'The Resistance' against Pope Francis

Ultra-traditionalist bishops in Brazil claim to be leading The Resistance to Pope Francis's religious revolution, despite their own excommunications.

By REUTERS
March 31, 2015 13:09
3 minute read.
Christianity

French Bishop Jean-Michel Faure walks during a mass in Nova Friburgo. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Two renegade Catholic bishops plan to consecrate a new generation of bishops to spread their ultra-traditionalist movement called "The Resistance" in defiance of the Vatican, one of them said at a remote monastery in Brazil.

French Bishop Jean-Michel Faure said on Sunday (March 29) the new group rejects Pope Francis and what it calls his "new religion."

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Bishop Richard Williamson and Faure initially belonged to a larger dissenting group that been a thorn in Rome's side for years and have since broken off to form their own religious group. Asked what the new group called itself, Faure said it is firstly Roman Catholic, secondly St Pius X, and now "The Resistance".

They said that they would not engage in a dialogue with Rome until the Vatican turns back the clock.

The Society of St Pius X (SSPX) is a larger ultra-traditionalist group that was excommunicated in 1988 when its founder consecrated four new bishops, including Williamson, despite warnings from the Vatican not to do so.

It rejected the modernizing reforms of the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council and stuck with Catholicism's old Latin Mass.

Former Pope Benedict readmitted the four SSPX bishops to the Catholic fold in 2009, but the SSPX soon expelled Williamson because of an uproar over his Holocaust denial.



The tension mounted two weeks ago when Williamson consecrated Faure without Vatican approval. In response, the two were subsequently excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.

The monastery had said Williamson would ordain a priest there this past weekend but he was not seen by reporters and clergy said it was impossible to talk to him.

Instead, Faure ordained the priest himself in a mass in which he told the sizable congregation that they were being deceived by the Vatican.

"They are destroying your faith, your morals, with the pretext of false obedience, false humility, false charity. It is all a lie," Faure told church-goers at Santa Cruz Monastery in Nova Friburgo, 140 km (87 miles) inland from Rio de Janeiro.

Faure did not give an estimate as to how many followers they have but their plans to consecrate bishops indicates potential for growth.

The church does not hide their objection to Pope Francis, saying they are more faithful to the teachings of the pre-Vatican two Roman Catholic Church.

"He (Pope Francis) is using doctrine which is condemned by the Catholic Church. He is less Catholic than us," the monastery prior Thomas Aquinas added.

"The Pope cannot do anything in the Church. The authority of the Pope is limited by the service of the truth and by the doctrine of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which has been in place for twenty centuries," said Faure, who claims to follow all the popes of the past but not the current one.

In contrast to Benedict, Pope Francis pays little attention to the SSPX ultra-traditionalists, who claim to have a million followers around the world and a growing number of new priests at a time that Rome faces priest shortages. Their remaining three bishops have no official status in the Catholic Church.

Under Catholic law, Williamson and Faure are excommunicated from the Church but remain validly consecrated bishops. That means they can ordain priests into their schismatic group and claim to be Catholic, albeit without Vatican approval.

Faure claims his excommunication is invalid, however.

"An excommunication is valid, effective, if it follows mortal sin, what we call mortal sin, grave sin, public... And our sin is not a sin because it is only - our will is only to follow the religions they learn to us. We have been always in this religion and we stay in this religion. But of course, to stay in this religion we need priests and to have priests we must have bishops," said Faure after the ordination ceremony.

Faure said he was not sure what it would take for Rome to return to its old traditions but conflict could be a catalyst.

He suggested that the Church might go back to the way it was before should there be a Third World War, though refused to speak of history in light of the problems created by Williamson's controversial comments in 2009.
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