Why was there not an uprising amongst priests of the Society of St Pius X when their leaders’ loss of grip on Catholic doctrine and subsequent betrayal of Archbishop Lefebvre’s work became absolutely clear from March of last year onwards? Fr. Olivier Rioult, trail-blazer of the “Resistance” in France, gave several good reasons last month in an interview accessible in French on pelagiusasturiensis.wordpress.com. The following summary is freely adapted from the original text:—
Basically, original sin: Once the original fight for Tradition in the 1970’s and ‘80’s had succeeded in guaranteeing the survival of the essentials of the Faith, Traditionalists sat back on their laurels to enjoy their cosy enclaves, and they settled into a comfortable routine which they are now reluctant to lose. They have lost the spirit of fighting for the Faith.
Secondly, that particular form of original sin which is liberalism: Over the last ten years Society leaders have given the lead in weakening the fight against liberalism, error and immodesty. But to cease swimming against the current is to drift backwards, and a number of SSPX priests – by no means all – have grown weaker in their convictions and their preaching.
Thirdly, activism: some colleagues can also let themselves be run off their feet by their priestly tasks, leaving themselves no time or inclination to read or study. Turning into mere administrators and communicators, they weaken their convictions and preaching.
Fourthly, Bishop Fellay’s trickery: for years his double-talk deceived everybody except a small minority of clear-sighted souls who could absolutely not get a hearing. Only last year did his mask come off with the March “Cor Unum” and with his reply of April 14 to the three bishops. The great majority of Traditionalists he had put to sleep (as he is now doing again).
Fifthly, fear of the unknown: when the whole world around you is going mad, and you find an enclave of sanity, and then that enclave also begins to go mad, it requires unusual strength of character to face up to the reality and not prefer some illusion or other, and of illusions there are plenty! Thus many priests realize that they are living through a drama calling for some crucifying decisions, but they lack the necessary fortitude to launch into the unknown.
And last but not least, bad leaders: of course there have always been liberals within the SSPX as within the mainstream Church, but for as long as the leaders hold firm, these can be held in check. However, when in the mainstream Church John XXIII and Paul VI favoured their liberalism, the result was a tidal wave , and now that SSPX leaders have turned liberal, liberalism is sweeping through the Society as it would never have done under good leaders, true leaders.
These reasons given by Fr Rioult are all true, but none of them are stronger than that Faith which is “our victory over the world” (I Jn.V, 4). Indeed one might say that all the reasons come down to the lack of a strong enough Faith on the part of the priests, because they are living in a world in which the grip on Truth of every soul alive has been loosened, and if Truth is not true, how can Faith be true?
Then what is the simplest way to strengthen one’s grip on Truth, as we absolutely need to do in today’s crazy circumstances? In my opinion:—
“Watch and pray, watch and pray,
Fifteen Mysteries every day.”