Whatever Happened To The Priesthood?

ImageThe New Priests 

To the man in the street, even the most indifferent to religious questions, it is obvious that there are fewer and fewer priests, and the newspapers regularly remind him of the fact. It is over fifteen years ago since the book appeared with the title “Tomorrow a Church without Priests?”

Yet the situation is even more serious than it appears. The question has also to be asked, how many priests still have the faith? And even a further question, regarding some of the priests ordained in recent years: are they true priests at all? Put it another way, are their ordinations valid? The same doubt overhangs other sacraments. It applies to certain ordinations of bishops such as that which took place in Brussels in the summer of 1982 when the consecrating bishop said to the ordinand, “Be an apostle like Gandhi, Helder Camara, and Mohamed!” Can we reconcile these references, at least as regards Gandhi and Mohamed, with the evident intention of doing what the Church intends?

Here is the order of service for a priestly ordination which took place at Toulouse a few years ago. A commentator starts off, introducing the ordinand by his christian name C., with the words “He has decided to live more thoroughly his self-dedication to God and to man by consecrating himself entirely to the service of the Church in the working-class.” C. has worked out his “pathway,” that is to say, his seminary training, in a team. It is this team who present him to the bishop: “We request you to recognize and authenticate his application and ordain him priest.” The bishop then asks him several questions purporting to be a definition of the priesthood: Do you wish to be ordained a priest, “to be, with the believers, a Sign and a Witness of what Mankind is seeking, in its striving for Justice, for Brotherhood and for Peace,” “to serve the people of God,” “to recognize in men’s lives, the action of God in the ways they take, in their cultural patterns, in the choices open to them,” “to celebrate the action of Christ and perform this service;” do you wish “to share with me and with the body of bishops the responsibility that has been entrusted to us for the service of the Gospel?”

The “matter” of the sacrament has been preserved in the laying on of hands which takes place next, and likewise the “form,” namely the words of ordination. But we are obliged to point out that the intention is far from clear. Has the priest been ordained for the exclusive service of one social class and, first and foremost, to establish justice, fellowship and peace at a level which appears to be limited to the natural order only? The eucharistic celebration which follows, “the first Mass” in effect, of the new priest was, in fact, on these lines. The offertory has been specially composed for the circumstances. “We welcome you, Lord, by receiving on your behalf this bread and wine which you offer us; we wish to show by this all our work and our efforts to build a more just and more humane world, all that we are trying to bring about so that better living conditions may follow…” The prayer over the offerings is even more dubious: “Look, Lord we offer you this bread and this wine, that they may become for us one of the ways in which you are present.” No! People who celebrate in this manner do not believe in the Real Presence!

One thing is certain; the first victim of this scandalous ordination is the young man who had just pledged himself for ever without exactly knowing to what, or thinking that he knows. How can he not fail, sooner or later, to ask himself certain questions? Because the ideal that has been proposed to him cannot satisfy him for long; the ambiguity of his mission will become evident. The priest is essentially a man of faith. If he no longer knows what he is, he loses faith in himself, and in his priesthood.

The definition of the priesthood given by Saint Paul and by the Council of Trent has been radically altered. The priest is no longer one who goes up to the altar and offers up to God a sacrifice of praise, for the remission of sins. The relative order of ends has been inverted. The priesthood has a first aim, which is to offer the sacrifice; that of evangelization is secondary.

The case of C., which is far from being unique, as we know of many examples, shows to what extent evangelization has taken precedence over the sacrifice and the sacraments. It has become an end in itself. This grave error has had serious consequences.

Evangelization, deprived of its aim, loses direction and seeks purposes that are pleasing to the world, such as a false “social justice” and a false “liberty.” These acquire new names: development, progress, building up the world, improving living-conditions, pacifism. Here is the sort of language which has led to all the revolutions.

The sacrifice of the altar being no longer the first end of the priesthood, it is the whole of the sacraments which are at stake and for which the “person responsible for the parish sector” and his “team” will call upon the laity, who are themselves overburdened with trade unions or political tasks, often more political than trade unions. In fact, the priests who engage in social struggles choose almost exclusively the most politicized organizations. Within these they fight against political, ecclesiastical, family and social structures. Nothing can remain. Communism has found no agents more effective than these priests.

I was explaining one day to a Cardinal what I was doing in my seminaries, with their spirituality directed above all to the deepening of the theology of the Sacrifice of the Mass and towards liturgical prayer. He said to me, “But Monsignor, that is exactly the opposite of what our young priests now want. We now define the priest only in terms of evangelization.” I replied, “What evangelization? If it does not have a fundamental and essential relationship with the Holy Sacrifice, how do you understand it? A political evangelization, or social, or humanitarian?”

If he no longer announces Jesus Christ, the apostle becomes a militant and marxist trade unionist. That is very natural. We quite understand it. He needs a new mystique and he finds it this way; but loses that of the altar. We must not be surprised that, completely bewildered, he gets married and abandons the priesthood. In France, in 1970, 285 ordinations; in 1980, 111. And how many of them have returned or will return to civil life? Even the startling figures we have quoted do not correspond to the actual decline in numbers of the clergy. What is offered to young men and what it is said they “now desire” evidently does not satisfy their aspirations.

The proof is easy to demonstrate. There are no more vocations because they no longer know what is the Sacrifice of the Mass. In consequence, one can no longer define what the priest is. On the other hand, where the Sacrifice is known and respected as the Church has always taught, vocations are plentiful.

I have witnessed this in my own seminaries. All we do is to affirm the everlasting truths. Vocations have come to us of their own accord, without publicizing. The only advertizing has been done by the modernists. I have ordained 187 priests in thirteen years. Since 1983 the regular numbers are from 35 to 40 ordinations per year. The young men who apply to enter Ecône, Ridgefield (USA), Zaitzkofen (West Germany), Francisco Alvarez (Argentina) and Albano (Italy) are drawn by the Sacrifice of the Mass.

What an extraordinary grace for a young man to go up to the altar as the minister of Our Lord, to be another Christ! Nothing is finer or greater here on earth. It is worth the cost of leaving one’s family, of giving up having a family, or renouncing the world and accepting poverty. But if there is no longer that attraction, then I say frankly, it is not worthwhile, and that is why the seminaries are empty.

Let them continue on the lines adopted by the Church for the last 20 years, and to the question “Will there still be priests in the year 2000?” The answer must be, “No.” But if there is a return to the true notions of the Faith, there will be vocations, both for seminaries and for the religious orders.

For what is it that makes the greatness and the beauty of a priest or a nun? It is the offering up of oneself as a victim at the altar with Our Lord Jesus Christ. Otherwise the religious life is meaningless. The young men are just as generous in our times as they were in former times. They long to make an offering of themselves. It is our times that are defective.

Everything is bound up together. By attacking the base of the building it is destroyed entirely. No more Mass, no more priests. The ritual, before it was altered, had the bishop say, “Receive the power to offer to God the Holy Sacrifice and to celebrate Holy Mass both for the living and for the dead, in the name of the Lord.” He had previously blessed the hands of the ordinand by pronouncing these words “so that all that they bless may be blessed and all that they consecrate may be consecrated and sanctified.” The power conferred is expressed without ambiguity: “That for the salvation of Thy people and by their holy blessing, they may effect the Transubstantiation of the bread and the wine into the Body and Blood of thy Divine Son.”

Nowadays the bishop says, “Receive the offering of the holy people to present it to God.” He makes the new priest an intermediary rather than the holder of the ministerial priesthood and the offerer of a sacrifice. The conception is wholly different. The priest has always been considered in Holy Church as someone having a character conferred by the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Yet we have seen a bishop, not “suspended,” write, “The priest is not somebody who does things that the ordinary faithful don’t do; he is not ‘another Christ,’ any more than any other baptized person.” This bishop was merely drawing the conclusions from the teaching that has prevailed since the Council and the liturgy.

A confusion has been made with regard to the relation of the priesthood of the faithful and that of priests. Now as the cardinals said who were appointed to make their observations on the infamous Dutch catechism, “the greatness of the ministerial priesthood (that of priests) in its participation in the priesthood of Christ, differs from the common priesthood of the faithful in a manner that is not only of degree but also of essence.” To maintain the contrary, on this point alone, is to align oneself with Protestantism.

The unchanging doctrine of the Church is that the priest is invested with a sacred and indelible character. “Tu es sacerdos in aeternum.” Whatever he may do, before the angels, before God, in all eternity, he will remain a priest. Even if he throws away his cassock, wears a red pullover or any other color or commits the most awful crimes, it will not alter things. The Sacrament of Holy Orders has made a change in his nature.

We are far from the priest “chosen by the assembly to fulfill a function in the Church” and still more so from the priest for a limited period, suggested by some, at the end of which the official for worship–for I can think of no other term to describe him–would take his place again amongst the faithful.

This desacralized view of the priestly ministry leads quite naturally to querying priestly celibacy. There are noisy pressure groups calling for its abolition in spite of the repeated warnings of the Roman Magisterium. We have seen in Holland, seminarians go on strike against ordinations to obtain “guarantees” in this matter. I shall not quote the names of those bishops who have got up to urge the Holy See to reconsider the subject.

The subject would not even arise if the clergy had kept the right understanding of the Mass and of the priesthood. For the true reason appears of itself when we fully understand these two realities. It is the same reason for which Our Blessed Lady remained a virgin: having borne Our Lord within her womb it was perfectly right and fitting that she should remain so. Likewise, the priest by the words he pronounces at the Consecration, brings down God upon earth. He has such a closeness with God, a spiritual being, spirit above all, that it is right, just and eminently fitting that he also should be a virgin and remain celibate.

But, some object, there are married priests in the East. However, let us not deceive ourselves: it is only toleration. The eastern bishops may not marry, nor those holding important positions. This clergy respects priestly celibacy, which forms part of the most ancient Tradition of the Church and which the apostles had observed from the moment of Pentecost. Those who like Saint Peter were already married continued to live with their wives, but “knew” them no longer.

It is noticeable that the priests who succomb to the mirage of a so-called social or political mission almost automatically get married. The two things go together.

People would have us believe that the present times justify all sorts of licence, that it is impossible under present day conditions to live a chaste life, that the vows of virginity for religious people are an anachronism. The experience of the last twenty years shows that the attacks made on the priesthood under the pretext of adapting it to the present time are fatal to it. Yet a “Church without priests” is not to be envisaged because the Church is essentially sacerdotal.

In these sad times they want free-love for the laity and marriage for the clergy. If you perceive in this apparent illogicality an implacable logic having as its objective the ruin of Christian society, you are seeing things as they are and your assessment is correct. Source

Comment

Do you agree with Archbishop Lefebvre’s assessment of “the new priests”?  What advice would you give to any young man considering the priesthood today? 

41 responses

  1. “Nowadays the bishop says, “Receive the offering of the holy people to present it to God.” He makes the new priest an intermediary rather than the holder of the ministerial priesthood and the offerer of a sacrifice. The conception is wholly different. The priest has always been considered in Holy Church as someone having a character conferred by the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Yet we have seen a bishop, not “suspended,” write, “The priest is not somebody who does things that the ordinary faithful don’t do; he is not ‘another Christ,’ any more than any other baptized person.” This bishop was merely drawing the conclusions from the teaching that has prevailed since the Council and the liturgy. ”

    This is the nub of the problem. The priest is not that important. That’s the message coming from the Church today.

    To answer the questions at the end – yes I agree with the Archbishop’s assessment and I would not recommend any young man to enter seminary. I really wouldn’t.

      • Even in the ‘traditional’ seminary they use the right hand side column in the interpretation of Vatican Council II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Redemptorist Missio, Mystici Corporis, Quanta Cura etc. This is the irrational column.
        Priests have an option but they don’t know about it.

        LEFT HAND SIDE COLUMN or RIGHT HAND SIDE COLUMN

        All salvation referred to in Vatican Council II i.e saved in invincible ignorance (LG 16), imperfect communion with the Church (UR 3),seeds of the Word (AG 11), good and holy things in other religions (NA 2) etc are either:

        implicit or explicit for us.

        hypothetical or known in reality.

        invisible or visible in the flesh.

        dejure ( in principle) or defacto ( in fact ).

        subjective or objective

        So one can choose from the left hand side or the right hand side column.

        If the right hand side column is chosen then Vatican Council II contradicts Tradition.

        If the left hand side column is chosen then Vatican Council II does not contradict Tradition.

        Most priests interpret Vatican Council II with the right hand side values.

        Editor: if anyone can make head or tail of the above, please explain it to me in very simple English below. Thank you.

  2. Aren’t we all supposed to be priests nowadays? I’ve heard of places where the entire congregation say the words of the consecration together. I also think that having Eucharistic ministers has undermined the priesthood and diminished it’s importance in the eyes of the laity. Someone told me once that they had gone into one of the Portobello churches for confession one Saturday and was told by a lady that the Canon was ill so there were no confessions. She then added “in fact, one of the Eucharistic ministers had to say the Mass this morning.”

    • A fellow parishioner once said the same thing to me, when she [a senior citizen at the time] remarked that she preferred Father’s Mass to Mrs X’s Mass. Mrs X led the “Eucharistic service” on Father’s day off, quite the fashion then and I presume, still is in novus ordo land…

      • That is the trouble about novus ordo land. I know of a senior citizen now 80+ plus years, who participated in a lay person “Eucharistic service”, by going into the Tabernacle and then give out Communion to whatever congregation present, whilst another woman read the epistle and gospel and who knows whatever other readings.
        She called it a Mass.

        The priest who should have said a Mass had something else to do that particular evening. It is strange that they are surprised to be told that what they in fact did, was certainly no Mass.

        • I consider you and Editor’s ‘novus ordo land’ remark quite insulting. I am one of those ‘senior citizens’ you mention and I am fully aware of the difference between a ‘Eucharistic Service’ and a Mass.

          Do you and Editor ever stop to consider for one moment that many of us who attend Novus Ordo Masses, come with love and respect in our hearts and with the full intention of honouring Our Lord? Do you really believe that you and Editor and those who contribute to this blog, who attend the TLM, are exclusive in your love for Our Lord or that you are closer to Him than those of us who attend the Novus Ordo?

          • Magdalene,

            I used the term “Senior Citizen” to underline the fact one would expect someone of that generation to know the Faith and so for an elderly woman not to know the difference between a Mass and a Eucharistic service tells us something…with bells on. Facts are facts. It’s pointless to take offence when all we have done is offer the fact that there are even elderly Catholics who can’t tell the difference between a new Mass and a Communion service. If I had heard of anything similar regarding the TLM, I would have said so and denounced such ignorance forcefully. The fact is, nobody could possibly confuse a TLM with a Communion service. End of.

            As for those of you who “attend the Novus Ordo Masses with love and respect” etc. I suggest you read, carefully, and with a heart open to the grace of God, Leo’s latest lucid and thoroughly documented comment of June 13, 11.26 pm on this thread – and ask yourself if God could possibly be pleased with Bugnini’s creation, so deliberately designed to remove everything Catholic from the liturgy.

            Nobody has ever said here that only those who contribute to this blog or attend a TLM are closer to Our Lord than those who attend the Novus Ordo. We are not permitted to judge the state of any soul. But that doesn’t alter the truth about the defective nature of the new Mass. The very fact that there are Catholic laity, including Senior Citizens who should know better, who can’t tell the difference between the new Mass and a Communion service says it all.

  3. Talking about priests, I have just heard that the FSSP church in Phoenix, Arizona was the scene of a break in last night and one of the priests was murdered, this is from their Web site:

    Our church was the scene of a terrible tragedy last night following the breaking and entering by armed burglars.

    Father Kenneth Walker, FSSP, Assistant Pastor, was murdered. Requiescat in pace. He was 28 or 29. Please pray also for his family.

    Father Joseph Terra, FSSP, Pastor, was severely wounded and is hospitalized in critical condition. Please pray for his recovery and God’s mercy on him.

    I’m sure that at a time like this we can put aside our differences with the FSSP and pray for their priests.

    • Vianney,

      I read about those poor FSSP priests earlier. How shocking. Yes, of course we must pray for the repose of the soul of Father Walker and for his family, and pray, too, for the full recovery of Father Terra, the PP.

    • Yes, I prayed for those Priests earlier. May Father Walker be received by Christ and we pray for Father Terra and his loved ones for God to give them strength.
      This also reminds me to pray for all Priests who administer in difficult circumstances under the threat of violence and persecution.

  4. I well remember some years ago when our eldest son expressed an interest in the priesthood, Fr. Willie McFadden saying to him: “och, don’t worry, it’s not all about praying; we don’t worry about such things” or words to that effect. Our son was scandalised and has since said on numerous occasions: “why on earth would a young man want to be a priest? Far better to have a cuddly wife”.

    The Archbishop is spot on in his observations. All one has to do is look at the vocation crisis since the Second Vatican Council. Let him who has ears hear. Let him who has eyes see. Let him who has a modicum of intelligence see. But they won’t, will they? No, they are so disorientated that they are blind.

    An interesting comment made to me by a traditional priest regarding a modernist bishop trained before the Council i.e. in Thomistic theology/philosophy was: one can dialogue objectively with him because of his training but his successor, a spiritual man, but trained post Council, is intellectually all over the place and impossible to reason with. This is in Scotland.

    • Crofterlady,

      I’m very interested in your son’s conversation with Fr Willy McFadden, priest of the Diocese of Galloway.

      Some years ago, clergy who attended a talk he gave to the priests of the Archdiocese of Glasgow passed me a copy and it was disgraceful in the extreme. He attacked the priesthood and the Mass via communicating his his “model” of the priesthood and Church which is entirely different from the “models” which Christ established. He demolished the idea of a sacrificing priest and promoted instead the (you guessed) priest as “prophetic leader” taken out of the world, not to be “another Christ” but for service in the Church. He even used the give-away word “homophobic” at one point, in the section on priests and relationships, suggesting that for a priest to show affection to another can provoke a “homophobic” reaction, words to that effect.

      Anyway, he was, at that time, a popular choice with the Scottish bishops for the episcopate and as Vice-Rector, then Rector of Scotus seminary he was ideally placed to be promoted. His name, we were reliably informed at the time, was being submitted to Rome as a candidate every time there was a vacancy for a bishop. When our report about his talk was read in Rome our then Media Officer received a call from the Vatican asking for a copy of the entire address, which we sent. We were later informed that his chances of ever being made a bishop were now over.

      Enter Pope Francis. And again, you guessed it. Those in the know inform us that Fr McFadden is now more than likely to be raised to the office of Bishop of Galloway.

      It is, therefore, imperative that as many of us as possible write to the CDF, to express our concerns. I wrote last week and at least one other reader has written. The postal details are as follows:

      Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller.
      Prefect for The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”
      Piazza del S. Uffizio ll
      00l93 Rome Italy
      Europe

      • I’ve got friends in Galloway and they are worried that Fr McFadden could be made a bishop. I hope the letters that have gone to Rome will make a difference. We need a really sound bishop now at this stage, not a dissenter who doesn’t even know what the priesthood is about.

        • I heard the Bishop of Galloway Emeritus preach against the Ordained Priesthood at a Mass for the ordination anniversary of a priest friend. That bishop had been the rector of a seminary and the Diocese dying on its legs. He also gave preferment to an ex=

          • Sixupman,

            You’ve left us hanging on there – preferment to an “ex” what? For what? Come back – immediately if not sooner!

            • Cut off in my prime – not being on my normal computer, but mini-laptop and am not very dexterous as you are aware.

              An ex C of Scotland minister was afforded a fast-track ordination and given a deanery, he was responsible for a creating a weird arrangement in Langholm – a long table around which the congregation were seated, Catholic it was not, someone, on here, commented as it being “vey Knoxian”. He was behind the closure of the church of which my friend was PP. The congregation were then directed to a CofS (?) where the pastor was an ex-Catholic priest, although Mass, if it was such, was Celebrated by the said Dean. His undoing was that he was prosecuted for child pornography on his computer. Question, what checks were done on his background prior to his entry into the seminary?

  5. I read an “Open Letter to Confused Catholics” earlier this week in short order. You know sometimes when your reading something and its as if they have read your mind on the issue? Well that was one of those reads for me. It’s an interesting book overall. The only caution I would give is regarding the use of socialism by the Archbishop which the preface explains does not correspond to the socialism we might be used to in the British Isles but more of a radical type closer to Marxism. But I’m going off track here.
    The issue regarding a lack of vocations is an interesting one. There obviously has been a plunge in ordinations since Vatican II but I suppose there has been a steady decline before that. I wonder if the state of affairs is completely at the hands of the materialistic sexualised society we live in? By all accounts Catholicism in Africa is doing well. Could this be due to relative protection from the trappings of materialism? I don’t know. There obviously is a war against religion in general going on with the mass media giving free reign to the likes of Dawkins, Gervais etc to proselytise their atheism.
    There is no doubt that we are going through the Dark Ages in terms of Christianity in Western Society.
    I would be interested to know if anyone has up to date ordinations for France: 1970, 285 ordinations; in 1980, 111… What about 1990, 2000, 2010, Latest?

    • Thanks so that would be
      1970 – 285 ordinations
      1980 – 111
      2000 – 142
      2012 – 97

      Worrying and I suppose it isn’t unique to France

      • Stephen,

        The only seminaries in France that claim the vocations are the SSPX seminaries and those of the FSSP, Institute of Christ the King and the Institut du Bon Pasteur. There are however, certain Dioceses who have increased vocations. Paris, where Cardinal Vingt-Trois is in charge, has 70 seminarians. Vocations increased after altar girls were banned by Cardinal Lustiger and after the Traditional Mass grew in popularity. The Diocese of Frejus-Toulon has 76 seminarians. The Bishop, Dominique Rey, in deeply traditional and says Mass/ ordains Priests in the Traditional Rite. Indeed, Cardinal Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon follows a similar pattern.

        In Belgium vocations have increased substantially. In 2010, there were only 62 seminarians. Since the extremely conservative Archbishop Leonard took over in Brussels, the number is 102. He celebrates the TLM regularly.

        Do you see a pattern here, dear Stephen?

        In England there are 185 seminarians, 42 ordinations last year (an increase of 22 since 2010, and 44 entrants to the seminary this year. These have all increased since Summorum Pontificum.

  6. Perhaps a little off topic, but one thing that concerns me is the seminary applications process currently in place in Scotland. Candidates must undergo this year long ‘applicants year’, and undergo a psychological test.

    I know, personally, that for me, the psychological test would present considerable anxiety. I suspect this is the case for a lot of candidates. Therefore, this constitutes a stumbling block, an unnecessary and modern feature of the selection process that will put many men of their vocation. I don’t think I would want to go through it. If I made this a condition, is it likely I would be admitted to a seminary, if I outright refused to undergo the test? I don’t think I would be admitted. I would not appreciate being interrogated by some modernist nun (various questions concern sex, I don’t know if would be able to resist telling the person doing the test where to go, if you follow my meaning?) If she got a sense of my traditionalism, my personal psychological history would probably be used against me. That is my suspicion anyway, I am not sure if I am being paranoid. I will never know, because I will never apply for a diocesan seminary anyway.

    I don’t know who does the test in Scotland, but various English Catholics are done by the infamous Saint Luke’s centre, a thoroughly illegitimate and discredited institution. I couldn’t cope going in there starting out normal, then being assessed by a modernist lesbian psychologist nun (hypothetically), and leaving having been labelled with having latent psycho-sexual problems all because I refused to answer the question “did you ever see your mother naked?” (I heard someone was asked this question, but I can’t corroborate it)

    I don’t see why my medical or psychological history is any of the Church’s business. Actually, it’s not. Who will know about it, will the rector and the diocesan vocation director have a record of my past? That’s creepy. I spoke to one SSPX priest about it and his view was that this was “incestuous”. This was the actual word he used.

    These psychological tests are completely bogus anyway. I know of one normal, spiritually and doctrinally solid young man, who was assessed by a nun. He failed it. Anyway, he and his family appealed it and he was eventually admitted to a diocesan seminary in the US. I also know of another young man, who is manifestly and gravely psychologically unsound, but somehow he has gotten through the system. A disaster waiting to happen.

    This annoys me. Since there is a vocations crisis, and since the priesthood has been/ is full of so many noncey weirdos, can the Church really be so fussy? They’re taking liberties.

    I spoke to an SSPX priest about how one would go about apply for a society seminary. I was astounded by the simplicity of it. No tests, no hurdles, no nonsense. If a candidate is unsuitable, surly the rector would judge this while the seminarian was actually there. This was always the common practice in days gone by. It served well then.

    • Miles
      Wasn’t it Pope Saint Pius X who said that seminaries should be on their guard and show the door to any candidate showing symptoms of modernism?
      How Satan has infiltrated the camp to bring about the opposite!

    • I too doubt that I would make it past the psychological examination. If I was presented with such questioning as you articulate, I would tell them to..er…get..stuffed. Anyways, as soon as you voiced your support for the TLM, admiration for St Pius X and devotion to Fatima/ The Rosary, you’d be diagnosed as having a type of schizophrenia, I’m sure of it.

      Just out of interest, are you thinking of entering the SSPX seminary? I would never recommend a young man to any English seminary. End of. If my son (if I had one) said he wanted to be a Priest, I’d be straight on the blower to Econe. I mean, the seminary at Allen Hall has a Neocatechumenal Way apostolate there. Thanks, but no thanks.

  7. Given Archbishop Lefebvre’s discussion of a new rite ordination in France, does that mean that particular ordination was invalid, or seriously deficient?

    • Catholic Convert1,

      No, the ordination was valid. It wasn’t the young man’s fault. Archbishop Lefebvre calls him a “victim” as he wrote this (taken from the above chapter on The New Priests)

      “One thing is certain; the first victim of this scandalous ordination is the young man who had just pledged himself for ever without exactly knowing to what, or thinking that he knows. How can he not fail, sooner or later, to ask himself certain questions? Because the ideal that has been proposed to him cannot satisfy him for long; the ambiguity of his mission will become evident. The priest is essentially a man of faith. If he no longer knows what he is, he loses faith in himself, and in his priesthood.”

      The laying on of hands took place, as the Archbishop said, and even if the intention of the bishop doing the ordination is not clear, the new priest is being ordained in good faith. Like us when we go to confession and presume that the priest is giving us absolution, he has presented himself for ordination assuming the bishop knows what he’s doing. Anyway,it’s not up to any lay person to decide if someone is validly ordained or not. If the approved rite was used, that’s it.

  8. As I was reading through the article at the top I was thinking, “Wow! This is the real deal. Who wrote this?” Shouldda known!

    It’s certainly not my place to be giving spiritual instruction to priests but I can’t help wondering if priests today ever hear such words as the following, from Archbishop Lefebvre, a future saint, whose immense work in preserving and passing on the sacred priesthood will one day be duly honoured.

    Speaking as a very ordinary and unqualified layman, they strike me as a superb expression of the essence of the sacred, ordained priesthood. How great would be the benefit to the Church and souls if they were heard throughout the Catholic world instead of all the crowd pleasing or defeatist talk about lay ministries and permanent deacons.

    “This marvellous plan designed by the Eternal Wisdom of God could not have been realized without the priesthood…The influence of priestly grace is the influence of the Cross. The priest is thus at the heart of the renewal merited by Our Lord. His influence is decisive on souls and on society. A priest enlightened by his faith and filled with the virtues and the Gifts of the Holy Ghost can convert numerous souls to Jesus Christ, raise vocations, and transform pagan society into Christian society.” – Reflections on the Priesthood, in Le Courrier de Rome, no. 11 January 1981.

    “The Church is truly priestly. Our Lord is essentially a priest, and the priesthood is there essentially to realize and continue the work of Calvary, carrying it on by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It cannot but be the most essential aspect of our holy religion and of the life of the Church.” – Ordination retreat, Montalenghe 1989

    “There is no apostolate without contemplation. Contemplation is not necessarily for the cloister. It is the Christian life: a life of Faith and the realities of our Faith. The great reality to contemplate is the Holy Mass. This is what must characterise the members of the Society: contemplating Our Lord on the Cross and seeing there the summit of God’s love, a love even unto supreme sacrifice. That is what Our Lord is! This is what the Church contemplates primarily…
    “And by this we will be missionaries: by the desire to pour out the blood of Our Lord on souls. This is the Mysterium fidei to contemplate and to work for, the priestly mission par excellence. And the faithful gather around us because of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and for nothing else. One cannot be attached to the cross of Our Lord without being a missionary…” – Spiritual Conference at Econe, December 3, 1982

    • Leo

      Yes, I had the same initial reaction, thinking to myself, I know this! Of course having just read the whole book earlier in the week I twigged, though of course the source is at the bottom of the text.

      What is really interesting is that I was concurrently reading Cardinal Walter Kasper’s ‘Mercy’

      My review on amazon is here

      http://www.amazon.com/review/R2PPOV6FT163U1/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00J8TVIVE

      I weep to think how influential Kasper is. I don’t expect my amazon review will be popular but nonetheless…..

  9. Without any doubt the crisis of the priesthood is at the centre of the crisis in the Church. I think we would all do well to constantly recall the immense Christian fortitude and tireless apostolic work of Archbishop Lefebvre. At an age when most people have retired, he abandoned his life to Divine Providence, for the defense of Tradition, and the formation of holy Catholic priests.

    Late in his life, in his Spiritual Journey, the Archbishop revealed to the priests and seminarians of the Society his vision of the future the “Dream of Dakar”,that had inspired his actions:

    “…The dream was to transmit, before the progressive degradation of the priestly ideal, in all of its doctrinal purity and in all of its missionary charity, the Catholic Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, just as He conferred it on His Apostles, just as the Roman Church always transmitted it until the middle of the twentieth century.
    “How should I carry out that which appeared then to me as the sole solution to revive the Church and Christianity? It was still a dream, but there appeared to me already the need, not only to confer the authentic priesthood, to teach not only sana doctrina approved by the Church, but also to transmit the profound and unchanging spirit of the Catholic priesthood and of the Christian spirit essentially bound to the great prayer of Our Lord which his Sacrifice on the Cross expresses eternally.” – Spiritual Journey, iii

    The Society was placed under the patronage of Saint Pius X precisely because of that holy Pope’s concern for the integrity of the priesthood and the sanctity that flows from it (see p.436 of Bishop Tissier de Mallerais’s biography of the Archbishop).

    The great Pope expressed his understanding and appreciation of the irreplaceable role of the ordained priesthood in his 1903 Encyclical E Supremi:

    “Hence although all are included in the exhortation “to advance towards the perfect man, in the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ” (Ephes. iv., 3), it is addressed before all others to those who exercise the sacerdotal ministry; thus these are called another Christ, not merely by the communication of power but by reason of the imitation of His works, and they should therefore bear stamped upon themselves the image of Christ.
    “This being so, Venerable Brethren, of what nature and magnitude is the care that must be taken by you in forming the clergy to holiness! All other tasks must yield to this one. Wherefore the chief part of your diligence will be directed to governing and ordering your seminaries aright so that they may flourish equally in the soundness of their teaching and in the spotlessness of their morals. Regard your seminary as the delight of your hearts, and neglect on its behalf none of those provisions which the Council of Trent has with admirable forethought prescribed.”

    Any Bishop seriously concerned about ending the unprecedented crisis in the Church would be well advised to have a framed copy of those words facing their desk.

    I think everyone here knows what took place twenty six years ago, on June 30 1988, at Econe. I’ve posted previously that on the same day that Archbishop Lefebvre, in his own words, “handed on what I have received”, in order to continue the work of traditional priestly formation, an 18 page document was published in Rome which, whatever the intent behind it and the justifications given, could not but help to undermine the sacred Catholic priesthood. The document allowed bishops to develop programs whereby deacons or appointed lay people would lead Sunday prayer services.

    http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/Archbishop-Lefebvre/Archbishop_Lefebvre_and_the_Vatican/Part_II/1988-06-30.htm

    Yes twenty six years ago, while Archbishop Lefebvre was trying to provide pastors and the means of salvation for Catholic souls, Rome was providing for the absence of priests.

    This “New Springtime” is turning out to be something else.

  10. Leo,

    Thanks for that. The “New Springtime” sure is turning out to be something else. Deepest winter springs to mind.

    I’ve just been reading the latest interview with Pope Francis – here’s how this “top priest” would like to be remembered:

    Q How would you like to be remembered in history?

    A I have not thought about it, but I like it when someone remembers someone and says: “He was a good guy, he did what he could. He wasn’t so bad.” I’m OK with that. END. Very inspiring, NOT!

    He also states that “all three religions” (Judaism, Islam and Catholicism) have fundamentalists. Unfortunately, the journalist didn’t ask him to explain who were the Catholic “fundamentalists”. So much loose talk, very little specifics. Pope Francis’s statements always beg more questions than the answers he (fails to) provide.

    Anyway, to read the interview in full click here… And ask yourself who is more likely to inspire a young man considering the priesthood today – Pope Francis in his above interview or Archbishop Lefebvre as he expresses his thoughts about priesthood in the blog introduction. As far as I can see, it’s a no brainer. Pope Francis, eat your heart out!

    • Editor
      I would rather be remembered something along the lines of…”oh aye, grumpy auld goat, but always stuck to the truth, never compromised on integrity, always supported his family and friends. Auld goat though.”
      By the way, I’m not an auld goat. Just saying… 😉

      • Stephen,

        Me too. Er.. would rather be remembered as an “auld goat” (grumpy? Moi?) who stuck to the truth than someone as nondescript as the person described by Pope Francis.

        Read your excellent review on Amazon. Thanks for posting the link. I hate false humility anyway 😀 😀

  11. Some great comments here.

    Leo,if you are just an “ordinary” layman, then I’ll just have to shoot myself!

    Stephen, a great review on Amazon! Are you really an auld goat! I think that honour belongs to oor editor…..

  12. This thread is a very appropriate opportunity to consider the great work of priestly formation carried out by truly outstanding pastors such as Pope Saint Pius X, and Archbishop Lefebvre.

    The first six years of the Pope Saint Pius X’s pontificate were spent chiefly in work which concerned the priesthood and sacerdotal institutions. “Quality control” was made a priority and seminaries not up to scratch were suppressed. Bishops were exhorted to further proper selection and training by all means in their power.

    “In order that Christ may be formed in the faithful”, the sainted Pope wrote in his first encyclical, “He must first be formed in the priest.”

    “Such an example, will have far more power to move hearts and to gain them than words or dissertations, however sublime.”

    “The priest is the representative of Christ on earth,” he told students of the French College in Rome; “he must think the thoughts of Christ and speak His words. He must be tender as Christ was tender, pure and holy like his Lord; he must shine like a star in the world.”

    “A holy priest makes holy people,” he said on another occasion; “a priest who is not holy is not only useless but harmful to the world.”

    This magnificent pastor’s Exhortation to the Clergy, published on August 4 1908 set before the clergy of the world the model of the perfect parish priest. It fervently called on the clergy to be “the salt of the earth and light of the world.”

    Here’s the link.

    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius10/p10haer.htm

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