In the form of interviews I want to clarify some of the different questions that have been asked of us about our life as a traditional religious community now that we are having our censures lifted by the Holy See.
Confiteor: I am saddened to hear about CATHOLIC being banned across the SSPX. Very, very sad.
Fr. Michael Mary: Yes, it is a danger for the newspaper. Catholic has been banned in all SSPX chapels in the USA and the United Kingdom. Fr Couture has also stopped it in the Philippines, India and Singapore. Both of our long serving agents in the United Kingdom and the United States have resigned. They have both been wonderful people very devoted to helping with the paper. They will always have our thanks and friendship; we know that it must have been a difficult decision to make.
This is the situation so far and it could get much worse. It means that already over 50% of our 4,000 Catholic subscriptions are lost since we do not have the names of those who receive the paper from SSPX chapels. Others have cancelled because of our decision to be reconciled with the Holy See.
This has prompted us to add a subscription button to this blog so that people who want to support us now, can take out subscriptions on-line using Paypal.
All is not lost. We have had a good number of people writing to us asking us to continue the paper since it is important for them. We are determined to do our best to continue. I can only hope that people who have received Catholic through their chapels will take out subscriptions either by writing to us or by using the button here on this blog.
Confiteor: Do you now consider ties between the Transalpine Redemptorists and the SSPX "severed" from your end?
Fr. Michael Mary: There is somebody I have neither seen nor written to for over 20 years who now lives in Australia. He often used to say to me in his newly learnt English: ‘Friend lost, never was!’ I’m looking forward to meeting him again sometime and I know that nothing will have changed.
That is the school of friendship that has marked my life. It will not change now. I don’t sever ties at my end. Some people need to sever ties at their end; fine, I can understand that, but it is always unfortunate unless it is with the false friends of a strong morally bad infleunce; in which case it is an unhappy obligation.
So no, I will not sever ties with the SSPX unless I was ordered to do so by the Holy See; which would then become ‘an unhappy obligation.’ But why would the Holy See do that?
There are some great priests and faithful in the SSPX who have been our friends for over 20 years. If our submission to the Holy Father is the cause of certain people cutting ties with us then I can only leave doors open, hoping they misunderstood our actions; or acted in a moment of pique, or from human respect. If, however, it comes to the worst, and we are severed for good, I will say to myself, and unhappily: ‘Friend lost, never was!’.... and move on.
Confiteor: Are you at all in contact with Bishop Fellay?
Fr. Michael Mary: We had a very pleasant meeting with Bishop Fellay last 26 May during which we were able to discuss a number of important issues. We really appreciated that opportunity. I last wrote to Bishop Fellay on 29 June. I have not heard back from him as yet. But I cannot believe that he has felt it necessary to severe his ties with us.
Carol from CNS: What prompted the community to agree to join in communion with the Holy See?
Fr. Michael Mary: Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father's Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and the letter that accompanied the document led to our monastery council seeking expert advice from outside our community. The advice we received led us to more closely examine our ecclesial structures and their seeming absence of jurisdiction. While the question of supplied jurisdiction for Confessions and Marriages has been widely discussed, we had not come across any discussions on this point of jurisdiction for the religious life. We have concluded in fact, that there is no 'supplied jurisdiction' for traditional religious superiors receiving vows; nor does their power to command link back to the Holy Father and to the power of the Keys.
If this is so, it means that the superiors do not have supernatural authority to command and organise their communities in the traditional understanding, where the voice of the superior is the voice of Christ. This is an extremely important point.
We asked the SSPX about this question and also the traditionalist Dominicans in France. Both agreed that there was no "supplied jurisdiction" for religious superiors.
Once we were clearly aware of this lack of jurisdiction for the organisation of religious life we found that we would be building on sand, not to mention burying our heads in it, if we continued to try to live religious life in this way.
We were unhappy with the responsibilities and possible consequences that we would be taking upon ourselves in commanding people without sharing in the authority that comes from Christ, through His Vicar and through the delegated superiors whoever they may be. Continuing on in the face of these realities seemed to be like 'playing house' and we didn't want to have anything to do with it.
Carol from CNS: Do you know of other traditional communities planning to reunite in the future?
Fr. Michael Mary: No I do not. But if the other traditional communities were to examine the question of jurisdiction for religious life, I think that eventually they would all want to build their monasteries on the rock and jurisdiction of Peter.
Religious life cannot work without both jurisdiction and the power of domination; it all comes from The Keys.
There is no valid reason for refusing to receive this jurisdiction from the Holy Father.
In his Motu proprio, Pope Benedict XVI assured us that we may continue to offer the Old Mass and follow the Rules of our religious communities. As our Father he has provided for all we need.
To traditional friends who say that we need more than this assurance from the Holy See, and that we first need theological discussions, I would reply that they should first begin studies at home on the need for jurisdiction to validate and govern religious life, because from my enquiries nobody has done it yet; there have been studies on all kinds of subjects concerning the ‘crisis in the Church’ but not on the absence of jurisdiction for religious life. For religious this is a fundamental.
Carol from CNS: What name will the community chose?
Fr. Michael Mary: We cannot call ourselves either "Redemptorists" or "the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer." The name has not been finally decided yet, but we would like to announce it on our blog for this Sunday, Feast of the Most Holy Redeemer, the titular feast of the Congregation (which is always kept for the 3rd Sunday in July).
Confiteor: CNS reports: ‘Because the group is not associated with the Redemptorist order, it will have to change its name.' Say it isn't so! Are you not Redemptorists, true sons of St. Alphonsus?
Fr. Michael Mary: In this question, Confiteor, we are caught both ways. If we were to enter the modern Redemptorist Congregation we would be taken over by them; we would have to be obedient to them. This would be an immediate danger for our community since we know that there are Redemptorists, (with every right to that legal description), who would be happy if we were suppressed. We did however ask them if they wanted to receive us with a special statute that would safeguard our existence. They declined.
Now we know that it is God’s Will for us to live unambiguously separated from them.
In this case we must distinguish ourselves from them; this is quite normal and reasonable. In the Church there are all kinds of different orders claiming to be authentic descendants of their founders: for example Capuchins, Conventuals and Friars Minor are all the sons of St Francis of Assisi; they are distinguished from one another by their names.
We must do the same. For our own historical reasons we must distinguish ourselves from the group that claims the exclusive right to being called the ‘Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer’ and to be known by the nickname: ‘Redemptorist.’
Therefore, after 2 August 2008, we will try to no longer publicly call ourselves ‘Redemptorist’ or ‘Transalpine Redemptorist.’ (It may take a month or two longer since an old habit is sometimes difficult to break immediately!) It will take a further number of months to make legal name changes which can be a complicated matter. Eventually we will get there.
But frankly, while the change of name will be difficult in one way; it will also be a relief in other ways. We will no longer have to explain the difference between being 'Redemptorist' and 'Transalpine Redemptorist'; and we do not think it is necessary to have to carry the modern Congregation about with us. We will no longer need to feel associated with the modern Congregation. And although we will still pray for them in general, we will not feel a constant responsiblity to pray for their deceased members. For the past 20 years, at the Memento of the Dead in every Mass that we have offered, we have explicitly mentioned: 'all the deceased Fathers and Brothers of the Congregation'. In the Old Rule every deceased priest was supposed to receive 250 Masses for the repose of his soul and in practise this seems to have been greatly reduced or to have been dwindled away.
So in some ways the end of this assumed direct relationship with the Redemptorists is even a sweet release.
We have been advised that the Redemptorists do not have an exclusive right to every aspect of their name and that we will always be permitted to describe ourselves as ‘a community in the Redemptorist tradition’ and to claim that we too are the ‘sons of St Alphonsus.’