October 2004 - District Superior's Letter
The pilgrimage to the Martyr's Shrine in Midland was a success. It was attended by some priests and 36 seminarians as well as by 300 faithful. Fr. Somerville has been suspended by the Bishop of Toronto for assisting the Society. The Bishop arbitrarily brands the Society as schismatic and heretical without knowing what these terms really mean.
Pilgrimage to the Martyr's shrine in Midland
Saturday, September 25, was held the annual pilgrimage to the Martyr's Shrine in Midland for the intentions of our district. It was attended by seven priests and 300 faithful, representing our parishes from all across Ontario, in addition to pilgrims having travelled from Quebec and the states of Michigan and New York. The best attendance yet! The spirit of prayer and recollection was obvious and general.
Special grace of seminarians' presence at the pilgrimage
This year however we had a special grace. Father Yves le Roux, rector of St Thomas Aquinas seminary in Winona, Minnesota, came accompanied by Father James Doran, and 36 seminarians and brothers. Our friend Father Stephen Somerville celebrated the solemn high Mass assisted by Father Sulzen and the seminarians, who also provided the beautiful Gregorian chant. Once again the Martyrs provided us with a beautiful day. At first it looked somewhat like the possibility of rain, but the sky cleared and we had marvellous weather.
There was one hitch however. The Jesuits forbade us to offer the Mass on the spot where St Jean de Brébeuf and St Gabriel Lalemant were martyred. In a way this is a good sign, it is a sign they still consider us Catholic, because if we had been Protestants, they probably would have extended “ecumenical hospitality” and let us use it. So we had to rent the nearby protestant summer camp right next to St Ignace II for Mass and the picnic lunch after.
After lunch the pilgrims organized according to their chapel for the 5 kilometre walk to the Shrine. At the Shrine, despite fears that the Jesuits might prevent us from entering, all was calm. The pilgrims entered the basilica in order to venerate the relics. It was an impressive sight to see the pilgrims, some with babes in arm, pushing a stroller, filing in for about 45 minutes, young and old to kneel before the relics of the foundations of the Catholic Church in Canada and afterwards take their place in the pews of the basilica which was half full. After, to manifest that we have the same faith they brought to our country and died for, we sang the Creed. A grace filled day for all.
Fr. Somerville suspended by the Bishop of Toronto for assisting the SSPX
You have surely read about the recent suspension of Father Stephen Somerville by the archbishop of Toronto for helping the SSPX. The exchange of correspondence has been published by “The Remnant”. All of Father Somerville’s legitimate questions have yet to be answered. I doubt they will be. What can they answer? He is simply told to be quiet and obey. I’ve also been told of a recent article, which I haven’t read yet, in a so-called Catholic magazine which seems to be a reply to Father Somerville and which bring up the accusations of schism and excommunication against the SSPX again. What of it?
Here is what Father Bouscaren S. J., a recognized authority in canon law, says in his book: Canon Law, A Text and Commentary. He is schismatic who “rejects the authority of the Supreme Pontiff or refuse communion with members of the Church who are subject to him."
We do not reject the authority of the Pope. On the contrary, we are not the ones who, for ecumenical purposes, want to “find a way of exercising the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation.” (JP II Ut Unum Sint #95) We do not believe that “in the future the Petrine ministry has to be exercised in line with the changing needs of the Church.” (Cardinal Kasper) We want the papacy to be exercised as it always was; to guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of faith, and faithfully set it forth. (Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus)
As for communion with those members subject to him, they are the ones who reject us because of our stand on Tradition. We are not the ones who have changed. They are.
Concerning the excommunication, I challenge any one to produce a sentence of excommunication pronounced against the Society. No such declaration exists. Maybe one could argue that such a sentence was pronounced against Archbishop Lefebvre and the bishops consecrated by him, but it was never extended to the Society. We of course dispute the Archbishop’s excommunication based on the code of canon law of 1983. We are not the only ones. Among many who do, Father Gerard Murray, a priest of the archdiocese of New York successfully defended the same thesis (that neither Archbishop Lefebvre or the bishops consecrated by him were excommunicated) in Rome for his license in canon law. This is the canon law they made. They must live by it. If it doesn’t apply to Archbishop Lefebvre it doesn’t apply to anyone. You can’t have it both ways. But the myth, not to say the lie, of the excommunication continues. So be it.
We are Catholics and we are in full communion with the Apostolic See because we have the full apostolic faith. What makes a Catholic is not an arbitrary decision from a Roman congregation or some monsignor in a diocesan chancery or even from a writer in a so-called Catholic magazine. What makes a Catholic is objectively determined by whether or not one has the Catholic faith. And again this is not arbitrarily. It is determined by the fact one professes the Catholic faith found in the catechism. It doesn’t matter what anyone says or thinks. This is why we are and should be in peace and not worry about the false accusations against us.
We certainly are not in full agreement with what is being done. But this is another matter. If, however, this is sufficient to make one a schismatic then there are many bishops, priests and laity, in “good standing” who are schismatics: all those who disagree with the Pope regarding women priests, abortion, contraception, gay rights, the nature of marriage. By the way, we applaud the US bishops who have the courage to stand up against the desecration of marriage, and pro-abortion and gay-rights promoting politicians. It’s not perfect but it is good to finally see Catholic bishops who stand up for something. Please God we had some of these bishops on this side of the border.
We do not reject the Pope’s authority, but we do question its obligation when it comes to matters, which according to the teachings and condemnations of previous popes, are contrary to the faith of always such as ecumenism, the Assisi prayer meetings, or are at least scandalous such as the visit to the synagogue, the visit to the Lutheran temple, the kissing of the Koran, the papal apologies, to name only a few.
H. E. Bishop Fellay will pay a quick visit in Toronto and Western Canada in November.
You will find enclosed the November envelopes. Write the names of your dearly departed you want remembered during the Masses in November and send them back to us. These envelopes are placed on the altar during the entire month and the souls mentioned on them are especially remembered at each Mass.
Be thanked for your continued prayerful and financial support. Both are needed and appreciated. In return be assured of our daily prayers and a special remembrance of all our benefactors at daily Mass. As usual the monthly Mass for friends and benefactors will be offered on the last Sunday of the month.
With my blessing,
Father Jean Violette