SSPX Bp. Fellay interviewed after CDF meeting today

From the site of the SSPX.  Here is the salient parts, as far as I can tell.  Read the whole thing there.

[…]When I stated on August 15 of this year that we were in agreement on the fact that we did not agree about the Second Vatican Council, I also made sure to explain that when it comes to dogmas, like the doctrine of the Trinity, we are quite obviously in agreement when we find them mentioned in Vatican II. One sentence must not be taken out of its context.  It is to the great credit of our theological talks that they seriously examined and elucidated all these doctrinal problems. The joint press release by the Vatican and the Society [Interesting.  The press release I saw seemed to come only from the Holy See.] announced that a doctrinal document was delivered to you and that a canonical solution was proposed to you. Can you give us any particulars?

This document is entitled “Doctrinal Preamble”; it was handed over to us for in-depth study. Hence it is confidential, and you will understand why I say no more about it to you. However the term “preamble” does indicate that acceptance of it is a preliminary condition for any canonical recognition of the Society of St. Pius X on the part of the Holy See.

Q: On the subject of this doctrinal preamble, to the extent that this does not concern its confidentiality, can you confirm that it contains, as announced in the press release, a distinction between what is de fide [essential to the faith]—to which the Society fully adheres—and what is dependent on a pastoral council, as Vatican II itself claimed to be, and thus could be subjected to criticism without calling the faith into question?

FELLAY: […] Today, for the sake of objectivity, I must acknowledge that in the doctrinal preamble there is no clear-cut distinction between the inviolable dogmatic sphere and the pastoral sphere that is subject to discussion.  […] At the same time, it leaves open to legitimate discussion the examination and theological explanation of individual expressions and formulations contained in the documents of Vatican Council II and of the later Magisterium.”  There you have it;  no more and no less.

Q: […]  … there has been talk about a [personal] prelature rather than an ordinariate;  it this correct?

FELLAY: As you correctly note, this canonical status is conditional; only later on will we be able to see the exact modality of it; it still remains a subject for discussion.

Q: When do you think you will give your answer to the proposal in the doctrinal preamble?

FELLAY: [… ] But I can assure you that our decision will be made for the good of the Church and of souls. Our Rosary Crusade, which continues for several more months, must be intensified so as to enable us to obtain, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, the graces of light and strength that we need more than ever.

I am all in favor of that Rosary Crusade.

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  1. danphunter1 says:

    In the interview Fellay stated that the differences between Rome and the SSPX are not dogmatic. The press release seems to be saying the same thing. The official hierarchy has always treated the SSPX’s views on Vatican II as incompatible with the faith. To publicly say “I disagree with you, but nothing you say is against the faith” is a big step.

  2. Tom Ryan says:

    There doesn’t even exist a strategic reason for the separation. They can do more good normalized than they can in their present status.
    If the Feeneyites can be within the Church without abandoning their interpretation of EENS, why do reservations about a pastoral Council and a banal on the spot creation preclude unity?

  3. Our Lady is our mother. She knows all our hearts, and she is good at getting them to open.

    Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us!

  4. Oneros says:

    “there is no clear-cut distinction between the inviolable dogmatic sphere and the pastoral sphere that is subject to discussion.”

    This frustrates me. Why DOESN’T the Vatican come out and clarify THIS?? For ALL of our sakes!

    It’s pretty clear to me that, given the diversity of policy and hierarchal statements over 2000 years…the historically contingent practicalities of how the Church should approach other religions and/or the State…is not a dogmatic issue, but a prudential question even if certain dogmatic principles (such as, on the one hand, that error has no rights and, on the other, that true belief by nature cannot be coerced) must always be applied.

    Yet the Vatican remains in this foggy territory wherein some people will even imply that the modern wholesale cuddling-up to democracy and capitalism….are somehow “dogmatic” truths.

    This is why anathemas were useful. They told us what was de fide and what was merely the prudential pastoral application of those principles (the prudence of which could then be debated).

  5. pewpew says:

    @Oneros. I expect that you can read this document after mgr. Fellay has decided on it so that will be a clarification. Lets all pray that the SSPX will choose to fully reunite with the Church

  6. Daniel says:

    I would think an Ordinariate that covers all elements of Traditional Liturgy (vs. only the Society) would be best. It does not seem there would be a reason to give an Ordinariate that only covers them. A Personal Prelature would likely be insufficient, as it can only operate in those dioceses where they receive permission from the local Bishop.

  7. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Oneros,

    1. take the Vatican II documents. 2. Extract theses from them. 3. If the theses are disciplinary, make your free opinion about them; though sentientes cum Ecclesia we should presume that the Council had its good intentions with them.

    4. Remain the theses which are dogmatic in nature. 5. If you find an anathema or a similar dogmatising formula in Vatican II (which you won’t) or a previous council or papal bull or constitution, hold them as de fide. 6. If you find (!) a real (!) word-by-word contradiction (!) in previous infallible (!) Church doctrine, forget about Vatican II for that matter. Note that the Council beats any previous fallible Church doctrine. 7. Hold the rest as Church doctrine of various degrees of certainty. But there still remains some room for at least silent dissent after heavy consultation of conscience (we are not speaking about de fide matters), and there remains every room for the sense that things right in itself should have been formulated in another way, or, though right in itself, show a tendency which I can’t go with for the following reasons, etc. pp. You get the idea. Note that Bl. John Henry tells us that “minimizing”, which is not denying, can be what to do with doctrinal documents for very good reasons. And be open for the possibility that some texts are just very good.

  8. Jason Keener says:


    I agree. The Church needs to clarify things. What exactly in the Second Vatican Council’s teaching is dogmatic and infallible and what is prudential and open to debate and revision? Unfortunately, I think it will take awhile for the Magisterium to opine on these matters because the matters are sometimes very complex.

    Also, I’m of the opinion that there is quite a bit of room for a legitimate diversity of theological opinion in the life of the Church. Eastern Catholics, for example, are in full communion with the Church but understand issues like Purgatory in a different way than Latin Catholics do.

    Moreover, I have Catholic friends who believe that every word the Pope utters or the Council uttered is infallible, which I think is a serious error. It would seem to me that the Holy Spirit’s special guarantee of infallibilty is restricted to very basic teachings of the faith and morals such as the fact of Christ’s Divinity and the fact of Mary’s Assumption. On the other hand, it would seem that the charism of infallibilty would not apply to changeable prudential matters such as how the Church should relate to Jews, Protestants, and Muslims in this or that period of history; therefore, I think one can probably be in good standing with the Church and still question many things about the Church’s approach to ecumenism. To some Catholics, it is, of course, unthinkable that a good Catholic would ever question the Church’s current approach to ecumenism, religious liberty, etc.

  9. jrotond2 says:


    I don’t foresee a pan-Traditional Ordinariate, although I would also personally desire one. Most, if not all, secular diocesan priests who offer the TLM regularly and with whom I’ve been acquainted are perfectly happy to keep fighting the good fight at the diocesan and parish level, and are usually not too fond of the subcultures which can exist in the SSPX and FSSP parishes. As for the FSSP in particular, I recently asked one of their priests if an SSPX-FSSP merger would be possible and/or desirable given this reconciliation (since the FSSP has no bishops of its own and is at the mercy of diocesan bishops to function), and he gave me a clear “No, there is too much animosity between the two groups for that to happen.”

  10. Charlotte Allen says:

    Fellay doesn’t seem all that eager to join up with Rome despite all of Rome’s overtures. I don’t get it. Pope Benedict has bent over backwards to heal this schism, and it seems to me that the SSPX people ought to do the same. The old Mass is back, and Benedict is genuinely steering the Church back to a traditional understanding of the liturgy. His choices of bishops have been excellent. True, horrible things happened in the Church after Vatican II, and it’s easy to blame the Council. But why should the Vatican have to justify every word in Vatican II documents? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Isn’t the burden of proof on the SSPX to show that there’s doctrinal error in those documents and that they, the schismatics, are the ones who are preserving the historic integrity of the Church?

  11. leonugent2005 says:

    Perhaps the SSPX would do well to remember that the Second Vatican Council was called by Blessed Pope John XXIII whose body remains incorrupt, and mostly explained by Blessed Pope John Paul II. The church has always had heretics and schismatics. Does it mean your not a Jesuit if your constant carping about the church is “conservative” and not “liberal”?

  12. Tradster says:

    I would also rejoice to see a pan-Traditional Ordinariate. I’m thinking specifically of the SSPV who, God willing, would also opt to swear fealty to the Pope and join the Ordinariate. Adding their devoted priests and sisters to those in the SSPX, FSSP, ICK, et al would be wonderful!

  13. AnnAsher says:

    The problem isn’t SSPX. The problem is the ambiguity (to say the least) of the Vatican II documents and the new liturgy. Therefore, the SSPX has made it clear that they take their position very seriously and as necessary for the preservation of the faith and the salvation of souls. Would we have them compromise souls for the sake of premature unity ? I pray Rome has done what it must so that SSPX can accept a return to normal status…. And maybe the rest of us can have a sound understanding of the faith as well.

  14. AnnAsher says:

    The problem isn’t SSPX. The problem is the ambiguity (to say the least) of the Vatican II documents and the new liturgy. Therefore, the SSPX has made it clear that they take their position very seriously and as necessary for the preservation of the faith and the salvation of souls. Would we have them compromise souls for the sake of premature unity ? I pray Rome has done what it must so that SSPX can accept a return to normal status.

  15. holeksa says:

    Good news!!!
    One rosary coming up.

  16. tzard says:

    I find it heartening that the type of ecclesiastical structure under which they might be formed is being discussed. It sounded like the expectation that once this document is accepted, the incorporation could happen in short order.

    Of course the discussions on the “non-essentials” should continue way past any healing of the rift. For the questions are important and need to be resolved.

  17. cpaulitz says:

    Charlotte your words and ignorance of the situation show exactly why it has taken so long to get to this point. You call the SSPX schismatic even though the pope himself says they are not. This is why they must tread so lightly and be so careful.

    As to a personal prelature, it is a non starter. Non way HE Fellay has fought this long to be under some leftist bishop. That’s not going to happen.

  18. Denis says:

    THis is very encouraging. Whatever happens, I hope that the SSPX retain a good deal of independence from local bishops, but that they never make too much noise about this independence…estote prudentes sicut serpentes et simplices sicut columbae…

  19. kgurries says:

    I think Bishop Fellay’s initial comments are positive since he clearly leaves open the possibility that he will sign after consultation with other SSPX members. It sounds like the “doctrinal preamble” will establish the guiding principles to enable all theologians (not only SSPX) to properly distinguish between what is dogmatic and what is pastoral-prudential. If so, it will be an important compliment to the previous CDF instruction, Donum Veritatis, on the role of the theologian.

    The big question in my mind is whether or not the SSPX will be content with guiding principles vs. clear-cut and decisive answers to each particular question — many remaining open to ongoing theological discussion and debate.

  20. albizzi says:

    Brick by brick , slowly the modernism tower is crumbling.
    Some years ago we were told that the Tridentine mass never was abrogated although many bishops said so since decades.
    Now we are told that “Vatican II is not essential to the Faith”
    What’s next?
    Certainly Benedict XVI is worthier to be beatified than John XXIII and JPII

  21. TheAcolyte says:

    leonugent2005: “Perhaps the SSPX would do well to remember that the Second Vatican Council was called by Blessed Pope John XXIII whose body remains incorrupt, and mostly explained by Blessed Pope John Paul II.”

    Unlike true incorruptibles, Pope John XXIII’s body was *chemically embalmed* by the Vatican’s undertakers – so it is not accurate to state that his body is in a state of uncorruption.

    Also, there are problems with the beatification processes of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II – many because the liberals are trying to “canonize” the Second Vatican Council by canonizing these popes (who of course we do hope are actually in Heaven). Cf. the articles at (under Beatifications / Canonizations heading) as well as the new book published by Angelus Press: “Doubts About a Beatification (

    Lastly, don’t forget the famous “last words” of Pope John XXIII on this death bed: “Stop the Council!”

  22. albizzi says:

    There was a rumour that actually circulated in the Vatican that when the Pope John’s casket was opened some years after he died, the incorrupt (bcs it had been embalmed, like you explain) body of the late Pope had been found upset FACE DOWN.

  23. robtbrown says:


    Whether diocesan priests like the SSPX or FSSP is irrelevant. Most of them also have no use for Opus Dei (I have heard good priests criticizing OD in homilies). I have also heard priests (one of whom later became rector of the cathedral) criticizing the clergy of the Lincoln diocese.

    Also: There was in the FSSP some worry that their vocations (which are booming in the US) would dry up if the SSPX would be reconciled with Rome. The cultures of two, however, are so much different that I doubt that there would be any change.

  24. skladach says:

    Many bloggers have commented on how respectful the Sept. 14 press release is, naming all of the SSPX participants with their proper titles. The original language of the press release was French and it was then translated into Italian. Of course it was a joint CDF-SSPX press release!

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