Visit of Cardinal Oddi to Ecône and the Superior General's reaction

February 1, 1992

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

A rumour circulating recently from at least one source in the North-eastern United States has it that "the Society of St. Pius X has turned over all its property to the Vatican. In protest several German seminarians of the Society are said to have left it, and the priest secretary of one of its bishops is said to have resigned".

The only reason for quoting such a rumour is that it provides an opportunity to tell the truth: — in April of last year, three seminarians left the Society's German Seminary in Zaitzkofen in Bavaria because the Society will not refuse to recognize John Paul II as Pope of the Catholic Church. For the same reason an Oblate Sister rendering some service as a secretary to Bishop de Galarreta in the Argentine, also severed her connection with the Society over one year ago.

As for the Society turning over its property to the Vatican, one has to guess that last years summer and autumn contacts between Rome and the Society must be the grounds for this wishful thinking on the part of our adversaries (to our right and to our left), who hope that the Society has surrendered or is about to surrender its position to Rome. Last December you received with this letter the text of an interview between the Society's Superior General, Fr. Franz Schmidberger, and an Italian journalist. That interview hardly showed the Society “ giving away the store".

Let me now give you a first-hand account, made public several months ago, of another of these contacts, the September visit of Cardinal Oddi to the Society's now mother-house in Ecône, Switzerland. Then you can see again how the Superior General reacted. Here is how the Society's French District Superior, Fr. Paul Aulagnier, who was present, described that visit in the French District's bimonthly magazine, "Fideliter”:

"Cardinal Oddi often used to ring up Archbishop Lefebvre. He had telephoned Ecône in August to say he would be in the area and that he would call by the Seminary. He was told, you are welcome, just give a little advance notice.

Without further notice he turned up on September 18 at lunch-time. He was in a clerical suit, having come in a car driven by his nephew…. The Seminary Rector hastened to greet the Cardinal and to bring him straight to lunch… the meal took place in silence as is usual during the beginning-of-school-year retreat. After the meal we invited him to exchange a few words with us over coffee in an adjoining room of the Seminary. The Seminary Rector and Vice-Rector were present, one of he Seminary professors, a Society priest from Italy and myself.

“The Cardinal showed us a good deal of sympathy. He told us how fond of us he was and how much he respected the Archbishop whom he held to be a holy man. He told us he wished there would be an agreement with Rome, that he was ready to do anything to make a solution possible but we would have to hurry up because he and the few cardinals favourable to us were getting on in age, and once they were gone, he was afraid things would be even more difficult for ourselves. I told him we put our trust in Providence, as did the chaste Suzanna in the book of Daniel, Chapter 13, meaning that God will not abandon those who put their trust in Him.

“The conversation was very lively. The Cardinal is a short man, corpulent, old, tired, and not well, but in his eyes one can read profundity, intelligence, sympathy, affability. Our conversation was altogether straightforward, good-natured and peaceful. Above all we convinced him that we were still attached to the Roman Church and ready for any contact or meeting to try to come up with some solutions towards an agreement, provided only Catholic Truth and Tradition be safeguarded. However, he made clear that his visit was on his own initiative, that nothing had been pre-arranged…

“He told us: “I am getting old, I am no longer in any position of importance, I have much less authority.” Nevertheless, he did still seem to have easy access to the Holy Father. He suggested to us a solution along the lines of Opus Dei, with a personal prelature. He admitted that we were in a stronger position with our bishops now consecrated, and that Rome, if we could show a little flexibility, might eventually agree to arrange things. He gave us to understand that Cardinal Ratzinger was also fond of us...”

After the conversation ended, the Cardinal went to visit the Archbishop's tomb nearby. He prayed briefly and then said out loud so that everybody could hear, “Merci, Monseigneur" (Thank you, your Grace). Most touching. Who could be so churlish as to doubt the Cardinal's sincere affection for the Society's Founder and for all that he stood for?

However, know that the Society's Superior General replied last month to the Cardinal's beguiling advances (unofficial, of course), with a private letter not due to become public, but the essential contents of which are known: given the doctrinal differences between the Society and Conciliar Rome, differences unchanged by anything proposed by the Cardinal, then for as long as Rome remains Conciliar, a fruitful and open collaboration between the two does not seem possible.

As soon as the Archbishop died in March of last year, a certain churl was predicting that Rome would begin again towards the Society with the routine of carrot and stick. One may speculate that it was carrots for lunch at Ecône last September 18 (not pre-arranged, of course). And if the Superior General's reply to the Cardinal was as straight-forward, good-natured and peaceful as the Cardinal's advances to the Society — and what else would it be? — we can expect a Roman diet of carrots for a little while yet.

Especially carrots which might split the recalcitrant Superior General from any of his subjects, or any of his subjects from their Superior. If I was a Roman prelate today, I would be prowling round and around the Society like a lion, or a wolf, or a fox, seeking a way in, looking for the unguarded sheep or the sleeping shepherd I could have had enough by now of this confounded Society! And when my supply of carrots (which would be exhaustible!) had run out, I would — weeping, in public, copiously — resort once more to the stick.

And if these donkeys of the Society were too stupid to feel any longer the Church's grand stick of "excommunication", then — then — what would I do? — I have it! — I would turn to the State! After all, the Liberal State clamorously separated itself from the Church, but ever since the Church at Vatican II grasped the wisdom of the Liberal State (Declaration on Religious Liberty, #3, #6), Liberal State and Liberal Church have been back in union (#13), and I can rely on the State to get this infernal Society out of my way.

You are shocked? Already in France since 1988 the liberal government has conspired with the liberal Church to block payment of much-needed bequests to the Society; in Canada the liberal State can be seen now preparing its Inquisition to crush any religion laying absolute claim to superiority! Liberals preparing an Inquisition ?? See the story at the end of the enclosed “Verbum".

Dear friends, the Society does not, humanly speaking, stand a chance. From a variety of angles, it cannot win. But in our divine Faith lies a power which cannot lose. All the cunning and might of Imperial Rome could not overcome the simplicity and Faith of the tender virgin martyrs. Let us be faithful and patient under our daily cross, and with the dear Society, without it if necessary, we too shall go singing to our Eternal Bridegroom. But we shall meanwhile pray for our superiors in the Society and for the Cardinals in Rome, that God give them light and courage. Two or three times a weak,-an extra decade of the Rosary is prayed at the Seminary here for the intentions of the Pope.

On a more practical plane, consider flying to the priestly Ordinations due to take place at Winona on Saturday, June 20 this year. Between June 13 and 27, as in previous years, Northwest Airlines is offering to travelers to and from the Ordinations a discount of between five and forty per cent. Merely ring (800) 328-2216, or from within Minnesota (612) 726-7336, and quote Identification Code 04159. We will look forward to seeing you.

Most sincerely yours in Our Lord Jesus Christ,