Response to Press Inquiries Regarding Damien Fisher’s Misleading Article in the New Hampshire Union Leader

This statement was updated on February 6, 2021.

Response to Press Inquiries

In response to a misleading article that appeared in the New Hampshire Union Leader on 2 February 2021 (“Vatican rejects Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary appeal”), the Members of Saint Benedict Center clarify that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (“CDF”) neither adjudicated nor rejected the substantive merits of the administrative recourse that the Members filed in the spring of 2019.

In its decision, the CDF wrote very clearly that “recent jurisprudence” concerning a disputed point of procedural law changed for the Congregation, and that because of that, our recourse as filed at that time could not be accepted. The CDF issued no judgment against our Doctrinal Beliefs, no judgment as to whether any statute of limitations for the prosecution of a violation had passed (there is no such thing as a statute of limitations in canon law), and no judgment on the merits of the injurious decree issued by Father Georges de Laire on 7 January 2019 imposing multiple precepts and prohibitions upon the Members of the Saint Benedict Center and its “associates.” No judicial appeal was ever filed by the Members of the Center, because there was no trial held. Consequently, there were no judges of the CDF who rejected an appeal, contrary to what Father de Laire misstates as fact.

Last August, I renewed contact with Father de Laire. On 7 January of this year, my canonical procurator and I met with him at the Chancery to discuss how the Diocese and the Center can move forward. At that meeting, Father de Laire requested that I submit to him in writing some of the many questions that we presented on the occasion regarding his decree, questions that remain to this date unanswered by him.

Fulfilling the request made of me, I submitted to Father de Laire a letter dated 23 January, wherein I asked fifteen questions regarding just the preamble of the 2019 decree. This limitation was at his request, for he wanted the discussion to proceed in a “manageable” way. It was my impression that there would ensue good-faith correspondence on the pressing issues addressed by Father de Laire’s 2019 decree. Yet, without answering my letter, Father de Laire has once again chosen to go to the secular press to mischaracterize what has actually transpired.

Father de Laire has known since 10 August of last year that the CDF rejected our recourse. This is hardly new information. Father De Laire and I have been engaged in a process of dialogue on these matters since shortly after that, and only now — as I await a reply to the important questions he received from me on 26 January — does he present this news to a journalist who has a record of biased reporting against us. A reasonable question needs to be asked: Why would Father de Laire not simply answer my questions as he agreed to do and thus patiently continue the dialogue we agreed on, rather than appeal to the court of public opinion by utilizing the services of a biased journalist?

The Members of Saint Benedict Center will not attempt to press their doctrinal and canonical case against him in the court of public opinion. Rather, with the guidance of expert canonical and civil legal counsel, they remain fixed on the course charted over two years ago: to pursue justice for the community of Saint Benedict Center by utilizing all means at their disposal in ecclesiastical and civil law. This includes patient, charitable, and truthful dialogue on our part.

None of those avenues have been exhausted.

In the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Brother André Marie, M.I.C.M.

In 1923 His Holiness Pope Pius XI proclaimed Saint Francis de Sales to be Patron Saint of the Catholic Press.