Confiteor: Why did Fr. Michael Mary state that "the SSPX" advised him that there is no supplied jurisdiction for religious superiors taking vows, when Bishop Fellay affirms that the SSPX would never give such advice?
Fr. Michael Mary: I am sorry that I am not very free in answering that question. I have returned to the person whom we first consulted about Jurisdiction. He now says that he considered that talking with us about the matter would have been useless and would have started an endless fruitless diuscussion. And that he was sorry that we interpreted his silence as approval.
Confiteor: Why did it take (apparently) 20 years for Fr. Michael Mary to discover that there is a "problem" with jurisdiction?
Father Michael Mary: I want to state that I do not condemn the position of the SSPX since it was our own position for 20 years. During most of these years, it is my opinion that I, personally, and traditional Catholics in general, tended to live a 'Practical Sedevacantist-Catholicism'. I want to state that this is my own personal take on the matter and that it does not reflect the ideas of others in our community. But this is my own personal understanding of the last 20 years.
Martin: What is this 'Practical Sedevacantist Catholicism'?
Father Michael Mary: This means living the Catholic faith as if there were no Pope or hierarchy to whom we were bound to be submissive and from whom we were bound to receive authorisation for our activities. It is when we accept that he is the Pope in name alone, but practically we reduce his authority over us to nearly nothing at all. For example, when the Archbishop consecrated the four bishops against the explicit will of Pope John Paul II. I think that this was 'Practical Sedevacantist Catholicism' in action. When Catholic life had come to this state, jurisdiction is not even an issue. The issue was living to survive the madness that was infesting the Church. Was 'Practical Sedevacantist Catholicism' right or wrong? I cannot answer and I do not judge it. It was the way many of us survived. There seemed to be no other viable alternatives for protecting the Faith. "We did what we had to do."
Martin: What has really changed over the last 20 years?
Father Michael Mary: Nothing really changed at all in our thinking, until 7 July 2007 when Pope Benedict XVI issued the Motu Proprio by which he proved beyond doubt that he was intent on 're-sacralising' the Church. It was like a miracle. (Perhaps, as in the vision of St Don Bosco, he is the Pope who is steering the Barque of Peter between the two pillars surmounted by the Blessed Sacrament and Mary Immaculate.) Consequently, as soon as you recognise that Benedict XVI is without doubt truly the Pope; a new dynamic of Catholic life came into play.
Martin: What's that?
Father Michael Mary: From the moment one recognises Benedict XVI as truly the Pope, 'Practical Sedevacantist Catholicism' gives way to 'Practical Papal Catholicism'; it is inevitable. Even though there be a war raging about us in the Church, we still have to make the move towards the Barque of Peter by abandoning 'practical Sedevacantist Catholicism' for 'Practical Papal Catholicism' where the Pope has primacy of jurisdiction over each one of us. We join ranks with him for our own salvation; and after that, we join ranks with him in the battle for the life of the Church. But I repeat, the above is my personal understanding of the last 20 years. It may not be the understanding of others. But I know that however one understands the last 20 years, something new has begun with Pope Benedict XVI and the tide has turned.
Martin: And Jurisdiction?
Father Michael Mary: When 'Practical Papal Catholicism' kicks in you soon see that it is necessary to obtain jurisdiction, from the Vicar of Christ, as soon as possible.
Martin: But what about supplied Jurisdiction?
Father Michael Mary: If you believe that Pope Benedict XVI is the Pope, then you need to have the authority that comes from him. It is that simple. Even with a crisis in the Church raging all about us. Even if you are going to be stoned by fellow traditionalists. No matter what you have to 'get with the Pope!'
Martin: Please explain it a little more.
Father Michael Mary: I am reminded of the morals question on 'stealing' in a case of necessity. The Second World War: Some British soldiers are hiding in a French village. They are in dire need of food and discover that the back window of the village bakery can be opened to give them access to freshly baked bread. Can they take the bread without this being the sin of theft?
Martin: Yes they can. There is necessity and taking the bread through the back window is the only way they can stay alive.
Father Michael Mary: Exactly. But then, after some period of time, the people in the village notice them. The war is not over, there are still many risks, but France is slowly being liberated. The Baker announces that he will give them all the bread that they need and that there is no longer any need to take it from the back window. He himself will even bring it to them.
Now everything is changed, and if not today, then very soon, taking the bread from the back window will be called, and will be, stealing.
Martin: Which means?
Father Michael Mary: For 20 years we have been living in a state of necessity where we lacked authorisation for what we needed, particularly for the Heavenly Bread, confessions, marriages and religious professions. We did as we could. We presumed authorisation for everything we needed. It was not the best situation, but we did what we did because we could not see any other way of surviving.
Then Pope Benedict XVI noticed us and in a clear voice he announced through the Motu Proprio that the old Mass was authorised and that he would give us all that we need and more: Mass, Ritual, jurisdiction for Confessions, marriages, religious professions and the exclusive use of the 1962 Missal in our communities. It is clear that he knows that the war is not over since he is himself working at restoring all things in Christ. He calls us to answer his call and accept the bread he offers us in abundance from his open arms.
Martin: So is this what you are saying: The Baker is the Pope, right? He knows there is a war going on and he is leading the way? He now offers us what before 7 July 2007 we simply took? To ignore him now and to continue taking through the back window is no longer acceptable, since it can't be right to take from behind his back what he wants to give us face to face?
Father Michael Mary: That's one way of putting it. And let me add, there are reasons for getting things right with the Church. This matter of Jurisdiction is a very serious matter. I remember a Doctor of Canon Law in the seminary, citing a case of a pre-Vatican II marriage annulment. It went like this:
A bishop's niece was being married in a neighbouring diocese. The bride invited her uncle, the bishop, to perform the ceremony. It was agreed. The uncle-bishop performed the marriage in the cathedral of the neighbouring diocese where even the local bishop attended to add solemnity to the occasion.
Some years later the marriage broke down. The marriage tribunal investigating the case discovered that the uncle-bishop did not ask for or receive receive jurisdiction from the neighbouring bishop (the local Ordinary) to perform the marriage; (he presumed it). And even though the local bishop was physically present, the Church declared the marriage nul through lack of jurisdiction.
Surely this would have been a case of 'human error and failure'? Surely the Church would have declared this to have been a case for 'supplied jurisdiction'. No it was judged to be a case of 'no jurisdiction.' The marriage was anulled. We were given this case as an example of the seriousness and necessity of having valid jurisdiction to perform valid acts. Perhaps some will say this is legalist, I do not argue. I say that it is an example that gives cause of concern for acting without valid jurisdiction when it can be had for the asking.
Confiteor: Why does Fr. Michael Mary now "accept" the possibility that F.SS.R. priests will celebrate the New Mass outside the monastery, presumably when they are on missions?
Father Michael Mary: No, No, No! In my reply to Brendan, I said that we have been assured that we need not celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass nor con-celebrate it. These assurances have given us the courage to do what we consider to be the right thing and seek reconciliation with the Holy See. So clearly we are not wanting to say the new Mass. However, if you accept the Pope you accept the Canon Law of the Church and therefore we must accept that the Canon Law does not give permission to forbid a priest from saying the New Mass. It does not mean that he will say it. None of our priest want to say it, none of our seminarians want to say it; and nor can they be forced to say it, ever! Not even on the Missions! But the Church does not allow superiors to forbid their priests from saying it. I was disappointed to see this statement of the facts misused before further enquiry.
Fr Michael Mary, F.SS.R.