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Bishop Fellay sounds like a man I could well understand May 11, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, General Catholic, Holy suffering, Latin Mass, religious, sadness, scandals, Tradition, Virtue.

I have missed, I guess, the news exploding on Rorate concerning the seeming divisions within the SSPX over the possibility of regularization of their canonical status with Rome.  It appears the Holy Father, in his beneficence, will no longer allow the irregular situation to stand.  The choice is union or schism.  Fellay argues strongly, below, for union.  From his letter, it is almost certain Williamson, he of the disconcerting comments regarding the Holocaust and other matter, is opposed to regularization, and may have influenced the other two SSPX bishops to join him in that opposition.  But, Fellay’s arguments make a great deal of sense to me.  I’m posting all the contents of the letter from Fellay to Williamson and the other two bishops below.  May God have mercy on our souls:

Your Excellencies, 

    Your collective letter addressed to the members of the General Council received our full attention. We thank you for your solicitude and charity. Allow us in our turn, with the same concern for justice and charity, to make the following observations. 
    First of all, the letter indeed mentions the gravity of the crisis gripping the Church and precisely analyzes the nature of the ambient errors that pullulate in the Church. Nonetheless, the description is marred by two defects in relation to the reality in the Church: it is lacking in a supernatural spirit and at the same time it lacks realism. 
    The description lacks a supernatural spirit. To read your letter, one seriously wonders if you still believe that the visible Church whose seat is at Rome is indeed the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a Church horribly disfigured, to be sure, a planta pedis usque ad verticem capitis, but a Church that in spite of all still has as its head Our Lord Jesus Christ. One gets the impression that you have been so scandalized that you no longer accept that it can still be the true Church. For you, it would seem to be a question whether Benedict XVI is still the legitimate pope. And if he is, there is a question as to whether Jesus Christ can still speak through him. If the pope expresses a legitimate will concerning us which is good and which does not order anything contrary to the commandments of God, have we the right to neglect or to dismiss this will? Otherwise, on what principle do you base your actions? Do you not believe that if Our Lord commands us, He will also give us the means to carry on our work? Now, the pope has let us know that an abiding concern for the regularization of our situation for the good of the Church lies at the very heart of his pontificate, and also that he knew very well that it would be easier both for him and for us to leave things as they stand now. And so it is indeed a decided and legitimate will that he is expressing. 
    With the attitude you recommend, no room is left for the Gideons or the Davids or for those who count on the Lord’s help. You reproach us with being naïve or fearful, but rather it is your vision of the Church that is too human, and even fatalistic. You see the dangers, the plots, the difficulties, but you no longer see the assistance of grace and of the Holy Ghost. If one grants that Divine Providence leads the affairs of men while safeguarding their liberty, it is also needful to admit that the gestures in our favor over the last several years are also under its guidance. Now, they trace a line  — not straight — but clearly in favor of Tradition. Why should this suddenly stop when we are doing our utmost to be faithful and to intensify our prayer? Will the good God let us fall at the most critical moment? That does not make a lot of sense, especially as we are not trying to impose on Him the least self-will, but are trying to examine events closely so as to discern what God wants, and being disposed to all that shall please Him. At the same time, your description is lacking in realism as regards both the degree of the errors and their extent. 
    Degree: Within the Society, some are making the conciliar errors into super heresies, absolute evil, worse than anything, in the same way that the liberals have dogmatized this pastoral council. The evils are sufficiently dramatic; there is hardly any reason to exaggerate them further (cf. Roberto de Mattei, Une histoire jamais écrite, p. 22; Mgr. Gherardini, Un débat à ouvrir, p. 53, etc.). Needful distinctions are not being made, whereas Mgr. Lefebvre did make the necessary distinctions on the subject of liberals several times. i This failure to distinguish is leading one or the other of you to a hardening of your position. This is a grave matter because this caricature no longer corresponds with reality and in future it will logically end in a real schism. And it may well be that this fact is one of the arguments that urges me to delay no longer in responding to the Roman authorities.
    Extent: On the one hand, you saddle the current authorities with all the errors and evils to be found in the Church while leaving aside the fact that they are trying at least partly to disengage themselves from the most serious of them (the condemnation of the “hermeneutic of rupture” denounces real errors). On the other hand, you act as if ALL of them are implicated in this pertinacity (“they’re all modernists,” “all are rotten”). Now that is manifestly false. The great majority are still caught up in the movement, but not all. 
    So that, coming to the most crucial question, the possibility of our surviving in the conditions of recognition of the Society by Rome, we do not reach the same conclusion as you do. 
    Let us note in passing that it was not we who were looking for a practical agreement. That is untrue. We have not refused a priori to consider, as you ask, the Pope’s offer. For the common good of the Society, we would prefer by far the current solution of an intermediary status quo, but clearly, Rome is not going to tolerate it any longer. 
    In itself, the solution of the proposed personal prelature is not a trap. This is apparent from the fact, first of all, that the present situation in April 2012 is quite different from that of 1988. To pretend that nothing has changed is an historical error. The same evils afflict the Church, the consequences are even worse and more obvious than before; but at the same time we have observed a change of attitude in the Church, helped by the gestures and acts of Benedict XVI toward Tradition. This new movement, which began at least ten years ago, has been growing. It has reached a good number (still a minority) of young priests, seminarians, and even includes a small number of young bishops who clearly stand out from their predecessors, who confide in us their sympathy and support, but who are still pretty well stifled by the dominant line in the hierarchy in favor of Vatican II. This hierarchy is losing speed. This perception is not an illusion, and it shows that it is no longer illusory for us to contemplate an “intramural” struggle, the difficulty of which we are not unaware. I have been able to observe at Rome that however much the talk about the glories of Vatican II we’ll be dinned with is still on the lips of many, it is no longer in people’s heads. Fewer and fewer believe it. 
    This concrete situation, with the canonical solution that has been proposed, is quite different from that of 1988. And when we compare the arguments that Archbishop Lefebvre made at the time, we conclude that he would not have hesitated to accept what is being proposed to us. Let us not lose our sense of the Church, which was so strong in our venerated founder. 
    The history of the Church shows that recovery from the conflicts that beset it usually occurs gradually, slowly. And once one problem is resolved, something else starts up… oportet haereses esse. To require that we wait until everything is regulated before reaching what you call a practical agreement is not realistic. Seeing how things happen, it is likely that it will take decades for this crisis to come to an end. But to refuse to work in the field because there are still weeds that may crowd out or hamper the good grain is a curious reading of the Biblical lesson: It is our Lord Himself who gave us to understand by the parable of the wheat and the cockle that there will always be, in one form or another, weeds to be uprooted and grappled with in His Church… 
    You cannot know how your attitude these last months — quite different for each one of you — has been hard on us. It has kept the Superior General from communicating and sharing with you these weighty matters, in which he would have so willingly involved you had he not found himself before such a strong and passionate incomprehension. How he would have liked to be able to count on you, on your advice and counsel at such a delicate passage in our history. It has been a great trial, perhaps the greatest of his superiorate. Our venerated founder gave the bishops of the Society a precise function and duties. He made it clear that the unifying principle of our society is the Superior General. But for some time now, you have tried, each in his own way, to impose on him your point of view, even in the form of threats, even publically. This dialectic between truth and faith on one side and authority on the other is contrary to the spirit of the priesthood. At least he might have hoped that you would try to understand the arguments that have moved him to act as he has these last years, according to the will of Divine Providence. 
    We do pray for each one of you, that in this battle which is far from being over we may find ourselves all together for the greater glory of God and for the love of our dear Society. 
    May our Risen Lord and our Lady deign to protect you and bless you, 
+Bernard Fellay 
Niklaus Pfluger+ 
Alain-Marc Nély+ 

———————————————–End Quote——————————–
I have read some excerpts from the letter Williamson, Tissier do Mallerais, adn de Galarreta sent.  It had little trust in the Holy Spirit, and looked solely at human means, human activities.  It did not feel right. Not that I know much about all this, but in spite of all his problems, the Pope is still the Pope, and if you reject him as inadequate, totally modernist, even heretical – you have formally placed yourself outside the Church.  And I have to ask why you are even bothering, if that is the case. 

So…….there’s some weekend reading for Mr. Ross.


1. Kevin Shook (@DFWSHOOK) - May 11, 2012

Check out Bishop Fellay’s interview with CNS which was posted today: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1201931.htm

tantamergo - May 14, 2012

I saw that over the weekend. I had an interesting talk with someone yesterday regarding FSSP in various places. I was unaware of some of the compromises that have been made to be “regularized.” Compromises have been made. So I understand a bit more the concerns of many in the SSPX that any canonical arrangement made, no matter how airtight, will probably lead to compromises for them. I don’t know which side I fall on…..I think SSPX returning would have great benefits, but there is potential for disaster.

Kevin Shook (@DFWSHOOK) - May 14, 2012

I was glad to hear Fr. Wolfe mention the current negotiations between the Holy Father and the SSPX. I was rather curious about what he meant by saying that the priest of SSPX having it “hard”.

2. dismas - May 15, 2012

Even those of us with more interest in this affair have no real idea what is going on. It is of interest to us, as well it should be. Speculating could be destructive, but many of us do it anyway. Drawing unfounded conclusions might even be sinful. To avoid feeding into the already-existing rumor mill the SSPX has set up a link where one can sign up to be notified of official pronouncements, the only ones we should really give much credence to. Here is the link to sign up: http://www.icontact.com/signup.

Yes, indeed, this is not a no-brainer. The history of the FSSP has not been without some unpredicted phenomena arising from the human element of the Curia.

Perhaps, though, the far better example is that of the Priestly Fraternity of St. John Vianney (the priests of Campos, Brazil.) To observe firsthand what has occurred to the work of a man and a group easily as stalwart as Archbishop Lefebvre and the SSPX is to have a very healthy and well-founded respect for the manner in which the human element of the Church, infested with the heresy of radical modernism, can do to the best of Catholics.

Bishop Fellay treads on thin ice and is dealing with men who would see Catholicism destroyed. The other three bishops’ reservations are quite well-founded. Should they choose to bolt, it is not so easy to say that they did so without good cause. This person hopes that they will not and stands behind Bishop Fellay, while at the same time understanding that the fate of Campos might be the fate of the SSPX. One hopes not.

But as Bishop Fellay has stated, much of this analysis is worldly. We tend to forget the work of the Holy Ghost in His Church, faced as we are with perfidious churchmen. The Holy Ghost will have His way and it is entirely possible that Marcel Lefebvre and Antonio de Castro Mayer are in a very good position to positively influence this.

In this uninformed person’s opinion, Bishop Fellay and the SSPX must take this step if they have a reasonable guarantee of being able to operate freely, much as they do now.

In Campos, just after signing their own accord, they gloated and suddenly began criticizing the SSPX. That was just before the rug was pulled out from under them. Gloating, and criticizing those who prefer to wait a while with all of this, could one day look very absurd in retrospect.

tantamergo - May 15, 2012

Dismas, I’ve seen several references to this St. John Vianney group but I haven’t been able to find out much about the problems that have occurred. It seems they got “regularized” in 2003 – not long ago? And they are already in a state of doctrinal decay?

Do you know any sources that describe what has occurred to them?

I guess one big difference would be that SSPX is international, and thus is less susceptible to local pressures?

3. dismas - May 15, 2012


Learning about Campos is fascinating and provides an insight into what we are living through that is perhaps even better than studying the SSPX. Let’s just say that what has happened there would be akin to Bishop Fellay doing an about face on the essential elements of the SSPX (i.e. Catholic) position. It is truly sad. You will see a lot of argument about this situation (surprise!) but there is a truth about it and the truth is best discovered by being in the middle of the Campos experience and learning firsthand from priests and faithful associated with neither the PFSJV nor the diocese of Campos. It is hard to escape the conclusion that a very unfortunate thing has occurred there.

I really do not know right off-hand of any single place I could refer someone to to learn about it – unless that person speaks Portugese or knows someone who does and is willing to translate. In that case I would google the blog “Fratres in Unum.” A stupendous Brazilian blog which shoots straight about all of these things.

What I know is that what Bishop Fellay is faced with is monumental. The other bishops are quite aware of the Campos situation and the “not without problems” experiences of the other traditional groups who have, as any Catholic would desire to do, kissed and made up with perfidious churchmen who currently drive the boat. It is a minefield.

I read the letter of the other bishops to Bishop Fellay. I can also tell you that the folks in Campos who have remained faithful to de Castro Mayer are horrified that Fellay may make a misstep. Whoever thinks that this whole thing is a no-brainer enjoys that sweet bliss that only ignorance can provide.

My own personal opinion is that the SSPX can have an experience entirely different from the FSSP, the PFSJV and others by allowing the unjust pall to be lifted from them and working within the mechanisms of Holy Mother Church. They need to be very sure that they maintain complete freedom to operate and retain possession of all their properties and are able to continue to choose their own superiors, etc. Even at that, they are ballet-dancing in a pit of vipers.

I would not agree that the SSPX priests have “had it hard,” if what is referred to is their freedom to preach and practice solid Catholicism.

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