This interview of
Fr. Davide Pagliarani (SSPX District Superior of Italy)
was hosted by Marco Bongi at
Albano Laziale (near Rome) on July 26, 2011. The USA District
Italian District for kindly allowing us to publish this
granted to Marco Bongi by the SSPX’s District Superior of
Italy concerning the Society’s theological discussions with
Rome, the present cultural state of the world of Catholic
Tradition, and also a concise commentary on the Instruction
The theological talks between the SSPX and the Roman
authorities are coming to a close. Even though no official
communiqué has been issued yet, there is no shortage of
commentators who, based on leaks, are convinced that they have
failed. Can you say something more about the subject?
I think that to consider the talks unsuccessful is an error based
on prejudice. This conclusion is drawn perhaps by those who
expected from the talks some result foreign to the purposes of the
The aim of
the talks never was to arrive at a concrete agreement, but rather
to compile a clear and complete dossier that would document the
respective doctrinal positions of the two sides and to submit it
to the Pope and the Superior General of the Society. Since the two
commissions worked patiently, touching on essentially all the
topics on the agenda, I do not see why anyone would have to regard
the talks as unsuccessful.
would have failed—this is a reductio ad absurdum argument,
now—if the representatives of the Society had composed reports
that did not correspond exactly to what the Society upholds, for
example if they had said that collegiality or religious freedom
are adaptations to the modern world that are perfectly consistent
with Tradition after all. Although a certain discretion was
maintained, I think that I can say that there was no risk of
arriving at that unsuccessful outcome.
does not adequately grasp the importance of such testimony on the
part of the Society and of what is at stake, for the good of the
Church and of Tradition, will inevitably formulate judgments that
fit into other perspectives.
opinion, what perspectives could be misleading?
In my humble
opinion there is one somewhat heterogeneous Traditionalist sector
which, for various reasons, expects something like a canonical
regularization of the Society’s situation.
1) Of course
there are those who hope for positive repercussions for the
Universal Church; I would tell these friends, however, whom I
consider sincere, not to have any illusions; the Society has
neither the mission nor the charism to change the Church in a day.
The Society simply intends to cooperate so that the Church can
reclaim her Tradition in its entirety, and it will be able to keep
working slowly for the good of the Church only if it continues to
be, like any work of the Church, a stumbling block and a sign of
contradiction: with or without a canonical regularization, which
will come about only when Providence judges that the time is ripe.
Besides, I do not think that a hypothetical regularization—at the
present moment—would abolish the state of necessity which
continues to exist in the Church and which until now has justified
the action of the Society itself.
another, diametrically opposite side there are groups that I would
describe as conservative, in a somewhat bourgeois sense of the
word, who are anxious to say that the talks have failed while
lumping them together with an attempt to arrive at an agreement:
the ill-concealed intention is to prove as quickly as possible
that Tradition, as the Society embodies it, will never be able to
have the right of citizenship within the Church. This haste is
prompted not so much by a disinterested love for the future of the
Church and for the purity of her doctrine, but rather by a real
fear of the impact that Tradition properly speaking might have,
given the flimsiness of the conservative or neo-conservative
positions. In reality this reaction reveals a slowly growing
awareness—which is not acknowledged, however—of the inconsistency
and the intrinsic weakness of those positions.
all, however, it seems to me that this shows the existence of
groups and positions that expect some benefit from a canonical
regularization of the Society, without however being willing to
make Society’s battle their own or to assume the burdens and the
consequences of it.
There are in
fact in the diversified Traditionalist archipelago a number of
“commentators” who, while expressing their essential disagreement
with the Society’s line of thinking, watch with the greatest
interest current developments in our cause, hoping for some
positive repercussions on the institutes with which they identify
or on the local situations in which they are involved. I am
impressed by the palpitations experienced by these commentators
every time the slightest rumor about the future of the Society
however that the phenomenon can be explained easily.
talking about a category of believers or priests who are basically
disappointed and rightly feel a certain sense of instability about
their future situation.
that most of the promises in which they believed are scarcely
being maintained and implemented.
that with Summorum Pontificum first, and then with
Universae Ecclesiae, full rights of citizenship and freedom
had been granted to the Tridentine rite and effectively
safeguarded, but they realize that this is not going to happen
peacefully, especially in relation to the bishops.
Consequently—and unfortunately—these groups are interested in the
outcome of the Society’s story not so much for the sake of the
doctrinal principles that support it and for the bearing it could
have on the Church herself, but rather from a utilitarian
perspective: the Society is seen as a breakthrough battalion of
priests who now have nothing to lose but, if they obtain something
significant for their congregation, will create a canonical
precedent to which others will be able to appeal, too.
attitude is morally debatable and perhaps a bit selfish, yet it
has two advantages:
all, it paradoxically demonstrates that the Society’s position is
the only credible one from which something interesting could
result, and that there are many who end up referring to it in
spite of themselves.
advantage is that it proves that if priority is not given to the
doctrinal path, so as to allow the Church to recover her
Tradition, one necessarily slips into a diplomatic perspective
made up of uncertain calculations and unstable results, and one
runs the risk of tragic disappointments.
that [if] the Vatican offered to the Society the opportunity to be
structured as an Ordinariate directly subject to the Holy See, how
might that proposal be received?
It would be
taken calmly into consideration on the basis of the principles and
priorities and above all the supernatural prudence from which the
superiors of the Society have always drawn their inspiration.
you tell us something more?
I can only
repeat what was explained clearly by my superiors from the start:
the canonical situation in which the Society presently finds
itself is the result of its resistance to the errors that infest
the Church; consequently the possibility of the Society arriving
at a regular canonical situation does not depend on us but on the
hierarchy’s acceptance of the contribution that Tradition can make
to the restoration of the Church.
If we do not
arrive at some canonical regularization, that simply means that
the hierarchy is not yet sufficiently convinced of the urgent need
for that contribution. In that case we will have to wait a few
more years, hoping for an increase in that awareness, which could
occur along with and parallel to the acceleration in the process
of the Church’s self-destruction.