Traditionalist leader says group could divide over unity with Rome

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior of the Society of St. Pius X, is pictured near a photo of Pope Benedict XVI at the society's headquarters in Menzingen, Switzerland, May 11. Bishop Fellay acknowledged there could be a split in the breakaway society if it decides to reconcile with the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

MENZINGEN, Switzerland (CNS) — The leader of a breakaway group of traditionalist Catholics spoke in unusually hopeful terms about a possible reconciliation with Rome, but acknowledged significant internal resistance to such a move, which he said might lead to the group splitting apart.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, spoke to Catholic News Service May 11 at the society’s headquarters in Switzerland about the latest events in more than two years of efforts at reconciliation with the Vatican.

The society effectively broke with Rome in 1988, when its founder, the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, ordained four bishops without the permission of Blessed John Paul II in a protest against modernizing changes that followed the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65.

In April the society responded to a “doctrinal preamble” stipulating the group’s assent to certain church teachings, presumably including elements of the teaching of Vatican II, as a prerequisite for reconciliation. The Vatican has yet to respond, but the director of the Vatican press office initially described the latest position as a “step forward.”

The society is hardly united behind its leader’s position, however. In April, according to a letter which surfaced on the Internet May 10, the society’s other three bishops warned Bishop Fellay that the Vatican’s apparent offer to establish the group as a personal prelature — a status currently held only by Opus Dei — constituted a “trap,” and urged him to say no.

“There are some discrepancies in the society,” Bishop Fellay told CNS. “I cannot exclude that there might be a split.”

But the bishop defended his generally favorable stance toward the Vatican’s offer against the objections of his peers.

“I think that the move of the Holy Father — because it really comes from him — is genuine. There doesn’t seem to be any trap,” he said. “So we have to look into it very closely and if possible move ahead.”

He cautioned, however, that the two sides still have not arrived at an agreement, and that unspecified guarantees from the Vatican are still pending. He said the guarantees are related to the society’s traditional liturgical practices and teachings, among other areas.

“The thing is not yet done,” the bishop said. “We need some reasonable understanding that the proposed structure and conditions are workable. We are not going to do suicide there, that’s very clear.”

Bishop Fellay insisted the impetus for a resolution comes from Pope Benedict XVI.

“Personally, I would have wished to wait for some more time to see things clearer,” he said, “but once again it really appears that the Holy Father wants it to happen now.”

Bishop Fellay spoke appreciatively of what he characterized as the pope’s efforts to correct “progressive” deviations from Catholic teaching and tradition since Vatican II. “Very, very delicately — he tries not to break things — but tries also to put in some important corrections,” the bishop said.

Although he stopped short of endorsing Pope Benedict’s interpretation of Vatican II as essentially in continuity with the church’s tradition — a position which many in the society have vocally disputed — Bishop Fellay spoke about the idea in strikingly sympathetic terms.

“I would hope so,” he said, when asked if Vatican II itself belongs to Catholic tradition.

“The pope says that … the council must be put within the great tradition of the church, must be understood in accordance with it. These are statements we fully agree with, totally, absolutely,” the bishop said. “The problem might be in the application, that is: is what happens really in coherence or in harmony with tradition?”

Insisting that “we don’t want to be aggressive, we don’t want to be provocative,” Bishop Fellay said the Society of St. Pius X has served as a “sign of contradiction” during a period of increasing progressive influence in the church. He also allowed for the possibility that the group would continue to play such a role even after reconciliation with Rome.

“People welcome us now, people will, and others won’t,” he said. “If we see some discrepancies within the society, definitely there are also (divisions) in the Catholic Church.”

“But we are not alone” in working to “defend the faith,” the bishop said. “It’s the pope himself who does it; that’s his job. And if we are called to help the Holy Father in that, so be it.”

— By Francis X. Rocca, Catholic News Service


  1. Just as surely as Our Blessed Lord was betrayed by Judas Iscariot with a kiss: The Modernist Policy Wonks of the Second Vatican Council betrayed the Mystical Body of Christ with their false teachings. As I read between the lines it seems to me that both Bishop Fellay and Pope Benedict XVI are divided in their minds…wishing to have things both ways. The SSPX has done its Christian Duty in advising those who are in Error and Heresy of their failings. There can be no favorable agreement with Rome until Rome returns to the Time Honored Traditions, Doctrines, and Dogmas of the once “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” of Antiquity. The true Content of the Faith now resides in Econe where it was delivered by Archbishop Lefebvre while in the Company of the Holy Spirit.

    Most Holy Father: Open your eyes to the “Remnant” that preciously guards the Content of our Catholic Faith and is presently “The Mystical Body of Christ” in exile from Rome.

    Leave Rome today and travel to Econe, where the “Content of the Faith” now resides. In “ex cathedra” make a Profession of Faith, on behalf of the entire Church in the “Syllabus” of Pius IX and in “Pascendi” of Pius X. Consecrate eight new bishops, and proclaim the return of the Church to its Traditions, Doctrines, and Dogmas. If there are any faithful still in the Counciliar Church, they will follow you. Otherwise, as St. Paul advised: “let them be anathema.” Excommunicate all Cardinals and Bishops who fail to join you.

    Together with all the legitimate bishops in the world Consecrate Russia to “Our Mother’s Most Immaculate Heart;” then reveal the entire contents of the “Third Secret.”

    There still may be time to avert World War III and the larger portion of the “Material Part of the Great Chastisement.” Millions, perhaps billions of souls could be saved for all eternity if you act quickly, as the Vicar of Christ.

    It would take the heroic courage of a Saint, and, perhaps Martyrdom to “face-down” the heretical and apostate opposition in the Vatican and throughout the Conciliar Church. But it was Our Blessed Lord Himself Who told us that He had come to bring not peace, but the sword.

    God love you,

    Kenneth Harris

  2. Brother Ken,

    I applaud you faith and your devotion to Christ and His Church. The time, however, for Benedict to go to Econe is long past. It is now time for Bp Fellay to join with he modernists in Rome.He, according to his own statements, feels strongly that he and Schmidberger and Nelly are called to help the Romans– go for it. The romans need help bringing in the Episcapaliens, the Methodists, and all the other religions that they want to assemble in Assissi and beyond. Benedict has stated clearly that he accepts all of the Vatican II ( false ) theology– all the religious liberty, all the ecumenism, ; all the collegiality, all the church in the modern world; all the notions that every religion is salvific; all the abondonement of Christ’s command to ” go forth and teach”.
    Benedict was there– at ground zero– when Bugnini, Montini, Roncali, Wyjtola and the other leftists railroded the council and forced their modernist documents through. He was ” a perriti”. consulted upon and offering advice. He saw first hand the barbaric, thuggish ways which this gang thwarted the Sacred Heart group of traditionalist prelates( incl Bp Castro de Meyer, ArchBishop LeFebvre, Cardinal Oddi, Ottaviani), and Ratzinger did nothing. He was there when Montini allowed Bugnini to rail road through the ” bastardized ” mass, which, according to the Ottaviani Intervention, ” resembled a protestant service– not a Catholic worship of Almighty God ” ; Ratzinger was on the front lines as convents were closed, sisters were kicked out and ” liberated “, priests were ” laicisized”, ” married “, traditionalist priests were just plain kicked out, without pensions, medical benefits, or support; Catholic churches were shuttered, destroyed, and demolished. Ratzinger was the enforcer for Wyjtoyla, muscle-managing obedience while the true Latin mass was decimated, churches closed,Ordrs abolished, catholic high schools and colleges adopted free thinking, religios freedom, and tolerance of every deviation known to man and beast.
    The church under Ratzinger hasn’t peeped against the sodomization of western civilization– perhaps in large part because Ratzinger and his cronies have spent their lifetimes protecting perverts and sodomites, and allowing the innocence of the children to be taken away from Christ. Ratzinger laments that Christian civilization is in twilight– he has helped it along. Why in the world Bp Fellay of the Society of St Pius X would want anything to do with this cesspool which is now known as rome is beyond belief. There is not the true faith there. His is a religion of Man– the same religion of Good papa John– the same religion of Montini– the same religion of the French Revolution– the same religion of the Communists illuminati. This is why Ratzinger called last year for a new world order– a new world order with teeth and muscle to constrict all countries under a one-world economic system. His call was one for blatant marxism– on a world scale– supported by a one world religion.

    Bp Fellay obviously has not learned his world history; he obviously never learned from his own ArchBishop that Communism is the scourge of mankind; he obviously never learned from Pope St Pius X or Pope Leo XIII that, when you already have the true religion, it is a mortal sin to entertain joining with others who have a false religion.
    The Three Bishops of the Society have to do much more than stop Bp Fellay– they have to depose him, his assistants, kick them out of the Mother House, send them for rehabilitation, and start acting like a Roman Catholic order, and spread the good news of the Gospel– that Jesus Christ died and was resurrected for our sins, that the way is open to heaven, and that those who want to enjoy eternal happiness had better follow Our Blessed Lord’s instructions. And these include” Let them be accursed ” for all those who attempts to teach you a false faith.

  3. If Bp Fellay believes that Benedict XVI is the pope he should submit to him, not debate him. Maybe in his heart of hearts he knows that pressure to accept ecumenism, religious liberty, the new “mass,” etc. could not possibly be coming from Peter?

    • rense,

      Fr. Ratzinger: “The Tridentine Mass is a dead liturgy”

      Cardinal Ratzinger: “the message of Fatima was the fruit of the children’s imagination.”

      Pope Benedict XVI: “‘Ascension’ does not mean departure into a remote region of the cosmos ”

      Christ ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. This dogma of Faith uninterruptedly confessed for 2,000 years is now denied by a Pope.

      I could go on and on !!!

      Its quite evident to me why Ratzinger was under Suspicion of Heresy the old Holy Office but thats another can of worms


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