What is the Society of St. Pius X?
Society of St. Pius X is a priestly fraternity, founded by
His Grace Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre consisting of well over
300 priests and 100 brothers and nuns worldwide. The Society
ministers to souls in over 600 chapels and churches in over
twenty-five countries including: Australia, Belgium, Canada,
France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Ireland, Italy, Sri-Lanka,
Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. Recently, there
has been strong expansion into central and eastern Europe,
with particular success in Poland. The Society also has a
strong presence in South America, the Philippines and Japan.
was Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and what were his qualifications
for founding a priestly congregation?
Lefebvre was born (November 1905) in France into a firmly
Catholic family (five of the eight children would become priests
or nuns). He was ordained a priest in 1929. In 1932, he entered
the Holy Ghost Fathers, one of the largest missionary congregations
in the world, and became a missionary in Gabon, Africa. In
1947, he was consecrated a bishop and was appointed as Apostolic
Vicar of Dakar, Senegal. From 1948-1959, Bishop Lefebvre was
the Apostolic Delegate of Pius XII for 18 African countries.
In 1955, he was made the first archbishop of Dakar. In 1962,
His Grace returned to France to be the Bishop of Tulle. The
same year he was elected as the Superior General of the Holy
Ghost Fathers. He filled this position until 1968, at which
point he resigned rather than assist in the changes that his
Congregation would force him to implement. In 1969, Archbishop
Lefebvre founded the Society of Saint Pius X and acted as
its Superior General for the following twelve years. His Grace
ensured that the Society would be able to continue without
him by consecrating four bishops in 1988. Archbishop Marcel
Lefebvre died three years later on March 25, the Feast of
the Society an authentically Catholic Organization?
definitely, from both a legal and doctrinal point of view.
Archbishop Lefebvre founded the Society in strict conformity
with Canon Law on Nov. 1st, 1970. Legally, the Society of
St Pius X erected according to canonical norms under Bishop
Charrière, bishop of Lausanne, Geneva, and Fribourg.
Doctrinally, the Society rests on the foundation of Catholic
Tradition unblemished by neo-modernist errors. Founded as
a refuge from the torrent of errors propagated by liberals
at the Second Vatican Council, the Society is one of the few
havens left for those seeking the Catholic Faith in all its
is the main purpose of the Society?
Lefebvre founded the Society in light of a twofold purpose:
the preservation of the Priesthood and Tradition, and the
sanctification of souls. "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 those terrible words, ‘You
have helped to destroy the Church along with the rest of them'"
(Open Letter to Confused Catholics. p.163).
Does the Church hierarchy in Rome
and in the dioceses throughout the world support the Society?
On the contrary, the Conciliar Church has strongly resisted
the apostolate of the Society. This resistance is due to the
neo-Modernism that permeates the Church hierarchy and which
is radically opposed to Tradition. This opposition is all
the more striking when one contrasts it to the all-embracing
ecumenical spirit that governs church policy today. How can
a Pope who kisses the Koran, and bishops who share their churches
with heretics, be so obstinately opposed to an organization
that merely preserves Tradition? Sadly, it is not too extreme
to state that there are some in the hierarchy who are not
only indifferent to the Faith, but who actively seek to destroy
Why does this same hierarchy persecute
persecution is carried on because the Society dares to speak
out on the issues that the hierarchy would like to keep buried
- namely: the humanistic orientations and false principles
of the Second Vatican Council, condemned by previous popes;
the unprecedented Apostasy following in the Council’s wake;
the abandonment of the Traditional Rites of the Sacraments;
the serious flaws and ambiguities in the Novus Ordo Missae;
and the unbridled false ecumenism practiced in the Church
today. The Society's critique of the innovations of the Second
Vatican Council cannot help but disturb the hierarchy which
is bent on continuing its "reforms". As Archbishop Lefebvre
wrote in 1974: "The Council was nothing other than an
attempt to assimilate to the Church the principles of liberalism,
an attempt to unite the Church to liberal principles" (Liberalism
What are the main methods used by the hierarchy to persecute
hierarchy resorts to an assortment of weapons with which to
beat the Society. Excommunication, schism, unlawful and invalid
Sacraments, and suspension a divinis of priests are
only some of the accusations used to intimidate and frighten
people away from receiving the Traditional Sacraments. Such
persecutions ought neither to surprise nor discourage the
faithful since the Church has survived such persecutions before.
Saint Pius X himself, at the beginning of the last century,
warned good Catholics what they may expect: "... we need not
be surprised that the modernists pursue those Catholics who
fight energetically for the Church, with all their malice
and harshness. There is no limit to the insults they will
heap on them" (Pascendi).
Are the members of the Society excommunicated?
the Society is not excommunicated. A brief history of the
events surrounding the Consecrations of 1988 are in order,
since it is from here that these rumors of excommunication
29,1987 Due to failing health and with no other way
of ensuring the continuation of a traditionally Catholic priesthood,
Archbishop Lefebvre announces that he will consecrate bishops,
even if the Pope does not grant his approval.
17, 1988 Cardinal Bernard Gantin, Prefect of the Congregation
for Bishops, officially warns the Archbishop that if he consecrates
bishops, without first having received a pontifical mandate,
then both he and the bishops consecrated would be excommunicated
automatically in virtue of canon 1382 (1983 Code of Canon
30, 1988 Archbishop Lefebvre, together with Bishop
de Castro Mayer, consecrates four bishops.
1, 1988 Cardinal Gantin states that the threatened
excommunication has been incurred. He adds that the consecrations
were a schismatic act and threatens excommunication of anyone
who supports them.
2, 1988 Pope John Paul II reiterates Cardinal Gantin`s
accusation of schism and threatens general excommunications
of its adherents.
these accusations, the Archbishop, and consequently his followers,
did not and do not incur the penalty of excommunication.
a person violates a law out of necessity, even
in fact there is no true state of necessity, he is not subject
to penalty according to the following conditions(canon 1323,
If one inculpably thought there was one, he would not incur
any penalty (canon 1324, 7°),
Even if one culpably thought there was one, he would still
not incur any automatic penalties (canon 1324, §3; §1,8°),
such as those threatened by Cardinal Gantin.
No action incurs a penalty unless it is knowingly and willfully
a mortal sin (canons 1321, §1, 1323 7°). The Archbishop made
it manifest that he was bound in conscience to preserve the
traditional priesthood, which would be impossible if there
were no one to succeed him (He died less than three years
after the consecrations). Even if he had been wrong, there
was no subjective sin on his part and therefore no penalty.
Ecclesiastical law is subordinate to divine law just as positive
law is subordinate to the eternal law. The Pope or the Roman
Curia have no more authority to demand that a bishop compromise
his Faith than a father has to demand a sinful act from his
child. Since `the way one prays is the way one believes’ (lex
orandi, lex credendi), changing the Mass and the Sacraments
can only result in a change of belief. An angel from heaven
would not have the power to oblige the Archbishop to act contrary
to the unchanging Faith (cf Gal I:8); on the contrary, as
a pastor of souls, he was under grave obligation to defend
it. It should be noted that in correspondence between Archbishop
Lefebvre and the Vatican, the Archbishop continually emphasized
the theological reasons that were motivating his actions.
The Vatican, in turn, systematically ignored these arguments
and instead demanded blind obedience.
In disobeying the Pope, did not the
Archbishop and his Society by that very fact become schismatic?
at all. Schism denotes the refusal to recognize the Pope’s
authority. But disobedience of a command does not mean that
the authority of the one commanding is being denied. A simple
example is that of a disobedient child. Although the child
refuses to obey his parents, he is not denying that they are
bishops without pontifical mandate would only have been a
schismatic act, if, along with the full priestly powers of
Holy Orders, the Archbishop had pretended to confer the power
of jurisdiction, namely, the governing power over a particular
regards the standing of those faithful who attend the Mass
and receive the Sacraments confected by Society priests, we
refer them to a case in Hawaii in 1991. On May 1, Bishop Ferrario
‘excommunicated’ some faithful in his diocese for attending
the Mass of a Society priest and receiving confirmation from
a Society bishop. This decision was overturned by Cardinal
Ratzinger, Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the examination of the case "…it did not result that
the fact as referred to in the above-mentioned decree, are
formal schismatic acts in the strict sense, as they do not
constitute the offense of schism; and therfore the Congregation
holds that the Decree of May 1, 1991, lacks foundation and
hence validity" (June 28, 1993).
Then is the Society still a fully
Catholic congregation in good standing with Rome?
if one is referring to the Apostolic and Eternal Rome. Certainly
not, if one is only referring to a temporal city plagued with
Neo-modernists who care nothing for the Faith.
Will the Society be once again recognized
by Rome as a legitimate institution?
events to come are known only to God, but we may have strong
hope that history will vindicate the Society and her founder
as she has vindicated so many other of her true friends over
the centuries. The late Fr. Malachi Martin wrote: " In the
spiritual reality of the Church, neither Marcel Lefebvre,
nor his bishops and priests, nor the people who frequent the
SSPX chapels suffered, or suffer excommunication. History
will record that the attempt to impose such an excommunication
was invalid and illicit". This is just one example of innumerable
church experts who firmly supported the Society and have not
been "excommunicated", censured, or punished because of it.
What is to be done in the meantime?
it Tradition? Ask no more." This is the admonition of the
great Church Father, St.John Chrysostom. With these words
to inspire us, we must do precisely that; and by so doing
we will avoid the twin errors of our times: Sede-vacantism
and Neo-modernism. By holding firm to Tradition, the Society
will act as a refuge for all who are looking for the Truth,
pure and unadulterated, and who can find no comfort in the
chaos of the Conciliar and post-Conciliar reforms. "Consequently,
we must be very prudent and fight to the death, if need be,
in order to deliver the Church from these enemies who are
within... we must especially preserve Tradition...we must
re-establish Christianity" ( p.17 Archbishop Lefebvre Liberalism).