from Bishop Fellay
Given in February 2011
You have to distinguish between Rome’s purpose and ours.
Rome indicated that there were doctrinal problems with the Society
[of St. Pius X] and that these problems would have to be cleared
up before any canonical recognition, problems which obviously
would be up to us to resolve, concerning our acceptance of the
[Second Vatican] Council. But for us it is about something else:
we hope to tell Rome what the Church has always taught and thereby
to show the contradictions between this centuries-old teaching and
what has been done in the Church since the Council. As we look at
it, this is the only goal that we are pursuing.
2. What sort of
talks are these: negotiations, discussions, or doctrinal
You can’t call them negotiations. That’s not what they’re
about at all. There is on the one hand an explanation of doctrine,
and on the other hand a discussion, because we have in fact a
Roman interlocutor with whom we are discussing the documents and
how to understand them. But you can’t call them negotiations, nor
a search for a compromise, for it is a question of Faith.
3. Could you
recall the method that is used in the work? What topics have
already been addressed?
The working method is the written method; texts are
composed which then become the basis for further theological
discussion. Several topics have been addressed already. But
for the moment I will leave that question up in the air. I can
simply tell you that we are coming to the conclusion, because
we have made the tour of the major questions raised by the
4. Can you
describe the Roman panelists?
They are experts, in other words, theology professors who
are also consulting members of the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith. One can say that they are
“professionals” in theology. One is Swiss, the Rector of the
Angelicum, Fr. Morerod, O.P., another is a Jesuit who is
somewhat older, Fr. Becker; another is a member of Opus Dei,
the Vicar General, Msgr. Ocariz Braña; then Archbishop Ladaria
Ferrer, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith, and finally the moderator, Msgr. Guido Pozzo, Secretary
of the Ecclesia Dei Commission.
there been a development in the thinking of our dialogue
partners since they read the presentations by the SSPX
think that you can say that.
Msgr. Ocariz Braña
Msgr. Guido Pozzo
Bishop Alfonso de
sermon during the ordinations in La Reja in December 2009,
said that Rome had agreed that the Magisterium prior to
Vatican II would be taken as “the only possible common
standard” in these talks. Is there some hope that our
counterparts will reconsider Vatican II, or is that impossible
for them? Is Vatican II really a stumbling-block?
that you have to pose the question another way. Pope Benedict
XVI made distinctions during his speech in December 2005, by
which we see very clearly that one particular understanding of
the Council is no longer permitted and therefore, without
speaking directly about a re-examination of the Council, there
is despite everything a certain intention to revise the way in
which the Council is presented.
distinction may seem rather subtle, but it is precisely the
distinction relied on by those who do not want to alter the
Council and nevertheless recognize that, because of a certain
number of ambiguities there has been an opening leading to
forbidden paths, and that we must remember that they are
forbidden. Is Vatican II really a stumbling-block? For us, no
doubt whatsoever: yes!
7. Why is it so
difficult for them to admit a contradiction between Vatican II and
the previous Magisterium?
The answer is rather simple. The moment you recognize the
principle that the Church cannot change, if you want to have
Vatican II accepted, you are obliged to say that Vatican II did
not change anything either. That is why they do not admit that
they find any contradiction between Vatican II and the previous
Magisterium, but they are nevertheless at a loss to explain the
nature of the change which quite evidently has taken place.
witnessing to the Faith, is it important and advantageous for the
Society of St. Pius X to go to Rome? Is it dangerous, and do you
think that it might last a long time?
It is very important that the Society give this witness;
that is the reason for these doctrinal talks. It is really a
matter of making the Catholic faith understood in Rome and trying,
why not, to make it understood even more throughout the Church.
There is one danger: the danger of keeping up illusions. We
see that some Catholics have managed to lull themselves to sleep
with illusions. But recent events have managed to dispel them. I
am thinking about the announcement of the beatification of John
Paul II or the announcement of a new Assisi event along the lines
of the interreligious gatherings in 1986 and 2002.
9. Has the Pope
been following these talks closely? Has he commented yet on these
I think so,
but have no specific details. Has he commented on these talks?
During the meeting last summer with his former students at Castel
Gandolfo he said that he was pleased with them. That is all.
we say that the Holy Father, who has been dealing with the
Society of St. Pius X for more than 25 years, is proving to be
more benevolent toward it today than in the past?
I am not sure. Yes and no. I think that as pope, he has
responsibility for the whole Church, a concern about its unity, a
fear of seeing a schism declared. He himself said that these were
the motives that impelled him to act. He is now the visible head
of the Church, which may explain why he acts like that. Does that
mean that he is showing more understanding toward the Society? I
think that he has a certain sympathy for us, but within limits.
11. To sum up,
what would you say about these talks today?
If we had to
do them over again, we would redo them. They are very important.
Of capital importance. If you hope to correct a whole movement of
thought, you cannot do without these talks.
Msgr. Brunero Gherardini
Bishop Athanasius Schneider
12. For some
time now we have been hearing voices of ecclesiastics, for example
Msgr. Gherardini or
Bishop Schneider, who even in Rome are
producing genuine critiques of the documents of Vatican II and not
just of their interpretation. Can we hope that this movement will
grow and make its way into the Vatican?
I do not say
that we can hope for it, but that we must hope for it. We must
really hope that these initial critiques—let us call them serene,
objective critiques—will develop. Until now Vatican II was always
considered as a taboo [as something unquestionable], which makes
the cure of this sickness, which is the crisis in the Church,
almost impossible. We have to be able to talk about the problems
and to go in-depth into these matters, or else we will never get
to apply the right remedies.
13. Can the
Society of St. Pius X plan an important role in making Rome aware
of this? How? What is the role of the lay faithful in this
As for the
Society, yes, we can play a role, precisely by presenting what the
Church has always taught and by raising objections to the
conciliar novelties. The role of the lay faithful is to provide
proof in action, for they are the proof that Tradition can be
lived today. What the Church has always demanded—traditional
discipline—is not only relevant but really viable even today.
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