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Bishop Fellay: ‘total acceptance of Vatican II’ no longer prerequisite for full communion with Holy See

Catholic World News - June 08, 2012

Stating that discussions with the Holy See “have allowed us to present clearly the various problems that we experience with regard to Vatican II,” the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X said in an interview that “what has changed is the fact that Rome no longer makes total acceptance of Vatican II a prerequisite for the canonical solution.”

“The attitude of the official Church is what changed; we did not,” said Bishop Bernard Fellay. “We were not the ones who asked for an agreement; the Pope is the one who wants to recognize us. You may ask: why this change? We are still not in agreement doctrinally, and yet the pope wants to recognize us! Why? The answer is right in front of us: there are terribly important problems in the Church today.”

Asked about religious liberty, ecumenism, and other doctrinal issues that have been points of disagreement between the Holy See and the Society, Bishop Fellay said that

If we want to make the treasure of Tradition fruitful for the good of souls, we must speak and act. We need this twofold freedom of speech and action. But I would mistrust a purely verbal denunciation of doctrinal errors—a denunciation that would be all the more polemical because it was only verbal. With his characteristic realism, Archbishop Lefebvre recognized that the Roman and diocesan authorities would be more responsive to numbers and facts presented by the Society of Saint Pius X than to theological arguments …

One of the great dangers is to end up inventing an idea of the Church that appears ideal, but is in fact not found in the real history of the Church. Some claim that in order to work “safely” in the Church, she must first be cleansed of all error. This is what they say when they declare that Rome must convert before any agreement, or that its errors must first be suppressed so that we can work. But that is not the reality. It is enough to look at the Church’s past: often, and almost always, we see that there are widespread errors in the Church. Now the reforming saints did not leave the Church in order to combat these errors.

“In this situation, which some currently depict as an impossible situation, we are being asked to come and work just as all the reforming saints of all times did,” he added. “Certainly that does not do away with the danger. But if we have sufficient freedom to act, to live and to grow, this must be done. I really think that this must be done, on the condition that we have sufficient protection.”

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Show 12 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: John J Plick - Jun. 12, 2012 6:15 PM ET USA

    I would assume, Mr. Mandock, that from the form of your letter, that you yourself are a traditionalist. May I thank you personally for writing in. Communication properly done does indeed promote unity. Might I ask you, and the brothers and sisters who take your particular point of view and indeed anyone who reads this, that all might pray and realize that the members of the Body, though different, are able to share in the strength of unity because they in fact respect those differences.

  • Posted by: demark8616 - Jun. 12, 2012 2:10 AM ET USA

    ".....on the condition that we have sufficient protection.” Having had personal experience of this organization, I can only comment that it is us who needs protection from them! The 'sickness' that separated them from the Mystical Body for so many years has not suddenly vanished, it is merely contained and constrained by the Holy Father's insistent wishes that they return to full communion with the Church. Their unbalanced Catholic View Point will make itself felt.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jun. 09, 2012 4:01 PM ET USA

    Current problem: we have hit 262 worshipers at our 9:00 Sunday Mass. The fire marshall only allows 300. An increase in the number of traditional parishes would help relieve that situation. Additional benefits would include not having to drive more than 100 miles each way to get to Sunday Mass, greater access to a local priest in the case of emergencies, and greater strength in numbers to effect a post-Vatican II renewal in the right direction. Pope Benedict has made heroic strides: pray for him.

  • Posted by: GymK - Jun. 09, 2012 2:34 PM ET USA

    What ever happened to "Humility?" After reading the entire article (Interview with Bishop Bernard Fellay on relations with Rome. (DICI) I have the odd feeling that the SSPX leader might just be trying to stop the deal. Perhaps he doesn't actually want to be reunited with Rome(?) Otherwise why would he insult the Pope's good efforts for unity with this interview in his own meadia outlet. God help the well-intentioned folks inside the SSPX if this is how their leader acts and speaks!

  • Posted by: justinswanton2559 - Jun. 09, 2012 1:37 PM ET USA

    Very in-depth and very balanced. Brace yourselves, folks: the real fight over the Catholic identity in Catholicism is about to begin...

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jun. 09, 2012 8:45 AM ET USA

    "Like its holy Patron, the Society of SSPX has the desire to “restore all things in Christ”. For my part, I know only one thing: it is always the moment to do God’s will, and He makes it known to us at an opportune time, provided that we are receptive to His inspirations... Everyone can join in asking for the grace to become docile instruments of the restoration of all things in Jesus Christ."-Bishop Fellay. He also reiterated: "Yes, the pope is the one who wants it.." Fellay is no Farley.

  • Posted by: frhugh1967 - Jun. 09, 2012 5:35 AM ET USA

    That is a major 'fault' in the Church today; not implementing Vatican II. Until that happens i.e. we all follow where the Holy Spirit is leading the Church, we will remain deeply flawed.

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Jun. 08, 2012 8:41 PM ET USA

    If Sister Margaret Farley (or any other liberal) said of her relationship with the Church, "We are still not in agreement doctrinally," no devotee of the SSPX would respond by calling such statements "both promising and...accurate."

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jun. 08, 2012 7:05 PM ET USA

    The comparison is surprising in that these situations are the proverbial "apples and oranges." There has been a new receptiveness that is not specifically known due to confidentiality but that has both the Holy Father and Fellay expressing optimism. Fellay has repeatedly admitted that the pope's generosity has been both unexpected and genuine. The evidence to date suggests something much more interesting and remarkable than the surprisingly inadequate, albeit cursory, commentary suggests.

  • Posted by: rpp - Jun. 08, 2012 1:53 PM ET USA

    In contrast to DrJazz, I see Bishop Fellay's statements as both promising and, well, accurate. I think he is trying to address the genuine issues that many of the leadership of the SSPX have expressed regarding the potential for reconciliation with the Holy See, while at the same, address issues that may cause the SSPX to suffer serious internal disputes should a reconciliation be officially announced. I see this statement as real progress to reunification.

  • Posted by: Contrary1995 - Jun. 08, 2012 1:31 PM ET USA

    Blessed John Paul II knew what he was doing.

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Jun. 08, 2012 7:37 AM ET USA

    So, they're no closer to an agreement than on the day they left the Church. They're just one more group of disaffected Catholics...take a number and stand in line with the liberals.

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