|Pope Francis and the Church|
In the wake of those who are denouncing Cardinal Burke for not falling into schism, given his recent interview with an Australian news agency, I post a reply to the temptation of schism taken from the writings of the late Abbe de Nantes.
If someone can point out any defects in the Abbe's logic, then I shall join them in their schism, until then, I will remain at my Mother's bedside and will not abandon the Church - neither in spirit, nor in fact.
May Catholic charity always triumph in our hearts ! One does not answer schism by schism. In the face of ill-feeling, partiality and hatred which raise barriers and trenches, our only answer must be that of love, that love which is founded on the infrangible community of the sacramental life.
The Church is the charity of Christ spread and communicated amongst all the brothers. Whilst our brothers maintain albeit only the appearance of belonging to the Church, we must hold and retain them in Catholic charity without accepting their ostracism and their scission, and without adding our own thereto.
If we quit the community, if we emancipate ourselves from hierarchical authority and reject its jurisdiction, we reinforce the schism, we provide it with the homogeneous consistency of a sect, and we give it a free hand in the Church ! We must stay put, resigned to being punished, to suffering and to obeying whatever is not forbidden or intolerable, as martyrs for Catholic Unity and Charity… We must reject everything that is commanded for the purpose of subversion and not let ourselves be penalised without protesting. But never, never ever, will we contest the unique inviolable power of jurisdiction that belongs to the Pope and to the bishops united to him. Even though they behave unjustly, it is they who are the Catholic hierarchy, not ourselves.
One cannot save the Church by building on other foundations. But some people wanted to persuade me to do just that. As someone unjustly (although legally) deprived of all power of jurisdiction over souls by a Pope and bishops suspected of schism and heresy, I was supposed to consider myself a victim of persecution and to attribute to myself some kind of extraordinary jurisdiction directly derived from God ! The determining factor was meant to be the pressing necessity of souls who were in danger of perishing in a Church that had completely lost her direction.
Well, my answer to this was : never, not at any price. Such jurisdiction has never been recognised by the holy canons except in the case of bishops in countries where persecution has totally destroyed or paralysed the local hierarchy. Presuming on the assent of the Holy See, these bishops would exercise this kind of extraordinary jurisdiction to save these Churches from total ruin and to provide for the urgent necessities of souls (Dom Gréa, L’Église, p. 235-238). As none of this can be verified in my own case, the usurpation that is proposed to me would be invalid, criminal and strictly schismatic.
We are not the saviours of the Church. Rather it is she, both now and always, who is our salvation. I may not actually see this, but I believe it with an unwavering faith : the salvation of the Church today, as yesterday and for all times, is to be found in her Pastors. Although temporarily sunk in the error and sectarianism of their Reform, this grace still subsists in them, indefectibly. It may not be apparent, but it is ready on the day appointed by God to spring forth again for the salvation of all. The disorder may be great, the damage to souls mortal, but God does not wish to govern us except through the hierarchy. In such a sacred matter He cannot tolerate any fraudulent usurpation. If we were foolish enough to imagine that we could save the Church by carrying her off with us into the escapade of yet another schism, we who are nothing, it is we and we alone who would be irremediably lost. The only life we have within us is that which we have received. It is from the Roman Rock alone that this life springs forth.
The Church does not lie within us. It subsists in those very men whom we see busying themselves in her ruin and whom we nevertheless believe, by virtue of their apostolic jurisdiction, to be the bearers of Christ’s grace. We ourselves have no share in their powers of order and ministry except in the exact extent to which they delegate it to us. Thus, I am recognised as having the power to celebrate the Holy Mass, and this would be the case even if I were to be punished by an unjust excommunication (which God forbid !), provided that I then celebrate it in private and without the risk of scandal.
I also retain the power to give absolution to those who are dying… I give thanks to the Church for these faculties which she allows me to keep. I make use of them and I will continue to do so. But to go beyond this would be to build a simulacrum of the Church outside the Church. Good heavens ! What would be the point ? To deceive myself into thinking that I could save everyone ? Ah, no ! When the schism of this Reform is over, I do not wish to be separated from the Church.