Join our e-mail list


A conference given by Bishop Fellay, SSPX Superior General, in Kansas City, Missouri on March 5, 2002.

Part 1

I want to give you an update on our relations with Rome, which will include, of course, those with the diocese of Campos, Brazil. I will also have to discuss the situation of the Church because everything is related.

We are able to say that a new phase in the history of the Society of St. Pius X has begun. It touches seriously on the question of our existence and of our future. This concerns us deeply together with the many rumors being spread about us. I want to inform you first-hand in order to dissipate the stories that are circulating and to demonstrate our perspective. Where does the Society stand? What does it expect? Where does it go from here?


Before reviewing the facts of the events, we first have to remind ourselves of the principles which guide us. The first is that we are Roman Catholics and we want to stay Roman Catholics. Thatís why we are here. We want to stay faithful. And the first principle of belonging to the Church is the Faith. All other issues, such as, for instance, union with the pope, etc. - all definitely very important - come afterwards. In the First Vatican Council, it is said that without the Faith, it is impossible to please God. Itís a quote from Holy Scripture. The Council continues very clearly by saying it is impossible to be in the state of grace, to enjoy the communion of the saints, or to go to heaven without the Faith. And so, to stay Catholic, we have to resist any kind of attack against the Faith. Unbelievably enough, however, attacks against the Faith have occurred within the Catholic Church itself. It is an absolute necessity to resist them. Some of them are very visible, some of them are not. Some occur by way of consequence.

The second principle is that the Catholic Church is our Mother, that the bad things that happen to the Church hurt us, crush us. We donít want these things to happen, but, unfortunately, they do.

A third principle is that we are Romans! Peter has received from Our Lord special privileges. Amongst them is, "Who listens to you, listens to me." Thatís why whenever we look to Rome, we expect to hear the voice of the Lord from the mouth of the Vicar of Christ and, in fact, the whole Curia. What a disappointment when the voice that comes out doesnít sound like the voice of Our Lord! However, when Rome approaches us, our first reaction as Catholics is to look at it with a favorable eye because we constantly expect that one day we will be able to hear again the voice of the Lord.

The facts

So now, letís go to the facts. Letís see if Rome has really changed its attitude towards Tradition. I would like to flash some light on different aspects of the situation. I could do this by reviewing chronologically the events of the Societyís recent relations with Rome while also including the Fraternity of St. Peter and even Una Voce. In fact, while Rome was making this new approach towards us, they engaged in very interesting behavior towards the Fraternity of St. Peter and Una Voce. Divine Providence was good enough to give us the necessary information to know what was happening within them so that the Society of St. Pius X could position itself correctly in its negotiations with Rome. Finally, I will speak of Campos because I imagine some are asking the questions, "If Rome is granting Campos something so attractive, why not to the Society of St. Pius X?" or, "Why doesnít the Society make the same move?" I hope the facts I will give you will provide the answers.

Ecclesia Dei and the Fraternity of St. Peter

In 1999, an interesting thing happened within the Fraternity of St. Peter. Sixteen priests signed a letter which they sent to Rome, accusing the Superior General of St. Peterís of making it a Lefebvrist society. At the same time, some bishops complained to Rome that a certain number of priests of St. Peter refused to concelebrate in the new rite, or, when members did accept to concelebrate, the Superior General scolded and punished them. Rome moved against St. Peterís and the other Ecclesia Dei societies with Protocol 1411 (July 3, 1999) [see The Angelus, November 1999 - Ed.], which stated that the general law in the Church is the New Mass, and as such every Catholic priest has a strict right to make use of the general law. Conclusion? Any superior in an Ecclesia Dei society is forbidden to prohibit their priests from celebrating the New Mass. It was a knock-out blow in the sense that these societies did believe, as much as I can make of it, that they had an exclusive right to celebrate only the Tridentine Mass. We have to give credit to Fr. Bisig [Superior General of the Fraternity of St. Peter at the time - Ed.] that he had fought all these years to celebrate only the Tridentine Mass. When Fr. Bisig heard that decree, he went to Rome to appeal the Protocol with a fellow superior of an Ecclesia Dei society. They met with Cardinal Medina who told them, "I am your best friend." This was the cardinal who issued that decree! The following day they met with Cardinals Medina, Ratzinger, Felici and Msgr. Perl. They protested the Protocol. They begged to have it remain unpublished. Msgr. Perl replied that he did not see anywhere in the Fraternityís statutes an exclusive right to the Tridentine Mass.

Itís terrible what I say now, but it is an example of how Rome is arbitrary. They know where they want to go, and they just go! They are above the law. There have been several examples of this. In 2000, Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos intervened in the Fraternity of St. Peter by removing Fr. Bisig as Superior General. The majority of the chapter made recourse against this decision of the Cardinal. Now, when you make a recourse, it is to a higher authority from whom you seek justice. In this case, however, the appeal was returned to Cardinal Castrillon. They were obliged to make the recourse to the same person who made the decision! Of course, it was a done deal!

It was also during this time that the Ecclesia Dei Commission - and especially Msgr. Perl - wanted to introduce the 1965 rubrics of the Mass to its societies. It is apparent that Msgr. Perlís intention is to oblige Ecclesia Dei to have an Old Mass which looks as much as possible like the New Mass. This means to suppress, for example, the prayers at the foot of the altar, having lessons only in the vernacular, etc. There was even a rumor about introducing the new calendar.

In September of the same year, Michael Davies, representing Una Voce, and Cardinal Castrillon spoke about these matters. In an exchange of letters between them in October, you see affirmed by the cardinal an absolute power of decision without reference to any right or custom. Nothing! They just decide. In one letter he obliges all Ecclesia Dei priests to give Communion in the hand to faithful who request it. They base their argument on the fact that in the Roman Missal of 1962 nothing definitive is said about the faithful necessarily receiving Communion on the tongue. We could argue, of course, that in 1962 the 1917 Code of Canon Law then in effect clearly expressed how to receive Communion. But they just donít care: they just go to their point.

In this letter to Mr. Davies was included a reminder that the first condition for an Ecclesia Dei community to be granted the Indult Mass is to have nothing to do with those who question the legitimacy of the New Mass. Well, thatís the Society of St. Pius X! Yet, barely a month later Cardinal Castrillon sent me an invitation to visit him in order to prepare a visit to the Pope!

Movements towards the Society

Already in April [2000], Msgr. Perl had said,

Weíve got to do something with the Society of St. Pius X. Theyíre jeopardizing our ecumenical efforts. Weíre losing credibility. Listen, we try to get unity with all these Protestant groups, Orthodox, etc., and here in the house we have a problem.

Soon after, Cardinal Castrillon is appointed President of Ecclesia Dei. He is the first president of this commission who is not retired and is less than 80 years old.

At the beginning of May, he sent his first letter to the four bishops of the Society. He announced his presidency, how he knew Archbishop Lefebvre from his days in Columbia, South America, that he respected his attitude towards the liturgy, and invited us to start something with him. It is true, by the way, that the cardinal knew Archbishop Lefebvre, which means that we knew him! Cardinal Castrillon helped change the constitution of Columbia to make it a non-Catholic state. During his time in Columbia, he was a major mediator between the guerillas and the government. Thus we can presume that he is qualified as a professional mediator! In all honesty, his behavior in Rome is understood by everybody there as conservative. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, he definitely has a real care for the priests, and he wants his priests to be priests. He insists that the priests have a good formation, and that is to his credit.

I decided that each bishop could do what he wanted with the letter. I trust our bishops enough to know that there would be no discrepancy in our answers, which in fact, happened. All four answered similarly, that is, we are not schismatics, we are still in the Church.

The Societyís Jubilee Pilgrimage

The important event in 2000 was the Societyís Jubilee Pilgrimage to Rome [in August]. It shook the Vaticanís conscience. It was a very simple demonstration. Someone in the Curia was reported to say, "What can we do for these people? They are Catholic!" One of the radio stations reported that this kind of pilgrimage had never before been seen in 2000 years of Church history: 6,000 schismatics praying for the pope in St. Peterís! The porter of the house where Cardinal Ratzinger and all the other cardinals live said to one of our priests, "You gave us a strong lesson."

At the conclusion of the pilgrimage, Cardinal Hoyos invited all four Society bishops for a meal with him. For nobody to go would be impolite; for all of us to go would be too military. Finally, three of us went. Throughout the discussion, it was obvious that the cardinal tried to diminish the problem with us, almost to the point of saying there was no problem! We had to say, "Oh yes, there is a problem." Up to now, our attitude was always to say we are Catholic, we are not schismatics, as though we were saying, "There is no problem." Then, Rome was saying, "Oh yes, there is a problem! Youíre excommunicated; youíre schismatics!" and so on. Now, they use exactly the contrary move. Rome says thereís no problem and we are the ones to say there is one.

I tried to start a discussion on the Mass. The cardinal said, "I am not an expert." The President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission said that! That means, of course, "I donít want to discuss the matter." How could I start to speak to the one who is responsible for the Latin Mass when he tells you that he is not an expert? He continued, "There are so few things that separate us." He said, "We believe in the same God." Okay, good start. "We believe in the same Eucharist." So I answered with some very broad affirmations. After some time, Bishop Williamson said, "Your Eminence, itís two religions." The cardinal seemed taken aback.

During our half-hour together alone, the cardinal said to us, "I donít want the Roman Curia to know what we speak about." So thatís the level of trust you find in the Vatican. During the meal, the monsignor in charge of accompanying us on the pilgrimage made his very favorable report to Cardinal Castrillon. It was highly praiseworthy of the Society, no doubt about it. This monsignor asked me to bless him. Cardinal Castrillon said, speaking of the Society, "The fruits are good. Hence, the Holy Ghost is there." And then I asked him, "But your Eminence, where do these fruits come from?" Silence; no answer. When I saw that he didnít want to speak about important matters, I offered to send him a memorandum about the problems. He agreed to that. I directed Bishop Tissier de Mallerais to send him a letter asking him to free the Latin Mass for all priests, anywhere, any time, without any special permissions, without any problems. That was the first approach.

In October, later that year, I gave an interview to 30 Days magazine. It was curious because 30 Days reported all the positive remarks about us and Rome, and just dropped the negative. It made a favorable impression in Rome which was not exactly accurate, but Cardinal Castrillon used it to lay some groundwork for me to meet with the pope. I didnít know what to expect. Cardinal Castrillon started very quickly saying:

I have shown the pope your interview in 30 Days and he has given me the mandate to solve your problem." "Iím sorry," I said, "but this article is not fair to the reality.

Cardinal Castrillon said it didnít matter. This showed me that the article was just a convenient excuse. What he wanted was to start discussions.

The meeting of December 29th

A meeting between Cardinal Hoyos and myself was scheduled for December 29 [2001]. At this meeting I wanted to stress two things, the first of which was that whatever happens - even if there is an agreement with Rome - the Society of St. Pius X is going to "continue to fight against Liberalism, Modernism, and Freemasonry." Cardinal Castrillon didnít respond at that time, but he kept this phrase in his report, which he later handed to the pope. The cardinal told me that when the Holy Father read that the Society insisted - no matter what - to "continue to fight against Liberalism, Modernism, and Freemasonry," he pointed at it with his finger and said in Italian, "Thatís us! Thatís us!" When the cardinal told me this, I thought, "Touchť!"

But the pope didnít mean what I thought he meant. The pope did not mean that he represented the Liberalism, Modernism, and Freemasonry that we are fighting against. No, he identified himself as a fellow fighter in the fight the Society is waging! He was saying that he was fighting against these things with us! Weíre saying what the pope does is Modernism, is Liberalism. In principles, heís linked to Freemasonry to a certain extent. Yet, the pope says, "I am fighting the same fight as you." How can you understand that?! Thatís why I tell you, I donít understand this pope. If youíd speak only of abortion, fine. But Assisi, for example, is a typical example of Modernism. And the pope wants it. Itís his idea. The Society attacks Assisi with all its possible weapons; it shouts to the blasphemy, to the abomination we have there. How can it be said that we and the pope are fighting together?!

The second thing I spoke about dealt with the Mass and the Fraternity of St. Peter. The cardinal said, "I donít understand the question of the Mass." I answered, "The Protestants do." From there, I tried to show whatís wrong with the New Mass, saying, "How is it possible that a Catholic Mass could be a Protestant service at the same time?" Does he know the Confession of Augsburg recently invited the different congregations of Lutherans to make use of the Catholic missal for their Last Supper services? They did! There is a Protestant professor of theology who said, "Now that the idea of sacrifice has been lifted from the Mass a Protestant can feel at home with the New Mass."

I also gave him a quote from an ex-canon [a type of high-ranking priest - Ed] of the Church, Paul Roca, who died in 1890. In one of his books he wrote that the Mass will one day receive a deep transformation thanks to an ecumenical council which will bring it in harmony with the principles of this world. He died in 1890, and was able to make a prophecy so very precise. That is striking; that shows that hidden forces have been working, that have enough influence in the Church to do such things.

Renan [French intellectual, (1823-1892)], who wrote about the eventual death of the Catholic Church, was asked on his deathbed if he believed in the Catholic Church? Near death himself, he answered, "I believe in the Church of the future." To be able to say such things means occult forces have for a long time planned to transform the Church.

Alice Bailey, foundress of the New Age movement, wrote a book [1920] entitled The Exteriorization of the Hierarchy. She said that toward the end of the 20th century the Catholic Church will have adopted Masonic principles. It will keep, however, the appearance of religion to avoid alienating the faithful. God knows how and why He allowed plans like these to be fulfilled. Itís surprising.

So I told all these things to the cardinal and then he said, "So, hereís what Rome proposes to you: We want a solution in which we solve the problem of bishops, bishops who would be ordinaries, that is, true bishops, maybe with dioceses, and priests and faithful." He spoke about an arrangement like that of Opus Dei, that is, a personal prelature. He foresaw our difficulty in having the pope himself choose the bishop to head this personal prelature, for this is the usual procedure. He said either the Societyís priests or the Societyís bishops should present three names to the pope every time another bishop is needed for Tradition.

I must tell you this first proposal looked very, very interesting to me, especially since I had been very hard on Cardinal Castrillon. I had dismissed his earlier attempt to make the May 5 [1988] Protocol a basis of discussion, saying to him, "Iím sorry, but this will not work now. That Protocol had been hastily authored. The current crisis and the high stakes demand more clarity." I re-stated all our objections to Vatican II - religious liberty, ecumenism, collegiality. I spoke of the new Code of Canon Law. I threw a lot of punches and I was really amazed to see how much he was able to absorb and still continue in a pleasant way. I really admired that. I thought, well, he is really a mediator, because I really threw a lot of things at him.

One of my arguments was, "We donít trust you. You are very kind in what you say, but we donít trust you. Not you personally, but Rome." I let him know Romeís actions against the Fraternity of St. Peter didnít help my confidence. Rome has tried to crush the Fraternity of St. Peter. The Fraternity claimed to be with the pope, with Rome, accepted the Council, accepted the New Mass, etc. The cardinal explained to me why he had to remove Fr. Bisig:

I have nothing against somebody who wants to celebrate only the Old Mass, but Fr. Bisig wanted to make an oath against the New Mass. I cannot accept someone who defies a general law of the Church on paper.

Actually, in fact, the story is that during a kind of reconciliation meeting of the Fraternity of St. Peter [Fr. Bisig] tried to impose on the priests of St. Peterís a promise to celebrate the New Mass only once a year.

I had been insistent with the cardinal that I did not trust Rome because of what happened to the Fraternity of St. Peter. "You make promises to the Society, but look at what you did to St. Peterís," I said. Every time he gave a similar response: "Oh, itís not the same. St. Peterís is against the New Mass. You are in favor of the Old!" Should we trust such an answer? The cardinal says, "Yes, but..." Yes, but... what? But we are more of a threat than St. Peterís! Another time he said, "Well, St. Peterís wasnít protected." But the cardinal was appointed their protector! Itís like a policeman who would shoot a child and then say, "He didnít have a bullet-proof vest on." But the job of a policeman is to protect the child, not to shoot him! So, here is Cardinal Hoyos saying they were not protected. So how can the Society expect to be protected?

The cardinalís position is evident from his interviews such as in 30 Days: "Itís fine to celebrate either Mass, but please donít pit one against the other. Donít make use of one against the other." Well, the Society is definitely against the New Mass. We even say that it is "intrinsically evil." Thatís a delicate label that needs a little explanation. By this we mean that the New Mass in itself - the New Mass as the New Mass, as it is written - is evil, because as such you find in it the definition of evil. The definition of evil is "the privation of a due good." Something that should be in the New Mass is not there and thatís evil. What is really Catholic has been taken out of the New Mass. The Catholic specification of the Mass has been taken away. Thatís enough to say that it is evil. And look at the terrible fruits.

What does Cardinal Castrillon say about whether the New Mass is evil? "No, we cannot say so because the pope has approved it." This reply is a reference to the infallibility of the pope: "The pope has promoted the New Mass, hence the New Mass is infallibly good." Thatís the final argument of Rome, and when Rome uses this argument, no discussion is possible. The only discussion that we can start at that point is to question that premise. Clearly, our next step in discussions with Rome will be to question this premise: "Did papal infallibility enter in the promulgation of the New Mass?" It will be delicate, but if we want Rome one day to question some things about the Second Vatican Council, we have to dig in on that point. And we will. We are continuing our studies on the Mass and preparing, so to speak, the next rounds of ammunition.

All this was our first meeting. The cardinal seemed to be happy with my answers. I was really wondering what was going on in his mind. He even had said several times, "We want you to fight against Liberalism, Modernism, and Freemasonry in the Church!" I said, "What am I hearing?!" At the end of the discussion, he asked, "When will you be back in Rome?" I said, "Around January 15th." "Okay, come here, weíll have a formal meeting, and weíll sign an agreement." Done. Two weeks. I replied, "No, thatís not possible." He said, "Weíll have a little meeting with the pope and once itís signed weíll have a formal meeting with the pope." Without committing myself, I anticipated I would receive a visit around January 15th.

Meeting with the pope

Later that evening on December 29th, I received a phone call from Cardinal Castrillon: "The meeting with the pope is scheduled for tomorrow at 11am." I said, "Iím sorry, but my planeís at noon." I asked if he could reschedule. "No," he answered, "thereís a general audience at St. Peterís Square." I tried to change my plane, but couldnít, so I called back and said, "I canít, Iím sorry. Itís Saturday; Sunday, Iím busy. I cannot be there at 11am. There are no seats available on the planes." The cardinal said, "Iíll take care of that." And he did. He got me on each plane from Rome to Zurich on that Saturday afternoon and night. I donít know how he did it. Itís unbelievable, really. So, I had no excuses.

At about 11am we were ready to see the pope. It seems that there was a misunderstanding about the time between the papal secretary and Cardinal Castrillon because, when we arrived at the door of the palace, there was a phone call from the secretary who asked, "Where have you been? The pope is waiting for you. St. Peterís Square - 50,000 people - is waiting for the pope who is waiting for you! Itís already been a quarter of an hour!" Obviously, there was a misunderstanding because we were on time.

The pope had waited 20 minutes when we entered the chapel. For two minutes we were in silence together before the Blessed Sacrament. Then, the pope recited the Our Father, stood up, and turned towards us. We greeted him. He asked the cardinal, "Were you able to discuss, to meet?" The cardinal said yes. The pope wished us "buon anno," that is, "Have a happy new year." It was December 30th. He repeated it in French. He said, "I bless you." We received his blessing. He gave us his rosary. Again, "Buon anno." And thatís it. So, not much.

Cardinal Castrillon had intended to hand to the pope the relation of the discussion of the previous day. Some things in the report displeased me, especially the way he spoke about religious liberty. I had the feeling that it was not the same thing for him and for me. I wanted to emphasize that point and so I asked him to make a couple of corrections. The under-secretary of the pope was called to make these notes. I said, "This text of the Council hides the social kingship of Christ." But the under-secretary of the pope did not know what the social kingship of Christ meant! The cardinal and I had to explain it to him. If the under-secretary of the pope himself doesnít know this, where are we?!

I spoke now about the agreement of Brest-Litovsk as a possible model for a solution. Brest-Litovsk was the agreement which brought the Ukrainians back into the Catholic Church at the beginning of the 17th century. The Ukrainians said, "Okay, we are ready to come to Rome if you can accept us as we are, with our own liturgy, language, our own calendar, our own discipline, and so on." And it was granted to them. Thatís why I mentioned Brest-Litovsk. The papal under-secretary said, "If I understand you well, you would like to keep some of your traditions." I replied, "No! All of them!"

When we were finished with all our remarks, the cardinal brought me to the window in the big hall which is just in front of the private apartment of the pope. From that window, we looked down upon the pope addressing the faithful gathered in St. Peterís Square. That was very interesting.

The Society responds

On January 13th, I convened a meeting of the bishops of the Society. I invited Bishop Rangel [of the Priestly Union of St. John Baptist Mary Vianney in Campos, Brazil - Ed.] to come to reflect on this proposal from Rome with us. He was sick so he sent a priest of the Priestly Union, Fr. Rifan, to represent him. We talked the whole day about what we were going to do with this proposal from Rome that had come so unexpectedly. We agreed that we needed a sign from Rome proving it really wanted Tradition. The proposal [of an apostolic administration for the Society of St. Pius X][1] was something interesting in itself, but it wasnít enough. We had been cheated so many times before that we needed something clear showing us that Rome really wanted Tradition. Taking advantage of our knowledge that there is a movement in the Vatican in favor of the old Mass, we planned firstly to ask that the Latin Mass be allowed to be celebrated by all priests of the world as a rite which has never been abrogated. Secondly, because the Vatican has managed to marginalize us with this scare of excommunication, we requested that it retract the decree of excommunication.

Here, we made use of the encyclical Ut Unum Sint. There the pope explained why he has lifted the excommunication of the Orthodox. I paraphrase what he says: "You know, with such a penalty, itís difficult to have a dialogue, so we have taken it away." So we said, "Well, you want to dialogue with us, take the excommunication away, too." Why donít they? They did with the Orthodox, but with us they donít seem to do it.

Why did we use these two prerequisites? There are several reasons.

For one, a cruel injustice is done to the whole Church by maintaining that the Latin Mass is prohibited. To remove such an injustice will again allow the flow of graces to the Church. Secondly, we by no means want to be considered as a zoo. If we are the only ones with permission to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, we are in a zoo, that is, we are a secluded group. We donít want that. The Latin Mass is the Mass of the Church, not of a peculiar group. Thatís why we insist that every priest have the possibility of celebrating the Tridentine Mass. If Rome was to declare publicly - as we ask it to do - that the Latin Mass has never been abrogated, it would be a public admission that the New Mass itself has not been strong enough to eliminate the Latin Mass. It would be security for the future that Rome will not take this old Mass away. Until now the popular line out of Rome is that the Tridentine Mass is a kind of indulgence. Itís tolerated. "It is just for a part of the Church. Its permission is only provisional, only temporary." Those were the words of Giovanni Battista Cardinal Re in 1986. By default, the general law of the Church is considered to be the New Mass. To avoid all seclusion and separation, we are asking that the old Mass be made the general law as well.

On this point, a further reflection evolved: There is a kind of identification between the Mass and the Society of St. Pius X. If Rome is capable of standing up and fighting to defend the old Mass against all the attacks of the progressivists, we thought it might be also ready to stand up and to fight in favor of the Society of St. Pius X.

On January 16th I returned to Rome to meet the cardinal again for a half-hour to say that we were open to discussion but we needed proof that Rome was trustworthy. I wanted an agreement where we were sure the words meant the same for both sides, and that I would sign only when I had total peace of conscience. He seemed to agree with all this reasoning. All of this was put into a letter sent January 21st. On February 12th, Rome answered. Let me summarize the letter:

Basically, the pope agrees to say that the old Mass has never been abrogated, that every priest can celebrate it. And so do Ratzinger, Sodano, Medina, and myself [Cardinal Castrillon]. But, you know, the secretaries of the Congregations and the under-secretaries do not agree. They say it appears to blame Pope Paul VI and all the work they have done these many years. So we cannot grant this permission to you.

When I read this, I thought, "Itís over." It was proof to us Rome was not ready to stand up for Tradition.

We prepared our answer on February 19th and sent Frs. Selegny and Simoulin. I sent Fr. Selegny because heís the Secretary General of the Society and co-author of The Problem of the Liturgical Reform on the New Mass, a project on which he spent two years. I had called a commission back then to prepare some new arguments on the New Mass. They were preparing a 500-page book! I told them, "Thatís much too big. Make something 100 pages." Just at that time, the book was ready. I asked Fr. Selegny to give it to Cardinal Castrillon and that the cardinal might give one to the pope. I wanted them to know the enormity of the problem with the New Mass. The Society will never celebrate it. We want every priest in the world to be able to say it [the traditional Roman Mass - Ed]. We know that everybody can say it, but we want Rome to say they can and stop saying that it is forbidden. I told Fr. Selegny to speak in my name at this meeting and tell the cardinal that Bishop Fellay was suspending the discussions because Rome would not grant our prerequisites. The cardinal was unhappy, of course, but he was told, "Your Eminence, it is impossible for us to go forward into a practical agreement before we discuss doctrinal matters."

The reason for this I give you now with a little example: Itís like Rome telling the Society,

Hmmm, look at your car. You have flat tires. You have a lot of dings and dents in your car. It really is a sorry-looking car... Let us give you a new car, a beautiful car!

And itís true, the car is beautiful. An apostolic administration is a fine "car"; itís beautiful. The Society tells Rome,

Yes, itís a very fine car and itís very kind of you to give us such a car. We receive it with great pleasure, but please, before we use it, remove the nails on the street. If you donít, even with your new car, tomorrow we will have flat tires again.

In other words, the same causes produce the same effects. Our relations with Rome are made difficult because of the behavior of Rome itself, which does unbelievable things and, on the other hand, allows bishops to do even worse things. As long as Rome continues like this, we will continue as we do. Even if Rome gives us a beautiful administration, weíll continue to fight where we must fight. That is why we request that we enter into real, true discussion on doctrinal matters. But they donít want to.

In January, Cardinal Castrillon had incorrectly written that with some conditions I would accept Vatican II. Since I wanted him to know exactly what I think about the Council, I handed him Catholicism and Modernity, a booklet in French by Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau in which he studies the Council and shows how the spirit of the Council is radically opposed to Catholicism. It is, we may say, a total demolition of the Council.

During the month of March, something very curious happened. We continued to hear stories that we had not terminated discussions with Rome, that they were continuing to such a degree that the pope was convening all the cardinals of the Curia to give advice on our question. The word came out that the pope wanted the whole thing to be solved by Easter! I was wondering, "Is he going to do it without us?!" I thought, I have to do something, so I sent a strong letter to Cardinal Hoyos relaying all my discomfort and the severity of our position on the New Mass. I also mentioned that I was troubled to learn of a recent letter he wrote to the Sri Lankan Bishopsí Conference in which he said the Society was in "schism". In all our talks, he had carefully avoided that word. I asked him to explain how at the same time he could give me the impression we were almost normal but to others he was calling us schismatic. Well, I never got an answer to that letter.

On Good Friday [2001] the cardinal called and said the pope cannot grant permission to all priests to celebrate the Latin Mass because of too much opposition from the bishops. In the meantime, we had heard that Cardinal Lustiger of Paris had gone to Rome and had spoken with the pope and Cardinal Sodano. We know that to one or the other he threatened, "If Rome grants the Society freedom in France, 65 French bishops will enter into disobedience." That is to say, 65 French bishops will rebel against Rome if you allow the Society to work freely in France. This is the way France is treating Rome.

In the meantime, there was the nomination of new cardinals in February of 2001. You may recall there were two waves of nominations with a weekís hiatus in between. We had a visit in between from Cardinal Castrillon during that week. I heard from another cardinal that when Cardinal Ratzinger heard that Kasper was about to be nominated he went to see the pope and said to him, "Kasper is a heretic!" Castrillon explained to me how the Vatican was obliged to give a cardinal to Germany. The nominations were made during the big fight in Germany over Church-assisted abortion.[2] "If we hadnít named a German cardinal," he said, "Germany would have quit the Church. So, we thought it better to have a bad guy in the Vatican whom we would be able to control rather than to have somebody far away in Germany who was out of control." This was a thinly veiled reference to Karl Lehman, who, by the way, was nominated a cardinal four days later. That is two wolves whom Cardinal Ratzinger calls "heretic." A few weeks later, a bishop told us the story of his dining with the pope. The pope said at that time, "I have received so many critics of the nomination of these German cardinals, and I donít know why!" This is not hearsay. The pope doesnít know why?!

In May [2001], Cardinal Hoyos wrote me a letter inviting me to continue discussions. We cannot grant you the Latin Mass, he wrote. He said that faithful bishops judge that the Mass cannot be allowed to be celebrated by all priests because it would be understood as a depreciation of the New Mass. As an aside, I can reveal that a bishop of France told us the Church needs us to give a form to the New Mass. It means at least one bishop recognizes the New Mass has no form. Well, if it has no form, drop it! Donít try to save it! Let it go!

The cardinal said the pope is ready to lift the excommunication of the Societyís bishops when the agreement is signed. I wondered, "If not then, when?!" We asked this as a first step, not as a last step. I answered him in June, the following month: "No. You place us in a dilemma. Itís a dead end. If you want to continue discussions," I wrote, "we have to change the state of the question, that is, how do we look at these things?" The further gist of the letter[3] was that we are not guilty, we are just a consequence of a situation which has been caused by Rome. The problem is not with the Society, it is with Rome. We have changed nothing. We are just keeping Catholic Tradition and discipline, what the Church has always done, what has always sanctified the faithful, the priests, the bishops throughout the centuries. Thatís what we do. We do not change anything, so the problem cannot be on our side. On the contrary, the problem is in Rome. I asked him to consider how Rome is demolishing the Magisterium, how it is, so to speak, cutting off the branch on which it sits.

It seems the cardinal was not happy with my letter, though he called and said he would give a strong reply after the holidays, about the beginning of September. I still donít have a reply. I know he prepared an 11-page response but he was advised by someone to whom he showed it not to send it to me. And so we are at a standstill.

part 2 >


1 See Interview with Bishop Fellay, The Angelus, August 2001, pp.11-14.

2 See The Angelus, November 2001.

3 The text of the letter was published in The Angelus, August 2001. © 2013                    home                    contact