Feast of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
The Carmel of St. Joseph in Brilon-Wald has existed since 2nd February, 1984. It was founded from the Carmel at Quiévrain which itself was founded by the biological sister of Archhbishop Marcel Lefebvre. At the moment the Carmel consists of six professed sisters and a novice who all live in seclusion.
In order to be protected from the Modernism of the “conciliar” church, which destroys religious and the religious life, the Carmel at Brilon-Wald, as the mother monastery, entrusted themselves to Archbishop Lefebvre and his Society of St. Pius X for their spiritual care. Archbishop Lefebvre exercised a “supplied authority” over this and other monasteries, whereby he was more a “father, councillor and friend than a juridical authority”, to use the words of the then Superior General of the Society, Fr. Franz Schmidberger in a circular letter to all the allied religious communities on 28th May 1991.
After the death of Abp. Lefebvre this “supplied authority” was given initially to Mgr. Fellay and after his election as Superior General of the Society in 1994 to Mgr. De Galarreta. He exercises this office in the spirit of service, according to Fr. Schmidberger, not as member of the Society of St. Pius X, but as a Catholic bishop, and every religious congregation “was absolutely free to turn towards him or not.” “Neither he nor the Society have the slightest intention of seizing the other communities in any way. It is also important to see in his actions always an extraordinary and not an ordinary jurisdiction, until that day when things in God’s Church return to their God-given order.” That is what was said in the letter of the Superior General in 1991.
New and strange ways and a necessary decision
Since the year 2000, the Society of St. Pius. X, led by its Superior General Bp. Fellay, struck a new path (which by the way was openly admitted by the First Assistant Father Niklaus Pfluger at a priest meeting of the German district in Stuttgart in September 2011) which was more and more clearly directed at a “canonical regularisation” a “canonical agreement” with conciliar Rome [the Superior General has already sold himself to the idea that his SSPX be 'officially' integrated but by special arrangement IN the "New Ecclesial Reality"* or the Neo-Catholic DisOrder - Ignis Dei]. This increasingly filled the Carmelites of Brilon-Wald with unrest, since they had entrusted themselves to the Society St. Pius X in order to be protected precisely from this conciliar Rome. Should they now be delivered to them by their own protectors?
* According to Cardinal Hoyos, then head of the Ecclesia Dei Commission – the Neo-Vatican’s organ appointed to facilitate the ‘official’ integration to the institutional New ‘Catholic [Dis-]Order’ or the Novus Ordo of those ‘attached’ to the Traditional Latin Mass – to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) in forcing upon them his hand-picked Superior General in order to stifle the pervading spirit of ‘rebellion’ against the Conciliar ‘Church’ among its Seminarians.
The turbulent events especially within the Society itself from Autumn 2011 onwards did not help to allay these concerns and to reassure them. In particularl, the Carmel looked towards the relevant responsible Bishop de Galarreta. He initially seemed to give every reason for hope, since he had already spoken clearly in his “Réflexions” on the occasion of a meeting of the superiors of the Society in Albano on the 7th October 2011, and then again most clearly in the joint letter with Bishops Williamson and Tissier de Mallerais to the General Council of the Society in April 2012 against a “canonical agreement”.
After the General Chapter of the SSPX in Summer 2012 with its pitiful “six conditions” for an “honourable surrender”; after the exclusion of Msgr. Williamson initially from the General Chapter and then from the Society, without his brother bishops coming to help him; in particular however after the talk of Bishop de Galarreta in Villepreux in October 2012, in which he changed from Saul to Paul, meaning from an opponent of an agreement to its supporter; after all these events nothing was left of their initial hope. One could not have any trust anymore of being protected by the authorities of the SSPX from conciliar Roman modernism.
Final clarity came through reading the booklet by Fr. Michel Lelong about “GREC” entitled “Pour la nécessaire Réconciliation” which openly exposed how long and with which methods some have been working within the Society for a union with conciliar Rome, that is, how much the “SSPX” has already been infected and undermined and how deep the evil was already rooted.
In the winter of 2012/13 the Carmelites of Brilon-Wald therefore came to the conclusion that it would be necessary to terminate the connections with the SSPX in order to remain faithful to the Catholic faith and not to be delivered to conciliar Rome. When in March 2013 there was the prospect of a visit of Bishop the Galarreta since he happened to be in Germany at that time, they told him on 25th February their decision that they would no longer avail themselves of his “supplied authority” and therefore that his visit was no longer necessary. This step came after intense studies, meditation, prayer and counselling as was their full right, since, according to the writing of the Superior General from 1991 the religious communities were totally free to contact Bishop de Galarreta or not.
Manoeuvre to capture a fortress
The former Superior General and present District Superior from Germany, Fr. Franz Schmidberger, seemed to have completely forgotten his former letter from 1991. For on the same day, 25th February, when he had hardly received the message from Bishop de Galarreta and before he was able to think or even consider – for he was, as usual, at the retreat house of the Society in the Black Forest preaching a retreat – he sent immediately a fax to the Spiritual of the Carmelites in Brilon-Wald , in which he ordered him to leave the monastery within three days, by the 28th February at 8pm (interestingly, exactly the same moment when Benedict XVI abdicated) and to take his residence for the time being in the District Headquarters in Stuttgart. As justification he mentioned that the Carmelites wanted to separate themselves because of the “alleged liberalism” in the SSPX and they would even refuse to talk to their “ecclesiastical superior” (he probably meant Msgr. de Galarreta). Well then, the “supplied authority” without proper jurisdiction suddenly turned into “ecclesiastical superior”, even though the First Assistant of the SSPX not so long ago claimed in an interview with full consent of both the German District Superior and the General House that the “SSPX” suffers from a “canonical irregularity”. Irregular clergy can certainly not be “ecclesiastical superiors”…
Since the Chaplain was not even present at Brilon-Wald during the 25 – 28th February, he already could not meet this demand. When he returned the situation had already changed. Firstly, some well-meaning priests did what one would have expected from the District Superior, and persuaded the Carmelite sisters to take a respite prior to a final separation from the Society and to attempt a conversation with Msgr. de Galarreta. Thus, a delay of the decision until Easter, and a visit of the Bishop from 20th -23rd March, was agreed upon.
Secondly, the external sister left the Carmel on 28th February. (An external sister is a Carmelite nun who does not live enclosed and who performs external duties e.g: shopping runs). The external sister from Brilon-Wald had only recently solemnly professed her three religious vows to the Carmel St. Joseph on the Feast of St. Joseph 2012. She, however, did not want to know anything about the happenings in the SSPX and refused to take note of any information. Therefore, she was not by any means ready to follow the step of her community.
Her Mother Superior asked her to wait until Easter and offered her that if she disagreed afterwards with the decision, she would be accommodated in another Carmelite Monastery. Appropriate steps had already been taken and a Carmel had been found which would have taken the sister in such a case. The external however, did not want to wait and insisted on leaving the monastery immediately. For this purpose she got in touch with her biological brother, who was stationed as priest in the District Headquarters in Stuttgart and who came immediately to take his sister with him.
Between the retreat which finished on the 2nd March and the priest meeting which began on the 4th March, the German District Superior found time to write a letter to the Chaplain of the Carmel in which he summoned him again, this time as a “command in obedience” to leave the Carmel until 7th March and to be at the District Headquarters in Stuttgart by 8pm. This letter was delivered to the Chaplain on 5th March via “registered mail”.
The Reverend Mother Prioress thereupon personally turned towards Fr. Schmidberger and asked him politely to leave the Chaplain at least until Easter at the monastery, otherwise they, especially after the unlawful removal of the external sister, would be unable to believe in the purity of his and hence of the SSPX’s intentions. The answer came by return on 6th March: It is the right of the District Superior to transfer the priests at his will; he bears no responsibility for the escape of the external sister. Furthermore, the removal of the external was necessary for her nerves and moreover he misses greatly the humility of the remaining Carmelites of Brilon-Wald.
If a thief wants to take a city or fortress he takes the trouble first to cut off the supply. Something similar happened here. After the removal of the external sister who was responsible for providing the means of subsistence, now the Chaplain should have been removed and thus the spiritual means of subsistance should have been cut off. Rev. Fr. District Superior attempted very obviously to seize the Carmel at Brilon-Wald, quite contrary to his assertion in 1991 (another possibility of seizing was not given since the property of the Carmel with its buildings, monasteries, chapel and spiritual house was in the possession of the nuns). All his protestations of innocence were to no avail. For the right to move a priest does not include the right to leave a monastery without a spiritual nourishment and inflict in a certain sense an interdict, despite the fact they have been not found guilty of any offense. And the abduction from a nun from her monastery by a priest who is under his own authority and the accommodation of this escaped nun in his own house, is impossible to have happened without his consent, especially since he defended this unlawful procedure.
The inevitable break
The situation was clear for the Carmelites. They informed Mgr. de Galarreta that he did not have to trouble himself anymore. Under such circumstances collaboration with these people was unthinkable. It was also clear for the Chaplain that he could not follow the command of the District Superior. For nonsensical and unjust commands are not mandatory. The command was nonsensical, as in the short period of less than three days it was impossible for the Spiritual to arrange all his affairs, to pack his things and to organise his move. The command was unjust as it was obviously aimed at depriving the Carmelites of Brilon-Wald from the Holy Mass and the Sacraments.
Indeed, the District Superior promised half-heartedly in his “registered mail” to offer a “substitute” for the Spiritual, but on the “appointed date” 7th March, nothing was to be seen or heard of this “substitute”. At least up until Easter, the spiritual care for the sisters should have been ensured, and even beyond that for a reasonable period in order to give the nuns the opportunity to find a new Chaplain themselves. Since the Carmel was guilty of no offense, but simply made use of its own right there was no reason for any punishment – especially not in view of the innumerable merits which the monastery had acquired for the German district in nearly thirty years.
Naturally, one has to expect that the SSPX spreads all kinds of insults and slanders against the Carmel in Brilon-Wald and at least speaks badly of it, since they cannot conquer it. Secondly, it can be assumed that the Chaplain will be excluded from the SSPX due to “disobedience”. But one has to obey God more than men. “In Deo laudabo verbum, in Domino laudabo sermonem: in Deo speravi, non timebo quid faciat mihi homo.” (Ps. 55,11).
Fr. Schmidberger’s Editorial about the Carmelites
(German District Newsletter, April 2012)
“… At this point I have to convey a very painful message: The Carmelites of Brilon-Wald, misled by their Chaplain, have terminated their friendship with us. This monastery was founded on 2nd February 1984 under the patronage of St. Joseph and recently comprised eight nuns. At the end of February they informed Msgr. de Galarreta who is responsible for the religious communities associated with us that due to the liberalism within the SSPX they would terminate their relationship with us. This [liberalism] was a true threat for their Faith. A year and a half long influencing preceded this decision, over which there was not enough accountability. In recent months subversive and slanderous writings apparently circulated, written by priests who are about to leave us or have already left us. It is obvious that religious women in their seclusion who are only “informed” from this side are not equipped against such an enemy. Step by step their trust was undermined. In the end they became victims of the father of lies and seduction. And thus we can only say with the suffering Job: “The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
This separation should remind us all of the warnings of the great Apostle Paul: “He that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor 10:12). He does not ‘say he who stands’, but ‘he who thinks that he stands’, precisely because many souls believe themselves in safety; they bathe themselves in virtue, while pride and self-righteousness have ensnared their hearts long ago. Stubbornness, self-righteousness, condescension, criticism, false dialectic, mockery and malice are not the gifts of the Holy Ghost, but characteristics of the adversary of God. It does not matter to him whether he causes the downfall of a soul through its well-known weaknesses, or through its pride of its own virtues. Too often the devil turns into an angel of light and performs his work of seduction sub specie boni – under the disguise of good. If one carries one’s own right too far, for example, the highest injustice can be done. Not for nothing the old saying said: Summum jus, summa injuria. If you have circumnavigated the dangers of a wrong obedience and avoided liberalism and modernism, you are far from immune to a sectarian anti-liberalism. Only humility of spirit, and perhaps more so of the heart, protects one against a fall. “Learn from me”, says our blessed Lord, “for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Matthew 11:29). …”
Corrections by our Nuns on the Editorial
The announcement of the separation of the Carmel St. Joseph from the Society St. Pius X in the April Mitteilungsblatt requires due to its wrong claims some corrections which we want to submit herewith.
Claim: The Carmelites of Brilon-Wald were misled by their chaplain (…) A period of one and a half years of influencing preceded this move.
Correction: There was no influencing, however, sound catechesis, in the form and content similar to the instructions we were commonly used to receive 15 years ago from the Society St. Pius X. Behind this background it was inevitable that the current deviations of the Society St. Pius X from sound doctrine became obvious. Our practical conclusion, the step to separate ourselves from the Society, was not discussed with our Chaplain, he was merely informed of it, excluding the practical question whether he was to go and stay with us in this case.
Claim: We were religious nuns in seclusion who are only “informed” from one side.
Correction: Up until March 2013 we received the Mitteilungsblatt and the Kirchliche Umschau and therefore we were familiar with the official statements of the Society.
Claim: In the last months, subversive and slanderous writings were apparently circulating in the monastery. (…)
Correction: The main object of our studies were in recent months: Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre: Sermons, talks and books (especiall: “They have uncrowned Him”); Don Félix Sardá y Salvany: “Liberalism is sin” (recommended by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre); Father Michel Lelong: “Pour la nécessaire réconciliation – Le Groupe de Reflexion Entre Catholiques (GREC)” (Report of a priest of the official church of the secret talks between the SSPX with Rome for 15 years). To complement the one-sided reporting of the Mitteilungsblatt we used (without the mediation of our Chaplain) the writings of the SSPX- Resistance. These are flatly condemned by the SSPX as subversive.
Claim: Step by step their (i.e.: our) trust was undermined, ie by said subversion.
Correction: Our trust was undermined by the Society itself. The contradiction and deviation from the clear line of the Archbishop of which abundant statements can be found, were irrefutably documented by the Resistance. That the Mitteilungsblatt did not even want to publish the letter of the three bishops Tissier de Mallerais, de Galarreta and Williamson to the General Council in April 2012 as well as the response of the General Council ( 14.04.2012), corresponds certainly not with truthful reporting. On the side of the Resistance we meet an objective way of arguing, whereas it is mere subjective arguing on the side of the SSPX.
Claim: Without literal reference but from its context unambiguously applied to us we are subject to: stubbornness, self-righteousness, condescension, criticism, false dialectic, mockery and malice.
Correction: A documentation of our exchange of letters with Bishop de Galarreta and Rev. Fr. Schmidberger which was kept from our side as short and polite as possible would completely relieve us in this regard. We forgo a publication in order not to unnecessarily put personalities of the SSPX in the light of their own allegations.
Proof of liberalism in the Society
That liberalism has entered the Society can be demonstrated by many statements of Bishop Fellay and other well-known representatives of the Society which can be read in their official statements or more clearly compiled on the website of the resistance. The willingness, indeed the pursuit of a practical agreement with still a modernist, conciliar Rome, is the most telling and alarming proof. As complicity in liberalism Don Félix Sardá y Salvany mentions: “Complicity have the fathers, confessors, spiritual directors, directors of institutes, professors and teachers, when they if asked about such things either remain silent or simply not explain where they are obliged to instruct the conscience of their subordinates. “(Chapter 17, No. 6) In Sarto-Verlag (publishing company of the German SSPX) dubious books are distributed. In the Mitteilungsblatt and the Kirchlichen Umschau appear constantly disputable articles by conservative representatives of the official church without being corrected.
Are we sedevacantists?
No, we are not. A decision on whether the dubious popes since the Council were/are legitimate popes or not cannot be in any way incumbent on us [only the Sovereign Pontiff, being the supreme judge, can pronounce on it - this the Sedevacantists have arrogated to themselves]. Therefore, we pray for the Pope, without however being able to submit to his still modernist authority [cf., our post, "Catholic Resistance, Not Disobedience"].
Our canonical situation
According to the letter of the then Superior General of the SSPX, Rev. Fr. Schmidberger, to the monasteries of tradition on 28.05. 1991, the situation for all monasteries associated with the SSPX is as follows: The SSPX itself has no power of jurisdiction over the religious communities. The bishop in charge of the religious communities executes his office not as a member of the SSPX but simply as a Catholic bishop by virtue of an extraordinary jurisdiction which arises as the communities call on him due to the state of emergency. The communities are completely free to do so. We have therefore forwent in freedom due to the above mentioned liberalism to make use of Msgr. de Galarreta’s supplied authority. In its place we are in contact with Msgr. Richard Williamson.
The quest for a rational assessment of the situation of the SSPX, enlightened by faith, has suggested to us after much prayer the following decision: For the love of truth, of the Church and the SSPX as the blessed work of the Archbishop, we see it as our duty, to withdraw from the dangerous influence of liberalism which has become apparent in the latter. The life of contemplative sisters has as its goal the contemplation of truth and the union with God, Who Is Truth Itself. Half-truths and compromises can impossibly be means to reach this goal. In order to work for the triumph of our Holy Church through the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady , to remain faithful to the mission of the Archbishop [the angel ascending from the rising of the sun having the sign of the living God (Apoc. 7.2), cf., our post, "The Wine of the Wrath of God"] and to obtain for us and for many souls the highest good, the union with God, we see ourselves forced to confess and protect our faith by distancing ourselves from the Society. We will return with pleasure, as soon as it returns to the line of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
What about the future of the monastery?
Due to the loss of benefactors who cannot understand our step and also due to fact that our external sister left us hastily, we are now in a distressed situation. For over 30 years the district was unable to provide us with a chaplain who could have been able to operate pastorally. Due to a lack of faithful who could help us, we now have to leave our cloister regularly in order to ensure for our livelihood. That we were heading towards this precarious situation was already communicated eight years ago to the then District Superior, without however, appointing a house-chaplain who could fill the empty post. Therefore, we envisage to relocate our Carmel to the south where help is assured. Since our monastery cannot be sold – it reverts back to the SSPX as soon as it is no longer used as a Carmel – we need new financial means to rebuild. Even with a very humble beginning with a smaller building at least 700,000 Euro are necessary. We urgently ask you for your donations to help ensure that the continuation of our monastery in Bavaria or surroundings can be guaranteed. For the faith we have thrown ourselves in the arms of Divine Providence: “ In te, Domine, speravi – non confundar in aeternum – In you my Lord I hope – I shall not be confounded.”
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Guardian of the Faith, pray for us!
Sisters of the Carmel St. Joseph
Donations to the Teresian Carmel of St. Joseph: Sparkasse HSL Brilon, BLZ 416 517 70, Account No. 56 267, IBAN: DE58 4165 1770 0000 0562 67, BIC: WELADED1HSL