Book Review of "Towards a Necessary Reconciliation"
by Fr. Michel Lelong
The exposure of the G.R.E.C. infiltrating the SSPX
Reviewed by 'Gentiloup'
[Translation from The Recusant]
I just finished reading the book by Fr. Michel Lelong, entitled: Towards the Necessary Reconciliation - Pour la nécessaire réconciliation. It is a small work of 159 pages, not exciting but quickly read. It is a history of the G.R.E.C., “Groupe de Réflexion Entre Catholiques”.
This booklet summarizes the work accomplished by the GREC. It is a glowing report by the author who helped to found GREC.
THE ORIGIN ANG GOAL OF THE G.R.E.C
The goal was to open up SSPX to reconcile with Conciliar Rome. This little book unintentionally clarifies the downward slide of the SSPX and why the attempted ralliement [reunification] with Conciliar Rome was able to corrupt the very spirit at the heart of SSPX.
The GREC “think tank” was founded in 1997 with the goal to integrate SSPX with Modernist Rome and to convince it to accept the Second Vatican Council.
The founders were Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Pérol and Fr. Michel Lelong, author of the book and fervent defender of inter-religious dialogue and the Council. Mr Pérol had been the Ambassador of France to Rome.
GREC’s goal is not ambiguous. It is clearly defined throughout the book by different protagonists as being “Interpreting Vatican II in the light of Tradition,” according to the formula John-Paul II gave to Archbishop Lefebvre in 1978.
Fr. Michel Lelong is convinced of the benefits of the Council, especially of Nostra Aetate, and he is a specialist in dialogue with Muslims.
The Ambassador’s idea was to enter into dialogue with the traditional Catholics of SSPX in the same way that he had dialogued with other religions and from which, to his regret, the SSPX had been excluded.
DICI [SSPX’s News Agency] editor Fr. Alain Lorans, one of the four founders of GREC, was the spokesman for the SSPX District of France.
He immediately obtained permission from Bishop Fellay to participate in the dialogue “for a necessary reconciliation.” He was very attentive in keeping Bishop Fellay up-to-date with the progress of the dialogue.
The 'Charter' of the group was defined by Mr. Pérol shortly before his death: it is “to interpret Vatican II in light of Tradition,” which Benedict XVI himself calls the Hermeneutic of Continuity, in opposition to the Hermeneutic of Rupture as Archbishop Lefebvre ruefully observed at the end of his long quest to reach a tentative agreement with the Conciliar Church. In the end, Archbishop Lefebvre could see that an agreement was impossible, hence the consecrations of the four bishops in 1988.
ACTIVITIES OF THE G.R.E.C.
The GREC commenced its activities with small committees formed around Mrs. Pérol and Fr. Michel Lelong, with Fr. Emmanuel le Chalard of SSPX “who did not cease to provide discreet support and pay special attention to GREC.”
Two other priests contributed decisively to the creation and life of our Catholic think tank. One of them who has since returned to God was the Dominican, Fr. Olivier de La Brosse, the other, Fr. Alain Lorans of the SSPX. I got to know them in 1997 during a dinner to which we had been invited by Mrs. Pérol. On that day GREC was born. [Page 24]
Details: This meeting took place in Rome at Madame Pérol’s home.
• Fr. Olivier de La Brosse, who died in 2009, was the spokesman for the Bishops' Conference of France.
• Fr. Alain Lorans was the spokesman for the SSPX District of France. He had obtained permission from Bishop Fellay to dialogue for a "necessary reconciliation" with the group.
Thus we have the four founders of GREC:
• Mrs. Pérol
• Fr. Michel Lelong
• Fr. Alain Lorans [SSPX]
• Fr. de la Brosse
In the months that followed, the protagonists remained quietly within their respective communities.
Soon after, conferences would be organized, but without fanfare, for it was necessary that this should remain confidential:
“When we meet in friendship, I often think of Gilbert Pérol who, while actively participating in Christian-Muslim dialogue, had the idea of this dialogue between Catholics.” [Page 27]
The Apostolic Nuncios supported this group, along with various other personalities of the Conciliar Church who regularly informed the Pope of the progress of the dialogue.
The Fraternity of Saint Peter’s Superior of France, Fr. Ribeton, joined the group and, a little later, so did the head of The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.
THE ‘LIFTING’ OF THE EXCOMMUNICATIONS IN 2009
To shorten this review, you should know that the initiative for the "lifting of the excommunications" of the four bishops of the SSPX can be traced back to GREC who had already requested it during the 2000 Jubilee year! Fr. Lelong reveals this explicitly in the book and provides many quotations from exchanges of letters amongst the group, the Roman authorities, and the Superior General of SSPX.
When we are told that the lifting of the excommunications was one of the points of the Society’s road map, that is not the whole truth as the road map actually initiated with GREC. The term returning to “full communion” is ceaselessly used. As far as I'm concerned, having been a priest for fifty years and having devoted my ministry to the relationship between the Church and the Muslims, I am deeply attached to the teachings of Vatican II and I am trying to raise awareness and understanding of those among our fellow Catholics who follow Archbishop Lefebvre and his successors. [Page 42]
Thus, the message is clear - Bishop Fellay did not go to play as a naïve schoolboy, suddenly discovering in 2012 through a letter from the Pope the expectation of SSPX to recognize Vatican II. That had been clear from the beginning of the collaboration with GREC.
PREPARING THE WAY FOR THE ‘RECONCILIATION’
On January 6, 2004, Fr. de la Brosse sent a letter to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos of Ecclesia Dei to give an account of the “Tradition and Modernity” colloquium organized by GREC on November 22nd, 2003, in Paris:
At our request, Bishop Philippe Breton was appointed by Bishop Ricard, President of CEF [French Bishops Conference], as the “affiliated bishop” of the group, to attend the meetings and provide the opening prayer, with Fr. Lorans of the SSPX presiding over the final prayer. . .
Thus the very purpose of the colloquium was established: French Catholics of various and even opposite sensitivities freely agreed to engage in a dialogue that did not prejudice total reconciliation in any way—a field reserved to competent superiors—but this opens the possibility, when the times comes, that the dialogue caucus will find before them partners capable of understanding and mutual respect. . . .
The number of participants was 40 people, all of whom were invited individually by group members. . . .
Very great discretion was observed at the express request of Bishop Ricard, which corresponded to our intentions. No professional journalists were present in the room. No information or comments were leaked during the days that followed, neither in the Catholic nor the secular press.
Thus, thanks to support from the Apostolic Nuncio and also to the efforts of Frs. La Brosse and Barthe, Cardinal Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, was kept informed of our activities. The election of Benedict XVI was welcomed . . . with great hope. . . . We know, indeed, how during the first months of his pontificate the new Pope met with Bishop Fellay and made statements and decisions that clearly manifested his desire to re-establish unity in the Church through a Hermeneutic of Continuity and not of rupture with regards to the teachings of Vatican II. [Pages 45-46]
After the Motu Proprio of 2007, the organizers of GREC sent a new letter to the Pope, asking him again to lift the excommunications.
From page 55 follows a history of GREC’s activities and of the key figures of different sides who were to be involved in this process.
Following the Pope’s meeting with Bishop Fellay in 2005, GREC expanded the SSPX side to include among others: a very active Fr. Grégoire Célier, and laymen Jacques-Régis du Cray and Marie-Alix Doutrebente.
It was then that the colloquia revealed the “doctrinal and spiritual convergence” between the two parties:
On June 10, 2010, following “a particularly unfair media campaign,” a GREC meeting was held around “Fr. Matthew Rouge, Rector of St. Clotilde Basilica in Paris . . . and Fr. Lorans, in charge of SSPX communications.” with the purpose of declaring its support of the Pope.
That evening, thanks to the two speaker's presentation and the discussion that followed, we sensed how much a reconciliation between Catholics around Pope Benedict XVI was expected and hoped for.
The GREC devoted its meetings to Vatican II, Archbishop Lefebvre, and the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, with the participation of historians and theologians providing different points of view, so as to make its contribution during the 2010-2011 academic year.[Page 69]
At the time of this writing, one can hope that these meetings will lead to an agreement without delay. But the SSPX must understand that if it has much to offer to Rome, it also has much to receive from it. It must therefore stop rejecting Vatican II outright and accept the guiding principles in interpreting them as proposed by the Holy Father today. [Page 85]
The stories of different GREC actors follow, including those for SSPX of Fr. Lorans, Marie-Alix Doutrebente and Jacques-Régis du Cray.
THE PRE-HISTORY OF THE G.R.E.C.
A very important place is given to Fr. Paul Aulagnier, SSPX, who began when he was District Superior of France, before the foundation of GREC, to open a dialogue in 1992 with Conciliarists, notably with Dom de Lesquen, Abbot of Notre Dame de Randol. Fr. Aulagnier continued this role later after becoming a member of the IBP - Institute de Bon Pasteur / Good Shepherd Institute. Still very active in support of ralliement, he has already rejoined and has obtained a parish in the Conciliar structure:
Beginning in 1992, as District Superior of SSPX in France, I was happy to initiate new contacts with recognized ecclesiastical authorities.
One day, when passing by Randol . . . Abbot Dom de Lesquen was talking to a young man in the forecourt of the monastery. Knowing the role he had played with Dom Gérard during his rapprochement with Rome on July 10, 1988, I approached him and spoke with him . . . about the rapprochement with Rome, of a normalization of the SSPX with Rome… [Fr Aulagnier Page 104]
A LESSON TO LEARN
To understand the process of ralliement, it suffices to know the secretive work of the group whose members admit to it.
A reminder: this book was published in December 2011. It is very important to be familiar with this book so as to know what is of importance in the future not to do: no doctrinal discussions at any level so long as Rome has not converted. That was the point made by Archbishop Lefebvre and which always prevailed until the narrowly missed ralliement of June 2012:
“No practical agreement without a doctrinal agreement.”
“Inferiors do not form the superiors,” dais the Archbishop, and yet, after a practical agreement, the SSPX would find itself under the authority of a Modernist Pope and Conciliar Congregations. The truth does not support the least compromise with error, and yet the process initiated by GREC is nothing other than a search for compromise.
In conclusion, here is what Fr. David Hewko has to say:
Fr. Ludovic Barrielle (so highly revered by the Archbishop) commented in 1982:
"I am writing this to serve as a lesson for everyone. The day that the SSPX abandons the spirit and rules of its Founder, it will be lost. Furthermore, all our brothers who, in the future, allow themselves to judge and condemn the Founder and his principles, will show no hesitation in eventually taking away from the Society the traditional teaching of the Church and the Mass instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ". [Open Letter to His Excellency Bishop Fellay, Society Priests, Religious and Faithful, November 8, 2012]