August 2012 - District Superior's Letter

The General Chapter Meeting of the Society which took place at Econe Switzerland from 3rd to 14th July.

My Dear Brethren,

As most of you will be aware I recently attended the General Chapter Meeting of the Society which took place at Econe Switzerland from 3rd to 14th July.  After a five-day retreat the various Superiors of the Society were able to discuss and assess various matters, most particularly the recent relations with Rome and the question of a possible canonical normalization of the Society and its recognition by the Vatican as a Personal Prelature.

 It was not that long ago, in October of last year, that we met to discuss the same question.  It appears that the present Pope wanted to find a solution to the fraught relations between our Society and the Vatican and to that end presented us in September of last year with a Doctrinal Preamble which we were to accept in view of a canonical regularization.  However, the Rome meeting concluded that this could not, in fact, be accepted without compromising the position which the Society has always adopted in regard to the reforms which have devastated the Church since the Second Vatican Council.  However, this was not the end of the matter as Rome’s proposal was open to negotiation which was subsequently conducted between the Vatican and our Superior General and his Assistants.  Unfortunately, the fact that this was conducted in secret for various diplomatic reasons gave rise to wild speculation and although details of these negotiations were not revealed the general understanding seemed to be that Rome was becoming more and more generous in our regard with the result that it was soon being affirmed that the Society would shortly be erected as a Personal Prelature. 

This situation was greeted with enthusiasm by those Traditional Catholics who perceived something of a return to the Church’s traditions during the present pontificate and who looked forward to the day when the stigma of being “excommunicated”, “schismatic” and the like would be lifted and a much wider apostolate would be opened up to the Society.  Others regarded this development with dismay, arguing that any return to Tradition is purely superficial, that the basic policies of the Vatican have not changed since the Council, that the general state of the Church continues to deteriorate and that it would be foolhardy and premature to entrust ourselves to the ecclesiastical authorities who have continued to persecute us.  Many priests and laity in different countries became vociferous about the matter with various declarations appearing on the Internet.  This confusion was compounded when it was revealed that even the four bishops of the Society were not in agreement in regard to the question.

 I quite deliberately made no public observation about these matters as so much speculation made it unclear as to what was the reality of the situation, the full details of which were yet to be revealed.  I also congratulate you all in being calm and patient and thus the Society in Australia was spared much useless controversy.  This was well advised, as shortly before the Chapter Meeting the Vatican advised Bishop Fellay that, in substance, the conditions expressed in the Doctrinal Preamble of September were, in fact, non-negotiable and this effectively brought the whole question to an end even before the Chapter was convened. 

 The Chapter Meeting therefore was conducted in a manner which was far less charged with contention than might otherwise have been the case and the unity and peace of the Society has providentially been preserved.  At the end of the Meeting the following declaration was released:

At the conclusion of the General Chapter of the Society of St. Pius X, gathered together at the tomb of its venerated founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and united with its Superior General, the participants, bishops, superiors, and most senior members of the Society elevate to Heaven our heartfelt thanksgiving, grateful for the 42 years of marvellous Divine protection over our work, amidst a Church in crisis and a world which distances itself farther from God and His law with each passing day.

We wish to express our gratitude to each and every member of our Society: priests, brothers, sisters, third order members; to the religious communities close to us and also to our dear faithful, for their constant dedication and for their fervent prayers on the occasion of this Chapter, marked by frank exchanges of views and by a very fruitful common work. Every sacrifice and pain accepted with generosity has contributed to overcome the difficulties which the Society has encountered in recent times. We have recovered our profound unity in its essential mission: to preserve and defend the Catholic Faith, to form good priests, and to strive towards the restoration of Christendom. We have determined and approved the necessary conditions for an eventual canonical normalization. We have decided that, in that case, an extraordinary Chapter with deliberative vote will be convened beforehand.

We must never forget that the sanctification of souls always starts within ourselves. It is the fruit of a faith which becomes vivifying and operating by the work of charity, according to the words of St. Paul: “For we can do nothing against the truth: but for the truth” (cf. II Cor., XIII, 8), and “as Christ also loved the church and delivered himself up for it… that it should be holy and without blemish” (cf. Eph. V, 25 s.).

The Chapter believes that the paramount duty of the Society, in the service which it intends to offer to the Church, is to continue, with God’s help, to profess the Catholic Faith in all its purity and integrity, with a determination matching the intensity of the constant attacks to which this very Faith is subjected nowadays.

For this reason it seems opportune that we reaffirm our faith in the Roman Catholic Church, the unique Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, outside of which there is no salvation nor possibility to find the means leading to salvation; our faith in its monarchical constitution, desired by Our Lord Himself, by which the supreme power of government over the universal Church belongs only to the Pope, Vicar of Christ on earth; our faith in the universal Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of both the natural and the supernatural orders, to Whom every man and every society must submit.

The Society continues to uphold the declarations and the teachings of the constant Magisterium of the Church in regard to all the novelties of the Second Vatican Council which remain tainted with errors, and also in regard to the reforms issued from it. We find our sure guide in this uninterrupted Magisterium which, by its teaching authority, transmits the revealed Deposit of Faith in perfect harmony with the truths that the entire Church has professed, always and everywhere.

The Society finds its guide as well in the constant Tradition of the Church, which transmits and will transmit until the end of time the teachings required to preserve the Faith and the salvation of souls, while waiting for the day when an open and serious debate will be possible which may allow the return to Tradition of the ecclesiastical authorities.

We wish to unite ourselves to the other Christians persecuted in different countries of the world who are now suffering for the Catholic Faith, some even to the extent of martyrdom. Their blood, shed in union with the Victim of our altars, is the pledge for a true renewal of the Church in capite et membris, according to the old saying sanguis martyrum semen christianorum.

“Finally, we turn our eyes to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is also jealous of the privileges of her Divine Son, jealous of His glory, of His Kingdom on earth as in Heaven. How often has she intervened for the defense, even the armed defense, of Christendom against the enemies of the Kingdom of Our Lord! We entreat her to intervene today to chase the enemies out from inside the Church who are trying to destroy it more radically than its enemies from outside. May she deign to keep in the integrity of the Faith, in the love of the Church, in devotion to the Successor of Peter, all the members of the Society of St. Pius X and all the priests and faithful who labor alongside the Society, in order that she may both keep us from schism and preserve us from heresy.

“May St. Michael the Archangel inspire us with his zeal for the glory of God and with his strength to fight the devil.

“May St. Pius X share with us a part of his wisdom, of his learning, of his sanctity, to discern the true from the false and the good from the evil in these times of confusion and lies.” (Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre; Albano, October 19, 1983).

Given at Ecône, on the 14th of July of the Year of the Lord 2012

Therefore the Society will continue its work much the same as before until God’s Providence decides that the propitious moment has come when the Church Authorities recognise the disastrous impact which the Second Vatican Council and the new liturgy have had upon the Church and our Society can be recognised and work with them for a true restoration of all things Catholic.

Various administrative changes will soon take place in the Society in Australia.  Many of you are aware that the Superiors of the different countries are appointed for terms of six years.  I am about to complete my second term as Superior of Australia and I will be replaced in that role by Father John Fullerton who is an American priest who has already served a term as the Superior of the United States and who is at present the Rector of St. Mary’s College Kansas.  Once Father Fullerton arrives in Sydney, which may not be for several weeks yet, I will take up my new position at Hampton in Melbourne.  It has been a great privilege for me to serve you during these last twelve years during which time I have become very fond of Australia.  I am most grateful for all of your prayers and support and therefore I am very pleased I will be staying with you for a little while longer.

Several further changes will take place amongst the priests.  As previously stated I am to go to Hampton where I will replace Fr. Doran who has been transferred to Canada.  Fr. Todd Stephens will replace Fr. Taouk who in turn will go to Brisbane to replace Fr. Anderson who has been appointed to the United States.  We welcome to Australia a newly ordained priest, Fr. Christopher Polley, who will come to Rockdale to take the place of Fr. Todd Stephens.  It is envisaged that at the end of the year an exchange will take place between Fr. Polley and Fr. Vachon who is presently at Park Ridge.

New appointments have also been made amongst the Sisters at Rockdale.   Sister Mary Gemma who has spent many years with the community here and latterly as Superior will soon leave Australia for the United States where she will become the Superior of the convent at Browerville.  She will be succeeded by Sister Mary Theophane, an American, who at present is Superior of the community at Marseille in France.  We welcome back to Australia our own Sister Mary Michael, the first member of the Sisters of the Society of St. Pius X who has spent the last few years at St. Mary’s Kansas.  Sister Mary Joachim recently left us for America and will be replaced shortly by Sister Mary Monica from the Philippines.

Our heartfelt thanks and prayers go with the Priests and Sisters who are leaving us and we wish them every grace, strength and blessing in their new apostolate.

I am delighted to announce that our Superior General Bishop Fellay will be visiting Australia very soon from 4th until 21st August and will visit our principal churches in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne (Hampton and Tynong) Sydney and Brisbane.  He will also spend several days at the seminary in Goulburn.  Precise details of his visit will be announced at these different centres.

With every good wish and blessing,

Yours most sincerely in Christ,

Fr Edward Black

District Superior