Bishop Huonder of the Diocese of Chur (Switzerland) has announced he will spent his retirement with the SSPX. He is 76 and has wished to retire for a while, Pope Francis having already rejected his resignation in 2017. I don’t know a lot about him, beyond the fact he seems quite solid and has previously been “in the wars” with the LGBT and secular movements.
Presumably he will still be able to carry out the functions of a Prelate and so this could be a real boon for the SSPX. Rorate reports that Pope Francis is “well informed” about the Bishop’s choice and personally approves of it.
Clearly, those who have spread the falsehood that the SSPX is in schism, are plain wrong – have been all along, of course, but it must be crystal clear, even to the slowest of “liberal” minds, that Pope Francis (of ALL popes!) is hardly likely to approve one of his bishops spending his retirement with a “schismatic” Society of traditional priests and bishops. There’s a limit to embracing “equality”, “diversity” and “tolerance”. It seems as good a time as ever, then, to reflect on the closing chapter of Archbishop Lefebvre’s Open Letter to Confused Catholics, written just twenty years after the dramatic changes in the Church, in the years following the Second Vatican Council.
Archbishop Lefebvre writes: Building Up Versus Pulling Down (from Open Letter to Confused Catholics)
Twenty years have gone by and one would have thought that the reactions raised by the Council reforms would have calmed down, that the Catholic people would have buried the religion in which they had been brought up, that the younger ones, not having known it, would have accepted the new one. That, at least, was the wager made by the Modernists. They were not unduly disturbed by the uproar, sure of themselves as they were in the early days. They were less so later on. The frequent and necessary concessions made to the spirit of the world did not produce the expected results. Nobody any longer wanted to be a priest of the new religion and the faithful turned away from their religious practice. The Church which tried to become a Church of the poor became a poor Church, obliged to resort to advertising to collect Peter’s Pence, and to sell off its properties.
During this time those faithful to Tradition drew together in all the Christian lands, and particularly in France, Switzerland, the United States and Latin America.
The fabricator of the new Mass, Mgr. Annibale Bugnini was himself obliged to recognize this world-wide resistance in his posthumous book,21 a resistance which is growing and organizing itself unceasingly and drawing support. No, the “traditionalist” movement is not “slowing-down” as the progressivist journalists write from time to time to reassure themselves. Where else are there as many people at Mass as at St. Nicholas-du-Chardonnet, and also as many Masses, as many Benedicitons of the Blessed Sacrament or as many beautiful ceremonies? The Society of Saint Pius X throughout the world owns seventy houses,22 each with at least one priest, churches like the one in Brussels and the one we have quite recently bought in London, or the one placed at our disposal in Marseilles; also schools, and four seminaries.
Carmelite convents are opening and already forming new communities. Religious communities of men and of women created fifteen or more years ago, who strictly apply the rule of the Orders from which they stem, are overflowing with vocations, and are continuously having to enlarge their premises and construct more buildings. The generosity of the Catholic faithful never ceases to amaze me, particularly in France.
The monasteries are centers of attraction, crowds of people go there often from far away; young people bewildered by the illusory seductions of pleasures and escape in every form, find in them their Road to Damascus. Here is a list of places where they have kept the true Catholic faith and for that reason draw people: Le Barroux, Flavigny-sur Ozerain, La Haye-aux-Bonshommes, the Benedictines of Alés, the Sisters of Fanjeaux, of Brignolles, of Pontcallec, and communities like that of Father Lecareux…
Travelling a great deal, I see everywhere at work the hand of Christ blessing His Church. In Mexico the ordinary people drove from the churches the reforming clergy who, won over by the so-called liberation theology, wanted to throw out the statues of the saints. “It’s not the statues who are going, it’s you.” Political circumstances have prevented us from opening a priory in Mexico; so faithful priests travel out from a center at El Paso near the frontier in the United States. The descendants of the Cristeros welcome them warmly and offer them their churches. I have administered 2500 confirmations there at the request of the people.
In the United States, young married couples with their numerous children flock to the Society’s priests. In 1982 in that country I ordained the first three priests trained entirely in our seminaries. Groups of traditionalists are on the increase whereas the parishes are declining. Ireland, which has remained refractory towards the novelties, has been subject to the reforms since 1980, altars having been cast into rivers or re-used as building material. Simultaneously, traditionalist groups have formed in Dublin and Belfast. In Brazil, in the diocese of Campos of which I have already spoken, the people have rallied around the priests evicted from their parishes by the new bishop, with processions of 5,000 and 10,000 people taking to the streets.
It is therefore the right road we are following; the proof is there, we recognize the tree by its fruits. What the clergy and the laity have achieved in spite of persecution by the liberal clergy (for, as Louis Veuillot says, “There is nobody more sectarian than a liberal.”) is almost miraculous. Do not let yourself be taken in, dear reader, by the term “traditionalist” which they would have people understand in a bad sense. In a way, it is a pleonasm because I cannot see who can be a Catholic without being a traditionalist. I think I have amply demonstrated in this book that the Church is a tradition. We are a tradition. They also speak of “integrism.” If by that we mean respect for the integrality of dogma, of the catechism, of Christian morality, of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, then yes, we are integrists. And I do not see how one can be a Catholic without being an integrist in that sense of the word.
It has also been said that after me, my work will disappear because there will be no bishop to replace me. I am certain of the contrary; I have no worries on that account. I may die tomorrow, but the good Lord answers all problems. Enough bishops will be found in the world to ordain our seminarians: this I know.
Even if at the moment he is keeping quiet, one or another of these bishops will receive from the Holy Ghost the courage needed to arise in his turn. If my work is of God, He will guard it and use it for the good of the Church. Our Lord has promised us, the gates of Hell shall not prevail against her.
This is why I persist, and if you wish to know the real reason for my persistence, it is this: At the hour of my death, when Our Lord asks me, “What have you done with your episcopate, what have you done with your episcopal and priestly grace?” I do not want to hear from His lips the terrible words, “You have helped to destroy the Church along with the rest of them.” [Emphasis added]
21 La Riforma Liturgica: Edizioni Liturgiche Rome.
22 At present, in the year 2000, there are 135 priories, 6 seminaries, 75 schools, 3 universities, 3 nursing homes, 4 retreat houses, 4 bishops and 401 priests–ed.
I don’t think there can be any doubt in the minds of those who have lived through the years since Vatican II that the SSPX has, indeed, built up (and continues to build up) the Church at this time of crisis. Thus, it is heartening to read this news of the Swiss diocesan bishop who has chosen to spend his retirement years in the Society. Will other bishops follow the example of Bishop Huonder?
It seems very clear that the Pope is trying to regularise the SSPX in a variety of ways – is there a local bishop in your neck of the woods who may assist this process? Why don’t the local bishops invite the Society priests to (“Mass-less”) diocesan events, for example? Would the Society priests accept? Is there, in your opinion, scope for a sort of informal regularisation within dioceses to help normalise the SSPX situation?