Brian Mershon, who sometimes comments here, has on the site of The Remnant posted an interview with SSPX Bishop Bernard Fellay.
It is too long to bring over here, so here are a couple salient points:
Mershon: Did you ever think this would result in so much negative publicity and attacks from the secular media?
Bp. Fellay: Definitely not. In fact, I had no specific idea what the reactions of the media or the bishops’ conferences would be. It is obvious, and this has been going on for years, that there is a strong opposition against us among the progressivists, but it was impossible to imagine that they would have used such weapons against us as they have now been doing for weeks.
And unfortunately, Bishop Williamson provided them with an unhoped-for weapon to launch their attack against us. And so the secular world and the progressivists together were able to attack us and create tremendous pressure upon the Pope about something that has nothing to do with the Faith. It would seem that several cardinals were able to discern in that turmoil and storm that the Devil was at work. Let us hope that they will go further in their conclusions.
Mershon: What is next? Do you have a specific timetable for the theological discussions on the difficult points of Vatican II? Can you tell us who will participate in these talks from the SSPX and from within the Roman curia?
Bp. Fellay: We have no timetable yet. We shall see with Rome in the upcoming months how things will develop with these necessary talks about doctrine and also important elements of Christian life. We will reveal in due time the names of those who will participate in these talks.
It is obvious that part of these discussions must take place in a peaceful atmosphere, far away from the media, in order to be fruitful. We will certainly give the necessary information to our faithful. But all this must first become a concrete reality.
Mershon: … Could you clarify for us the specific points, presumably on the Decree on Ecumenism and Declaration on Religious Liberty over which you will seek clarification? Perhaps Gaudium et Spes also?
Bp. Fellay: First of all, if someone thinks that I have watered down our position, he is wrong. Our position remains exactly the same. And when I said that sufficient clarification is needed and not necessarily an exhaustive list of theological points, [I think this is a key point: sufficient, not exhaustive.] I mean that all the essential points and principles which have led the Church into the present crisis need to be solved; but of course, not all the conclusions that would take too long and could be an endless task. Once the principles are sound the conclusions will follow by themselves.
The specific points: we are confronted with a huge mountain. First, there is a spirit, which we may call modernism. There is also a very ambiguous language that has been used along the pattern of the language of modern philosophy. This gives the false spirit which permeated the whole Council. [Watch this…] The fact that there are so many ambiguities leads to several interpretations of the texts, and even Pope Benedict XVI condemned the extremist interpretations of the ultra-progressivists.
Next, we have the whole question of the relations between the Church and the world. In the Council, a very positive and human-centered vision spoils everything, especially in Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium. There is a much too positive way of considering the other religions, which at the time, were still called “false religions.” Now this term has been dropped. Does it mean that they would be truer now?
Religious liberty is a fundamental element of modern thinking and of modern philosophy. Of course, you may find some good points in other religions, but the true doctrine must be found in profound and necessary distinctions.
Let us take human rights, for instance. The Church has always defended and protected many human rights. The Church says that these rights flow from men’s duties toward their Creator. They are not absolute; they are always dependent upon the true and the good. You will never find a right which is based on error or evil. Therefore, to place the emphasis upon the human person, as it is done now, may lead to profound error. And this does not mean that there is not a true and necessary use of human conscience, for instance. … Indeed, we have an enormous task lying ahead of us.
Mershon: The present Holy Father (in his letter to the Bishop of Chile in 1988), as well as Pope Paul VI himself, both said the Second Vatican Council was primarily pastoral, with no note of dogmatic declarations from the Extraordinary Magisterial level. With this in mind, what type of decisions do you expect to reach with the Holy See?
Bp. Fellay: We will present to the Holy See our questions, our problems. We hope they will be phrased clearly enough so that the right and appropriate answers will be given. We definitely expect from the Holy Father and the Holy See a true clarification of the Council. What needs to be corrected must be corrected. What needs to be rejected must be rejected. What needs to be accepted must be accepted.
Mershon: Of course the Society recognizes the Second Vatican Council as a Council of the Church. Do you believe that you will be expected to adhere to more than that—with the understanding that you adhere to the documents with the same theological authority and certitude in which the Church herself holds them?
Bp. Fellay: If we go by the last statement from the Secretary of State, we may fear that Rome might like to impose upon us a full acceptance of Vatican II. But again, what does this mean? What is the real Vatican II when there are so many different interpretations? Even within the last 40 years, what was Vatican II? It is, according to its own definition, a pastoral, and not a dogmatic Council, and so it cannot be suddenly interpreted as fully dogmatic. And regarding the authority of the documents, because we do not find any kind of clear pronouncement of their authority, there is great confusion on this issue. Very clearly, its authority cannot be greater now than what the Council itself meant it to be. And the Council did not want to be infallible.
Mershon: Do you foresee any oversight by territorial diocesan bishops once the Society is regularized?
Bp. Fellay: That would be our death. [!] The situation of the Church is such that once the doctrinal issues have been clarified, we will need our own autonomy in order to survive. This means that we will have to be directly under the authority of the Pope with an exemption. …
Mershon: Do you expect a personal prelature or perhaps an Apostolic Administration for the SSPX, reporting directly to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei?
Bp. Fellay: It would seem that the project Rome has in store for us is going in that direction. But I am not certain.
Mershon: Mershon: Are there tendencies toward anti-Semitism in the ranks of the SSPX? Is it "anti-Semitic" in your opinion, to pray and work and dialogue for the conversion of religious Jews to the Catholic Faith? And why do you think there is such sensitivity in the media to supposed “anti-Semitism” as if it were under every rock? Do you think there is just as much anti-Catholicism from politicians, media and other decision-makers in Western society? If so, why do you believe the anti-Catholicism gets a free pass from the secular media even from most Catholic media?
Bp. Fellay: The words “anti-Semitic” or “anti-Semitism” are ambiguous. They have at least two completely different meanings. First, the word “Semite” refers to all the people who are descendants of Sem, one of Noah’s three sons. Not only the Jews, but also the Arabs belong to this branch of mankind; they are all Semites.
In this sense, the word refers to races, to people, and it has no religious connotation. Anti-Semitism is condemned by the Church as a species of racism. Racism is both an injustice and goes against the commandment of charity toward our neighbor.
There is another meaning given to anti-Semitism, which is connected to religion, and specifically, the Jewish religion. In the present situation, anyone who makes any remarks about the Jewish religion, or, for instance, says that the Jewish people should embrace the Faith, could very easily be labeled as anti-Semitic. But this is wrong. In fact, to answer your question, in the world there is much more anti-Catholicism than anti-Semitism. The problem is that anti-Catholicism remains in the religious domain, whereas anti-Semitism is almost immediately connected with the Jewish people, which is, once again, very ambiguous and imprecise. [But he was asked if there are tendencies toward anti-Semitism in the SSPX. Did he answer?]
Mershon: Do you have any closing thoughts you would like to share with Catholics interested in this “joyful news for the whole Church”, as Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi dubbed it?
Bp. Fellay: If we look at the way these excommunications were surprisingly lifted; if we especially look at the undeniable link between this fact of the decree remitting the excommunications and the unbelievable turmoil aroused just after and based upon an incident that had nothing to do with the Faith, we cannot but see that there are forces let loose there which are not human.
I have heard from several cardinals that they believe it was the Devil that was let loose. And whenever the Devil rages with so much violence and uproar, it is a good sign. We may not yet realize all that it means. But for us, it is an invitation to pray, and sacrifice more.
The Church is a supernatural being essentially, and we cannot fully explain the Church, or even the fruits and consequences of human acts performed in the Church if we look only at the human side. [Well said.]
The head of the Church is, and remains, Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The soul of the Church is the Holy Ghost Himself. Our Lord promised that His Church would be indefectible. So let us do our best, be faithful to our duty of state, pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and pray our rosary. [Better advice than that it is hard to find.]
And then, everything will end well.