agreement continued and in 2012 the accord almost happened. The communiqués that followed the Roman meeting of September 23, 2014, the one of Menzingen (“cordial meeting”), and that of the Vatican (“proceed by successive stages” … “towards resolving the difficulties” … “in the perspective of a full reconciliation”) were the point of departure towards a certain number of steps or stages and the participation in this Jubilee would be very clearly part of this process.
- Paul PARFAIT, “The Arsenal of Devotions: Notes to Add to the History of Superstitions”, 4 Ed., Paris. Georges Decaux, 1876, p. 90.
- Let us recall the context: On November 11th, 1974, two Roman envoys visit the Ecône seminary, provoking the Archbishop’s famous declaration of November 21, 1974; the 25th of January, 1975, Archbishop Lefebvre is summoned before a tribunal of three cardinals (Tabera, Wright and Garrone); the 6th May Bishop Mamie retracts the canonical approbation granted by his predecessor, and the same day three cardinals second this decision with the consent of Paul VI; on the 24th and 25th of May the pilgrimage takes place.