Was the horrific death of Father Jacques Hamel in a rural parish in Rouen, France, a martyrdom, or a murder?
It is more than an intellectual distinction both to Father Hamel–as a Get-Out-of-Purgatory-Free Card due to all bona fide martyrs–and to us. The conditions for martyrdom link to major issues: is the Church we see the True Faith? Is SSPX still strong in its opposition to Vatican II?
For martyrdom to be claimed, a recent mailing from SSPX.org presents the three conditions set by the traditional Catholic Church for martyrdom: first, physical death, second, motivation of hatred for the Faith by the killer, and third, voluntary acceptance of death by the victim. The second item depends on the killer’s intention, and the third to the dead person’s.
The SSPX mailing states that “It is clear that the first two elements of Christian martyrdom have been satisfied in Fr. Hamel’s case.” That is, besides the fact of his death, it is clear to the SSPX writer of the mailing that the Muslim assassins killed the priest because he was a Catholic priest (not a do-gooder or a political activist), because they recognized and hated the teachings of Catholicism, the true Catholic Church.
That is not so clear. Is the Catholic Church as known to terrorists Abdelmalik Petitjean and Adel Kermiche, the Catholic Church in France and in the diocese of Rouen, the True Faith?
One trusts SSPX will admit this distinction, if no other organization in the world. The Faith since the Second Vatican Council is a very different one from tradition. One learns that from SSPX. That has been their core belief since they were founded by that brave man, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Is this still their position?
We gave up so much of the Faith at Vatican II. It all had political implications. We gave up our own attempts to restore the Catholic religious state, which in practice means we do not seek laws to impose our morality on others in our various secular states. We gave up our political independence; we will seek no legislation binding on others reflecting our Catholic beliefs. That came from the Council. You have to look for it. One must thin the syrupy poesy of the Constitutions of the Council to smell the poison, but it is there, reeking in practice. We let stand the decisions of liberal democracy, however sinful, and practice our Faith privately. This has led to the gradual decline of Catholic influence and its ability to influence national policy, and has led the West toward moral, demographic, and economic ruin. It has left a vacuum of moral leadership. That means war.
So then, is it possible that Islam sees the Catholic Church not as a bearer of truth and justice in the world, nor of virtue, nor of respect for God, nor of protector of families, but as the silent, cowardly accomplice in the degradation of all those values?
If that is so, is it accurate to say the assassins hated the real Catholic faith? Could they hate (as we do) the imposters in power? (I only include myself, not SSPX, in the authorial ‘we.’ I do hate them.) Could they be unaware of the teachings of traditional Catholicism regarding issues most important to Muslims?
It is useful, then, on this question, to examine the character of French Catholicism on view in Rouen, on view as it might be known to the assassins.
France has the second largest Muslim population in Europe (4.7 million), but has suffered more terroristic attacks than Germany (4.8 million) in Europe or Russia (14 million). One counterjihad think tank. explains the disparity with the idea that France is extreme in its treatment of all religions, banning any kind of public reference to a Creator, banning even small ‘public’ tokens of religious affiliation like a cross necklace, aggressively promoting ‘the people’ as the source of power rather than God, and permitting extreme expressions of profane belief and lifestyle in the name of free speech. And of course banning the burqa. These are positions particularly odious to Islam. The November 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall, says the report, was in the eyes of the assailants a response to depravity, according to an ISIS statement describing the attack as being directed at “hundreds of pagans gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice.”
Does the French Catholic church vigorously resist France’s extreme promotion of secularism that Muslims might have witnessed the True Faith in their neighborhoods and media?
Evidence proves otherwise. One exception which might have been available to Muslims was the alliance of several Muslim associations with unnamed traditional Catholic groups in resistance to the 2004 ban on veils in public. “On this occasion, several Muslim associations have allied themselves with conservative Catholics to reject the law, while one of the consequences of the law was for Muslim college students who refused to remove their veils or ‘conspicuous religious symbols’ to withdraw from the public school system in favour of the private, but publicly subsidized, Catholic schools (where the law does not apply, being restricted to the public education system).”
The likelihood of Abdel Petitjean and Adel Kermiche attending these private schools is unknown. Or of knowing anyone who attended them. We also do not know the degree to which the schools taught Catholic doctrine. We have only US schools to compare to, in the absence of data, and, unfortunately, the suggested answer is, ‘very little.’
But that appears to be the only exception. Other issues provoke disappointment. Did, in those years, the French Conference of Bishops fight abortion? Apparently as long as it didn’t require getting up. They issued the same statements of US bishops on the matter: ‘it’s wrong.’ But not, ‘we must demonstrate and boycott until we get a law!’ At the same time, they actively but discretely funded abortion, also like their peers in the US. LifesiteNews reported in 2011 that French Conference contributions to international aid agencies provided abortions in those countries paid for with French donations.
Has the French Conference fought contraception? On the contrary, they eased the ban on condoms. What about homosexuality? French Catholic bishops endorsed civic homosexual unions in defiance of true Catholic teaching on chastity. Separation of Church and State? The question is very recent, 2016, as France sought to deepen the exclusion of religion in any form from the public, and the bishops ‘fought back’–to the degree of proposing a ‘good secularism’ in which they continued to receive state money and all religions were assured equal status, the preferred position since Vatican II, which SSPX and other traditional Catholics know contradicts Catholic teaching. That the very concept is flawed was not an issue for them. They followed the Council and did not fight for tradition.
What does the French Conference of Bishops fight for? Ecology, including training programs for activism (typically, one component of the training will be the burden of overpopulation on ‘developing nations,’ that trendy term for modern racism). ‘Sunday gatherings,’ in which resigned preparations are made for the many parishes without a priest, without a mass, without confession, without catechesis. French bishops reached out to the entire Global Catholic Climate group meeting in–cyberspace–to lecture them about the coming Climate Change Conference and the life or death consequences of failing to fall into line [2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21)] Other burning concerns: how to welcome homosexuals into the Church, how to offer communion to the divorced/remarried; how to foster a more favorable view of the cohabiting; how to celebrate the human sex drive.
These are the items communicated to the public by the French Conference of Bishops, which will attract the approval of a brainwashed and bullied citizenry. Except for Muslims. And traditional Catholics.
But perhaps the diocese of Rouen stepped up and provided the True Faith to its parishes and its public! The former archbishop of Rouen was Jean-Charles Descubes (2004–2015). He often wore a suit for his interviews and he gave many. Archbishop Descubes rebuked the Vatican for the creation of the Institute of the Good Shepherd for the celebration of the traditional mass. He insisted that all types of families be ‘welcome’ in his parishes, no questions asked. He played the liberal role, excepting supporting a ban on gay adoption.
His successor is Dominique Lebrun. See how you would have viewed his Catholic faith, were you a monotheistic religious-minded nineteen year old! Archbishop Lebrun recently attended a “Christian Ecological meeting” which took place in August 2015 in the city of Saint Etienne, the diocesan seat of the Rouen diocese, whose subject dizzily revolved around the earth and the Eco-Encyclical Laudato Si by Pope Francis. The event was organized by the Diocese of Saint Etienne, the church newspaper La Vie, the Catholic establishment Service National Famille et Societé and the French Bishops’ Conference. The central theme was “Ecological Repentance,” said Riposte Catholique.
The “Ecological Gathering” was soaked with socialists: the former Minister and current President of the party Rassemblement citoyen-Cap21, a party reestablishment of Socialists, Greens and left-wing liberals of 2014 for “ecology, humanism and participatory democracy”; Benoit Leclair, Vice President of the Rhone-Alpes region, and energy and climate change spokesman of the French countryside; and the militant eco-activist and leftist Genevieve Azam, who was the meeting’s head.
The program, the media reports, looked like a nostalgic celebration of the Sixties: there were teach-ins with many circles of chairs, there were collages, paintings, crafts, group dynamic “processes”, interreligious sections, much left propaganda of globalization for a “new world”. The central word, “Ecological Repentance”, was taken from Pope Francis’ Eco Encyclical.
On Sunday, August 30, as part of the “Ecological Assembly” a Holy Mass was celebrated which included liturgical innovations. Bishop Dominique Lebrun and several priests took part. Instead of the cross, a home-made globe was placed in the center around which all gathered in a circle, including bishop and priests. Bishop Dominique Lebrun stood with mitre, crosier, and chasuble, as well as priests with chasubles, around the globe. Photos show them all gazing at it raptly.
What precisely was worshiped on Sunday, August 30 right there in Saint Etienne? Did Father Hamel’s assassins see the publicity? Was the video on Youtube? It was their stomping ground, after all. Did the “ecological assembly” teach them the Faith of All Ages?
The St. Etienne parish served by Father Hamel is functional. It is delivering services. Their website gives evidence of sincere Faith still struggling along in sincere, working-class people. The numerous photographs of parish gatherings are poignant evidence of spiritual activity, testimony that Christ is remembered, and Father Hamel was a part of that. According to the parish’s pastor, Father Moanda-Phuati, Father was a man invested in the “evolution” of the Church; he was “not too traditional, but not too permissive, either. He welcomed all the changes made by the pope. His open-mindedness made him someone who wasn’t afraid of change.” We have all known priests like that since the Council. They are good enough men. But whether they can be said to serve the True Faith, with all that ‘flexibility,’ is open to question. And Muslims knew Father Hamel, he served on the town’s inter-faith council. At least some Muslims know firsthand what the new Catholic Church teaches and practices. The new faith did not save the shrine of Joan of Arc, beloved daughter of Rouen. It is closed now.
In short, it appears that neither the French Church nor the Rouen diocese nor the local church demonstrate the degree of tradition that would allow SSPX to reconcile with the Vatican, which is why (according to their own statement) they do not do so, unless they were allowed to challenge the Council and the vile practices stemming from it. Then, why would SSPX .org consider the example provided by these various bodies to be sufficient to ‘clearly’ and conclusively prove the two Muslim assassins hated the True Faith when they killed Father Hamel?
How would they have known what that is?
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