Fr. Billecocq Responds
While Msgr. Lefebvre explained..
Cardinal Ratzinger repeated it many times, “But Monsignor, there is only one Church, you mustn’t make a parallel church.” I told him: "Your Eminence, it is not us who are forming a parallel Church, as we are continuing the Church of all times, it is you who are forming the parallel church for having invented the Church of the Council, which Cardinal Benelli called the Conciliar Church; it is you all who have invented a new church, not us, it is you who have made the new catechisms, new Sacraments, a new Mass, a new liturgy, not us. We continue to do what was done before. We are not the ones who are forming a new church." 1
..Bishop Fellay since 2011 disagreed..
Let us realize that if today we have faith, if we have the joy of being able to profess our faith, it is because of this very concrete Church... which is in a lamentable state. When you bring a child to a Society priest for baptism, the first question is: "What do you ask of the Church?" [and not of the Society!]; and the answer is: "Faith". And it is not the Society, but the Church that gives this faith... the Church of today! It is the Church of today that sanctifies. When we say "extra ecclesiam nulla salus", "outside of the Church there is no salvation", we are talking about the Church of today. It's absolutely certain, you have to hold this. (...)"2
The contradiction is obvious. Since 2011 in particular, the language of some of these authorities has been openly liberal. But beyond this obvious confusion, this new language aims to erase the distinction and opposition between traditional and conciliar. By erasing this distinction, one clearly downplays the struggle of the faith and makes it possible to envisage the agreement that some desire so much.
In Le Chardonnet3 of December 2018, Fr. Gabriel Billecocq has in a remarkable way given us a detailed outline [of this issue] in an article entitled "Did you say 'Official Church'?" :
- Since Monsignor Benelli first used that expression, the term "conciliar church" has become the common expression by which we refer to all conciliarists, that is, to those who claim to follow Vatican II, regardless of whether they belong to the Church teaching [clergy] or the Church taught [faithful].
- In spite of the disputatio4 which has stirred up traditional circles, the expression has been kept in order to designate those in the Church who are opposed to Tradition. Moreover, converts [to Tradition] regularly and of their own accord use this expression, because it is so clear to them that there are two competing societies whose doctrines and practices are so antagonistic. When they come to see us, they clearly tell us that they have left the "conciliar church", the "other church".
- For some time now, it has become clear that another expression is meant to replace that of a conciliar church. They now talk of the official church5. To what extent should such an expression be adopted? What precision does it provide in an already complicated context? Is it necessary to replace conciliar by official?
- First of all, we should keep in mind that Our Lord founded only one Church: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. The faith and sacraments are its most precious possessions, and authority has been established to defend these.
- It is necessary to belong to the Catholic Church in order to be saved. One is incorporated in her through baptism, which is inseparable from the profession of faith.6 As a visible society, the Catholic Church also has an invisible part which is nothing more than the communion of saints. This is how we distinguish the body from the soul of the Church.
- It is necessary to understand the dogma "Outside of the Church there is no salvation" as belonging to the soul of the Church. But such belonging is done through incorporation, i. e. by belonging to the body, which is a visible society. It is a necessity of means, in other words it is a necessary means without which the goal cannot be achieved.
- There are, however, some cases, which are said to be extraordinary - and therefore rare - insofar as they are not the ordinary way willed by God. This concerns people who, not knowing the Catholic Church, nevertheless seek to serve God as they know it by at least obeying the natural law known by conscience. These belong to the soul of the Church without belonging to her body. But it is certain that they would get baptized as soon as they would get to know the Catholic Church.
- It must be said that the so-called traditionalist movements (SSPX and friendly communities) belong to the Church and have always belonged to it, despite the condemnations and injustices they have suffered.
- The same must be said of those who are usually called the Resistance, because whether they have left the Society or have been expelled from it does not mean that they have been expelled from the Church. These people are perfectly Catholic and certainly closer to us in the doctrinal struggle than those who are called rallies (Fraternity of St. Peter, Christ the King, etc.).
- As for the conciliarists, the case is quite complicated. Indeed, since conciliarists are true modernists (at least the majores7), and since modernism has been condemned by the Church, one can very legitimately doubt their belonging to the soul of the Church: they have almost completely lost the faith, they have changed all the sacraments, and their authority is no longer at the service of the common good of the Church. They are imbued with a philosophical poison (subjectivism) that objectively takes them away from faith. It can then be said that they belong [only] to the body of the Church. But in time we may even have to doubt8 this truth9.
- It is then easier to understand what the faithful mean when they speak of conciliar and traditional churches. They are not two separate churches (at least for the time being, while we await an impending condemnation by a Catholic pope). They are like two parts or two states of the Catholic Church: the first is sick and the second is healthy.10 These two terms are therefore a suitable illlustration of the state of the Catholic Church. Conciliar sums it up nicely (and one can say that it is a vulgar definition in the etymological sense), as opposed to traditional.
- Recently, in traditionalist Catholic circles, efforts have been made to impose the term official church instead of conciliar church. Of course, official is a good expression of the idea that we recognize that these bishops, though unworthy, occupy power, and this power, as such, we can only respect. But replacing conciliar with official is a serious ambiguity. For the traditionalist catholic, who does not recognize himself as a conciliarist and for good reason, must he now say that he does not recognize himself as an official catholic either? So the traditionalist catholic would no longer belong to the official church? Wouldn't he be fully Catholic then? But then which church would he belong to? To find out, one has to wonder what the official word is opposed to. Answer: unofficial, or hidden, clandestine, or patriotic. But then the traditional catholic does not recognize himself in any of them. Should we say that he belongs to the official church at the risk of being confused with the modernists? No. All that remains then is that he does not belong to the Church. And that's the reason why he's getting so desperate for recognition.
- In fact, this is a serious and very pernicious ambiguity. Replacing the term conciliar church by official church to apply it to modernists erases the distinction and opposition between traditional and conciliar. By erasing this distinction, one clearly diminishes the struggle of the faith at the risk of denying it and comes to make the traditionalist regret that he does not belong to any truly serious church, giving him the impression that he is not normal and therefore needs to seek normalization. This expression thus conceals the true illness of which the Church is afflicted, puts in a state of inferiority or complexity the true Catholic who has kept the faith and sacraments intact, and so one maintains a typically liberal confusion. In reality, the use of such a confused expression is already liberalism itself and is no longer truly Catholic...
- To fight an enemy, and a fortiori when that enemy has infiltrated inside the citadel, clear and unambiguous language is needed to designate him. Traditional Catholics do not fight the Catholic Church, that is obvious. But can we make him believe that he's fighting the official church? If it is official, one risks creating some remorse of conscience to fight against it, because it is official and the Catholic Church is official! No, he's fighting the disease. And this disease, he gave it a name: the conciliar church.
- For while the conciliar church belongs to the Catholic Church today, it is impossible to say that the Catholic Church is conciliar!
- Theological work, which is sorely lacking today, consists in refining the expressions, and thus in better expressing the reality of what we are experiencing. This is what the Church has always done.
- Ideas change the world. And ideas are expressed in words. By changing words, you change your mind. And in this case, changing the ideas changes the nature of the fight. Which would be treason.
- Let your yes be yes, and your no be no, all the rest is from the devil.
- 1. Press Conference given in Econe, June 15th, 1988
- 2. Bishop Fellay, conference on 2 September 2012 in Flavigny
- 3. http://laportelatine.org/district/prieure/stnicol/Chardonnet/Chardonnet333_1712.pdf
- 4. See Sel de la Terre, n° 85, summer of 2013, p. 1-16 and Courrier de Rome, n°363, February 2013
- 5. This is not new, this expression has already been used on a number of occasions. The problem here is not so much the expression itself as its substitution for the other term, conciliar church.
- 6. A pagan adult who would receive baptism while in Protestantism or Orthodoxy would not be incorporated into the Catholic Church. He would enter it at the time of his conversion when he abjures his errors and publicly professes his faith.
- 7. This term refers to those who belong to the ecclesiastical hierarchy and particularly to the teaching Church: Pope and bishops.
- 8. To doubt is to suspend a judgment, to admit that one cannot answer a question. But it also means two things: that there is a real question that arises, and that therefore there is a need for true theological work in order to prepare a response that can later on be sanctioned by the Catholic authorities of the Church.
- 9. For example, Cardinal Barbarin, Primate of the Gauls and Archbishop of Lyon, gave [the sacrament of] Catholic confirmation at a "Protestant Confirmation with priest(es)" ceremony. By openly opposing the public profession of faith in this way, one can well wonder if he is still a member of the Church. Not long ago, the cardinal of Sao Paulo found himself in a ceremony where Our Lady and Buddha were simultaneously "honored". We must are ask ourselves the same question there.
- 10. On this subject, we wanted to contrast the study of the Dominican Fathers of Avrillé to that of Fr. Gleize. It's a misunderstanding. While the former wanted to show that there was a radical opposition between conciliarists and traditionalists, Fr. Gleize, on the other hand, tried to show that this opposition did not yet constitute two distinct societies because these two currents still exist within the Catholic Church itself. Avrillé describes an illness and its opposition to health and its destructive work within the organization, while the eminent professor of ecclesiology, without denying it, states that they are not yet two distinct bodies, but the same social body in which a certain part (and not a small part either) is corrupted. There will be two distinct societies when these conciliar modernists are condemned and expelled from the Church.