Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 2, Chapter XXXVIII

A Warning from Louis Salleron


25 October 1979

The following article by Professor Louis Salleron appeared in the October 1979 issue of the French daily L’Aurore.  It seems more pertinent today than when it first appeared. Professor Salleron warns us of a sociological phenomenon which is extremely relevant to traditional Catholics. They are consistently rejected, denigrated, and even ridiculed by those in authority in the Church, and sometimes by the parish clergy and their Catholic acquaintances. When a minority group is treated in such a fashion it is far from unusual for its members to develop the characteristics which they had been falsely accused of possessing. Traditional Catholics are frequently accused of being schismatic and after years of consistent rejection by the official Church it is hardly surprising if, for practical purposes, some no longer continue their fight for tradition within the Church but as a clearly defined group outside her. Professor Salleron's warning was confirmed dramatically in October 1981 when a group of such Catholics, who had declared that the Holy See was vacant, took the ultimate step of having their own "sedevacantist" bishops consecrated by an elderly Vietnamese Archbishop, Mgr. Pierre Martin Ngo-Dinh-Thuc. These "bishops" have since consecrated others, and now in Europe, Mexico, and the United States there exists a de facto schism, what can be termed accurately a sedevacantist sect. The fact that those adhering to this sect may have been provoked and scandalized beyond what they could humanly endure does not alter the gravity of their action. Archbishop Lefebvre has rejected sedevacantism firmly and consistently, and has taken what must have been for him the very sad step of expelling priests from the Society of St. Pius X for accepting the thesis that the Holy See is vacant. A statement which he made on this subject is included as Chapter XL.

Professor Salleron 's article follows:

What is a Schismatic?

On 12 May 1965 – already fourteen years ago! Mgr. Pailler, the Archbishop and Coadjutor of Rouen, stated at a meeting of Catholic Action: "I do not think that I am being pessimistic when I say that by the end of this year, that is to say at the end of Vatican II, especially after the promulgation of the texts on Religious Liberty and the Schema XIII, there will be a grave risk of schism within the Church."

Schema XIII, it must be remembered, was the first "seed" of what was to become the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes which dealt with the Church in the modern world.

This remark by Mgr. Pailler was hailed by the Progressives and the Modernists as a condemnation of the Traditionalists. The majority of Catholics were no less astonished. The first shock was caused by the ambiguity of the remark, as Mgr. Pailler's pessimism seemed to welcome a complete extinction of the Traditionalists: they would be excommunicated proprio motu. On the other hand, it was difficult to understand how a Council which claimed to be pastoral and not doctrinal, a Council which proclaimed liberty for all and the end of condemnations, could cast out of the Church those Catholics who wished to remain faithful both to dogma and to Tradition.

In fact, the whole thing was perfectly logical. Father Congar has described Vatican II as "the October Revolution." By this he meant that the liberty granted by Vatican II was the liberty proclaimed by the Revolution which meant, in effect, “No liberty for the enemies of liberty." This was quickly to become evident: “The Conciliar church” as it was called by those who were fashioning it, proved to be a thousand times more authoritarian, more sectarian than anything that had been previously seen in the traditional Church. We are still living in a climate of persecution and de facto excommunication.

While reading the book entitled Letter to John Paul II, Pope of the Year 2,000 I was brought to a halt by a penetrating remark made by Saint-Beuve and quoted by Father Bruckberger, author of the book. The remark referred to the Jansenists of Port Royal: “Many imputations and provocative accusations themselves create, in the long run, the very evils which they had supposed to exist.” This is a subtle idea but completely true. It can happen that when a tendency, a perfectly legitimate religious opinion, is attacked fiercely by a powerful body within the Church, its supporters become so hardened in its defense, that they justify the accusations of schism and heresy levelled against them. This happened to the Jansenists. Today certain groups of traditionalists are on the brink of making the same error. It is precisely because of this that Father Bruckberger, himself a traditionalist, quotes Saint-Beuve.

In fact, if one were to take at its face value what is said and what is written in some circles and in some publications, where John Paul II is almost denouced as the anti-Christ, one could conclude that schism already exists.

But this is only the result of irritation and will undoubtedly die in time, and in any case, it applies to only a limited number of people and should not be confused with that vast number of Traditionalists, wounded in their faith and the practice of their Religion by the destructive violence of those who have entrenched themselves within the Church in France, and whose power is precisely  more and more schismatic in view of their systematic opposition both to Rome and to the Pope. It is this official or officious "Church of France" which tends to become mother and teacher - mater et magistra - of  which Jansenism, Gallicanism, and early Modernism were but a faint shadow.

If one may speak of a schismatic situation, this situation is not necessarily a full-blown schism in the strict sense of the word which implies a minimum of coherence and a structure with a known leader. A spreading of schismatic ideas, a proliferation of various heresies, does not constitute a schism. A general weakening of the Faith cannot lead to a denial of belief which is the essential characteristic of a schism. It should be regarded more as a heretico-schism.

However, an aspirant to the leadership of the subversive organization is becoming even clearer. It is Hans Küng, the Swiss theologian who writes on many subjects, and who has long since abandoned the role of a controversialist for that of a magisterial teacher to whom everyone, beginning with the Pope, must defer with humility because the evidence for what he says is so overwhelming that it must convince us as totally as it has convinced him. As "an act of charity" he has just sent John Paul II a "fraternal reprimand" (sic) and he has no doubt that the Pope will receive it "without preconceived ideas" (Le Monde, 17 October).

The Pope of Rome, enlightened by the pope of Tübingen, will then realize that the rights of man must be respected by those in high places within the Church. What then are these rights? Well! The right of priests to marry and their right to leave the ministry: the right of women to be ordained, etc. All this in the name of the Gospel and in the name of Truth.

We do not know whether French theologians will have been flattered or annoyed that their Swiss colleague chose the French language and a French newspaper to "reprimand " the Pope in a brotherly way, and to invite him to reconcile himself with progress, with Liberalism, and with modern civilization. In any case, most of them share his views. Like him, they want the destruction of the Priesthood, and the democratization of the Church by the people of God – Soviet style.

Such is the Conciliar Church clearly defined by its pope. Will John Paul II submit, or will he declare Hans Küng a schismatic?


Chapter 37

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