A Catechism of the Crisis in the SSPX
By a French priest of the SSPX
1. Has there ever really been a crisis ?
Yes. Bp. Fellay speaks of “a very great trial in the SSPX” (Econe, 07/09/2012); “A sorrowful trial” with “serious problems” (Cor Unum, Nov. 2012) “The greatest that we’ve ever had” (01/11/2012)
2. Why speak of these problems in public?
For the simple reason that we must “never say these theological discussions are a matter for specialists and do not concern us. It must be emphasised to show that exactly the opposite is the case: because they touch on faith, these issues concern us all, clergy and laity. We must therefore take pains to understand and make understood the issues. "(Fr. de Cacqueray, Suresnes, 31/12/2008)
3. Why deal with these problem in the form of a catechism?
Because, as Mgr. Fellay said, “Aware of the vital need on behalf of souls to preach time and time again the truths of Faith, the Catholic Church has always sought to make available to her children the teaching of eternal truths ... May the pages of the Catechism enlighten souls of good will ... "(Preface to the catechism of Christian doctrine)
4. Of what exactly has the crisis in the SSPX consisted?
“There has been a challenge to authority, a radical challenge, since it accused the authorities of no longer directing the Society towards its end” (Bp. Fellay, Cor Unum, Nov.2012)
5. But wasn’t this crisis overcome at the General Chapter in July 2012?
No. “There is a distrust of authority.” (Bp. Fellay, Econe, 07/09/2012
6. Why has the sickness not been treated?
Because, as Bp. Fellay himself recognised, “I am well aware that this does not happen in a day and it is useless to say ''Trust us!''. It is after the facts, in actions, that little by little it will come back. It is following the facts, and through acts, that little by little it will return.
7. Have there not been any significant actions by Menzingen since then?
Of course! The expulsion of Bp. Williamson!
8. But is that enough to conclude that the crisis is still going on? You’d have to show that, apart from some disciplinary matters, Menzingen continues its doctrinal slide.
This is exactly what we are going to do: explain how and why Menzingen is continuing down the wrong road.
9. Why would Menzingen be going down the wrong road?
Because the authorities of the SSPX refuse to get rid of the ambiguity which they have created.
10. What is this ambiguity?
It is twofold and concerns the two acts performed by Benedict XVI which are favourable to Tradition in a material way and which Bp. Fellay presents as formally favouring Tradition.
11. What do these strange words mean?
When you have cement, sand and gravel, you have a house materially speaking, but not formally. There is a huge difference.
12. What is the first act of Benedict XVI which is a problem?
This is the Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict XVI on the use of the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970. Bishop Fellay claims that "By the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI has restored to its rightful place the Tridentine Mass, stating clearly that the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V has never been abrogated."
13. Where is the ambiguity?
In reality, the Motu Proprio says that the Traditional Mass has never been abrogated as the extraordinary form but that it was repealed as the ordinary form. By this act, Benedict XVI made the Roman rite of Mass lose, de jure, its status as the only ordinary and official form, and relegated it to the status of “extraordinary form”, after having humiliated it by comparing its sanctity to that of the “bastard rite.” Despite these facts, no official document from Menzingen exists condemning this liturgical cohabitation.
14. But that’s just the way you see things.
No, it’s also the view of Fr. de Cacqueray in his Letter to Friends and Benefactors of 2009. The Motu Proprio, he said, “does not correspond, and is not a response, to the first requirement of the SSPX except materially speaking.” (Suresnes, 31/12/2008)
What’s more, Archbishop Lefebvre, after realising that it had been a mistake to sign an agreement with Rome in May 1988, put us on our guard after the Consecrations: “You can see clearly that they wanted to bring us back into the Conciliar Church... they want to impose these novelties on us in order to have done with Tradition. They don’t allow anything through esteem for the traditional liturgy but simply in order to trick those who they give it to and to diminish our resistance, to drive a wedge into the Traditionalist camp, in order to destroy it. That’s their policy, their tactics...” (Econe, 09/09/1988)
15. So how should Bp. Fellay have responded?
The same way the Society once upon a time responded to a similar action by Rome (the Indult of 1984). The Superior General of the SSPX said that this indult was “ruinous for the metaphysics of law”. It could only be an “argumentum ad hominem,” because “its conditions are unacceptable.” A Catholic, “who thinks with the Church, can only consider the indult as being the foundation of a request.” (Cor Unum, June 1985)
16. So, strictly speaking, the first requirement of the SSPX didn’t succeed?
In effect, the General Chapter of 2006 spoke of “the necessity of having two requirements” in the “discussions with Rome.” A note recalled the first one: “Complete liberty without any conditions for the Tridentine Mass.” However, the liberating of the Mass, in addition to the deception already noted, was not unconditional. Article 2 of the Motu Proprio gives this freedom to say Mass without need for “authorisation from the Apostolic See or the Ordinary” only to “Masses which are celebrated without the people.”
17. Should we therefore not have pursued discussions with the Roman authorities any further?
If we had respected what the General Chapter of 2006 had decided: that’s right, yes. And yet, Bishop Fellay did the opposite, because after recalling “the Hegelian approach of Benedict XVI, according to which the change, which was necessary, nonetheless cannot be a rupture with the past”, he wrote: “Regarding Rome, not knowing how and when the situation can change, we prefer to prepare the ground for discussions by an ad hoc group and not let ourselves be taken by surprise, if there are any surprises.” (Cor Unum, 16/07/2007)
18. What is the second act of Benedict XVI which poses a problem?
It is the decree lifting the latae sententiae excommunications of the Society Bishops (21/01/2009), which didn’t correspond either with the second requirement of the 2006 Chapter, which is to say:
“The repeal of the Decree of Excommunication of the four Society Bishops.”
For, just as in 1988, “For Rome, the goal of these discussions is reconciliation, as Cardinal Gagnon says, the return of the lost sheep into the sheepfold. When we think of the history of relations between Rome and Traditionalists from 1965 to our own time, we are obliged to state that it is one cruel, relentless persecution to oblige us to submit to the Council. The conciliar, modernist Rome of today could never tolerate the existence of a healthy, vigorous branch of the Church which condemns them by its vitality.” (Abp. Lefebvre, Econe, 19/06/1988)
19. But it doesn’t matter a great deal whether the excommunications are “repealed” or “lifted”, does it?
“The Society refuses to ask for a ‘lifting of the sanctions.’ It is seeking ‘the repeal of the decree of excommunication’ and anyone can see that the terms which we employed to make our request are that way by design. We want to make manifest our conviction that the sanctions are invalid.” (Fr. de Cacqueray, Suresnes, 31/12/2008)
20. But the result is there, and in spite of everything, it is positive!
“If what we’re talking about is really the repeal of a decree - and not the lifting of excommunications
– then that will be the beginning of repairing the unprecedented injustice that we know of, and we will be able to rejoice. However, if there were to be a “lifting of excommunications,” then things would be quite different. That would not correspond to our second requirement, and it would not cleanse our Bishops of the unjust proceedings that have been practised against them. If we allow it to be thought that the penalties pronounced were not invalid, and perhaps were deserved, would that not result, in a certain sense at least, in a new and more profound evil? In that case, Rome, with an appearance of compassion, would have removed penalties which have been found by the same act to have been validly or legitimately made.” (Fr. de Caqcueray, Suresnes, 31/12/2008)
21. How did Bp. Fellay react in public to the lifting of the excommunications?
He expressed his “filial gratitude to the Holy Father for this act which, going beyond the SSPX, will benefit the whole Church ... Besides our recognition to the Holy Father, and to all those who helped him make this courageous act, we are happy that the decree of 21st January sees “discussions” with the Holy See as necessary... In this new climate, we have a firm hope of arriving soon at a recognition of the rights of Catholic Tradition.” (Menzingen, 24/01/2009)
22. Did anyone take issue with this communiqué at that time?
Yes. On the occasion of a meeting of priors, one of them commented that the communiqué told a lie, was deceiving our faithful, and that things needed clarification. He used this image: “When I order a pear cake, and I get delivered an apple cake, I can’t say I’ve obtained what I asked for.”
23. Did Bp. Fellay publicly correct the position he had taken?
No. The following year, the prior was silenced and appointed as a junior priest in a new post. In the meantime, Bp. Fellay wrote in the internal bulletin of the Society: “At the same time as I handed over to the Cardinal the bouquet for Pope Benedict XVI, I received from his hands the decree signed by Cardinal Re, dated 21st January. How can one not see the hand of Our Lady in that? I swear to you, I am still today amazed by it. This goes beyond human expectations, even if the decree speaks of remitting [pardoning] the excommunications and not of cancelling the decree of 1988, and even if the text arranges things in such a way that the Holy See doesn’t lose face. The essential thing is still that the excommunications - which we have always contested – no longer exist, and the path recommended by us of discussions of the root problems (doctrine, faith, etc.) is recognised as necessary.
24. Surely what matters is the effect?
No, since “The essential thing is that the excommunications no longer exist” is another way of saying that we’re content with having a thing materially whereas we wanted to have it formally.
25. So in spite of these “even if”s, Bishop Fellay considered the second requirement fulfilled?
Yes. Not only would he engage in discussions with Rome, but he had already begun to talk to members of a “canonical situation, when it will be possible” where “we would necessarily have to have a system of protection, as Archbishop Lefebvre so wisely foresaw, with a committee for the defence of Tradition in Rome at its head.” (Cor Unum, 08/02/2009)
26. So we began the discussions with Rome on a false foundation?
Completely, since “we don’t see reconciliation in the same way. Cardinal Ratzinger sees it in the sense of reducing us, of bringing us back to Vatican II. We see it as the return of Rome to Tradition. We don’t agree with one another. It’s a dialogue of the deaf.” (Archbishop Lefebvre, Fideliter, Sept-Oct 1988)
27. But we’re no longer in the era of John-Paul II.
“But, is the thinking of Benedict XVI better in this respect than that of John Paul II? It is enough to read the study made by one of us three, The Faith in Peril from Reason, to realize that the thought of the current Pope is also impregnated of subjectivism. It is all the subjective imagination of the man in the place of the objective reality of God. It is all the Catholic religion subjected to the modern world.”
(Bishops Williamson, Tissier, de Galarreta 07/04/2012)
28. All the same, even if both the requirements were not strictly speaking met, in terms of the media and also psychologically speaking they showed that Benedict XVI was really benevolent towards the Society and its doctrinal position.
“As a subjectivist this can easily be the case, because liberal subjectivists can tolerate even the truth, but not if one refuses to tolerate error. He would accept us within the framework of relativistic and dialectical pluralism, with the proviso that we would remain in “full communion,” in relation to the authority and to other “ecclesiastical entities.” For this reason the Roman authorities can tolerate that the Society continue to teach Catholic doctrine, but they will absolutely not permit that it condemn Conciliar teachings. That is why an even purely practical agreement would necessarily silence little by little the Society, a full critique of the Council or the New Mass. By ceasing to attack the most important of all the victories of the Revolution, the poor Society would necessarily cease being opposed to the universal apostasy of our sad times and would get bogged down.”
(Bishops Williamson, Tissier, de Galarreta 07/04/2012)
29. But when Rome calls on us to take part in discussions, we have to come running, don’t we?
No! We mustn’t rush in: “I will lay down my conditions for eventually resuming talks with Rome” (Abp. Lefebvre, Fideliter Sept-Oct 1988) Note well that these conditions are for entering back into contact, and not for signing an agreement!
30. What were the conditions, so wisely foreseen by Archbishop Lefebvre, for eventually resuming talks with Rome?
“At that point, I will be the one to lay down conditions. I shall not accept being in the position where I was put during the dialogue. No more. 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.’ The positions will then be made more clear.” (Abp. Lefebvre, Fideliter Sept-Oct 1988)
31. Did the work of our theologians lack clarity?
Absolutely not. “On our side, our experts have shown the opposition between the Church of all time and the teaching of Vatican II, and what came from it.” (Bp. Fellay, Cor Unum, March 2012)
32. What were the results of these discussions?
“The discussions have shown a profound disagreement on virtually all the points touched upon.” (Bp. Fellay, Cor Unum, March 2012)
33. So why this “proposition from the Roman congregation to recognise the Society through the juridical status of a Personal Prelature on condition that we sign an ambiguous text?” (Bp. Fellay, Cor Unum, March 2012)
The discussions with Rome showed “that they are not ready to renounce the Second Vatican Council” and they want “to bring us to it.” However the return of the Society could “be useful” to the Conciliar Church “in order to endorse the renewal of the reform with continuity.”
(Bp. De Galarreta, Albano, 07/10/2011)
34. But is Bp. Fellay aware of that?
Yes. “So we received a proposal which was an attempt to make us enter into the system of the hermeneutic of continuity.” (Bp. Fellay, Cor Unum, March 2012) And in the same document, he claims to be surprised by this proposal from Rome.
35. Surprised or not, what does he decide to do?
First of all, to call a meeting of all the Society superiors (except Bishop Williamson) at Albano to seek advice. (Oct. 2011)
36. What was said to him at this meeting?
That the offer from Rome was “confused, equivocal, false and evil concerning essentials.” “Their doctrinal preamble” is “worse than the protocol of 1988, particularly regarding the Council and the post-conciliar Magisterium.” “Given the circumstances, it is certain that in the end, after a long palaver, we would end up with absolutely nothing.” To continue the contacts would “necessarily mean some harming of the common good that we possess, for the Society and for the family of Tradition.” (Bp. De Galarreta, Albano, 07/10/2011)
37. Did he follow the advice?
38. So Bishop Fellay showed a serious lack of prudence?
Yes, but that wasn’t his only fault, because doing that meant going against the will of the General Chapter of 2006. Therefore, there has been not only a very rash imprudence, but also a serious disobedience.
39. Which means?
In March 2012, the Superior General wrote the following to all the members of the Society:
“The few acts of Benedict XVI ad intra affecting the liturgy, discipline and morals are important even though their implementation still leaves much to be desired. Some young bishops clearly show us their sympathies ... It may be that these things are more obvious in Rome! We now have friendly contacts in the most important dicasteries, and equally among those closest to the Pope!”
Bishop Fellay thinks he is witnessing “the restoration of the Church. While one should not exclude the return of a Julian the Apostate, I do not think this movement could be stopped. If this is true, and that's for sure, it demands of us a new position in relation to the official Church. This is the appropriate context in which to consider the question of the Society’s recognition by the official Church. It’s a question of having a supernatural view of the Church, and the fact that She is still in the hands of Our Lord Jesus Christ, although disfigured by Her enemies. Our new friends in Rome confirm that the impact of such a recognition would be extremely powerful, throughout the whole Church, like a confirmation of the importance of Tradition for the Church. All the same, such a concrete realisation requires two absolutely necessary points in order to ensure our survival: the first is that the Society not be asked for concessions on anything touching the Faith, or flowing from it (liturgy, sacraments, morals, discipline). The second is that a real liberty and autonomy of action be granted to the Society, and that it be permitted to live and develop concretely. These are the concrete circumstances which will demonstrate when the time has arrived to make steps back towards the official Church. Today, and in spite of the Roman approach of 14th September, and because of the attached conditions, that still seems to be impossible. When God wishes it, the time will arrive. We can no longer exclude the possibility, because the Pope is putting his full weight behind this matter, that it reaches a sudden end.” (Cor Unum)
40. How could he justify such a change of direction?
By scorning all friendly warnings and cancelling the decisions of the 2006 Chapter which bound him.
41. Which “friendly warnings” are you thinking of?
This one in particular: “To proceed in the direction of a practical agreement will mean breaking our word and our engagements in front of our priests, our faithful, Rome and the whole world. Such an approach would demonstrate a serious diplomatic weakness on the part of the Society, and to tell the truth, more than just a diplomatic weakness. It would be a lack of coherence, of uprightness and of firmness, the effect of which would be the loss of the credibility and moral authority which we enjoy at present. The simple fact alone of setting out down this road will bring us distrust and division. Lots of superiors and priests will have a problem of conscience and will oppose it. Authority, and even the principle of authority, will be called into question and undermined. Therefore, this is not the time to change the decision of the 2006 Chapter. (Bp. De Galarreta, Albano, 07/10/2011)
42. What did this decision of the 2006 Chapter say?
“The contacts made from time to time with the authorities in Rome have no other purpose than to help them embrace once again that Tradition which the Church cannot repudiate without losing her identity. The purpose is not just to benefit the Society, nor to arrive at some merely practical impossible agreement. When Tradition comes back into its own, "reconciliation will no longer be a problem, and the Church will spring back to life.”
43. What did Bp. Fellay think of the conditions of the 2006 Chapter?
“The 2006 Chapter gave a line which was, one might say clear, but which I would venture to suggest was too abstract. It’s a clear line, it says: the discussions are in order to help Rome return to Tradition and we don’t want to discuss a practical agreement; when Rome returns there will no longer be a problem. How does one judge that? How far does it go? Is it total or partial? On what points?"
44. What did he do with these clear decisions?
He officially threw them in the dustbin in March 2012, in Cor Unum.
Through a sophism.
46. Which one?
This one: the so-called “new situation” which requires a new “direction”; the decision of the 2006 chapter is not a “principle” but a “guideline which must inform our concrete action”.
“We're here in front of reasoning in which the major premise is the affirmation of the principle of the primacy of faith in order to remain Catholic. The minor premise is a historical observation on the current situation of the Church and the practical conclusion is based on the virtue of prudence governing human action, not to seek an agreement to the detriment of the faith. In 2006, the heresies continued to emerge, the authorities were even propagating the modern and modernist spirit of Vatican II and were imposing on everyone like a steamroller (that’s the minor premise). Reaching a workable agreement: impossible without the authorities being converted, otherwise we would be crushed, shredded, destroyed or subjected to such strong pressure that we could not resist (that’s the conclusion). If the minor premise were to have changed, that is to say, if there were to be a change in the situation of the Church in relation to the Tradition, this could lead to a corresponding change in the conclusion, without our principles having changed in the slightest! As Divine Providence is expressed through the reality of the facts, to know His Will we must attentively follow the reality of the Church, observe it, scrutinise what’s going on. However, there is no doubt that since 2006, we are witnessing a development in the Church, an important and very interesting development, though barely visible.
47. Where is the error in this reasoning?
It is in a blindness which refuses to see reality for what it is: the authorities are still, in 2012, propagating the modern and modernist spirit of Vatican II! For Cardinal Ratzinger, “there is no Tradition. There is not deposit to transmit. The Tradition of the Church is whatever the current Pope happens to be saying today. You have to submit to what the Pope and the bishops are saying today. That’s what Tradition means to them, the famous “living tradition,” sole motive of our condemnation... It’s is the tyranny of authority.” (Archbishop Lefebvre, quoted by Bishop de Galarreta, Albano, 07/10/2011)
48. In view of this blindness, were there reactions, was there opposition?
Yes, and of very good quality too. As Bp. De Galarreta predicted, “lots of superiors and priests” had a “problem of conscience” and “opposed” it. But they were not all that numerous in quantity, for: “Do we not already see within the Society the symptoms of a lessening of its confession of the Faith?” (Bps. Williamson, Tissier and de Galarreta)
49. Was not Bp. Fellay misled by “the contradiction reigning in Rome” (Bp. Fellay, DICI 264)
Rome has always used the same wrong but clear and precise language. By contrast, the Superior General during recent years has made use of ambiguity and imprecision in his official communiqués and press statements.
50. Couldn’t it be that we’re mistaken about the Pope’s intentions?
51. Why not?
Because on Weds. 20th April 2005, on the day after his election, Benedict XVI in front of 11 Cardinals addressed his first message to the world. In it, he praised Pope John-Paul II, “his teaching and his example”:
“Pope John Paul II rightly pointed out the [Second Vatican] Council as a ‘compass’ by which to take our bearings in the vast ocean of the third millennium. Thus, as I prepare myself for the service that is proper to the Successor of Peter, I also wish to confirm my determination to continue to put the Second Vatican Council into practice, following in the footsteps of my Predecessors and in faithful continuity with the 2,000-year tradition of the Church... the Conciliar Documents have lost none of their timeliness; indeed, their teachings are proving particularly relevant to the new situation of the Church and the current globalized society.” (Osservatore Romano, 21/04/2005)
52. What did Bp. Fellay think of Benedict XVI when he was first elected?
“Very briefly, let me summarise the thought by using an image: if we took the allegory of a freefall to describe the Pontificate of John Paul II, we can predict that Benedict XVI will try to open a parachute, but one whose size we don’t yet know. The effect of the parachute will be to slow down the fall to some extent, but the descent will continue. This situation could deceive more than one or two people, making them believe that the restoration of the Church is at hand. Short of a miracle, that is not the case. The standard is still going to be Vatican II, as well as the broad guidelines of collegiality, ecumenism and religious liberty, with an emphasis being placed on “ecumenism” with “our nearest neighbours”, whether the Orthodox, the Anglicans or the Jews. Regarding the question of the liturgy, we can expect a reinforcing of Ecclesia Dei as well as some sort of attempt at “reform of the reform”.
53. And what about in 2012, when they were all busy celebrating 50 years of Vatican II with indulgences being offered to the faithful who assisted at conferences on Vatican II?
“One may observe a change of attitude in the Church, helped by the gestures and acts of Benedict XVI towards Tradition. ... The hierarchy in favour of Vatican II is losing speed. ... I have been able to observe in Rome that even if the glories of Vatican II are still in the mouths of many, and are pushed down our throats, it is nevertheless not in all the heads.”
54. Be honest: there is some truth in that statement.
Some truth which hides a lot of falsehood. Archbishop Lefebvre, in his judgement, did not omit the most essential thing: principles. In an interview with the magazine Jesus, Cardinal Ratzinger declared that the “values” of “two centuries of liberal culture” which “were born outside the Church” have “found a place in the Church’s view of the world.” But that since the climate was no longer one of 1960s optimism, we have to “continue to look for a new balance.” Archbishop Lefebvre had this to say on the subject:
“It’s clear: religious liberty, ecumenism, it’s the ‘rights of man.’ It’s satanic. And the Cardinal says: ‘That’s one accomplishment, now we have to find a new balance.’ He doesn’t say that we should get rid of principles and values which come from liberal culture, but that we have to find a new balance. This ‘new balance,’ it’s the balance which Opus Dei have: a traditional looking exterior, an exterior piety, an exterior of religious discipline, but with liberal ideas. There’s not concept of fighting against the ‘rights of man,’ against religious liberty and against ecumenism. So, for this balance they’ll have to put down liberation theology a little, put down the French bishops a little due to their catechism, it’ll mean they’ll have to give a little bit of satisfaction to those who have a real nostalgia for the old Mass: and voila! Ultimately, they’ll give the impression of wanting to return to Tradition, but they don’t really want to do so. So we have to warn our faithful, in such a way that they won’t end up being fooled, so that they don’t let themselves be taken in by an exterior traditional reform which would fatally lead them into adopting liberalism and liberal ideas.” (St. Nicolas du Chardonnet, 13/12/1984)
55. Bp. Fellay said he was deceived by the Pope because he was by Rome.
He can say that, but without proving it. The Pope publicly warned Bishop Fellay and the SSPX:
“This will make it clear that the problems now to be addressed are essentially doctrinal in nature and concern primarily the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar Magisterium of the Popes ... The Church’s teaching authority cannot be frozen in the year 1962 – this must be quite clear to the Society. But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.” (Benedict XVI, Letter to Bishops, 10/03/2009)
56. Perhaps Benedict XVI is praising Vatican II for political reasons, but deep down he doesn’t really believe in it, as Bishop Fellay claimed when he came to the meeting of SSPX priors in Flavigny to talk about the Beatification of John-Paul II?
If Benedict XVI believes what he himself speaks, then he’s a modernist. If he doesn’t, then he’s a hypocrite. In either case, the will of such a person isn’t worth anything. In either case, it is misplaced to say: “For the common good of the Society, we would far prefer the present solution of the intermediary status quo but it is clear that Rome will put up with it no longer.”
57. You only see what divides us, and never what unites us. Benedict XVI, at least, has condemned the “hermeneutic of rupture.”
You talk like a newcomer who knows nothing about modernist doctrine. Everything is ‘living’ for them, everything is history. Everything is a historical continuity, because, for a modernist, truth evolves with the life of the subjective Church.
58. Perhaps Bp. Fellay was badly advised?
In Menzingen yes, but not in the SSPX at large. District Superiors, Bishops, priest friends, and Superiors of religious orders all warned him. Even voices from within Rome warned him not to take the road he was starting out down. Among the latter was Fr. Ferre, the secretary of Cardinal Canizares, as well as others. (Source: Bp. De Galarreta, Albano, 07/10/12)
59. But Bp. Fellay hasn’t made any concession to, or compromise with, modern Rome.
Maybe, maybe not. We still haven’t yet seen all the documents. In any case, there is this strange confidence of Bp. Fellay: “The 13th June interview with Cardinal Levada well and truly confirmed that the Vatican” has proposed for us “a canonical arrangement” based on “my letter of 14/04/12” whereby “we would have to say at the same time that we were in agreement and not in agreement.” “This extremely delicate letter seems to have been approved by the Cardinals and the Pope.” (Cor Unum, Summer 2012)
60. Do I have to remind you that Bp. Fellay didn’t sign anything on 13th June 2012?
“But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” One can very well commit spiritual adultery in thought or desire, without one’s plans ever coming to fruition.
61. But you’re judging intentions.
Not so! I’m simply reading! Bp. Fellay reproached the other three Bishops for having a vision of the Church which is “too human and even fatalistic.”
- “These gestures over the last few years in our favour are under the government of Benedict XVI.” (Which isn’t true, as we’ve already seen.)
- “Now, these gestures indicate a line - not always a straight line - but a line clearly in favour of Tradition.” (This affirmation is superficial, because it is material and subjectivist, and thus objectively and formally false.)
- “We are in the process of making the Council's errors into super-heresies, as though it is becoming absolute evil, worse than anything... This is serious because such a caricature no longer corresponds to reality.” (One wonders if Bp. Fellay really understood the combat of Abp. Lefebvre, who said: “The Roman replies to our objections tended to show that there was no change, but a continuity of Tradition. These are statements which are worse than the conciliar declaration on religious liberty. This is the real official lie. There is no way we can understand one another, it’s all in continuous evolution. It becomes impossible to speak.” (Abp. Lefebvre, quoted by Bp. De Galarreta, Albano, 07/10/12)
- “Logically it will in the future finish up in a true schism.” (Yet another dishonest sophism, which plays on sentimentality and not cold reflection. In a letter which Abp. Lefebvre wrote to Bp. De Galarreta in 1989, we read: “It seems to me opportune to analyse the action of the devil to weaken our work or reduce it to naught. The first temptation consists of maintaining good relations with the Pope or current bishops. Obviously it is normal to be in harmony with the authorities, as opposed to being in conflict with them. The Society will therefore be accused of exaggerating the errors of Vatican II, of abusively criticising the writings and actions of the Pope and bishops, of being attached to the traditional rites with an excessive rigidity and ultimately of displaying a sectarian tendency which will one day lead to schism. Once the word ‘schism’ starts being mentioned, it will be used as a scarecrow to make seminarians and their families afraid, leading them to abandon the Society more easily than if priests, bishops and Rome itself pretend to offer them guarantees in favour of some sort of ‘Tradition’.”)
- “And it may well be that this fact is one of the arguments pushing me to delay no longer in responding to the pressure from Rome. ... As for the most crucial question of all, that of whether we can survive in the case of the Society being recognised by Rome, we do not arrive at the same conclusion as you do.” (What could be clearer than that?)
62. But this private letter was never intended for public consumption.
So? Is it OK to blaspheme in private as long as you don’t do it in public? Isn’t a perverse but private intention still a perverse intention?
63. Menzingen said that the person responsible for this indiscretion had “sinned gravely”.
On the contrary, we think he did nothing more than his duty. When a leader loses his reason, it’s as well if the rest of the group realises it. And if there was any fault involved: o felix culpa, which revealed the thoughts of the heart.
64. These are serious matters. Unimpeachable proof is needed.
We have quite sufficient words of Bp. Fellay which reveal his innermost thoughts.
65. Which words?
Regarding the “text which they presented” to him “in June,” there were some modifications personally desired by the Pope (the three conditions: Magisterium, Vatican II, New Mass). “When they gave me back this document, I thought to myself ‘No, I can’t sign it. The Society can’t sign it.’ ” (Bp. Fellay, 01/11/2013, DICI 264)
66. How do these words condemn Bishop Fellay?
If the modifications are what made Bishop Fellay decide that he couldn’t sign, that means that on that day there was something which he could sign. “No, I can’t sign it” means that there had been another possibility: “Yes, I’ll sign it.” That being the case, in other words without the Papal modifications, what is it that he could have signed on behalf of the SSPX if not a practical agreement without a doctrinal agreement? And that, contrary to the will of the 2006 Chapter and the more recent extraordinary meeting of Superiors.
67. So without the doctrinal explanations added by the Pope, there would have been a compromise [‘ralliement’]?
Everything points that way. And several indiscretions by the Assistants, Frs. Pfluger and Nely, confirm it.
68. But all the same, Bp. Fellay isn’t a modernist.
Obviously. Nobody has ever thought that. But Cardinal Billot taught that the liberal: “is incoherent, he says yes, he says no, he doesn’t know exactly, who never affirms his position in a completely clear way, who always talks in an ambiguous way, and all due to his concern for pleasing the world.” A liberal inclination is therefore susceptible to the temptation of compromise with an unconverted Rome. That is where the danger lies: in a desire to be accommodating, and not in any direct recognition of the theory of Vatican II. The danger is this liberal illusion which in practice seeks to live in peace with the conciliar system.
69. Why have Bishop Fellay and his General Council been maintaining all the ambiguities? Why were they so imprudent, even to the point of disobedience? Why have they been attempting so dangerous and suicidal a policy?
Because Bishop Fellay and those around him, when all’s said and done, have more in common with the ecclesiology of Benedict XVI than that of Archbishop Lefebvre.
70. What is the ecclesiology of Benedict XVI?
It is that of Cardinal Ratzinger who already in 1988 “insisted on there being only one Church: the Church of Vatican II.” (Abp. Lefebvre, 19/06/1988)
71. Didn’t Archbishop Lefebvre warn us about this false ecclesiology?
Of course! “Cardinal Ratzinger always told me, ‘But Monsignor, there is only one Church, you mustn’t make a parallel church.’ Which is this Church for him? The Conciliar Church, this is clear! And if we mention Tradition to him, Cardinal Ratzinger replies: ‘But the Council, that’s what Tradition is today! You have to return to the Tradition of the Church of today and not of the past! Rejoin the Church of today!’” And Abp. Lefebvre comments: “I could sense very well that that was what was in his mind: it might take a few years perhaps, but he had to bring us back to the spirit of the Council.” (Econe, 09/06/1988)
72. Doesn’t Bishop Fellay also think that there’s only one Church, the concrete Church?
Yes, and he preaches it! “The fact of going to Rome doesn’t mean that we agree with them. But it’s the Church! And it’s the true Church! In rejecting the bad bits, we mustn’t reject everything. It remains the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.” (Flavigny, 02/09/2012)
73. Does that really contradict the thinking of Archbishop Lefebvre?
Obviously. “The visible church is recognized by the features that have always given to visibility: one, holy, catholic and apostolic. I ask: Where are the true marks of the Church? Are they more in the official Church (this is not the visible Church, but the official church) or in us, in what we represent, what we are? Clearly we are who preserve the Unity of the faith, which disappeared from the official Church. ... It is not us, but the modernists who are leaving the Church. As for talk of ‘leaving the visible Church,’ it is a mistake to the visible Church one and the same as the official Church. We belong to the visible Church, to the faithful under the authority of the Pope, since we aren’t denying Papal authority, just what he is doing. ... How about ‘Leaving the official Church’, then? In a certain sense, obviously, yes.” (Econe, 09/09/1988)
74. But Archbishop Lefebvre used to go to Rome too.
Yes, but with a very precise and non-negotiable goal: “I can hear them say: ‘You exaggerate! There are more and more good bishops who pray, who have the faith and are edifying!’ - Can they be saints when they admit false Religious Liberty and therefore the secular state? When they accept false ecumenism and therefore the admission that there are many paths leading to salvation? When they accept the liturgical reform and therefore the practical denial of the Sacrifice of the Mass? And the new Catechism with all its heresies and errors? Are they not rather officially cooperating with the revolution within the Church and its destruction? ... One thing alone is necessary for the continuation of the Catholic Church: bishops who are fully Catholic, without any compromise with error, who found Catholic seminaries. ” (Archbishop Lefebvre, Spiritual Journey)
75. Where does this phrase “Conciliar Church” come from?
It comes from a letter from Abp. Lefebvre to Mgr. Benelli (25/06/1976), and since the time of Paul VI (Consistory of 24/05/1976) who viewed as “outside the Church” anyone who “refuses the teachings of the Council”, and on into the era of John-Paul II (Sacræ Disciplinæ Leges 25/01/1983) who saw “in the Code a great effort to translate into the language of canon law the very doctrine of conciliar ecclesiology ... which constitutes the essential novelty of the Second Vatican Council, in continuity with the legislative tradition of the Church,” leading us all the way up to Benedict XVI, there is a perfect (if unique) continuity.
76. How long has Bp. Fellay thought like this?
For several years. “To identify the official Church with the modernist Church is an error, because we’re talking about a concrete reality.” (Bp. Fellay, Flavigny, 16/02/2009)
77. Have people pointed out his error to him?
Of course. At a priests meeting, a theologian and former seminary professor asked him to get rid of this ambiguity regarding the Church: Catholic or Conciliar? He was heard to reply: “I am tired of all this quarrelling over words.”
78. Well that’s a surprising reply!
It is more than just surprising. It is distressing. Forty years of theological combat over the orthodoxy or heterodoxy of words just to end up hearing that from a successor of Abp. Lefebvre! Who himself, in an interview one year after the Consecrations, said the following:
“The talk of ‘visible Church’ by Dom Gerard and M. Madiran is childish! It’s incredible that anyone could talk of the ‘visible Church’ to mean the Conciliar Church in opposition to the Catholic Church which we are trying to represent and to continue. I’m not saying that we are the Catholic Church. I have never said so. But we represent the Catholic Church as it used to be since we are continuing what it has always done... Obviously we are against the conciliar Church which in practical terms is schismatic, even if they don’t accept it. In practice it is a Church which is virtually excommunicated, since it is a Modernist Church.”
79. That’s why Menzingen and its press organs (DICI...) always avoid using terms such as “Conciliar Church”, “Church of Vatican II”, etc...
Undoubtedly. And more worrying still, most recently the General Chapter of 2012 didn’t want to take up and make their own again either the words of the 1974 Declaration: “We refuse and have always refused to follow the Rome of neo-Protestand and neo-Modernist tendencies, which is manifested clearly in Vatican II and after the Council in all the reforms which came from it” or the words of the Open Letter to Cardinal Gantin: “We never wanted to belong to this system which calls itself the Conciliar Church, and which defines itself by the Novus Ordo Missae, indifferentist Ecumenism and the secularisation of all society. Yes, we have nothing whatever to do, nullam partem habemus, with the Assisi Pantheon of religions. We can ask for no better than to be declared ex communione...”
80. But isn’t talking of a new Church dangerous for one’s faith?
It’s not dangerous, it’s necessary. It’s reality!
“It is a new Church which has arisen. ...They are obsessed with fidelity to Vatican II which for them is the new Church, it’s the conciliar Church with its own sacraments, its own faith, its own liturgy, catechisms, all in all it’s terrifying, terrifying. We can’t submit to that, it’s impossible! ...So what would I be asking? Ask the seminarians to swear an oath of submission to the conciliar Church? That’s not possible. No, no, it’s clear now that we’re dealing with a new Church, a Church which is twelve years old.” (Cospec 33B, 1976)
81. Today the conciliar Church is fifty years old. Has nothing changed, deep down?
Yes, one thing has changed. Today Bp. Fellay, the superior of the Society founded by Abp. Lefebvre intends to make the Catholic faithful believe that this fifty-year-old conciliar Church is the same reality as the Catholic Church, whereas the former is the corruption of the latter.
82. Is it unacceptable for you?
Not for me. In itself. Just as it was unacceptable for everyone who assisted at the Consecrations in 1988 and who applauded the anathema which Abp. Lefebvre hurled upon the conciliar spirit:
“What is this truth for them if not the truth of Vatican II, the truth of the Conciliar Church? Consequently, it is clear that the only truth that exists today for the Vatican is the conciliar truth, the spirit of the Council, the spirit of Assisi. That is the truth of today. But we want nothing to do with this for anything in the world! For anything in the world!” (Long and thunderous applause follows.) (Abp. Lefebvre, 30/06/1988)
83. For you, neither Rome nor Benedict XVI should be spared?
Not for me! For Abp. Lefebvre, with whom I agree. For Abp. Lefebvre, “we abandon, practically speaking, the fight for the faith,” when we cease, “attacking Rome.” (Fideliter, quoted by Bp. de Galarreta, Albano, 07/10/2011)
84. OK, so even if the head of the SSPX is no longer in its right mind, at least Rome won’t try anything again, after the failure and refusal of an agreement by the SSPX?
Rome may have lost one battle, but not the war. “If they break with us, a pause in the constant tension which these contacts bring the Society would be welcome, and, in my eyes, providential. In any case, knowing them, they won’t waste any time in getting back into contact with us.” (Bp. de Galarreta, Albano, 07/10/11)
85. Is that so?
As it happened, it didn’t take long. In December 2012 Abp. Di Noia addressed a letter to all the members of the Society regarding “an agreement”. For that, we have to “rise above the seemingly insurmountable disagreements on the authority and interpretation of the Council” in order to “truly desire unity.” He invited us not to lose “the zeal of [our] founder.” For that, we have to “stop publicly correcting others in the Church” and not “usurp the mission of the Sovereign Pontiff.” That way, “the authentic charism of the Society” which “consists of forming priests” will be of use to the Church. We have to abandon our “desire for autonomy” and “seek reconciliation.” “The only future for the SSPX,” he claimed, “is to be found on the road to full communion with the Holy See.”
86. What ought we to think of that?
“Vatican II is the uncrowning of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the denial of His rights over societies. Vatican II is an immeasurably harmful and scandalous ‘kindness’ towards souls in relation to these societies, factories of error and vice and purveyors of Hell, which are quite improperly called ‘other religions.’ Vatican II is the triumph of democratism inside the Church which renders all authority illusory, and any command nigh on impossible, and which permits the proliferation of heresy and schism. Vatican II is, in reality, the greatest ever disaster in the Church... To recover, we must get rid of it. In no way whatsoever, therefore, could the SSPX cease from its immense fight to confess the faith, which must include the denouncing of error. The SSPX must remain humble and respectful, but intrepid, fearless, to continue to say what needs to be said, to confess what must be confessed, to denounce everything that needs to be denounced.” (Fr. de Cacqueray, Suresnes, 31/12/2008)
87. But since Bp. Fellay has declared, three times, that he doesn’t want to sign, why do Rome say that they’re still waiting for a response, and giving the Society more time?
Because Bp. Fellay, due to his false ecclesiology, and the perpetual temptation of compromise [‘ralliement’] refuses to denounce Benedict XVI publicly as an instigator of error. He remains fixed on the documents of Abp. Lefebvre in 1987 saying “We accept being recognised as we are by the Pope and to bring our assistance to a renewal of the Church, we never wished to break with the successor of Peter...” (Letter to Cardinal Gagnon, 21/11/1987)
He refuses to see the evolution and conclusion of Abp. Lefebvre after 1988 who said himself that he had gone too far in his dealings with Rome.
88. So, is this condition which Bp. Fellay has made his own, that we be “recognised as we are” therefore ambiguous?
Yes, because it can be made to fit with the “hermeneutic of continuity” and because this formula is a form of ecumenism, mixing truth and error together in the same ecclesiastical structure.
89. When will this crisis in the Society come to an end?
The crisis will come to an end when Menzingen:
- gets rid of the ambiguities;
- calls things by their name: a modernist is a modernist, even if he’s the Pope; a virtually schismatic conciliar Church is a virtually schismatic conciliar Church, even if it shows favour towards the cassock and the so-called “extraordinary form”;
- and decides to publicly demand the conditions laid down by Abp. Lefebvre.
90. To finish: “What’s going to happen with Rome? Excommunication? Things staying as they are? Or the situation becoming unblocked?” (Bp. Fellay, Econe, 07/09/2012)
Bp. Fellay answered the question himself: “I’ll tell you: expect a bit of everything.”
91. What does that mean?
It means that we’re not out of the doctrinal area of turbulence. The proof is in these words of Bp. Fellay at a time when they’re trying to beatify Paul VI:
“But look and that’s very interesting. Who, during that time, was the most opposed that the Church would recognize the Society? The enemies of the Church. ... I may say that’s the kind of argument we’re going to use with Rome. Trying to make them reflect, trying to make them reflect. ... I have absolutely no idea when there will be an agreement, and the term “agreement” is not the right word, but “recognition”, “normalisation.” ... [in spite] of everything that is not well, there is some hope. I am optimistic in this situation. ... I say, if you look at the situation in the Church, it’s still winter. But we start to see the little signs that start to say that spring is coming.” (New Hamburg, 28/12/2012)
92. What are we to do?
Follow the advice of a confrere: when you go through a patch of turbulence, you’re told “put your seatbelt on” but “don’t buckle it.” (‘Le Chardonnet’ newsletter, July-August 2012)
93. You’re a pessimist.
No, I’m a realist. Our Superior sees the devil at work everywhere in the SSPX, everywhere that is except in Menzingen. He is incapable of questioning himself. As a confrere said, in reference to the unjust persecutions by the General Headquarters (intimidations, monitions, transfers, delaying ordinations, and the expulsion of priests and one of our bishops):
“In the final analysis, they’ve established a veritable dictatorship in the Society. They have knowingly ignored the warnings of prudent people who counselled them not to go after a practical agreement with modernist Rome. They have undermined the unity and the common good of the Society, exposing it to the danger of a compromise with the enemies of the Church. And finally, they contradict themselves by affirming the opposite of what they themselves were saying only a few years ago. They have thus betrayed the legacy of Abp. Lefebvre, the responsibility of their duties, the trust of thousands of people, and even of those who, fooled by them, continue to trust them. They have manifested a determined will to lead the Society, cost what it may, into a compromise with our enemies. It hardly matters if the agreement with the conciliar Church isn’t yet concluded today, or if it doesn’t happen in the immediate future, or ever... a grave danger for the Society remains, since they haven’t retracted the false principles which have been guiding their destructive actions...”
(Fr. Ortiz, December 2012)
94. Is that your last word?
No. To every lord, every honour. I will allow our Superior General to have the final word, despite all the harm that he has done.
“We should expect Rome to try to bring us into a universalist amalgam, where we would end up being offered a place “among others”, a little bit like they are already declaring the Orthodox to be “sister churches”. We can think that the temptation to re-enter “officialdom” could be very great, in proportion to the offers which ecumenist Rome could offer us; refusing therefore to enter into this confusion, we would be made to look like wicked villains. At the moment, this is just a hypothesis...” (Bp. Fellay, Cor Unum, March 1995)