From the District Superior’s Desk

Rev Fr David Sherry, District Superior

While celebrating Mass in his cathedral at Dakar one day, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre had a dream that he would do something to save the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Not many years later, he put his dream into effect: it did not involve anything strange at all, it was simply to continue forming priests as the Church has always formed them, to provide that one thing which the Church cannot do without: doctrinally sound and holy priests. According to the Statutes written by our Founder, this goal is to be achieved by six activities:

1) The training of priests as the Church has always trained them under the tutelage of St Thomas Aquinas;

2) The sanctification of priests by providing retreats, periodicals and pious associations for them;

3) Fostering auxiliary vocations of brothers and sisters;

4) The establishment of truly Catholic schools;

5) Parish ministry; and

6) Coming to the assistance of aged, infirm and even unfaithful priests.

Since 2020, quite a few priests from various dioceses have been approaching the Society of St Pius X around the world. Their story is the same: it has become clear to them that they are not really free to be “other Christs” in the conciliar structure: to celebrate the Mass of all time, to preach freely the Gospel as it has always been preached and to live their priesthood.

In accordance then with both the second and sixth activities of the Society, we invite these priests who contact us to priestly retreats and to spend time in our priories, discussing the Faith and the Crisis in the Church and living the common life. Sometimes these priests ask to work more closely with us and, more rarely, to join the Society. Prudence dictates that we proceed with much caution when welcoming a priest on a permanent basis: he has to undergo a period of probation, his theological and liturgical knowledge has to be ironed out and his bona fides must be verified. Over time, and with the permission of our Superior General, he can begin gradually to do in the Society what God called him to do: offer daily the Immaculate Lamb and minister the true Faith and the true sacraments to the flock for the salvation of souls.

When the District Superior is satisfied that he has been sufficiently proved, that his theological knowledge is good, and that he is validly ordained (and, where necessary, been ordained conditionally), he is allowed to begin offering Mass publicly and administering the sacraments in our chapels.

In some districts, there are significant numbers of priests who have begun formation. Here, for the moment our numbers are small, but will — with God’s help — grow.

On a more delicate matter, it is important that all know what would happen if a priest of the Society were accused of some heinous crime. The Society in Great Britain has had in place a formal ‘Child Protection’ policy for some time. While certain elements of it may be perceived as exaggerated, it does formalise rules of prudence and behaviour which serve both to protect children and to give peace of mind to priests and volunteers. Here are some elements which lay down certain very important guidelines and procedures. Any member or volunteer with the Society who works with children must be vetted and any accusation must be reported to the civil authorities. For the vetting procedure, and in addition to other steps, a criminal record check and references must be provided. Furthermore, no newcomer to our chapels is allowed to volunteer with children until six months has passed and he fulfils each of the other requirements. If a priest or other adult working with children is accused of a crime, we must not jump to judgement nor forget that an accusation is not proof of guilt. Nonetheless, the procedure is clear: anyone who has been accused must be removed from the apostolate and the civil authorities must be notified without delay. Those who are found to be guilty are sentenced by the civil courts. Anyone who has any questions or concerns should not convict the Society based on hearsay but should go freely to ask his local prior questions which might arise.


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