FRANCE: FSSP suddenly expelled from a diocese after 23 years

At the French site Riposte catholique we read that the Archbishop of Dijon, Roland Minnerath, has expelled the FSSP from the diocese.  They are to leave by September.  They’ve only been there for 23 years.

No consultation. D’un trait de plume… with the stroke of a pen.

If there is anything to the rumors, if it is not in fact a disinformation campaign, about an upcoming “slave act of 2021” against Benedict XVI’s “emancipation proclamation” for diocesan priests, what shall the faithful of Dijon do then? They’ll go to the SSPX chapel in Dijon, of course.

Let us pray that the FSSP and the diocese can work something out, find another way.  Fewer priests and Masses in a place is not the way to evangelize, it seems to me.

Meanwhile, FATHERS, get to work.

Let not your hearts be overly troubled. A little anxiety, by the way, can produce clear thought and hard work. Too much can produce paralysis.

Get your Masses established NOW.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. What would be a stronger testament to the injustice than to switch to the SSPX would be if all those attending FSSP-staffed Masses would leave Dijon permanently and organize a departure march where everyone would see the diversity of the group as it headed toward a more favorable diocese. As they crossed the border from Dijon, they would stop and do as Jesus suggested and shake the dust from their feet. I know that is a tall order, but desperate times call for strong medicine.

  2. TonyO says:

    I would wonder about two things. First, is this bishop known to have anti-tradition sentiments, so that this would seemingly represent something he has been hankering to do? Second, is it possible that he actually had a bona fide reason to kick them out, such as (just to pick one example) evidence of an order-wide corruption similar to what happened with the LC’s? If he felt he had a reason, presumably he would have made it public. So, I guess I am asking what was the reason HE gave for this move?

  3. Semper Gumby says:

    Roland Minnerath’s page at PASS:

    Among the editors and authors, Roland Minnerath and “Justice and Charity in the Social Teaching of the Church”:

  4. Athelstan says:

    Hello Tony,

    If you read the pastor’s letter in the Riposte-Catholique link (a Google translate gives an adequate sense if you do not read French), you can see that he says they were given no explanation of any kind, and have yet to hear back from him. The FSSP District Superior is trying to seek a meeting with him.

    It is reasonable to wonder if there was some context that built up to this. But you would also think the bishop would at least say something about it, to the parishes in question. So far, he has not.

  5. Athelstan says:

    One happier note here: Riposte-Catholic *also* reports that at the same time as this unhappy development in Dijon, the FSSP *has* been invited into two new French dioceses starting this autumn. (They did not say which ones.)

    Which may not be much consolation to the faithful in Dijon about to lose their spiritual care, to be sure. But it may suggest that if there is a campaign to crimp the traditional societies, it seems not to be uniform yet.

  6. Gab says:

    I do not understand. It seems the Pope and his minions are doing their level best to eradicate the Traditional Mass, the Mass of the saints and martyrs. Why, why are they so hell-bent on restricting Graces coming into the world through the Traditional Mass? Why are they on the path to oppressing the Traditional Mass? This world is big enough to have both the NO Mass as well as the Traditional Liturgy. I just don’t get their reasoning other than to think they hate the Traditional Mass and all those who attend it.

  7. Athelstan says:

    Interestingly, by the way, the faithful of the FSSP in Dijon set up a Facebook page three days ago (already over 500 followers), as part of what appears to be a vigorous campaign to protest the archbishop’s decision:

    Here is how they put it, translated: “Besides losing two priests, we the faithful lose: 12 masses per week, catechesis of children and adults, preparations for all sacraments in progress and forthcoming, visits of the sick and needy, accompaniment of student groups and homes Christians, patronage, scouting, ect… a whole apostolate! A community of many Catholic families, swept away by a bishop!”

    Some other points of interest:

    1. One other thing I learned was that the archbishop apparently was deeply dismayed by the decision of the FSSP priests there to decline to concelebrate the diocesan Chrism Mass. But the official announcement letter does not cite this or any other reason for the decision, so it’s unclear whether it played a role.

    2. It is also noted that Archbishop Minnerath turns 75 this autumn (which is true) and curiosity as to why he might make such a major move in what are presumably his last days leading the diocese. Of course, it is not impossible that he has had some private assurance that he may be given some kind of extension in the job….

    3. For those curious about Dijon generally, its state is, uh…challenging, though of course this is not unusual for a French diocese. They have closed 95% of their parishes since 1970, and are down to just 60 now; they are also down to only 115 priests, of which more than half have reached retirement age, meaning they’re pressed rather hard to staff just those 60 remaining parishes. It appears that Dijon has only ordained 5 priests since 2016….which while unsustainable even for such a shrunken diocese is also doing better than many other French dioceses.

  8. Rob83 says:

    The bishop has been there 17 years, and also turns 75 in November. Perhaps doing something his successor would like to do but without having his fingerprints on it?

  9. Clinton R. says:

    For those who are hellbent on restricting the use of, or outright banning the Usus Antiquior, I wonder what are they so afraid of? Young priests? Young and often large families that take their Catholic faith seriously? Gregorian Chants? Sound doctrine? It seems like one would have to be in league with the Enemy to want to do anything to restrain the Mass of All Ages that has nourished the faithful for centuries.

  10. Liz says:

    Oh my goodness.

    Praying and (pathetic) fasting for these priests. I need to do more.

    God have mercy on us and our dear priests!

  11. TonyO says:

    Why, why are they so hell-bent on restricting Graces coming into the world through the Traditional Mass? Why are they on the path to oppressing the Traditional Mass? This world is big enough to have both the NO Mass as well as the Traditional Liturgy. I just don’t get their reasoning other than to think they hate the Traditional Mass and all those who attend it.

    Gab, I don’t understand it in full, but I think I get a small part of it. They, of course, don’t think of it as “hell-bent on restricting Graces coming into the world.”

    This bishop, if he is nearly 75 now, was born in 1946 and was a young man about to enter into priestly training just at the end of VII in 1965. Though the seminaries would become worse yet in the 70’s and 80’s, the silliness spawned in the heady days of VII had been already woke in those seminaries, and it would have been hard indeed for him to avoid. One of the most pernicious errors being spread in the “spirit of VII” was a whole smorgasbord of false-flag ideas about what the Mass is, suppressing its eternal, sacrificial character for anything (and everything) BUT that: a meal, a communal event, etc. (including the idiotic idea that Jesus is “present in” the people gathered together the very same way he is present in the Eucharist, and (heaven help us) the latter presence is DUE TO the former presence!!!) And, of course, what a PRIEST is, e.g. a “presider”, of all things, over the community “meal” and who acts for them by delegation from them rather than under sacred consecration into Christ’s (distinct) ministerial priesthood. In that pattern, an insistence on preferring the old TLM over the Novus Ordo constitutes some sort of infected rejection of the guidance of the Spirit into a new and “better” form of…well, not “worship” because that’s not what they think of it as (in spite of “Worship”-named hymnals), but of communal-action, because it isn’t community-led. (All this nonsense can be found, in one form or another, in – you guessed it – a periodical called “Communio”.) This apprehension of “resistance to the Spirit” is how they explain their resistance to Summorum.

    This, of course, only pushes the question one or two layers back: (a) how and why did the seminaries get into the control of people who thought this way, and (b) why did young men attracted to the priesthood in 1965 raised wholly in the old Mass even consider swallowing all this bilge? Did they not, in their leaning toward priesthood, harbor even a dollop of love specifically for the Mass that had fed them their whole lives? To answer that, I can only pose what I guess and surmise at: the power of group-think, when presented by those who are supposed to be older, wiser, and specifically-designated (by the authorities and thus by God) to be your advisors, is immense, and it would take both a great deal courage and some measure of wit to resist it. But a curious thing happens when a young man (or women, as the same mechanism was at work in the nunneries) is convinced – more like forced – to swallow their misgivings about this new and “wonderful” way of doing church: in many, it foments a small bud of anger, and that anger is then channeled (probably, quite consciously by the professors) AGAINST the old forms, instead of against the proper targets of the anger (those initiating changes for no good reason. Thus, by the time a new priest is ordained, he probably already contains within him a significant prejudice against anyone who loves the old Mass and the old traditions, in part (though he doesn’t realize it) because he himself was DENIED those very goods of the Church. Fast forward 40 or 50 years, and he may have spent his whole clerical life denying that he was done out of his rightful heritage of tradition and thus feeding a “righteous” anger against those who insist on retaining their proper inheritance instead of (like he did) swallowing their “pride” and buying the mess of pottage being sold by innovators.

    I am no psychologist, and this is just a guess, and may not apply to any specific cleric. But I have rubbed shoulders with enough priests of that generation to see that this occurred some of the time.

  12. donato2 says:

    I hope the parishioners of this FSSP parish make noise noise and more noise until the traditional Latin Mass is restored to them, preferably through an FSSP parish. Demand demand and demand that the FSSP be allowed to stay. If that is not honored, demand demand and demand a diocesan traditional Latin Mass. If that is not honored, complain complain and complain about every single liturgical abuse in the new Mass that they are constrained to attend. No justice, no peace.

  13. Water1965 says:

    Interesting take on this topic.
    My theory was much simpler, maybe too much so.

    I see these men at the end of their time absolutely seething with rage that what they’ve spent over 50 years peddling has been rejected by a substantial number of the faithful.

    We were supposed to be grateful for guitar masses accompanied by tambourines, felt banners, relaxed catechessis, horrible music, abhorrent preaching and what for many effectively amounts to belief in the abolition of hell.
    How dare any of us not toe the line.
    They may be on their way out but they’re still able to toss a grenade or two before the door closes behind them.

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  15. JesusFreak84 says:

    Heck, I hope the SSPX makes noise, too! From what I’ve read and can tell, the younger priests, my age and younger, in either group have no bitterness over the original split. (Are there outliers? Sure.) However, I could also see bad actors on one or both sides of said split using this to rub salt in wounds =-\ (The Enemy loves division, after all…) “SEE??? SEE??? You tried to play by THEIR rules and look how that worked out for you!” Prayers for all involved, including the SSPX priests who may have an influx of new people with which to contend.

  16. luciavento says:

    Let’s start buying up old Catholic churches to give them to the traditional religious orders. From what I hear, my Diocese refuses to sell any buildings to the SSPX.

  17. Athelstan says:

    I hope the parishioners of this FSSP parish make noise noise and more noise until the traditional Latin Mass is restored to them, preferably through an FSSP parish.

    In fact, some of them have set up a Facebook page to mobilize an effort:

    It’s already up to almost 800 followers. They sound pretty riled up.

  18. Athelstan says:

    By the way…In case any of you are curious about just how the FSSP is doing in France, the District Superior just gave an interview to a French Catholic outlet last week, in which he talked about it. He is frustrated because while the FSSP has 39 personal parishes in the US, no French bishop will give them one, despite having, literally, thousands of empty churches. Worse, when Rome asked last year for bishops to report on how Summorum was working for them, the French bishops’s conference submitted a report that was just flat out false in many respects. The Superior General was incensed, and you can tell because normally they are so quiet about speaking up in public like this. (This is a machine translation.)

    This [report] indicates that the places dedicated to the extraordinary form have on average between 20 and 70 faithful. Does it conform to the reality you know? Likewise, are baptisms really “one-off and exceptional”?

    I cannot understand how such figures could have been given and many people were surprised. For our part, we have been keeping relatively precise statistics for almost ten years. We note that in our sixty Mass locations, the average is about 200 faithful. Apart from some twenty places where the average is less than 100 faithful, in the other apostolates, we are very far beyond the 70 faithful announced. For ten years we have observed a regular increase in the number of our faithful of 8% per year; this increase is constant, in absolute value as in growth rate. In addition, between 2015 and 2021 we received a mission in ten new dioceses.

    And it is enough to attend a Mass celebrated according to the extraordinary form to realize that it is especially the young generations who join us. This proves the missionary dimension of this liturgical form, which is not reserved for initiates but continues to attract souls to Jesus Christ. It is nevertheless the essential thing.

    In addition, the youth of our assemblies and the many families mean that requests for baptisms are not only regular but important. To be convinced of this, it is interesting to consult the parish registers on which the baptisms are recorded: compared to the number of priests or faithful on the whole of the parish territory, the baptisms administered with the Extraordinary Form are far from being exceptional!

    Finally, my many trips to the cities where we are located have shown me that the number of baptisms and confirmations of adults continues to grow. In 10 years there has been an impressive progression: I no longer see confirmation ceremonies without adults and rare are the places where there are no catechumens.

    In addition, as I noted above: While the FSSP is getting kicked out of Dijon, two OTHER French dioceses just invited them in starting this summer.

  19. robtbrown says:

    luciavento says:

    From what I hear, my Diocese refuses to sell any buildings to the SSPX.

    . . . But would probably sell to Protestants or atheists. The easy answer would be the building(s) could be sold to an intermediary group. In case the diocese would deny such a sale, create a group of buyers composed of black people. If the diocese would refuse them, then threaten to press charges according to the civil rights laws.

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