SSPX Bp Fellay: We don’t have to wait for everything to be completely satisfactory

A reader sent me a link to Radio Spada which posted that SSPX Superior Bp Fellay said in an interview that it isn’t necessary to wait for reconciliation with the Holy See until the situation is perfect.

Of course the situation in the Church has never been perfect and it never will be.  Hence, this makes sense though it doesn’t say more than it says.

Bp Fellay said that relations now are such that they lack only the “timbro…stamp, seal”.

“Cet accord est possible, selon le supérieur général, sans attendre que la situation ne soit devenue totalement satisfaisante, à ses yeux, dans l’Eglise”,

“Questo accordo è possibile, secondo il superiore generale, senza attendere che la situazione sia diventata totalmente soddisfacente, ai suoi occhi, nella Chiesa” [RS]:

In other words:

This agreement is possible … without waiting for the situation to become completely satisfactory, as we see it, in the Church.

The moderation queue in ON.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. VexillaRegis says:

    Very confusing. IF the SSPX made an agreement with the Holy See, they would be next in line for harassment and extinction. Is Abp Fellay maybe pulling the Pope’s leg here?

    [He doesn’t strike me as the leg pulling type.]

  2. HighMass says:

    Have had this feeling in March 2013, and after, the Mass in the E.F. as it is called today will be suppressed again? Sure seems like those who speak up for anything Traditional are removed.
    i.e. all the replacements in the hiarchy. Oh Pope Benedict we need you now more than ever.

  3. Chris Rawlings says:

    So what are they waiting for? If this opportunity is basically right now on the table, I really hope the SSPX will not hesitate to take it.

  4. Robbie says:

    Given the tumult in Rome, I’m genuinely surprised Bishop Fellay hasn’t decided to take a breather on reconciliation with the Vatican. I admire his desire to keep the dialogue open, though.

  5. Akita says:

    Delightful news.

    I so look forward to the Las Vegas diocesan web page take down the false claim that Our Lady of Victory mission is schismatic.

  6. Akita says:

    Delightful news.

    I so look forward to the Las Vegas diocesan web page take down the false claim that Our Lady of Victory mission is schismatic.

    Regularization of the SSPX just might be the answer to all the angst over Amoris Laetitia as they will likely freely condemn it.

  7. TimG says:

    Baffling to me. Why would the SSPX accept any agreement now after the apparent takeover of SMOM?

    [It hasn’t.]

  8. Ave Crux says:

    Father, I have always supported and hoped for a regularization of SSPX’S status, often defending such a hoped-for development vigorously against those who say it would be dangerous.

    However, after the recent developments with the Knights of Malta, with Pope Francis overreaching and crushing their sovereignty and reinstating a man said to have been systematically guilty of distributing condoms and contraceptives, then also demanding the resignation of Festing for defending Catholic teaching, I have to say I am suddenly quite alarmed, and think this is not a good time for SSPX to engage Rome.

    It is quite possible that once regularized, SSPX’s stability and the cohesion of the faithful within its ranks could be shattered by Pope Francis by some crushing directives, just as he has just done with the Knights of Malta.

    Any attempts to strong arm the SSPX’s positions and leadership would completely splinter and fragment the SSPX, causing complete chaos within their ranks.

    I have known them for 40 years, and they are not faint-hearted when it comes to defending the restoration of Tradition and the Church’s fidelity to the Deposit of Faith. They would not take it “lying down”, so to speak.

    Do not forget that they have an entire network of chapels and schools, seminaries and religious communities. All of this could be split and destabilized if Rome acts with aggression as they did with the Knights of Malta.

    Given what is developing into a very clear and real (canonically defensible) state of emergency within the Church under Pope Francis, [I think that this is where you fall apart.] I am beginning to feel SSPX should just stay where they are, especially now that they have clearly established jurisdiction to hear Confessions validly.

    It’s not inconceivable that Rome would remove Bishop Fellay and replace him with someone less fearless in defending orthodoxy and upholding SSPX’s resistance to the current doctrinal crisis. In fact, the conditions with Rome have already stipulated that Rome would choose who should lead the SSPX once regularized. This alone could send fissures of disunity throughout the SSPX.

    The situation within the Church is becoming frightening and approaching that of schism within the hierarchy. It does not appear promising.

    On the contrary, after what was done to the Knights of Malta we have everything to be worried about.

    Even mainstream Catholic apologists and pundits are saying that there is presently a pogrom on those who uphold Catholic Doctrine within the Church, and some have even raised the spectre of it causing a real schism.

  9. Lavrans says:

    OK, I’ll attempt a positive spin on this. If indeed attempts are made at allowing the Mass to be altered according to the whims and proclivities of individual dioceses, ritual Churches, and other forms of dencentralization, then the SSPX, the FSSP, the Eastern Rites, and the Ordinariate will be allowed to continue as they see fit. It would mean, for me, that I would leave my diocesesan parish behind and join one of those, but that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Hey, I’m trying to stay positive here!

  10. Ave Crux says:

    Father, after posting the above comment, I went on to read your commentary on the prayer for this Sunday.

    This is exactly what the SSPX has always done: drawn up their ranks and stand firm.

    To destroy an army, the enemy splits the ranks and tries to create chaos within the formation.

    This is precisely what I fear Rome and Pope Francis could do if SSPX comes within “firing range” by agreeing to Rome’s terms and conditions.

    Your quote illustrates the reasons for SSPX’s stability and cohesion in the Faith during these years of crisis:
    ” On the other hand, in Classical usage subsisto means “to take a stand or position, to stand still, remain standing; to stop, halt”. It comes to mean especially in military contexts, “to stand firm, hold out; to withstand, oppose, resist”. In later Latin such as in the Vulgate in the Book of Job it is, “to remain alive”. Also in late Latin, it is “to stand or hold good, to subsist”.

    The juxtaposition of “such great dangers” and nos constituti, with the final word vincamus, suggests immediately the military image of us as being “drawn up in ranks”. We are, after all, members of the Church Militant.

  11. Papabile says:

    Yay. Now just watch them fill the new Seminary in Virginia. I wonder how many Diocesan priest will request incardnation?

  12. LDP says:

    One minute we’re talking about the Maltese fiasco(s) and a new translation of the Mass; the next minute we’re talking about reconciling the SSPX. Strange times indeed! It’s enough to drive a man mad. The Holy Father is truly an enigma. How can he rail against ‘rigid, close-minded’ traditionalists one day, only to speak cordially and apparently fruitfully with the SSPX the next? Unfortunately, I fear the man who tries to appease everyone ends up appeasing no one. We shall see. All I can do is pray for the pope – and hope.

  13. Tony Phillips says:

    It’s true that the situation in the church will never be perfect.
    It’s also true that when / if the SSPX regularises its situation with the Vatican, some members will splinter off–indeed that’s already happened, and will probably recur.
    It’s true that the experience of the FFI (with which I have had some personal dealings) and the Knights of Malta (with which I haven’t) should serve as a cautionary tale for the SSPX.
    Whatever happens, I want to express my gratitude to the SSPX for taking the courageous and lonely route that they did. Without them, there would have been no Indult, and no Summorum Pontificum either. Did they attract some weirdos? Undoubtedly–fringe groups always do. But there are plenty of weirdos in the mainstream church too–don’t ever forget that.

  14. excalibur says:

    And then afterwards a forced takeover a la the Knights of Malta? Be very careful, SSPX.

  15. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I find it hard to believe that the SSPX would sign on with this Pontiff with recent events being what they are. Especially the SMOM situation…

    That said, if the SSPX comes into the fold my chances of finding a stable Latin Mass community (where I can escape the coming ordinary form chaos) will increase.

  16. stuart reiss says:

    A rigid priest I know, a liturgist, observed that creating a personal prelature for the SSPX would be a step towards introducing rules to restrict the celebration of the old rite to those priests in the prelature only..another rigid Australian priest observed that it was a Hitlarian tactic of creating ghettos.

  17. jlong says:

    Let us pray they come fully into the fold. We need a counter force in the Church to defend the Faith against an oppressive liberalism. We lost the Sovereign Knights of Malta, but maybe this is our chance to have a new vanguard.

  18. Benedict Joseph says:

    Bishop Fellay is no one’s fool. I am at a loss as to why they would walk this path now. It makes no apparent sense and appears far more precarious than imaginable — especially this week. He has to be aware of something we are not. That said, I hope they retain their independence for sometime longer. The current context is nothing less than menacing.

  19. Ben Kenobi says:


    I guess it looks different for the convert having been on the outside of the glass looking in. If one sincerely believes that the Catholic church was founded by Christ himself, and you are not presently in the Church, then one is left with two choices. One can wait for the mountain to come to him, or, to go to the mountain. I chose to come. The point being that one becomes Catholic because of the eternal, timeless and unchanging aspects of the Church. Lefebvre’s argument is that it was necessary for him appoint priests without permission in order to preserve the Church. The problem is that this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the Magisterium. If such a thing were true, then the Church is already dead. I hope that Fellay can come over and leave the dead to the dead. No reconciliation with Lefevbre can be had, but Fellay must make his own choice.

  20. Ave Crux says:

    Bishop Fellay has the faith and spiritual wellbeing of over 1 million souls in his care. He knows that if anything should happen to the Society as it did to the Knights of Malta his sheep would be thrown into total chaos and scatter.

    Imagine having responsibility for that many souls…..imagine that weight….including religious and priestly vocations, while knowing and weighing the treachery which presently threatens the likes of Cardinal Burke and other faithful predates with censure and exile if they press too hard for the restoration of sound teaching and praxis within the Church, as happened with the Knights.

    Bishop Fellay is steering a ship of enormous spiritual and historical proportions through troubled waters.

    Before God as a loving shepherd he is well aware of this and will not act lightly or risk the good of the Society.

    I do not believe those in the Church Militant are bound by obedience to surround to enemies of the integral Faith. On the contrary, now is the time to draw up our ranks and mount a faithful defense of the Catholic Faith in the sight of God.

  21. Fuerza says:

    If reconciling the SSPX is, as some say, an attempt to restrict the TLM to the traditionalist societies and eliminate it from diocesan parishes, then I imagine that most traditional Catholics would leave their parishes to join SSPX chapels. It seems to me that this would grow the SSPX and similar societies. When their chapels and seminaries start overflowing compared to more progressive parishes maybe Rome will finally take notice. Just trying to be optimistic.

  22. Pigeon says:

    I fear that this is a trap.

  23. rmichaelj says:

    I think we are already in a situation where we have a ghettoization of the Traditional mass and culture.

    I believe that some ghettoization is not a bad thing when one is trying to preserve a culture (ghettos are very good at preserving culture), but the best policy is to have traditional parishes, and also if possible be involved and a good example in your local parish so people there know that we aren’t crazy. (If you are crazy, or can’t control your anger, please keep a low profile and help with the strength of your prayers).

    Politely pester your local priest about having a traditional mass. If he won’t do that ask for an ad orientem, if he won’t do that ask for more latin, , ask him to do it at the lowest attended daily mass, and tell him you will appreciate it if he does.

    Many won’t but some might. Be humble and polite in your request. If they say no to everything, ask them again a few months later. Politely persistent.

    Even if the priest refuses anything, having to constantly refuse a polite, humble, and valid request multiple times may thaw a hardened (or more likely fearful) heart. It may plant a seed, or at least keep them from attacking other traditionalists so vehemently.

    If father gets a little snappish, gently remind him that you have a right to request what you are asking for.

    Then if he asks why he hasn’t seen you for several Sundays, he can’t be angry when you explain politely that you drive 30 or 45 or an hour to go to the traditional mass. (Well, he could still get angry, but at that point it is his problem, not yours).

    Above all don’t get spiteful or angry yourself, the priest you are talking to may be a bishop someday, so how he sees traditionalists later may depend on how you act now.

  24. organistjason says:

    Dreadful news. If SSPX could not find detente under the leadership of His Holiness Benedict XVI, then it most certainly can not, under the “leadership” of Francis I. Your Excellency Bishop Fellay please……run away from any notion of this now. To give in under the present “leadership” would be to sell out your principles. The mere idea of normalization at this time is sheer lunacy.

  25. stuart reiss says:

    Pigeon I think this is a bird shoot.

  26. VexillaRegis says:

    Dear Fr. Z, no he doesn’t. He seems to be very charismatic and warm, but also very balanced and controlled – not easily fooled. That’s why I wonder why he made the remark. Hmm.

    May I ask you if you have met Bp Fellay or any other of the more high ranking priests of the SSPX? It would just be interesting know :-).

  27. Gabriel Syme says:

    I think +Fellay is wise to maintain an openness to “rubber stamping” what he already describes as “normal” relations with the Vatican. I am not a fan of Pope Francis, but to his credit he has been fair to the SSPX (of course, after every act of kindness he follows up with a tirade against sincere Catholics who adhere to the traditional expression of the faith).

    I do not admire how the current Papacy is being conducted, with its conniving and tyrannical actions. However, I do not think the SSPX has anything to fear through agreeing to normalise their canonical status.

    The Society would never meekly accept unfair, abusive or illegal treatment from the authorities, as the FFI and SMOM have done. For over a decade, the SSPX endured fierce accusations of schism and also excommunications – yet throughout this time it only flourished. This surely shows what God thinks of the Society. I think there is little which could be done to them, which they have not faced or endured already.

    +Fellay has consulted closely with his district superiors at every turn and so we can be confident that he is backed by these men and the districts they over-see. And so there should be no surprises or dissent. The SSPX acts as a unified body and has done since it threw out +Williamson and his acolytes*. (*A lay-person described this event to me as a large “nutter magnet” being passed over the SSPX chapels and plucking out any present nutters).

    The difference between the current situation and that under Benedict is that, since Benedict, the authorities have conceded that the documents of Vatican II are not binding on Catholics and it is possible to reject them and still be Catholic.

    As long as the SSPX retains sole control over its assets, then it has nothing to fear.

    In the City where I live, the Society owns a Church building distinct from the Diocese, so the Diocese cannot undermine them in any way.

    The building is not big enough, and people often have to stand outside during mass, but the pleas to the Diocese to use a defunct (bigger) Church are routinely ignored. (Despite the fact that the Diocese has granted the use of Catholic Churches to both Russian Orthodox and Episcopal groups).

    If a resolution is reached, then maybe this would change and the local SSPX would get the use of a bigger Church and so continue to grow and flourish. This is one small way in which a resolution could be an opportunity, rather than a trap.

  28. Dan says:

    “Bishop Fellay is no one’s fool. I am at a loss as to why they would walk this path now.”

    Bishop Felley has gone out of his say to say that the SSPX is Roman Catholic with recourse to the Holy Father. I think he and all of the SSPX priests are genuinely saddened by their current status and they will normalize when they believe they can do so without jepordizing the souls entrusted to their care.

  29. JonPatrick says:

    One possible factor is the aging of the current SSPX bishops (Bp. Mallerais is 72) and the desire to avoid another consecration crisis as happened in 1988.

    Although I understand people’s concern about detente with a Vatican that seems indifferent at best to traditional worship and belief, it should be considered that groups such as FSSP and ICKSP are flourishing, not to mention the traditional monasteries such as Fontgombault and Clear Creek, the Benedictine nuns at Ephesus, etc. We still read of “brick by brick” establishment of new parochial TL:M’s. So not all tradition is under attack.

  30. pmullane says:

    Good for them, I hope and pray that they are unified visibly with the Church. They are sorely needed.

  31. petrus69 says:

    Bishop Fellay knows exactly what he is doing and he has some very knowledgeable advisors advising him. Please consider this will not be a rash decision its been in the making since the ’70″s under Archbishop Lefebvre. The SSPX is a force to be reckon with. Nothing will be sign until Bishop Fellay dots all the “i’s” and cross all the “t’s” . They tried to trick him once, but he saw right thru that. Don’t assume you have all the facts. Trust in the Lord and his chosen instruments and pray that this come to fruition. The Lord has seen fit to bless the SSPX with many chapels, churches, Traditional affiliates, several seminaries, convents and over 600 priests. Bishop Fellay will not jeopardize all of this on a “whim”.

  32. AnthonyJ says:

    I think many are jumping the gun, as no agreement has been reached and Bishop Fellay’s remarks don’t even indicate an agreement is imminent.

  33. Legisperitus says:

    Rorate has Tornielli quoting Abp. Pozzo as saying Ecclesia Dei is currently working on the documents for the personal prelature.

  34. scholastica says:

    I wonder if Bishop Fellay is taking to heart Bishop Schneider’s recent plea to return now and not delay for the good of the Church, trusting in Divine Providence. It reminds me of the last battle in Lord of the Rings when the elves who had kept themselves separate finally joined the battle when things were at their worse.

  35. robtbrown says:

    petrus69 says,

    They tried to trick him once, but he saw right thru that with a little help from some very important people in Rome


  36. robtbrown says:

    Gabriel Syme says,

    As long as the SSPX retains sole control over its assets, then it has nothing to fear.

    A very important point.

  37. Fuerza says:


    We may be jumping the gun, but there is at least some nod from Rome that this is indeed happening.

  38. Moro says:

    @stuart reiss – my thoughts exactly. I fear it is a sort of ghettoization going on because that way we are seen as easier to manage. One of the best things about Summorum Pontificum was that lots of people became exposed to the TLM. The Ordinary Form became more reverent overall, the caliber of the men in seminary and the newly ordained also improved. Many hispanic Catholics who were, for lack of a better term, ghettoized because of language got to know many of their English-speaking counter parts because Latin is universal. I truly fear the Pope will try and cram everyone who likes the TLM in any way into such a prelature to contain us away from the rest of the Catholic world.

  39. Gilbert Fritz says:

    Hard to believe but wonderful if true. No matter what happens once inside, they can be sure of having done the right thing, of submitting with humility.

    But we’ll have to wait and see; there have been false dawns before.

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