SSPX Bp. Fellay speaks his piece – dialogue with Rome, etc.

Our friends at Rorate have reproduced an interview piece from APCOM with SSPX Bp. Fellay, Superior of the SSPX.

Here are some excerpts.  Go to Rorate for the whole thing.

My emphases and comments.


 Fellay speaks: The talks begin in the autumn of 2009

The Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX), Bishop Bernard Fellay, has granted an extensive interview to Italian news agency APCom (full interview):


   [Apcom:] Bishop Fellay, is a trip of yours to Rome foreseen for the near future? Has the initial date of the dialogue been set? And, about your commission, have you already considered who will take part in it? How many people will form it?

    [Fellay:] There is not date set for the beginning of the dialogue, but we may assume that it will be in the autumn. [Autumn.] I will be in Rome for that period, but there is nothing yet detailed. The Commission is already formed, by 3-4 people, but we cannot yet mention the names, even if to avoid any kind of pressure.

[Here is some talk about Jews and Bp. Williamson… not so interesting…]

    [Apcom:] In the motu proprio ‘Unitatem ecclesiam’ [sic: ECCLESIAE UNITATEM], the Pope maintains that "the doctrinal questions obviously remain, the Fraternity does not [have] a canonical status in the Church, and its ministers cannot exercise any ministry in a legitimate manner". What do you think of this?

    [Fellay:] I think that nothing much has changed. What has changed is that this new disposition will focus our relations on doctrinal matters. But it is not a change, it is a process that moves forward, and that we had already asked for in 2000; the path goes forward. That which the Pope writes is in line with the usual speech of Rome, since 1976, therefore it is not new. We maintain a clear position, which we have carried on for a while, and that we maintain, even if we are in contrast with this law, that there are serious reasons that justify the fact that we exercise this ministry legitimately[We know the arguments.  This is the "emergency powers" thing.  I believe this is wrong and cannot be justified.] The circumstances in which the Church finds herself, which we call a "state of necessity". For example, when a great catastrophe happens in a country, its ordinary structure is put out of use, the system goes into crisis mode, and then all those who are able to help do help. And therefore it is not our personal will, but the need of the faithful that demands the help of all those who are able to help. And this state of necessity is very widespread in the Church – there are certainly some exceptions – in order to secure, in conscience, the legitimate exercise of the apostolate.  [But… someone with authority must declare the state of emergency.]

    [Apcom:] What juridical status do you desire for the Fraternity of Saint Pius X? A prelature, a society of apostolic life, or what?

    [Fellay:] It will depend on Rome, obviously, that is the authority that will decide this structure[But… but… hmmm…  So the Pope needs to determine this, "Rome" does.  On the other hand the SSPX has "emergency powers".   There is something inconsistent in the thought.  Nevertheless I am very glad to read Bp. Fellay’s statement.] Their perspective is the wish to respect at the utmost the concrete reality that we represent. My hope is that we be sufficiently protected to exercise the apostolate to be able to do good, without being always stopped from action by juridical reasons. The hope is for a prelature[Opus Dei style] even if I do not have a preference. On the timetable, I cannot express myself, it all depends on Rome.

    [Apcom:] For Williamson, the Second Vatican Council is a "poisoned cake", to be thrown in the "dustbin"; for Tissier de Mallerais, the Council should be "cancelled"; and for Alfonso de Gallareta [sic] there is not "much to salvage" from the Council: is there a division inside the Fraternity of Saint Pius X? How do you intend to solve it? The Vatican maintains that there are divisions inside the Fraternity.

    [Fellay:] I might say that I do not see union even in the Vatican. The problem in the Church of our age is not us. We have become a problem only because we say that there is a problem[Bearers of bad news are usually disliked.] Besides, even if we may give the impression of opposing or even contradictory declarations, there are no internal fractures. For example, on the Council, we may say that almost all of it is to be rejected. But it may also be said that what is possible should be salvaged. But we all can never say the same thing. The Council is a mixture: there are good things, and bad. Even the Pope, when he maintains that a hermeneutic of continuity is to be desired, that he does not want a rupture, rejects the Council interpreted as rupture.

[Some stuff about Williamson… here…]

    [Apcom:] And, regarding the Council, will you accept a compromise with Rome[An unfortunate phrasing of the question.]

    [Fellay:] We will not make any compromise on the Council. I have no intention of making a compromise. The truth does not tolerate compromise. We do not want a compromise, we want clarity regarding the Council. [Don’t we all?]

    [Apcom:] The recent ordinations of priests have been seen as a provocation: would it have not been better to avoid them, in this delicate moment?

    [Fellay:] It was not a provocation. Some bishops profited of occasion to claim provocation. But it was not a provocation, neither for Rome nor for us. It is like preventing a person from breathing. We are a priestly society whose goal is to form priests. And therefore to prevent the ultimate act of formation, which is the ordination, is like preventing someone from breathing. On the other hand, it had always been foreseen and we had always known that with the removal of the excommunication a new situation has taken place which is better than the preceding one, but not perfect. For us, it is normal to move forward with our activities, and, therefore, with the ordinations.


    [Apcom:] What do you think of Benedict XVI?

    [Fellay:] He is an upright man, who regards the situation and the life of the Church most seriously.

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  1. puella says:

    I hope that some (even very vague) date could be made known, so that we can pray for these discussions, that they will be fruitful and lead to unity. On the other hand, I can see why no such date would be mentioned until after the event. I guess we just start praying very hard for this at the beginning of September and let up around Christmas?

  2. Jack Hughes says:

    To be honest Father, I think the emergency powers thing is justified, from our perspective the previous Holy Father allowed whole Bishops Confrences and Religious orders to go rouge, wasn’t willing to take them on yet ‘excommunicated’ 6 Bishops, and ‘suspended’ the faculties of a whole order who were actually trying to reverse the damage being done to the Church. I don’t have the Cannons to hand but doesn’t Cannon law say somewhere that even if a state of emergency does not exist, actions which would normally incur some sort of censure do not incur said censure when the person performing them mistakenly thinks there is?

  3. Sedgwick says:

    Is there a difference between responding to a state of emergency, in good faith, and declaring that one’s Society has emergency powers? I don’t believe the SSPX has ever declared itself to have emergency powers, but I’m not certain.

    As for the state of emergency itself, how else would you describe the condition of the Church over the past 40 years?

  4. CallZorbin says:

    In my view this interview sound hopeful…but what do you think Father Z?. I like the way Fellay closes his interview…



  5. Childermass says:

    Father, it so hard for me not to be sympathetic to the SSPX’s “state of necessity” position.

    The situation in my home diocese is absolutely wretched. A third of the parishes have been closed in the last 10 years, and those that remain are mostly in a deplorable state.

    The Cathedral has been wrecked, with the “altar” now in the middle of the nave and other renovations to promote a heterodox understanding of the Mass.

    Even worse, prominently displayed in the Cathedral bookshop (located at the entrance of the nave) are books by Joan Chittister (in good standing), Charles Curran (in good standing), Richard McBrien (in good standing), and John Shelby Spong.

    *Father Z, my bishop is selling books by JOHN SHELBY SPONG in our Cathedral!*

    My family’s old parish has LGBT rainbow flags in the vestibule. You can imagine how the rest of it is. Yet this scandalous priest and others operate with the support of my bishop.

    I say it is my family’s OLD parish because almost my entire family has fallen out of the Catholic Church.

    Gone. My father and I are the only practicing Christians in my immediate family—he’s a Baptist. He left after his world (the Church) imploded with chaos and novelty. He decided that the Church was obviously just a man-made institution, and a sick one at that.

    Most of the rest of my family has simply fallen away.

    I did not grow up a Catholic and was (by the miraculous grace of God) a convert in college. My family, before the 1970s, was Catholic for probably a millennium and a half going back to Italy.

    The only other Catholics left in my family are several second cousins—and they (and their children) go to the SSPX chapel in my diocese (which is booming with young families).

    Father, I never go to SSPX chapels (out of obedience). But I can’t begrudge my second cousins—I fear for their children’s prospects if they were elsewhere.

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