A Charitable Response to Fr. Simoulin 

Greetings Fr. Simoulin- 

I was distressed to have come across your article, “Avoiding a False Spirit of Resistance” recently posted on the website, insofar as it reads like a condemnation and indictment of the SSPX mission and apostolate for the last 25+ years. 

Several disturbing themes emerge in this reconciliationist apologetic, and I wanted to comment on some of them, in the hopes that perhaps I have misunderstood your arguments, and invite you to respond if such is the case. 

First is your suggestion that, if perhaps Rome is ultimately responsible for the wreckage in the Church today, nevertheless this damage is not intentional, and we should not therefore accuse Rome of wanting to destroy the Church. While you and I could cite many of the Fathers of Vatican II in their own words as intending to do precisely that (e.g., “we must raze the bastions;” etc), the issue is essentially moot, insofar as the intention of the Romans is irrelevant to the grave general/public spiritual necessity in which their teachings and acts are placing the faithful. What matters most is not what Rome intends. What matters is what the consequences of their acts are to the integrity of the Faith, and the souls of the faithful. Surely you would not dispute this? 

Second is your contention that it is not realistic to wait for Rome’s conversion, as this might not happen for many generations. Forgive me if I observe suggestions of despair, naturalist thinking, and scruples implicit in such a contrived concern. Despair, because to raise timeframes as an issue for regularization seems to imply that justified resistance to Roman (and worldwide) modernism is only legitimate for a certain and unspecified window of time, and you worry that such time is passing; the implicit thought being that a resolution to the “modernism versus Catholicism” conflict must for some unstated reasons transpire within our lifetimes. What is your source for this concern? Where do you find this idea in any of the manuals of moral theology and treatises on the doctrine of necessity? Resistance must persist so long as necessity remains! And from this despair of seeing the resolution to these problems in our lifetimes, you (along with the General Counsel in Menzingen) pass quickly to human prudence and solutions for a practical accord along naturalist lines; you push the pace ahead of providence, which only 2 years ago rebuked the last effort to submit to Rome. 

And I mention the issue of scruples, because you seem to fear the development of a schismatic and sedevacantist spirit, should our “recognize and resist” position continue much longer. In discussing this point, you write very much from the perspective of the Ecclesia Dei communities; you use the very arguments they for so many years used against us. But perhaps it is I who should become scrupulous, since if today you are implicitly admitting they were right (i.e., by using their arguments against the position advocated by the SSPX for the last 25 years), it means that yesterday the SSPX was wrong. The inevitable logic of your line of argumentation heavily implies that conclusion. And in that case, the SSPX would be guilty of a monstrous self-serving deception of the faithful. Is that really the argument you want to make? 

Thirdly, is the troubling equivocation so prevalent in this article: On the one hand, you assert we cannot go the way of the Ecclesia Dei communities, but on the other hand, you assert that “the only thing we can hope for is the freedom to discuss Vatican II” (i.e., the same deal given to the Institute of the Good Shepherd, which was later predictably revoked). You appear to have embraced the writing style of the modernists (which is not to accuse you of being a modernist), who love to include phrases which appear to hold the line, only to negate them in the next sentence with a contradictory proposition. 

How is it that you would go to Rome as a beggar, not a chooser? Surely, your duty to keep the faith (a theological virtue) trumps your duty to obedience (a merely moral virtue) when the two are in (apparent) conflict? What right do you have to beg and negotiate for your duty to remain Catholic? How can you accept to descend from your current freedom to be integrally Catholic, to a degraded position of permission to discuss it? 

And of course, from whence arises the bare assertion that a practical accord with anti-Catholic Rome will result in a “new youth for the Church?” What naivety! Do you yourself even believe this, or do you simply recognize in this empty slogan (once again, first tested on the faithful after Vatican II, with the chimerical “new springtime of the Church.”) the slick marketing value and impact you hope it to have on the smells-n-bells masses in the pews? 

You state that we must place “tradition back in the hands of the Pope as soon as possible.” That would be nice indeed, but what makes you think he is interested in receiving it? Do you think the man who places a beach ball on the altar (!) has any interest in rolling back the clock; that the man who mocks Rosaries offered for his intentions is anything but hostile to tradition? 

“O senseless Galations, who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth?” (Gal 3:1). 

You say that for Rome to allow you to discuss Vatican II is already the conversion of Rome? Really? How does it come to pass then, that they allowed the Institute of the Good Shepherd to “constructively criticize” Vatican II before reversing on them, and compelling them to accept it in totality? Which is the same thing as saying that a Rome converted back to tradition is still persecuting tradition, which is absurd! And while the destroyed and fragmented IBP is running from Rome and working to act independent of them once again (but not until having been depleted to 50% strength), you are passing them on the way back into the same trap? 

And please excuse a frank observation: If already the SSPX has muzzled itself with regard to Vatican II (via the branding campaign) in anticipation of an accord, how likely is it that you will increase and maintain your opposition to Vatican II post-accord? You appear to have forgotten the lesson of Campos, per the wise observation of Fr. (now Cardinal) Cottier after his conquest: “Reconciliation carries within itself its own internal dynamism (i.e., self-censorship).” And again referencing his trophy in Campos: “Eventually, we must expect other steps…like concelebration.”

You make an attempt to harmonize the General Chapters of 2006 (which said no practical accord before the doctrinal issues are resolved), and 2012 (which lays out in 6 conditions the steps to a practical accord)! This evinces a mind becoming unhitched from reality in pursuit of a desperate goal. That is no ad hominem, Fr. Just an objective observation, which leads into my next observation. 

Earlier, I mentioned a hint of scruples implicit in your attempt to craft by human prudence, an accord with a Rome bent on destroying you. You lament an imagined fear that we will lose the desire to return to Rome, and in fact have already lost it. From this, you regret that we have become accustomed to living in an abnormal situation of separation from modernist Rome. And naturally, from this phantom, jump to the conclusion that we risk becoming practical sedevacantists and schismatics if a deal is not struck soon. 

But what does not occur to you is that, like you we await the time to place ourselves back under truly Catholic authorities who will not endanger our faith. But unlike you, we recognize that now is not the time; that if the “recognize and resist” position was ever correct, it is correct today, under the worst Pope perhaps in the history of the Church. 

But what madness has you lamenting that the “Pope and bishops have no influence on concrete life?” If we have come to the SSPX all these years, it was PRECISELY to shelter ourselves from this damnable influence! And if we do not recognize, therefore, the voice of the Good Shepherd in your advice to follow the “wise and prudent direction of the leaders God has given us” (like Pope Francis or Cardinal Mahoney?) for desiring to bring us into Operation Suicide, must we be blamed for desiring to survive with our faith intact? 

“Am I then become thine enemy, because I tell thee the truth?” (Gal. 4:16) 

In truth, I wish it not. 

But if forced to choose, “we must obey God rather than man.” (Acts. 5:29) 

With the danger to souls so palpably evident, we cannot follow you down this path you propose, without ourselves incurring culpability. 

Therefore, we choose to adhere to the prudential path bequeathed to us by Archbishop Lefebvre until such a time as Rome returns to tradition, when our obedience will be safeguarded by their faith. 

In Caritas, 

Sean Johnson 
St. Paul, MN 
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