On the site the SSPX seminary, St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Minnesota, there is a sermon of SSPX Bp. Bernard Fellay for Candlemas. It is a real dissapointment, to say the least. Fellay said that the Priestly Society of St. Pius X is “obliged to say ‘no'” to the proposal of reconciliation which came from the Vatican.
In a time when more and more we need Catholic unity, after reading Bp. Fellay’s words it is hard to understand how the SSPX is not on a course to formal schism.
So let’s go to the SSPX seminary website (my emphases and comments):
Extract from the Sermon of Bishop Fellay on February 2nd, 2012
Listen to the entire sermon (MP3 format)
In the following transcription, reviewed by His Excellency Bishop Fellay, we have retained the quality of the spoken word.
The Society of St. Pius X has been founded by the Church and in the Church, and we say this Society continues to exist, despite the fact that there is a pretense that it does not exist; that it was suppressed in 1976 (but obviously with total disrespect of the laws of the Church itself). [I know he believes that, but I don’t think that is true.] And that’s why we continue. And our dear Founder insisted many, many times on the importance of this existence of the Society. And I think, as time evolves, we must keep this in mind – and it is very important that we keep this Catholic Spirit. [Which doesn’t, apparently, include unity with Peter.]
We are not an independent group. [It may be harder to make that claim after this sermon.] Even if we are fighting with Rome, we are still, so to say, with Rome. We are fighting with Rome; or, if you want, against Rome, at the same time with Rome. And we claim and we continue to say, we are Catholic. We want to stay Catholic. Many times I say to Rome, you try to kick us out. [?] And we see it would be much easier for us to be out. We would have many more advantages. You would treat us much better! Look at the Protestants, how they open the churches to them. [He has a good point there!] To us, they close them. And we say, we don’t care. We do things in front of God. We suffer from the Church, fine. We don’t like that, of course. But we ought to stay there in the truth. And we have to maintain that we do belong to the Church. We are Catholics. We want to be and we want to stay Catholic, and it is very important to maintain that.
It’s also important that we don’t finally imagine a Catholic church which is just the fruit of our imagination but which is no longer the real one. [Which is not the fruit of their imagination?] And with the real one we have problems. That’s what makes it even more difficult: the fact that we have problems with it. That does not allow us, so to say, to shut the door. On the contrary, it is our duty to continuously go there, knock at the door, and not beg that we may enter (because we are in) but beg that they may convert; that they [THEY] may change and come back to what makes the Church. It is a great mystery; [No, it is something, I’ll grant that, but it isn’t a mystery.] it is not simple. Because at the same time we have to say, yes, we do recognize that Church – that’s what we say in the Creed, I believe in the Catholic Church – so we accept that there is a pope; we accept that there is a hierarchy, we do accept that.
And practically, at many levels, we have to say no. Not because it does not please us, but because the Church has already spoken about that. Even many of these things it has condemned them. And so, in our discussions with Rome we were, so to say, stuck there. The key problem in our discussions with Rome was really the Magisterium, the teaching of the Church. Because they say, “we are the pope, we are the Holy See” – and we say, yes. And so they say, “we have the supreme power,” and we say, yes. They say, “we are the last instance in teaching and we are necessary” – Rome is necessary for us to have the Faith, and we say, yes. And then they say, “then, obey.” And we say, no. And so they say to us, you are protestant. [?] You put your reason above the Magisterium of today. And we answer to them, you are Modernists. You pretend that the teaching of today can be different from the teaching of yesterday. We say, when we adhere to what the Church has taught yesterday, we, by necessity, adhere to the teaching of the Church today. [So what is the problem?] Because the truth is not linked to time. The truth is above it. What has been said once is binding all times. These are the dogmas. [Are they claiming that everything they disagree with Rome about is a dogma? The SSPS disagrees with Rome about dogma? Is Rome not being faithful to some dogma? Does Bp. Fellay and the SSPX now determine what is dogma and what isn’t and how it is to be expressed and what to believe?] God is like that; God is above time. And the Faith is adhering to the truth of God. It’s above time. That’s why the church of today is bound and has to be like (not only like) the Church of yesterday. And so when you see the present pope say that there must be continuity in the Church, we say, of course! That is what we have said at all times. When we talk about tradition, that’s precisely the meaning. They say, there must be Tradition, there must be continuity. So there is continuity. Vatican II has been made by the Church, the Church must be continuous, so Vatican II is Tradition. And we say, beg your pardon? [To what point was he playing to the crowd?]
It goes even further, my dear brethren. That was during the discussion. At the end of the discussion, comes this invitation from Rome. In this invitation there is a proposition of a canonical situation that is to regularize our situation. [Did you get that? Rome offered them something concrete.] And I may say, what is presented today, which is already different from what was presented on the 14th of September, we can consider it as all right, good. They fulfilled all our requirements, I may say, on the practical level. So there is not much problem there. The problem remains at the other level – at the level of the doctrine. But even there it goes very far – very far, my dear brethren. The key is a principle. Which they say, “this you must accept; you must accept that for the points that make difficulty in the Council – points which are ambiguous, where there is a fight – these points, like ecumenism, like religious liberty, these points must be understood in coherence with the perpetual teaching of the Church.” “So if there is something ambiguous in the Council, you must understand it as the Church has always taught throughout the ages.” [Go back and read that again, if you have to.]
They go even further and say, “one must reject whatever is opposed to this traditional teaching of the Church.” Well, that is what we have always said. Amazing, isn’t it? That Rome is imposing on us this principle. Amazing. [No, it isn’t amazing. The Holy See would do that with anyone. It is a Roman thing to make sure all i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. You see to details on both sides of the issues: “accept what we accept and reject what we reject”.] Then you may wonder, then why don’t you accept? Well, my dear brethren, there is still a problem. The problem is that in this text they give two applications of what and how we have to understand these principles. These two examples that they give to us are ecumenism and religious liberty, as they are described in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, which are exactly the points for which we reproach the Council. [So, we can extrapolate from this that they – like the Anglicans when they received Anglicanorum coetibus – were really only asked to accept the Catechism of the Catholic Church?]
In other words, Rome tells us, we have done that all the time. We are traditional; Vatican II is Tradition. Religious liberty, ecumenism is Tradition. It is in full coherence with Tradition. You just wonder, where do we go? What kind of words will we find to say, we agree or we don’t? If even the principles which we have kept and said, they say, yes it’s ok you can say that, because this means what we mean, which is exactly the contrary of what we mean.
I think we could not go further in the confusion. In other words, my dear brethren, that means that they have another meaning with the word “tradition,” and even maybe even with “coherence.” [The SSPX gets to decide what “tradition” is apart from Rome?] And that’s why we were obliged to say no. We’re not going to sign that. We agree with the principle but we see that the conclusion is contrary. Great mystery! Great mystery! [No. Whatever this is, it isn’t a mystery.] So what is going to happen now? Well, we have sent our answer to Rome. They still say that they’re reflecting on it, which means they’re probably embarrassed. [And that could be rash judgment on his part, in a public sermon, which is scandal.] At the same time I think we may see now what they really want. Do they really want us in the Church or not? We told them very clearly, if you accept us as is, without change, without obliging us to accept these things, then we are ready. [That has always been my point of view, btw. That which they disagree about is so hard to figure out that there should be room for the SSPX view. But it is not proper for them to impose their view on Rome, which actually has authority to teach, which the SSPX entirely lacks.] But if you want us to accept these things, we are not. In fact we have just quoted Archbishop Lefebvre who said this already in 1987 – several times before, but the last time he said it was in 1987.
In other words, my dear brethren, humanly speaking, difficult to say how the future will look, but we know that when we deal with the Church, we deal with God; we deal with divine providence, and we know that this Church is His Church. Humans may cause some disruption, some destruction. They may cause turmoil, but God is above that, and He knows how to, out of all these happenings – these human happenings – these odd lines, God knows how to direct His Church through these trials.
There will be an end to this trial, I don’t know when. Sometimes there is hope that it will come. Sometimes it is like despair. God knows when, but really, humanly speaking, we must wait for quite a time before hoping to see things better – five, ten years. I am persuaded that in ten years things will look different because the generation of the Council will be gone and the next generation does not have this link with the Council. And already now we hear several bishops, my dear brethren, several bishops tell us: you give too much weight to this Council; put it aside. It could be a good way for the Church to go ahead. Put it aside; forget it. Let’s go back to the real thing, to Tradition. [Okay.]
Isn’t that interesting to hear bishops who say that? That’s a new language! It means that you have a new generation which knows that there are things that are more serious than Vatican II in the Church, and that we have to go back to this more serious, if I may say so. Vatican II is serious because of the damage it has caused, yes it is. But as such it wanted to be a pastoral council, which is over now. We know that someone who is working in the Vatican wrote a thesis for his academic grades and it was about the magisterium of Vatican II. He himself told us and nobody in the Roman universities was ready to take that thesis. Finally a professor did, and the thesis is the following: the authority of the magisterium of Vatican II is that of a homily in the 1960’s. And he passed!
We shall see my dear brethren. For us it’s very clear. We must stick and hold to the truth, to the Faith. We are not going to give that up – whatever happens. There are some threats, of course, from Rome now. We shall see. We put all these things in the hands of God, and in the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Oh, yes, we have to continue our crusade of rosaries. We count on her, we count on God. And then whatever happens, happens. I cannot promise a beautiful spring. I have no idea what’s going to be in this spring. What I know is that the fight for the faith will continue, whatever happens. If we are recognized or not, you can be certain that the Progressives will not be happy. [Oh yah? Today is like Christmas morning for them, I fear.] They will continue and we will continue to fight them too.