Interview with SSPX Bp. Fellay is worth your time

Bernard FellayOur friends at Rorate have posted something from DICI, an interview with SSPX Superior Bp. Bernard Fellay. In this interview Fellay speaks about the “doctrinal preamble” given to the SSPX by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Why is the Doctrinal Preamble that Cardinal Levada delivered to you on September 14 still surrounded by so much secrecy, both on the part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and by the Society of St. Pius X? What is this silence hiding from the priests and faithful of Tradition?

This discretion is normal for any important proceeding; it ensures the seriousness of it. It so happens that the Doctrinal Preamble that was delivered to us is a document which can be clarified and modified, as the accompanying note points out. It is not a definitive text. In a little while we will draw up a response to this document, noting frankly the doctrinal positions that we regard as indispensable. Our constant concern since the start of our talks with the Holy See—as our interlocutors know very well—has been to present the traditional position with complete loyalty.

Discretion is required on Rome’s part also, because this document—even in its present state which needs many clarifications—runs a great risk of arousing opposition from the progressives, who do not accept the very idea of a discussion about the Council, because they consider that this pastoral council is indisputable or “non-negotiable”, as though it were a dogmatic council.

I think we can assume from this that the Doctrinal Preamble is being kicked back and forth.

I really like this quote:

In this context, can there by a solution to the crisis in the Church?

Short of a miracle, there can be no instantaneous solution. Wanting God to give the victory without asking armed men to engage in battle, to quote St. Joan of Arc, is a form of desertion. Wanting an end to the crisis without feeling concerned or involved is not really to love the Church. Providence does not dispense us from the duty of our state in life, wherever it has placed us, or from assuming our responsibilities and responding to the graces that it grants us.

The whole thing is worth reading.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. ies0716 says:

    I read the whole interview and his comments on the Doctrinal Preamble were pretty much what I expected. Even though Rome has the authority here, SSPX has the stronger negotiating position and Bp. Fellay knows it. SSPX has every incentive to hold out for additional concessions in the negotiations because Pope Benedict has made it a priority for SSPX to be regularized, while many in SSPX itself are somewhat lukewarm to the idea. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

  2. You know, it’s funny how many discussions on the Internet, and in normal modern life, sound perfectly logical and reasonable as long as you ignore any eschatological consequences.

    So yeah, there are a lot of people who want to be reconciled or regularized less than the Pope wants them to be. But it’s silly to say they have a stronger bargaining position, because the chances of going to Hell from proud refusal to deal with Peter are distressingly high. (Ask Lucifer about his strong bargaining position. Now there’s a guy who stayed ideologically pure at high personal cost, if you like.) And it’s not much comfort to think that maybe several popes will have spent time in Purgatory over these issues, if you’re in Purgatory… or worse.

    So yeah, measure twice and cut once, haste makes waste, and so forth. But at their backs folks should always hear time’s winged chariot, unless they totally refuse to be sensible in an eschatological sense. This isn’t a game; this is a matter of eternal souls.

    What makes me happy is that people are talking back and forth. As long as communication stays open, maybe good things will happen.

  3. Tom Esteban says:

    It was a good interview; and I have hope. Whatever the outcome, I doubt the final word (and the preamble) will be known/released soon. I give it 3-9 months before we know things for certain. I pray the SSPX are regularized.

  4. Elizabeth D says:

    Does anybody understand the significance of the potential revision of the penal section of the Code of Canon Law that is mentioned by Bp Fellay and which Rorate Coeli confirms also from independent sources that there is a study being finished up about that? Does this have to do with penalties regarding sex abuse, or might it touch on the suspensions of the FSSPX etc?

  5. Centristian says:

    “Ask Lucifer about his strong bargaining position.”

    Very astute, Suburbanshee; your entire post is so very sound, in fact.

    I am, however, reminded of another quote, from “The Agony and the Ecstasy”. Rex Harrison as Julius II to Charlton Heston as Michelangelo:

    “Would you bargain with your pontiff?!”

    Well, these negotiations between the Holy See and the collection of individuals claiming to constitute the long since suppressed Society of St. Pius X seem to perpetuate an endless (and tedious) minuet of irreconcilable differences. One day, however, the harpsichord will be silenced, I think, when one or the other side sees clearly the pointlessness of the exercise and bows out.

    I don’t say this to be a party pooper, but what else can happen, really? According to the SSPX, the official Church essentially has to convert to true Catholicism, basically, and renounce her modernism. She must cease to be “Newchurch” and become, once again, the “Church of All Ages”. But the official Church cannot accept that, of course.

    The official Church is, of course, truly Catholic and it is not modernist. She is, in fact, the “Church of All Ages”. Some, even many, of her individual clergy may be errant, but that is a matter of internal discipline, not of the character of the whole thing in itself. The Church’s teachings are authentic and orthodox, though individual clergy and laity may at times distort those teachings or act ignorantly of them.

    The SSPX say, essentially, that the official Church must convert to the position of the SSPX, period, as if the SSPX were, indeed, the true and authentic remnant of a Catholic Church that has otherwise disappeared on the earth and which certainly cannot be found at Rome. How can the Holy See compromise toward such a position? Where on earth is the room for compromise?

    The SSPX (which, again, no longer exists) have, on the other hand, no stomach for compromise, which in a way is a virtuous thing. They regard the Council as misguided, its implementation nothing short of diabolical, and the liturgical reforms it produced as utterly pernicious. In light of their views on the Church’s “reforms”, why ever should they be expected to compromise at all? If they really believe what they believe, sincerely, then they must not compromise. To do so would be to blacken their own integrity…and ultimately to deny the very raison d’etre of the “Society”.

    So, I imagine these dialogues going something like this, every time:

    ROME: “Orange, cannot you please become a little bit of an apple, like us, so that we may be one, we may be one, together, in the same bushel basket?”

    SSPX: “No, apple, we cannot. It is you that must become an orange, and not just a little bit of an orange but completely one, because we imagine that you used to be an orange, as we are, but have changed, now, into an apple.”

    ROME: “But orange, we were never an orange. You are mistaken. We were always an apple and always will be, even if we are not the same variety of apple then that we are today. Yes, there are a few more worm holes and soft spots today then there were at one time, but we are still an apple.”

    SSPX: “No. You were an orange; we are sure of it. Monseigneur has taught us so. That is how we perceive the matter and we are utterly convinced of our perception, which is his. We insist that you were an orange, like us, but that you have changed. You have not merely changed into a different variety, but into a different fruit altogether.”

    ROME: “What can we do to persuade you that we have always been an apple, and never were an orange?”

    SSPX: “We are not interested in hearing you attempt to explain a fiction. We want you to admit that you were once an orange, such as we are, and then we want you to become an orange, again.”

    The Church knows that she is an apple and always has been and the SSPX obstinately disagrees. How can the Holy See say otherwise? The SSPX obstinately disagrees that it doesn’t even exist any longer, for that matter. How long can such a dialogue really continue?

    Even if the Church were to agree to regularize the SSPX, making it, from the Holy See’s legal perspective, a real thing again, their clergy would still be in Crisis in the Church mode, (capitalized on purpose) which allows them to act in any way they see fit, regardless of Rome’s directives. They would still assail, from the pulpit, the “Novus Ordo” as being pernicious, the faith of Rome as having all but failed, and the Conciliar and post-Conciliar popes as walking on the cusp of apostasy. What sort of a reconciliation would it all really amount to?

    Still, I recognize that, just because I cannot envision a meaningful solution, it doesn’t mean that there cannot materialize a meaningful solution that my feeble mind cannot imagine at the moment, and so I continue to look with interest at each new development.

  6. leonugent2005 says:

    ies0716 I agree with you, SSPX has the stronger bargaining position and has every incentive to hold out until they can get the next pope in there to deal with them!

  7. kgurries says:

    “…we are studying this preamble minutely with the criterion of the Tradition to which we are faithfully bound.”

    (CCC 95): “It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others…”

  8. Maltese says:

    Couldn’t the Pope sua sponte just say the Society Priests are no longer suspended a divinis and then let the negotiations resume, with this partial regularization as a primer?

  9. Geoffrey says:

    “Would you bargain with your pontiff?!”

    A great line from a great movie! It boggles the mind that some Catholics could answer that with a “yes!”

    Meanwhile, I just received this via email from Rome Reports:

  10. jflare says:

    I do hope they can work things out, but there WERE/ARE a few comments by Fellay that..bother me. For one, he still seems insistent that SSPX need not follow some of Vatican II because they’re..what?..incorrect? False? He seems insistent that the Council Fathers erred, even though a Pope put his stamp of approval on each one. I may be a mere lay man, but I can’t find any rational reason for why he could declare something fallible. If the assertions set forth by Vatican I left some wiggle room somewhere, I would think he would’ve reasonably made those causes plain by now. That he does not appear to have done so…..

    I’m also bothered by his comment with regard to being a spiritual son of MSgr (Bishop?) Lefebvre. Didn’t St Paul address that idea pretty clearly and directly?

    I’d love to see the Church more thoroughly united, but I wonder if SSPX will give enough ground.

  11. FranzJosf says:

    It is my opinion that both the Holy Father and Bishop Fellay know well that the situation isn’t quite so black and white as some people paint it. For instance, as Cardinal Ratzinger, the Holy Father wrote that there were some problems to be found in Gaudium et Spes, which posits some ideas that are not part of the Deposit of Faith. That the Bishops Gumbleton happen to agree with such things and that the Bishops Fellay do not, the former being in full communion and the latter lacking full communion, is merely the function of the power of the vogue at a certain moment in history. It has nothing to do with infallibility, but everything to do with tides in the affairs of men. But tides change.

  12. Supplex says:

    I know Bishop Fellay has always said that as per a “note” the preamble is a document that can be “modified and clarified.”

    Does anyone have any prior comments of the Vatican regarding the option of negotiating the preamble?


  13. Joan A. says:

    What’s the old joke: “Are you more Catholic than the Pope?”

    Fellay could go down in history as a man who took a great step and unified his followers with the Church. Instead, his ego will land him on the ash heap of history.

  14. kat says:

    Whatever decision Bp. Fellay makes, and whether or not anyone agrees with that decision when made, it will not be made with any regard to his “ego”.

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