Father Davide Pagliarani, Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, granted an exclusive interview to La Porte Latine, in which he recalls the fruitfulness of the Cross for vocations and families. He insists particularly on the need to keep the authentic spirit of our founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, “a spirit of love for the Faith and truth, for souls and for the Church”, when faced with the recent canonisation of Paul VI and the promotion of synodality in the Church.
“The future of the Church and vocations is in families where the parents have planted Our Blessed Lord’s Cross.”
La Porte Latine – It has now been five months since you were elected Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, for a twelve-year mandate. These five months have certainly allowed you to make a short overview of the work, founded by Archbishop Lefebvre, complementing your already rich personal experience. What general impression have you made and have you drawn up your first priorities for the coming years?
The Society is a work of God, and the more we discover it, the more we love it. Two things strike me most in discovering the Society’s labours. Firstly, the providential character of the Society: it is the result of the result of choices and decisions of a saint, guided only by a supernatural and “prophetic” prudence, whose wisdom we appreciate even more as the years go by and as the crisis in the Church gets worse. Secondly, I have been able to see that we are not some privileged people, whom God has spared: He sanctifies all our members and our faithful through failures, trials, disappointments, and in a nutshell, through the Cross – and not by any other means.
Vocations come from homes where there is no spirit of bitterness or criticism towards priests.
La Porte Latine– With 65 new seminarians this year, the Society holds a new record of entries into its seminaries over the past thirty years. You were Rector of the La Reja Seminary (Argentina) for almost six years. How do you intend to foster the development of even more numerous and stronger vocations?
I am convinced that the true solution to increase the number of vocations and their perseverance, does not reside primarily in human and, so to speak, “technical” means, such as newsletters, apostolic visits or publicity. First of all, a vocation needs to hatch in a home where Our Blessed Lord, with his Cross and His priesthood, is loved. A home where there is no spirit of bitterness or criticism towards priests. It is through osmosis, through contact with truly Catholic parents and priests deeply imbued with the spirit of Our Lord Jesus Christ that a vocation awakens. It is at this level that we must continue to work with all our strength. A vocation is never the result of speculative reasoning, or from a lesson we have received, with which we intellectually agree. These elements can help someone answer God’s call, but only if we follow what we said earlier.
La Porte Latine– On October 14th, Pope Francis canonised the Pope who personally signed all the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the Pope of the New Mass, the Pope whose pontificate was marked by 80,000 priests abandoning their priesthood. What does this canonisation mean for you?
This canonisation must call us to a profound reflection, far beyond the emotions of the media that only lasted a few hours and left no deep traces, neither among its supporters nor its opponents. On the contrary, after a few weeks that singular emotion risks turning everyone to indifference. We must be careful not to fall into these traps.
Firstly, it seems to me quite obvious that with the beatifications or canonisations of all the popes since John XXIII, they have tried, in a certain way, to “canonise” the Council, the new conception of the Church and of Christian life, as established by the Council and promoted by all recent popes.
This is an unprecedented phenomenon in the history of the Church. The Church, after the Council of Trent, never dreamed of canonising all the popes without distinction, from Paul III to Sixtus V. She canonised only Saint Pius V, and not simply because of his links with the Council of Trent, or of its application, but because of his personal holiness, proposed as a model to the whole Church and put at the service of the Church as Pope.
The phenomenon we are currently witnessing makes us think rather of the renaming of roads and city centres, in the aftermath of a revolution or a change of regime.
However, it is necessary to interpret this canonisation also in the light of the present state of the Church, because the eagerness to canonise the Popes of the Council is a relatively recent phenomenon and was seen most clearly with the almost immediate canonisation of John Paul II.
This determination to “hurry things up”, shows once again the fragility in which the Post Vatican II Church, is currently situated. Regardless of whether you agree or not, the Council is seen as outdated by the ultra-progressive wing and by the pseudo-reformers, one example being the German episcopate. And on the other hand, the conservatives are forces to admit, by the proof of current circumstances, that the Council has triggered a process that is leading the Church towards increased sterility. Faced with this seemingly irreversible process, it is normal that the current hierarchy, through these canonisations, is trying to restore a certain value to the Council and thus slow down the inexorable tendency of concrete facts.
To make an analogy with civil society, every time a regime is in crisis and becomes aware of it, it tries to rediscover the country’s Constitution, its sacredness, its durability, its transcendent value… Whereas, in reality, it is a sign that everything that comes from this Constitution and that is based on it, is in peril of death and that one must try to save it by all possible means. History proves that these measures are generally insufficient to revive what has had its day.
Only the Society can help the Church, in reminding it that it is a monarchy and not a chaotic modern assembly
La Porte Latine– Three years ago (on October 17th, 2015), Pope Francis delivered an important address promoting “synodality” in the Church, inviting the bishops “to listen to God, so that with him we may hear the cry of his people; to listen to his people until we are in harmony with the will to which God calls us”. According to his own words, (Address of 25/11/2017), it was based on this new synodality, that he promulgated the new laws simplifying the procedure of nullity of marriage, and also that he wrote Amoris Laetitia,as a result of the synod on the family. Do you recognise in this the voice of the Holy Ghost? What can you tell us about this new expression used today by the authorities of the Church?
The cyclical debate on synodality is nothing more than the repositioning in Post-Conciliar times, the Council’s doctrine on collegiality and the problems it has created in the Church.
In fact, they speak about it very often, even in debates that have other objectives or deal with other topics. One recent example was during the last synod on youth, where the subject was mentioned for the umpteenth time. This shows that the hierarchy has not yet found a satisfactory solution – and this is inevitable, since the problem is insoluble.
Indeed, collegiality places the Church in a permanent situation of a quasi-council, with the utopia of being able to govern the Universal Church with the participation of all the bishops of the world. This has provoked, from the national Episcopal Conferences, a demand for systematic and insatiable decentralisation, which will never end. We are faced with a kind of class-struggle by the bishops, that has produced, in some Episcopal Conferences, a spirit that could be defined as pre-schismatic. Again I am thinking of the German episcopate, which offers an example of all the current deformations. Rome is in a stalemate. On the one hand, concerning the Episcopal Conferences, she must try to save what she can of her undermined authority. On the other hand, she cannot reject the conciliar doctrine or its consequences, without bringing into question the authority of the Council, and consequently the basis of current ecclesiology. In reality, they all continue to advance in the same direction, albeit at different speeds.
The ongoing debates manifest this underlying discontent, and especially the fact that this revolutionary doctrine is fundamentally contrary to the monarchical nature of the Church. A satisfactory solution can never be found, as long as the problem is not definitively rejected.
It is paradoxical, but only the Society can help the Church, in reminding the popes and the bishops that Our Blessed Lord founded a monarchical Church and not a chaotic modern assembly. The day will come when this message will be heard. But, for the moment, it is our duty to keep this deep sense of the Church and its hierarchy, despite the battlefield and ruins that lay before our eyes.
La Porte Latine– How can the Church correct the errors of the Council? After fifty years, is it realistic to think that it will happen?
From a purely human point of view, it is not realistic to think so, because we have a completely reformed Church, in every aspect of her life, without exception. There is a new conception of faith and of Christian life that has generated, on a daily basis and in a coherent manner, a new way of understanding and of living the Church. Humanly speaking, going back is impossible.
But perhaps we forget too often that the Church is fundamentally divine, despite the fact that she is incarnated in men and in the history of men. One day, a pope, against all expectations and against all human calculations, will take things in hand and all that needs to be corrected, will be corrected, because the Church is divine and Our Blessed Lord will never abandon her. In fact, he says exactly that when he solemnly promised that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). The beauty of the divinity of the Church will be all the stronger, since the current situation seems irreversible.
La Porte Latine– 2018 was the thirtieth anniversary of the Episcopal Consecrations at Econe, conferred by Archbishop Lefebvre, in his extraordinary “Operation Survival” for Tradition. Do you consider that this act was unique by nature and that it was successful, in the sense that today other bishops agree to confer ordinations and administer confirmations in the traditional rite, or do you think that, as the years go by, other consecrations may need to be considered?
The future of the Society is in the hands of Divine Providence. It is up to us to discern the signs, in the same way as our founder did, faithfully, without ever wanting to anticipate or ignore Divine Providence. We have here, the most beautiful lesson given to us by Archbishop Lefebvre, and many of those who did not understand him at the time, have gradually reversed their judgements on him.
The true spirit of our founder: a spirit of love for the Faith and truth, for souls and for the Church, in a spirit of genuine Charity between our members.
La Porte Latine – The District of France is the oldest and the largest district, even if it is now closely followed by the US District. What are the human, material and apostolic priorities that you have set for the new superior, Father de Jorna, who was the Rector of the Econe Seminary, for 22 years?
The various priorities can be summed up in a few words. The new District Superior has the beautiful task of ensuring that the true spirit, bequeathed to us by our founder, reigns in all our houses and in all the members of the Society: a spirit of love for the Faith and truth, for souls and for the Church, and in particular, all that flows from it: a spirit of genuine Charity between our members. Insofar as we keep this spirit, we will have a good influence on souls and the Society will continue to attract many vocations.
La Porte Latine – What a beautiful and exciting program he has! However, it is necessary for the faithful to associate themselves fully with it. You saw them come in their thousands for the recent pilgrimage to Lourdes, during which you celebrated the Solemn High Mass on the Feast of Christ the King. What do you ask of them? What do you offer them?
I was profoundly touched when I saw pilgrims of all ages in Lourdes, and in particular, many families, and many children. This pilgrimage is truly remarkable and also very significant. It reminds us that the future of the Church and vocations is in families where the parents have planted Our Blessed Lord’s Cross. Indeed, it is only Our Lord’s Cross, and the generosity that results from it, that produces large families. In front of our selfish and apostate society, chastised by its own sterility, there is no nobler and more precious testimony than that of a young mother surrounded by her children, like a crown. The world may choose not to listen to our sermons, but it cannot help but see this magnificent sight. It also is true for the Society. Ultimately, and I say it again, it is the same ideal of the Cross, which calls a soul to consecrate itself to God and which calls a mother to consecrate herself generously and unreservedly to the education and sanctification of all the children that Divine Providence wishes to entrust to her.
Finally, this pilgrimage also reminds us, and above all, that any revival can only happen under the mantle of the Blessed Virgin Mary, because in the current desert, there is no place in the world that continues to attract souls as much as Lourdes.
To the faithful of France, I say quite simply: remember that those who preceded you were fighters and crusaders, miles Christi, and that the current battle for the defence of the faith and the Church is without doubt the most important that history has ever known.
Happy and Holy New Year for 2019!