The Society of St. Pius X, is known mainly for its attachment to the traditional rite of the Mass. those who think and speak in like manner really know the origins, goals and works of this Society? Do they know the real nature and status of the society of status of the Society of St. Pius X?
To clear any errors given herewith is the precise historical information with the intention to provide all the basic data on the Society of Saint Pius X, its founder being Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Its history, goals, status in the Catholic Church and its development from its inception is traced as shown.
I – Archbishop Marcel Lafebvre
II – Brief History of the Society of St. Pius X
After the resignation of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre as Superior of the Holy Ghost Fathers in September 1968, he lived a very retired life was in Rome. As many disciplinary rules of the French seminary were being discarded (the wearing of the soutane, daily Mass obligatory etc.) as well as some moral issues (contraception. etc.). some seminarians turned to him for help (he was a well known figure since the French Seminary was run by the Holy Ghost Fathers). He declined at first on the grounds of lacking all the requirements (money, building…). Finally, under the repeated plea from these seminarians, and from their parents, he agreed to do something. He rented a house in Fribourg, Switzerland, there the seminarians lived and went and attended the classes in the still-reliable Dominican University nearby, while other seminarians were continuing their studies in the Latin University in Rome.
From 1969 to 1970 – the New Mass came out and gradually replaced the traditional Mass everywhere. The Fribourg seminarians, worried at the thought of having to go back to their Dioceses in the hands of modernists’ bishops, after their ordinations, begged the Archbishop to establish a religious society that would bind them together and protect their priesthood. After the consultation with high ranking ecclesiastics and encouraged favourably by them, the Archbishop wrote the Constitution of the Society of Saint Pius X. These were then approved officially by the local bishop of Francoiss Charriere, on November 1st, 1970. The Society of Saint Pius X was born and welcomed in the Church as Cardinal Wright approved it in the letter of praise dated 18th February, 1971.
The nature and goals of the Society of St. Pius X
a)its canonical nature:
The SSPX is “a priestly Society of common life without vows, after the pattern of the pertains to it and nothing but that which concern it” (Statutes I.1; II.1).
b) its goals:
They include firstly all the works necessary for the formation of priests and whatever pertains thereto, whether the candidates are destined to be members of the Society or not. Care is taken that the training attain its chief goal: the Priest’s Holiness, together with sufficient knowledge. Nothing, therefore, shall be neglected to the end that piety be directed towards and flow from the Liturgy of the Holy Mass, which is the heart of theology, of pastoral activity, and of the Church’s life.
A second purpose of the Society is to assist the sanctification of priests by providing them with opportunities for retreats and recollections.
The Society shall seek to include a sense of the greatness and nobility of the vocations of helpers in the service of the Altar and all that is related to it; participation in the Liturgy, in the Sacraments, in the teaching of Catechism; helpers generally in all assists the Priest, his parish ministry, the housework in rectories and Seminaries. The Society’s members shall devote particular spiritual care to persons, whether religious or not, who dedicate themselves to this ideal under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph.
Schools, truly free and unfettered, able to bestow on youth a thoroughly Christian education, shall be fostered and, if need be, founded by the members of the Society. From these will come vocations and Christian homes.
Parish ministry, and the preaching of parish Missions, without restrictions of place, are also works to which the Society devotes itself. These ministries will be matters of contract with local Ordinaries, in order to enable the Society to exercise its apostolate in accord with its own particular grace.
The Society will willingly come to the assistance of aged and infirm priests, and even of those who have not been faithful.
(statutes III. 1 -6)
3. The struggle for the Catholic Priesthood and for the Traditional Mass
Having decided from day one to form priests that would only say the old Latin Mass, the Archbishop knew that sooner or later there would be a confrontation with those who were pushing the “up-dating” of the Catholic Church, especially through the liturgical reform. At their annual meeting in Lourdes in 1972, he French Bishops called the seminary of Econe “unseminaire sauvaga” “a wild cat seminary.” The persecution begins.
November 11 – 13, 1974. At the request of the same French Bishops, two apostolic visitors arrived at Econe for 48 hours. They questioned seminarians and priests, observed the discipline, sat in classes. Having come to investigate the doctrinal rectitude of the seminary, they themselves cast doubt on the physical resurrection of Christ, on the immutability of truth and on priestly celibacy.
November 21, 1974. Indignant by such a procedure, Archbishop Lefebvre wrote his
Famous declaration: “We adhere with all our heath to the Eternal Rome …”
February 1975. He is “invited for a discussion” by Cardinal Tabera, Wright, and Garonne.
March 1975 . Meeting with the three Cardinals. In fact it was a hidden tial, a direct condemnation of his Declaration of November 21. No mention whatever of the Apostolic visit of the previous November.
May 6 1975 . Archbishop Lefebvre is asked to close his seminary. The Society of St. Pius X is “suppressed” by the new Bishop of Fribourg Mgr. Mamie. However, according to Canon Law (1917) C 482, when a religious society has been approved in a diocese, only Rome can subsequently suppress it. As modern seminaries were closing everywhere and more and more dis-illusioned young men were asking admission at Econe, the Archbishop decided to continue.
March to June 29, 1976. Every attempt is made to prevent the ordination of June 28, by numerous visits, letters, telephone calls and telegrams. The Archbishop asked “Why don’t we need priests?”. The answer came a few days before the June ordination “Say the New Mass on June 29, and all will be normalized”. The real issue was the rite of Mass.
June 29, 1978. e Old Mass Priestly ordinations of 12 candidates. In his sermon, his Grace appealed to the Bull Quo Primum of St. Pius V explicitly stating that any censure against the would be invalid. “By virtue of Our Apostolic Authority we give and grant in perpetuity that….. this Missal may be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring penalty, judgment or censure, and may be freely and lawfully used. Nor shall Bishops… and other secular priests… be obliged to celebrate Mass otherwise than enjoyed by Us.” (Quo Primum)
July 11, 1976 . The Congregation of Bishops issued a censure, Archbishop Lefebvre is “suspens a divinis” (i.e. forbidden to administer the Sacraments) However 1) the act, signed by the secretary, was canonically invalid. 2) the Archbishop made an appeal “in forma Surpensiva” which meant that the act was suspended until a juridical decision was issued. This has never come.
Summer 1976. With all the publicity around Econe, the news traveled around the whole world that there was a bishop in Switzerland training priests for the Old Mass.
September 1976. Meeting with Pope Paul VI.
November 18, 1978. Archbishop Lefebvre met Pope John Paul II for 45 mns.
1979 – 1984. On a number of occasions, Archbishop Lefebvre went to Rome and faced long interrogations (cross-examination) on his work, the question of jurisdiction, conditional confirmations, Vatican II etc. But he was never accused and condemned for having erred in the Faith.
June 29, 1987. Archbishop Lefebvre announced that he was going to proceed to the consecration of some bishops.
November to December 1987. Visit of Cardinal Gagnon. On December 8, the Cardinal assisted officially, at the Pontifical High Mass said by Archbishop Lefebvre, a so-called “suspended” Archbishop, during which Mass, 25 Seminarians joined a “so-called” “suppressed Society of St. Pius X. The Cardinals presence was a tacit approbation of the attitude and work of the Archbishop and the official recognition of the canonical existence of the Society.
June 30, 1988. Consecration of 4 Bishops as “auxiliaries” of the Superior General.