Bishop Fellay Burns the Bridge

We have many enemies, many enemies.  But look . . and that is very interesting.  Who during that time was the most opposed that the Church will recognize the Society? The enemies of the Church:  the Jews, the Masons and the Modernists.  The most opposed that the Society would be recognized as Catholic:  the enemies of the Church.  Interesting, isn’t it?  More than that, what was the point?  What did they say to Rome?  They said:  “You must oblige these people to accept Vatican II.”  That’s also very interesting, isn’t it?  People, who are outside the Church, who clearly during centuries are enemies of the Church, say to Rome, if you want to accept these people, you must oblige them to accept the Council. Isn’t that interesting?  Oh, it is!  I think it is fantastic, because it shows that Vatican II is their thing, not the Church’s.  They see—the enemies of the Church—their benefit in the Council.  Very interesting!  So, I may say, that is the kind of argument we are going to use with Rome, trying to make them reflect, trying to make them reflect.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, SSPX, December 28, 2012 (1:18:23-1:20:06)

“Very interesting, isn’t it?” This repeated phrase is supposed to let us know that there is more to what Bishop Fellay is saying than what he actually puts in words.  In the world of traditionalism, the good bishop’s suggestion enjoys a certain amorphous plausability. That is all it needs. It has plenty of gas and will go a long way.

I do not blame the Jews for liking Vatican II, and if I were Jewish, I would realize that there is a problem, not only with Bishop Williamson, but also with Most Reverend Fellay.  I also would be a bit worried about a Church moving in the direction of the SSPX.  Fortunately, the Vatican has rejected the “Jewish peril” comments of Fellay.

“The Jews like Vatican II.  Oh, that is a sure sign that it comes from Hell.”  Yes, Your Excellency, very interesting, indeed.

Now with the Masons and Modernists he is on to something.  Yes, they like a certain version of Vatican II, the hijacked one. But are they pleased with the papal reform of the reform and the hermeneutic of continuity?  I don’t think so.  Fellay misses the point.  The Masons and Modernists are opposed to the Pope’s attempt to bring about a reconciliation with our past.  Only in the traditionalist bubble does such a reconciliation require the rejection of Vatican II.

“Vatican II is not the Church’s thing, but the creature of the Jews, Masons and Modernists.”

Wow.  That explains everything.

Not to say I told you so, but Bishop Fellay says pretty clearly that the Society was never near an agreement with the Holy See (48:38).  That seemed obvious to me, because there is no possible universe in which the Society could accept Vatican II and the New Mass without repudiating the reasons that led them to schism in the first place.  Unfortunately, the SSPX has shown no signs of such willingness.

Bishop Fellay spends most of an hour and a half, giving us the low-down and dirty on Vatican politics.  It is quite excruciating and purely anecdotal.  This says something about the tragic position of the Society.  Its existence hangs so delicately in the balance that the Superior General has to resort to airing all the Church’s dirty laundry on a regular basis. A mixture of scandalizing the faithful and fear-mongering is the glue that holds this “remnant Church” together.

Just a couple of things about the politics:  just so everyone knows, Vatican intrigue was not invented by the Jews, Masons and Modernists at Vatican II. What has gone on at the Vatican for centuries is a sure sign that the gates of hell will not prevail agains the Church. You remember the old story about Napoleon telling a cardinal that he could destroy the Church in one year?  That.

The other remarkable thing is that Fellay got himself so entangled in the quagmire of intrigue.  Most of what he relates boils down to this:  the official organs of the Vatican were putting one thing in writing  (“accept Vatican II or else”), but in the grand hallways and back rooms of Vatican City key players who had frequent contact with the Pope said something else (“the pope is going to regularize you with no requirements on your part”). First off, I find it breathtaking that Fellay would believe that the Ratzinger/Benedict’s public message for many, many years and his alleged private opinion could be so irreconcilable. Secondly, how could Fellay be ignorant of the fact that anything said in private by an underling, which he is neither willing to say in public nor sign his name to, is not worth the breath it was spoken with?  It may be true, or it may not, but it certainly is not something to factor into one’s plans. But, again, the good bishop only has his anecdotes and axe to grind, so who knows exactly what went on?

So what  was it that both the Pope and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith were willing to put in writing to the Society?  (BTW, Fellay says the pope agreed with the CDF that the text of the preamble should be strengthened [55:10].) According to the bishop, there were three conditions given for the restoration of the SSPX to full communion (54:43-56:39): 1) the SSPX must accept that it is the magisterium which is the judge of what is traditional or not; 2) the SSPX must accept that the Council is an integral part of Tradition; 3) the SSPX must accept that the New Mass is valid and licit.

Obviously Fellay did not accept conditions 2 and 3, and had to put his own spin on the point contained in condition 1.  Notably, in respect to the New Mass, Bishop Fellay responded:

Well, we rarely use the word “licit.”  We just simply say about the New Mass that it is evil (56:30-39).

I believe the history of the dialogue between the Holy See and the SSPX is both interesting and important because of the level of sympathy expressed for cause of the SSPX by ostensibly “modern Catholics” (as Fellay would call them).  See, for example, the interview of Louis Verrecchio by Michael Voris and the soft-ball interview of the Catholic News Service of Bishop Fellay.  In the more recent interview on which this post is based, Fellay notes the clandestine support he receives from “modern” priests and bishops around the world (1:14:00-1:16:30).  But this is the nature of traditionalism, those who are completely honest about it separate themselves from Rome, those who do not separate themselves become mired in equivocations and mental reservations.

Bishop Fellay’s current position is nothing new.  He has never changed his tune.

So there you have it folks:  the SSPX on Vatican II.  Nothing has changed.  Or rather, if anything has changed it is that Fellay has left the bridge burning behind him as he walks away.  Fortunately for the Society, there is a bridge-builder who is especially solictous that this particular bridge remains open for crossing.

21 thoughts on “Bishop Fellay Burns the Bridge

  1. Fr., I know that you called this one from the start but it is still disappointing that a reconciliation can’t be reached. I’m sure that the Holy Father is very upset about it.

    Who is the “bridge-builder” you speak of?

    I hope all is well with your soul.

  2. Its sad that this schism has and continues to occur. However, it is the the extreme parties in the SSPX that are the problem. They are their own worst enemy. Conspiracy theories, anti-semitism etc. is why people are against them (not because they hold to traditional Catholic doctrine/liturgy). They believe that they are the true Church. They believe that they are infalliable and in that they will continue to disintegrate and become more extreme. The Holy Father, as universal pastor, tried. It was the SSPX that failed. I am tired of them. I pray for them. But until they drop the conspiracy theories and most especially the anti-semitism we should stay away from them as they are toxic.

  3. Those individuals who believe they have the answers to ‘fix’ the Church, and the world at large, usually have a problem coping within the world themselves. My unfortunate experience is they have acquired hardened hearts, which promotes love of self, and hatred for others.
    Love Holy Mother Church! Love the Pope! He who completely trusts in Jesus and His Most Holy Mother will never be disappointed, and will live in peace.

    God bless those who love and trust like children!

    Nice graphics, Father Angelo.

  4. Mercier,

    Thanks for the comment.

    Obenauer bases his argument concerning the Mass on quote from a sermon given by Bishop Fellay in French on November 11. The translator renders it:

    we simply say about this Mass that it is bad.

    But on December 28, Fellay said almost exactly the same thing in English with one crucial difference:

    We just simply say about the New Mass that it is evil.

    Fellay is explicit. He does not say that New Mass is badly done. He says that it is just plain evil. That lets the air out of Obenauer’s argument.

    I also think his statements about the curial officials holding to a false interpretation of Vatican II is not only wrong, it misses the point. Ratzinger/Benedict has been clear and consistent since at least the 80’s that the Council is in continuity with Tradition. The doctrinal agreement says no more or less than this. It is for that reason and none other that Fellay will not sign.

    I do not believe that Obenauer’s position on Vatican II can be reconciled with either that of the Pope or Bishop Fellay. Furthermore, Obenauer has a new problem now to explain away Fellay’s conspiracy theory.

    I think this also helps my argument about the problem of crypto-traditionalism.

  5. If Bishop Fellay is denying the True Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist in the Ordinary Form of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by calling it evil, how is that not heresy?
    In Christ,

  6. Fr. Angelo,

    Thank you for your reply. I would counter that the Bp. Fellay’s formulation while problematic is not necessarily impossible to deal with since he neither denies validity or licitness of the Novus Ordo. After all evil per accidens or per se? I think it is just a matter of getting a formula that he can sign off on without leaving him to regularize by himself.

    As far as the point about continuity. Well the Pope in the famed Christmas speech proposed a hermeneutic, or a method of interpretation. The issue as some traditionalists have rightly pointed out is that it still needs to be shown HOW there is continuity. Just saying there is continuity without any explanation how seems inadequate to face the problems plaguing the Church. I would say that one can at least posit the possibility of rupture in the prudential sphere. The Pope himself seemed to hold at least this position (see his comments on the 19th century teaching of popes, the pontifical biblical commission’s rulings, and Gaudium et Spes as counter-syllabus). Anyways as long as the SSPX stopped short of holding that Vatican II contradicted De Fide dogma one could not place them outside of the Church under canon law, which is I believe Obenauer’s point here. An of this kind of agreement would be the regularization of the various factions of the Feeneyite movement in the US which have not had to change their doctrinal position.

    I would also note that the kicking upstairs of Msgr. Pozzo and the move of Abp. Di Noia confirm that the Vatican is still at the table. I see Bp. Fellay’s public talks here as an attempt to keep unity within the Society after the expulsion of Bp. Williamson and the forming of the so called Resistance.

  7. Mercier,

    Thanks again.

    Personally, I don’t think “the New Mass is evil” can be parsed into something acceptable to both the Pope and Bishop Fellay. I realize some people think the pope actually believes something along these lines (I am aware of J. Ratzinger’s preface to Gamber’s book), but I believe that is the result of decontextualized proof-texting.

    As for continuity, no the Pope does not need to prove to Gherardini, de Mattei, et al. that the Council is in continuity with Tradition. Suggesting otherwise is no different than the progressive/modernist tripe about the magisterium of theologians.

    In fact, in the same address you refer to, the Holy Father does go to some length to give an explanation. But in a Catholic world more detailed explanations are premised by assent to papal teaching, not by demanding proof.

    The objections of Fellay, Gherardini, de Mattei, et al., are not by any means limited to the prudential sphere, and I don’t believe that the reference of J. Ratzinger to the counter-syllabus is a declaration of rupture, but of a “combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels.” See again the address, for example:

    The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity.

    I never suggested that the players from the Holy See was no longer at the table. The only problem is that they are the only ones in the room, and probably will be for the foreseeable future.

  8. Fr. Angelo,

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to me.

    I think you misunderstand me when I say that the how needs to be shown. I am not saying that the Pope is supposed to prove continuity to Bp. Fellay . I am arguing that simply claiming continuity where it is not apparent is inadequate to address the issue of false interpretations of Vatican II. I have not read Gherardini et. al. so I won’t comment on their theses. I have more on my mind but have to limit myself to this brief comment due to other duties.

  9. After browsing some websites, I am relieved to see that even among the traditional there are those who are upset by his comments, especially about the Mass. I think we should all feel outrage that he would say the Mass is evil, where Jesus is Present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. His comments only cause further division and harm to the Church. For those who have little or no exposure to the EF, if all they have to go on is what they hear from him he is going to push people away because he paints a very unattractive picture of what it means to be traditional.
    I find his comments very offensive.

    In Christ,

  10. Ave Maria!

    I just wanted to pass along this article which I found interesting –

    ZE13011610 – 2013-01-16
    Vatican Preparing a Manual to Help Priests Celebrate Mass
    Prefect Warns Against Making Liturgy Into a ‘Show’

    and also –

    (Vatican Radio) At the end of his general audience Wednesday Pope Benedict XVI appealed for prayers to accompany the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which begins Friday.

    If everyone was in union with our Holy Father how beautiful life on earth would be!

    In Christ,

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  12. Father Angelo – It really pains me to say that you are absolutely right in this post. I want the SSPX come into union with the church, but they are clearly in rebellion against the Church. This is one more of those spiritual traps that traditionalists fall into. Vatican II and the New Mass are part of the Magesterium of the church, and it doesn’t matter what your personal feelings are, if you are Catholic you must accept it and trust that God will enable you to eventually see what you cannot see now. We have no right to criticize and reject anything from the Magesterium. “Blessed are they who do not see and yet believe.” To accept any teaching of the Church because it is the teaching of the Church, even if you don’t understand it, is called faith. It is like Abraham, the father of the faithful, who didn’t understand why God asked him to sacrifice Isaac, but he knew God said it, so he did it, and by doing so he reaped the greatest of rewards. How different our history would be if, like Bishop Fellay, Abraham had rose up in pride and arrogance and said no.

    If we aren’t Papists, we aren’t Catholic.

  13. RCinBrooklyn,

    Thanks for your comment. God bless you.

    To accept any teaching of the Church because it is the teaching of the Church, even if you don’t understand it, is called faith.

    That about sums it up, doesn’t it? I think there is a lot of white noise out there that is passed off as meaningful discourse.

    Kudos from a fellow Papist.

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