Dominicans of Avrillé: The Fall and Drift of Le Barroux
While this article is about the Fall of the Monastery of Le Barroux (which ended up make a 'deal with Modernist Rome') and not about the Conciliar SSPX, the similarities in the approaches of both Dom Gerard and Bishop Fellay in trying to seek acceptance from their followers for essentially the same 'deal with Rome' are striking.

Taken from The Recusant - Issue 19 [August 2014]

The Fall and Drift of Le Barroux

[Editor’s note - The following is an extract from an article by Père Bruno O.S.B in the spring 2014 issue of the Le Sel de La Terre, published by the Dominicans of Avrillé. In the article, Père Bruno recounts Dom Gérard’s signing of an agreement with Rome and then explains three factors that changed the way of thinking of the monks in that community. These factors are: 1) the internal influence: the role of the superior; 2) the external influence: contamination; and 3) the cessation of combat. The extract below deals with the first of these three. The second extract is taken from the well known interview of Archbishop Lefebvre with Fideliter, in 1988, in which he comments on the defection of Le Barroux to modern Rome.]

How did the Community Change?

1)The internal influence: the role of the superior

The example of le Barroux shows that when a superior wants to join with Rome, he can prepare his subjects in order to lead them in this direction, even if many are at first opposed to it (which was the case at le Barroux). He can, in different ways, and more or less consciously, condition his community. This explains why the monastery, as a whole, followed Dom Gerard.

The superior filters information (I spoke of periodicals suppressed at the community table, and replaced by others) and presents news in his own way.

The superior uses a double language in order to please everyone. He adapts to the person he is speaking to or to his audience: he is hard with the hard, and soft with the soft. If you manifest your distress to him, he replies: “I understand you, I am vigilant.” If, on the contrary, you find that things are not progressing fast enough: “Be patient, we are advancing, but we must go slowly.” This double language can sometimes go as far as lying.

The superior endeavours to reassure those who are worried. Dom Gerard often told me: “The community is in good health, we are strong, so don’t be worried!” I replied that the community was really not in good health, and I gave him some examples. 

The superior insists on the obligation of trusting him: relations with Rome come under the prudential domain, we must therefore trust authority. And if we are not completely in agreement, we submit. Trust and obedience…

The superior often reminds of the duty of sanctifying oneself, which is obviously of the utmost importance. But for him, it is a question of sanctifying oneself without taking into account the crisis; whereas we must sanctify ourselves in the crisis and by the crisis. The crisis is an occasion of sanctifying ourselves: at first sight, it is an obstacle, but God changes obstacles into means. In a monastery, in a period of crisis, we cannot therefore content ourselves with living the religious life well, as if there was no crisis.

The superior changes the problems. “There are so many things going wrong in France, in the world, in the Church, that we must not dwell on petty quarrels over details. We have to expand our horizons.”

The superior benefits (consciously or not) of the fact that his subjects trust him and are attached to his person. At le Barroux, many could not imagine that Dom Gerard could one day go astray. This is an opportunity to stress that we must be committed to principles more than to people. Why? Because people can change, whereas principles do not change. We can recover from the failures, even serious failures, of a person, we do not recover from the abandonment of principles. It was Mgr. Freppel who said, “We never recover from the sacrifice of principles.” 

The superior makes those who resist the orientation that he endeavours to impose feel guilty about their position; he reproaches them for disturbing the community, as if the trouble wasn’t the result of the actions and words of the authority, but of those who are worried about it, and rightly so.

The superior repeats that we have to keep the sense of the Church: “Beware of the dangers of schism and of sedevacantism!” (A spectre that is raised frequently today…). 

How did the community of le Barroux react? For most, trust was necessary because Dom Gerard was the leader, thus he had the graces of state. If, despite everything, we asked questions, if we did not agree, we had to in any case not propagate a bad spirit, so as to preserve the unity of the community. Unity became more important than truth. But when you put unity above truth, you lose both: you lose the truth, and you also lose unity. This is what happened at le Barroux.

One of the fathers of the monastery, who had important responsibilities, was personally opposed to concelebrating in the new rite, but he especially did not want to criticize his superior, Dom Gerard. He thus held a good principle: no compromise with the new mass; but he remained attached to a person who contradicted this principle. He finally gave in and concelebrated, when he had vowed that he would never do it. He accepted at least once. This was the case with most of them. I think two or three of them never did it and would never want to. That being said, not concelebrating the new mass oneself was not enough: one also had to protest against those who did it. This was one of the reasons for my departure: I could not bear knowing that my fellow brothers participated in concelebrations, particularly a father ordained at the same time as me in Écône on June 27, 1986, who did it quite often. Not only was it out of the question that I use the new rite (they would never have dared to ask it of me), but I could not stay in a community where it had become a normal thing.

In this type of situation, the superior does not necessarily ask you to be in agreement on all points with him; he simply asks you to be quiet: “If you have any reluctance or reservations, keep quiet, do not speak of them.” If, in effect, you keep quiet, that allows him to continue to advance in his direction, without any obstacles. And he who agrees to keep quiet, by keeping quiet, and by not expressing his convictions, slowly ends up losing them. He one day accepts to take a first step, and we know that the first step is the hardest.

[Emphasis mine.]
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Continued from The Recusant

Archbishop Lefebvre on Le Barroux
Extract taken from interview with Fideliter, issue 66, (November - December 1988)

Archbishop Lefebvre: ...I will place the discussion at the doctrinal level: “Do you agree with the great encyclicals of all the popes who preceded you? Do you agree with Quanta Cura of Pius IX, Immortale Dei and Libertas of Leo XIII, Pascendi Gregis of Pius X, Quas Primas of Pius XI, Humani Generis of Pius XII? Are you in full communion with these Popes and their teachings? Do you still accept the entire Anti-Modernist Oath? Are you in favor of the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ? If you do not accept the doctrine of your predecessors, it is useless to talk! As long as you do not accept the correction of the Council, in consideration of the doctrine of these Popes, your predecessors, no dialogue is possible. It is useless.”
Thus, the positions will be clear.

The stakes are not small. We are not content when they say to us, “You may say the traditional Mass, but you must accept the Council.” What opposes us is doctrine; it is clear.

This is what Dom Gérard did not see, and what confused him. Dom Gérard has always seen the liturgy and the monastic life, but he does not clearly see the theological problems of the Council, especially Religious Liberty. He does not see the malice of these errors. He was never too much worried about this.

What touched him was the liturgical reform and the reform of the Benedictine monasteries. He left Tournay, saying, “I cannot accept this.” Then, he founded a community of monks with the liturgy and with a Benedictine spirit. Very well, wonderful. But he did not appreciate enough that these reforms which led him to leave his monastery were the consequences of errors in the Council itself.

As long as they grant him what he wanted—this monastic spirit and the traditional liturgy—he has what he wants and is indifferent to the rest. But he has fallen into a snare: the others have given up nothing of their false principles. It is sad because there are around sixty monks, twenty priests, and thirty nuns. There are nearly one hundred youth there, bewildered, whose families are worried or even divided. It is a disaster.

Interviewer: The nuns of the monastery Notre Dame de l’Annonciation remain very much attached to you.

Archbishop Lefebvre: Yes, indeed. They came to make protestations of their affection... However, I do not seek this affection, but rather that they remain attached to Tradition. Are they willing to submit to a modernist authority? Here, indeed, is the question. If needed they must separate themselves from Dom Gérard to keep the Faith and Tradition.

At least the monastery in Brazil [Dom Tomás Aquinas’s Monastery of Santa Cruz] refused to follow Dom Gérard and that is an important point. I believe that what has contributed to the loss of Dom Gérard was his desire to open to those who are not with us and who would profit from following Tradition. This was the theme of what he wrote in his letter to the Friends of the Monastery two years after his arrival at Le Barroux. He was saying, “We will strive not to have this critical, sterile, negative attitude. We will strive to open our doors to all those who, though they might not have our ideas, would love the liturgy, so that they too may benefit from the monastic life.”

From that period, I was worried, considering this as a dangerous operation. It was the opening of the Church to the world, and one must acknowledge that it was the world that converted the Church. Dom Gérard let himself be contaminated by the milieu which he welcomed in his monastery. Rome may be proud to have won a big battle and to have hit in the right place. It is sad....

[Emphasis mine.]
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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