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The Leader is Always Right! Fellay, Il Duce, and the SSPX Deal

The Leader: Always right!

IN THE FACE of what looks more and more to be an impending deal between SSPX and the Vatican, observation of an English traditionalist on the Ignis Ardens forum speaks volumes about the mentality of the rank-and-file SSPX priest:

In London today (May 6, 2012), the priest from the pulpit expressed very frankly how dismayed and “disappointed” he was that the position of the SSPX has been changed without any of its priests being informed. From another large English Mass centre I hear the priest there addressed the issue similarly.

For them, the key question for resolving any controversy is not “What does CATHOLIC THEOLOGY teach?,” but “What is THE POSITION OF THE SOCIETY?”



Generations of SSPX priests have been imbued with this mentality, and indeed, it was one of the main bones of contention in our own conflict with Abp. Lefebvre in 1983. On any given topic, at any given moment, SSPX priests were always supposed to adhere to and to preach the “position of the Society” — no matter how much it contradicted the principles of logic and Catholic theology, and no matter whether it directly contradicted an EARLIER “position of the Society” or Abp. Lefebvre.

The then-Father Donald Sanborn, former SSPX U.S. seminary rector, wrote two excellent articles about this, “The Crux of the Matter” (1984) and “Mountains of Gelboë” (1994).

His central insight: While among SSPX priests there have always been hardliners and soft-liners on the question of “Rome,” the only TRUE SSPX priest-members are those who do not THINK. They let +Lefebvre and now +Fellay do the thinking for them.

The then-Fr. Williamson was a perfect example of this mentality. During the ’83 controversy, he supported Abp. Lefebvre’s position (then!) that the new rite of priestly ordination was VALID. But the next year Fr. Williamson wrote that if the Archbishop changed his mind one day and said the rite was INVALID, then he would then be obliged to say it was invalid as well!

“il Duce ha sempre ragione!” Mussolini’s party members said: The leader is always right!


Founder: Always right too!


Another personal anecdote will illustrate the point.

The big SSPX controversy of ’88 was whether Abp. Lefebvre would sign an accord with the Vatican to obtain recognition, or whether he would consecrate bishops and incur excommunication. Just like today, contradictory reports constantly flew back and forth, speculations by the laity abounded, and Abp. Lefebvre issued a stream of statements espousing directly contradictory positions. You never knew WHAT was going to happen.

In October 1988, after the consecrations, Fr. Dolan and I were visiting London and invited our former Econe classmate, then the SSPX UK District Superior, to dine with us at the Goring, near Victoria Station.

Talk turned to the consecrations. He volunteered that after a long period of gearing up people for the May 5, 1988 Lefebvre-Ratzinger accord, he didn’t know WHAT to think when Lefebvre renounced it the next day. Nor did he know WHAT to think during the next few weeks when there was much going back and forth over whether the consecrations would proceed.

But once he received word that the consecrations would actually proceed in June, he was absolutely fine with that, too, even though he had been promoting the accord only a few weeks before. He then knew what to think!

(Since he was a Scot, I will note that there was at least ONE matter he wanted settled in advance: Who was paying for the meal. Looking at the menu after Fr. Dolan had ordered the snails, he inquired, “Now you DID invite ME, didn’t you?”)


Him too!


A raft of statements from higher SSPX functionaries like Frs. Schmidberger, Rostand, Walliez, Simoulin and Pfluger have been aimed at propagandizing the laity to accept SSPX’s full integration into the Conciliar Church.

If the reaction on the internet forums is any indication, however, many lay SSPX followers are not buying the deal SSPX is selling. Fr. Pfluger’s comments in particular have been regarded as an insult to the laity’s intelligence.

Some laymen who are upset over the current SSPX party line think, or perhaps even hope, that, in the event of a deal, a large percentage of the lower SSPX clergy will see it as a sell-out, and promptly bail out.

For the foregoing reasons, I don’t see this happening. You survive in SSPX if you follow the party line wherever it may lead, and wherever it may have been the day before. Such is not the mentality of those who would lead a “new traditionalist resistance,” this time against SSPX.

So most SSPX priests, after an initial period of not knowing exactly WHAT to think, will, like my Scottish classmate, go along with whatever decision the SSPX Superior General imposes because, as current Prophet, Seer and Revelator of Menzingen, he alone can discern whatever would have been “the REAL attitude of Monsigneur Lefebvre” in this situation.

But how, the laity may ask, can SSPX possibly justify full integration and absorption into what +Lefebvre called the “Conciliar Church”? Isn’t there some principle at work here?

Yes, there is, and any SSPX member must follow it: “Il Duce sempre ha ragione!” Our leader is always right!