SSPX New 1st Assistant - Bp. Alfonso de Galarreta
Just as the day was coming to an end, the new Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, Father Davide Pagliarani, and the 40 other capitulants have decided to proceed to the election of the two General Assistants.
The 1st Assistant elected is Bishop Alfonso Galarreta, auxiliary bishop of the Society, of Spanish nationality. Aged 61, he was ordained priest in 1980 at Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he lived for a certain time. In the past he has held the roles of Rector of Our Lady Co-Redemptrix Seminary at La Reja, Argentina, and superior of the Autonomous House of Spain and Portugal. He was 2nd Assistant of the Society from 2002 to 2006. Until now, he resided in Geneva, Switzerland.
The 2nd Assistant elected is Father Christian Bouchacourt, of French nationality. Aged 59, he was ordained priest in 1986 by Archbishop Lefebvre. For a long time he was stationed in Paris, especially at Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet, before becoming District Superior of South America and then, in 2014, District Superior of France.
Now that these elections have taken place, the General Chapter will be able to address the numerous questions which have been proposed for discussion, until July 21st 2018.
You have already been an Assistant to the Superior General...
Yes indeed, I was an assistant for four years. At the end of the preceding term. In other words, twelve years ago I was appointed Assistant for four years while I was also [District] Superior in Spain.
What have been your other positions in the Society of Saint Pius X?
As of the year 1985 I was appointed Superior of the District of Argentina, South America, and Central America; then superior of the autonomous house in Spain; and then twice director of the seminary in La Reja, [Argentina]—if anything, to fix it, if you can say that... And since then I have been a resident in Geneva, because of all the trips (that I have to take) as a bishop, and also within the framework of my ministry as the bishop in charge of the men and women religious.
What are your responsibilities with regard to these religious communities?
These are men’s or women’s communities of contemplative or active life…, insofar as these religious themselves need and ask for an ecclesiastical authority. Therefore it is a rather broad and very interesting ministry, because these communities are multiplying almost everywhere in the world. And it is very consoling to see that Tradition is very widespread and that it is growing stronger. To give you just one example, in recent years there has been a fine increase of contemplative vocations. Everywhere… Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan and Benedictine nuns….
What are all the countries that you have visited and that have left you with the most outstanding memories?
All the countries? It would take too long to mention them all, because we travel everywhere. And the bishops [of the Society of Saint Pius X] have a ministry that is not territorial, but is carried on wherever Tradition exists, in other words, on all five continents.
Generally speaking there is one thing that always impresses me: finding everywhere the same spirit of Faith, the Catholic Faith, love of Tradition. We know all too well that we do not speak the language everywhere, the customs are altogether different, whether in Mexico, Europe, Korea, or Indonesia—you find everywhere, among the faithful, the same Catholic spirit, the same love of the Faith, of Holy Mass, of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary….
As for a particular incident—this is connected with what I just told you—what struck me most was one day when an elderly Mexican lady with white hair, an Indian, knelt down to kiss my episcopal ring, then she kissed my feet. I was not able to react, she kissed my feet. Then I remembered “Blessed are the feet of them that preach the gospel” And twenty years later, when I no longer remembered where that had happened, I met her again and she did the same thing!
And so what impresses and comforts me is to see this spirit of faith everywhere and how our faithful always seek it among us: this Catholic spirit, the spirit of the Church, to the point of kissing the feet of the preacher. That, truly, is what consoled me the most.