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National Catholic Reporter Sanctions Reconciliation between SSPX and the Catholic Church

Open Tabernacle/Bilgrimage blogger, Dr. William Lindsey, has done exemplary – as well as solitary and underappreciated – work in establishing that the so-called “liberal” Catholic media such as National Catholic Reporter, Commonweal and America, are barely centrist. The NCR’s top two reporters proved today just how astute Dr. Lindsey has been.

The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX for short or “Lefebvrists” after their founder) is an openly racist organization. The Southern Poverty Law Center considers the Society of St. Pius X to be a hate group “characterized by open anti-Semitism and blames Jews for conspiring to destroy the Catholic Church and a number of other iniquities.”

Yet reacting to today’s news that the Superior of the Lefebvrians, Bishop Bernard Fellay, has agreed “to a condition which the Holy See had presented last September as a condition for the Society to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church and secure canonical regularization,” NPR reporter Sean Michael Winters declared “Welcome Back Lefebvrists!” “It is entirely a good thing when someone, anyone, returns to the fold,” wrote Winters. [emphasis mine] The paper’s senior correspondent, John L. Allen Jr., also wrote a column on the same subject without acknowledging there could be any reason why the Vatican should reject a group which Allen suggests is known primarily for “their distinctive spirituality.”

Most people had never heard of the SSPX until February 2009 when Pope Benedict rescinded the excommunication imposed by his predecessor (over a matter of papal authority) of four Lefebvrist bishops. The announcement came within days after one of the four, Bishop Richard Williamson, had stated on Swedish television that “evidence was hugely against six million Jews having been deliberately gassed.” The bishop – who it is said also believes the anti-Semitic forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, is authentic and is quoted as having once written: “In accordance with their false messianic vocation of Jewish world-domination, the Jews are preparing the Anti-Christ’s throne in Jerusalem,” – was later convicted by a German court for Holocaust denial, a crime in that country.

That Williamson had “minimized the Holocaust” was the worst Allen could acknowledge in today’s column. Winters admitted that the Society has “a residual, and sometimes quite lively, anti-Semitism” but “it will be easier to remove that particular sin from within the fold than without.”

Andrew Horn, fellow of Harvard University’s WEB Du Bois Institute and researching a book including the etiology of anti-Semitism in Europe, reminded us in 2009 that members of the SSPX “are followers of the late French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (1906-1991), an anti-Semitic wartime collaborationist, and founder of the SSPX” who:

enthusiastically endorsed Marshall Pétain’s Vichy regime for what he termed its “Catholic order”. Indeed, until his death, Lefebvre offered his support to Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Front Nationale, and voiced approval of the repressive military dictatorship of General Franco in Spain, António Salazar in Portugal, Jorge Videla in Argentina and Augusto Pinochet in Chile. In 1970, in reaction against Pope John XXIII’s Vatican II reforms, Lefebvre established the SSPX order and its seminary in Ecône, Switzerland. He was especially angered by the Pope’s conciliatory gestures towards Judaism, which he saw as a violation of Catholicism’s unique relationship with God.

In 1989 it was revealed that for some 16 years his followers had been harboring Paul Touvier, indicted for his central role in the deportation of the Jews of Lyons to German death camps. Touvier was finally arrested, aged 74, at the Lefebvrist St Francis Priory in Nice.

The following year Lefebvre was convicted of fostering race hatred when he declared that, as a result of Muslim immigration, “it is your wives, your daughters, your children who will be kidnapped and dragged off to certain kinds of places as … exist in Casablanca”.

The Lefebvre influence extends well beyond the francophone world. There are Lefebvrist seminaries in the US, Germany, Australia and several countries in Latin America. Marcel Lefebvre’s anti-Semitism and anti-Islamism lie firmly in a modern French tradition, from the coarse racism of Gyp’s fin-de-siècle novels to the shrill attacks on Dreyfus in the French press and to the more contemporary pronouncements on the threats to civilization posed by Jews and Muslims.

At issue is not just monarchism, the Latin Tridentine mass, or even schism within the Catholic Church, but the exploitation of religious faith for inhumane social and political policies.

A British reporter, Sonia Gable, observed this past January 2012, “further connections being built among the elite of British fascism, where far-right Catholics associated with the Society of St Pius X are increasingly active,” and the danger that the British far right “might draw strength from the assiduous networking of London’s Catholic fundamentalists.”

This last paragraph might give us a clue about Joseph Ratzinger’s personal politics since he has been a staunch supporter and advocate for full reconciliation between the SSPX and the Vatican since the 1988 schism.


14 Responses

  1. I too caught John Allens ‘minimizing’ the anti semitism of Bishop Williamson, and MSW’s gloss on the problem. This is a mysoginist elitist hate group hiding behind Latin Magic.

    And then of course to top off the day completely, the CDF released it’s findings on the LCWR and so of course the poor delusional ladies will be saved from their inability to lead in lockstep with Herr Ratzinger by three male lackeys of the USCCB.

    It is getting beyond embarrassing to be Roman Catholic.

    • Agreed. Where will it all end? If the plan is to have a “smaller, purer” Church, they’re certainly headed in the right direction.

      • I no longer think the idea is primarily about having a smaller, purer church. I think that’s the strategy they have adopted to save the clerical system. Saving the clerical system is the primary goal.

        • Very astute. I think you’re correct. If you look at all the parish closings, the overriding blueprint is to make sure there’s a trustworthy priest as head of each unit.

  2. Betty, thank you. You are far too kind to me. Your analysis is wonderful, because–as always–it connects the dots to produce a bigger picture: under the last two popes, we’ve seen the Catholic hierarchy cementing an alliance with fascism that many of us hoped had been brought under serious critique after the church colluded in many ways with the Nazis.

    The attack on liberation theology by JPII and Ratzinger went hand in hand with the blessing of some of the worst fascist dictators in Latin America. In some respects, the last two papacies have placed the Catholic church right back where it was as the Nazis came on the scene in Europe–and as many Catholic leaders openly blessed them.

    This is one of the great tragedies of history, this squandering of the hope and promise for reform that came with Vatican II. It is our misfortune, for those of us who have lived through this period, to have seen this happen and to have experienced its effects.

    • “In some respects, the last two papacies have placed the Catholic church right back where it was as the Nazis came on the scene in Europe.” I couldn’t agree, more. Thank you for your thoughts and hard work.

    • You are absolutely on target. We are exactly back where the Church was in 1930, Even right down to arguing Casti Connubii. The times they are a’changin’ though and what used to inspire fear is now just embarrassing.

  3. Betty, thanks for drawing these threads together. So the Pope readies the welcome-home mat for the Vatican II denying fascists, while sending in US Bishop Quislings to attempt to force leading US Catholic women into orthodox line. What a woeful day for social progress.

    I’m grateful to you for the link to Sonia’s piece in Searchlight about the UK Catholic links with the far right.

    The strange counter-revolutionary fantasies of Bishop Richard Williamson remind me of Anders Behring Breivik.

  4. Thanks to bloggers such as you Betty, and Dr. Lindsey and Colleen and many others for your courage in truth seeking and truth telling.

    It pains me and many others to witness the hate-filled and/or fear-filled psyche that is now enabled in the Church with open arms & called of all things “reconciliation” & those “reconciled” are ready to nail anyone to a cross, speak of in a derogatory and demeaning way, anyone who does not agree with their world view or theology of God-in-a-right-wing-Box, whose “gift” to the world is mayhem & sorrow, rejection of all sorts.

    My own parents believed in the teachings of the SSPX over and above that which Vatican II was trying to teach. They saw the world through the same type of lens. They never opened their hearts to what really Vatican II was all about. Their view of the world from their indoctrination never changed, although they could have been much worse and seemed to lighten up a little towards the end of their lives. But yet their views left our family a wreckage of which we still try to recover from.

    The problem with SSPX-types and enablers of such is that they always need a scapegoat to blame that is outside of themselves.

    I did not really know what Vatican II was really about until I stumbled upon a SSPX website several years ago and did a little research into the history of the Church in Germany in the 1930’s.

    I can only say as a child reared with parents of such views in anti-reaction to VII & the Civil Rights Movement of which they feared that I know how they cheated themselves and their children from the love they all needed.

    Sad to admit it, but they were racist and all their fears of the left or of liberals was fed by SSPX and the continuation of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, so while I can forgive them, I can see that this welcome back has more to do with doing away with VII and is a regression into a fascist mindset in the Church & in US politics too, which has nothing to do with Jesus & His Church at all and everything to do with right-wing fascist politics of fear, blame and scapegoating, instead of on centering one’s life in Christ and bringing others to His Love.

    The lies and deceit that have been spread by groups such as SSPX are poisonous, toxic and have nothing to do with the love of God that He has for all of His children. NCR, John Allen and Sean Michael Winters will be finding out the hard way just how unholy this “reconciliation” truly is for all Catholics and everyone.

    • Well written Butterfly. In the end this is a Catholicism based in hate for others and fear for one’s self. It is incredibly sad.

      • Thank you Chris, Fran and Colleen for your remarks and your ability to see the “big picture” of what it means when Ratzinger embraces such a group as the SSPX. Unfortunately, like the sex abuse scandal as I wrote in “Apostolic Journeys or Trade Junkets?” as long as the pope is welcomed and honored by heads-of-state and in the halls of world power, the sadness, disappointment and outrage of us “little people” have no effect. Only when world opinion forces elected officials to shun the criminal institutional Church will there be any reform.

  5. […] and Persians as reported by the Jewish Chronicle Online.  As Betty Clermont has just noted in an article at the Open Tabernacle website, the actions the pope is taking with SSPX have to be seen against the backdrop of the Catholic […]

  6. Thanks Betty. Your analysis and comments are always impressive. As a non-Catholic I am keenly interested in the impact of Richard John Neuhaus. Bill Buckley was “on the radar” in the American Public Square. Father Richard was largely un-noticed. Most things written on him are hagiographic.I have found maybe 5 or 6 writers who write analytically of RJN.

    Arguably he rent the American curtain of separation permanently using evangelicals to do so. As you know Peter Berger, now at Baylor (the Jerrusalem on the Brazos), was a major contributor to the grand design Neuhaus was nudging Geo W. Bush and Pope JP II toward!

    How about a seminar with you and your astute colleagues to discuss this? When might you travel to Lexington, Kentucky?

    Bravo, bravo. Stay at it. Keep the tabernacle open!

    Proctor S. Burress,

    • Betty,

      Still thinking about the powerful effort you made in your book on Neo-Catholicism. It is an epical work. It should be be in the hands of all serious scholars of contemporary American culture.

      The question is: what can we do to promote and distribute the data you have worked so hard to organize? We need to do something. I’ll do what I can. It should be a “progressive” offering at all book fairs.

      it should be in the hands of all religius sociologists such as Phil Zuckerman but not a dupe like Peter Berger co-conspirator with Father Neuhaus to overturn American separation of church and state.

      Please write me and let me know you have seen this. I have been busy with other really less consequential matters. I really believe your book should be the tool for “targeted-marketing” of the right readership. But who and how? I would like to call and speak with you. This is the best handbook of exposure of humankind’s oldest nemesis, totalitarianism-athuoritarianism in its most modern form!!!

      Proctor Sherwood Burress

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