Fr. Daniel Cooper, an SSPX priest in the U. S. district, wrote in a July 2015 letter to SSPX faithful at the Arcadia, California SSPX chapel: “To break with Bishop Fellay is tantamount to breaking with the Roman Church.” Page 2.
Fr. Cooper’s un-Catholic assertion promotes blind obedience, and is false for two reasons:
➢ Fr. Cooper misleads the faithful, because they have no obligation to follow Bishop Fellay unless they choose to do so. The faithful have not promised to obey him, and they can cease following him without sin, even if Bishop Fellay were leading well (which he is not).
➢ The SSPX priests and religious have promised to obey their SSPX superiors but even these priests and religious have the duty to “break” with Bishop Fellay when he leads them into errors against the Faith (as he is). The Catholic Church is not the Church of blind obedience and hero-worship!
Further Discussion of Above Reasons
First Reason: Laymen have no duty at all, to follow Bishop Fellay
Laymen (to whom Fr. Cooper is writing), are not “members” of the SSPX and have not promised to obey Bishop Fellay. Laymen have no duty to follow him, as Archbishop Lefebvre explained:
[I]t must be borne in mind that an authority which is supplied [to the SSPX] does not have the same characteristics as authority which exists ordinarily in the Church. It is exercised case-by-case, and is thus not habitual: in other words the people who benefit from it can always withdraw from it, and the supplied authority has no power to make them return.
Bishop Tissier echoes his founder and refutes the SSPX’s new idea that all Traditional Catholics owe Bishop Fellay obedience. In a 1991 article available on SSPX.org, with a forward written by Fr. Peter Scott, Bishop Tissier explained to the faithful: “your submission and your dependence with respect to the clergy must be as voluntary as the clergy have less right to demand it.”
As Bishop Tissier also explained, the SSPX “cannot demand to exercise [authority over particular laymen as] a strict right”. Id. This is because “the clergy cannot, strictly speaking, require this dependence since it [i.e., the SSPX clergy] has no ordinary jurisdiction over the faithful.” Id.
Bishop Tissier told the faithful:
It is you who have to appeal to this supplied jurisdiction [of traditional priests and bishops]. I therefore say that the sense of the Church, the sensus fidei, must persuade faithful laymen and laywomen to willingly submit their apostolic activities to the traditional clergy. Id. (Emphasis added.)
Thus, Fr. Cooper is wrong that somehow Bishop Fellay or any other SSPX leader can exercise authority over any faithful, except to the extent that such persons voluntarily accept such authority, and voluntarily decide to follow such direction, and for as long as they voluntarily accept that direction, or authority.
So when Fr. Cooper makes loyalty to Bishop Fellay the test for being Catholic, he misleads the faithful. The truth is that the faithful are free to “break” with Bishop Fellay if they choose to do so, but of course, they are never free to “break” with the Catholic Church.
Second Reason: Following Bishop Fellay into Error is not True Obedience
The virtue of obedience is a subordinate virtue under the Cardinal Virtue of Justice. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.104. a2. Faith and Charity are superior. Summa, IIa IIae, Q.4 a.7 sed cont. & ad 3; IIa IIae, Q.23 a.6.
St. Thomas teaches that “sometimes the things commanded by a superior are against God. Therefore superiors are not to be obeyed in all things.” Summa, IIa IIae, Q.104, a.5, ad 3. “[A]nyone obeying [a superior’s sinful command] would sin as acting against a divine command.” Summa, IIa IIae, Q.33, a.7, ad.5 (“…ipse peccaret praecipiens, et ei obediens, quasi contra praeceptum Domini agens…”).
Thus, even SSPX priests and religious (who have promised to obey Bishop Fellay as Superior General), have the duty to stand against his liberalism and his betrayal of the Catholic Faith. Such stand against Bishop Fellay’s liberalism is standing for the Catholic Church.
Promoting Blind Obedience as a means to Promote Liberalism, is Not New
The priests of the “new” SSPX truly deserve their nick-name “Fellay-ites”, because they reverse course, following Bishop Fellay wherever he leads. By contrast, the priests of the “old” SSPX never deserved the name “Lefebvrists” (given to the SSPX by the conciliar church), because the SSPX did not follow Archbishop Lefebvre blindly, wherever he led. In the “old” SSPX, no one was ever told that “to break with Archbishop Lefebvre is tantamount to breaking with the Roman Church.”
Fr. Cooper is not the first one to promote blind obedience in the new SSPX. It is now common SSPX “doctrine”. See, e.g., this analysis here: See also, Fr. Karl Stehlin’s rebuke of the Capuchins of Morgan, France, for (supposed) “disobedience” to Bishop Fellay.
Fr. Stehlin’s own blind obedience was rewarded by Bishop Fellay promoting him in August 2014, to becoming District Superior of the SSPX Asian District.
The current SSPX demand of blind obedience is a faint echo of this same demonic tactic used by the conciliar revolutionaries after Vatican II. Such conciliar blind obedience was the long-planned Masonic strategy for Revolution in the Catholic Church, as stated below:
In a hundred years time… bishops and priests will think they are marching behind the banner of the keys of Peter, when in fact they will be following our flag… The reforms will have to be brought about in the name of obedience.
1818 Alta Vendita Permanent Instructions, ordered published by Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII (emphasis added).
Perhaps Bishop Fellay and the new SSPX don’t realize under which banner they have begun marching, as they use obedience to squelch resistance to their new liberalism.