BAYONNE, France (LifeSiteNews) — A French bishop known for his orthodoxy praised bishops in America as examples of outspokenness in the face of a deep crisis of faith within the Church, a crisis he said calls to mind the great apostasy that will be seen in the age of the Antichrist.
In a recent interview with the National Catholic Register, Bishop Marc Aillet of the Diocese of Bayonne, Oloron and Lescar in southwest France said that today “truth itself is under threat, and with it the whole of humanity.”
Insisting on the need for bishops to speak out as true shepherds of souls and lamenting the silence of so many French bishops on matters of faith, Aillet praised bishops in the U.S. for raising their voice in defense of such things as the sanctity of life and for their presence at the national March for Life each year in Washington, D.C.
“When I went to the U.S., I found that parishes had services specifically dedicated to the dignity of life, and at every March for Life, a substantial number of bishops participate, which is not the case in France or elsewhere.”
“It’s fair to say that many of their bishops are not ‘mute dogs,’” Aillet said. Expressing his hope that bishops in France may follow their example, he continued, “perhaps they can encourage us French bishops to bark a little louder.”
In an effort to address the crisis of truth the world is facing, Aillet published the book Le temps des saints (The Time of Saints) last fall in which he argued that within the ecclesiastical hierarchy unity must be “based on the Creed, which suffers no divergence, though in dialogue with the world it is not always possible to wait for consensus before speaking out.”
Leading by example, Aillet has not shied away from raising his voice to clarify authentic Catholic practice and doctrine. After the Vatican’s issuance of Fiducia Supplicans, in a diocesan instruction given December 29, Aillet forbade his priests from blessing homosexual and irregular “couples.” He instead directed that a blessing be only given to each person individually in such circumstances, saying, “if people ask for it,” priests are “to give them a blessing, provided that it is to each person individually, calling them to conversion and inviting them to ask for the help of the grace that the Lord grants to all those who ask him to conform their lives to the God’s will.”
The French bishop told the Register that the sexual abuse crisis with which the Church is still dealing was an indication of more profound loss of faith throughout the once Christian West. “The sexual abuse crisis was, in a way, the tip of the iceberg of a crisis of the Church and, more profoundly, of a recession of faith, which Ratzinger had prophetically analyzed as early as 1969,” Aillet said.
Noting the combined crisis of mass apostasy from the Christian faith in the West and the rise of severe persecution against Christians throughout the world, the bishop emphasized that a proper assessment of our present day was called for.
Observing “the Church’s distancing itself from its mission of calling men to conversion,” along with an “obsession with structural reforms,” “risks of schisms, divisions within the Church,” and the threat that technological advances pose regarding the “control they could exert over freedom and consciences,” Aillet said such things call to mind what the Church teaches about the coming of the Antichrist.
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that the return of Christ will be preceded by the advent of the ungodly man, the Antichrist,” he said. “We won’t ‘know the day or the hour,’ but we absolutely must reintegrate the events we are experiencing today into a Christian vision of history that cannot do without this perspective of Christ’s return, which must be the key to our understanding.”
The bishop also called for a liturgical peace that focused on training the faithful in the “treasure of the liturgy,” saying, “Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum [Concilium] constitution allows for both forms, and it would be better to train the faithful better in the treasure of the liturgy rather than create frustrations among young people, especially since in my experience they go cheerfully from a St. Pius V Mass to a Paul VI Mass if it’s well celebrated. So there’s no point in burdening them with the ideological wars that animated their elders at the time of the great post-Council crises, and which are no longer relevant to today’s world.”
In his own diocese, Aillet has preserved the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass even after the restrictions of Traditionis Custodes were published, instead observing a “loyal application” of Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum, which widened the use of the traditional liturgy.
Addressing the rejection of basic truths about human nature, such as is evident in the rise of abortion, same-sex “marriage,” and transgender ideology, the French bishop said the ultimate answer lay in speaking openly again the truth about God.
“If we speak the truth about God again, we will inevitably speak the truth about man, which is so necessary in this anthropological crisis we’re going through, and we must do so without fear of shocking or encountering hostility, but by speaking directly to people’s consciences, that intimate sanctuary where God’s voice is heard,” he said.