"Because God does not change"

Source: FSSPX News


DICI: At the time of the election of Benedict XVI, you published a communiqué in which you spoke of a "glimmer of hope". What did you mean by those words?

Bp Fellay: Our hope is based first of all on the promises of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is true that all is not well in the Church: it is a tragedy. But in the face of this dramatic situation, we have the promise of Our Lord that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church". Our hope is based on this certitude and its concrete application.

The very simple solution to this crisis could be a new pope who would put things in order. From this comes a secret hope, and there are a number of signs which could encourage it.

For instance, during the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, Cardinal Ratzinger sketched a fairly realistic picture of the Church: "The ship is sinking". He is also the man who spoke out most against the new Mass and pleaded the cause of the old Mass. Besides, we must acknowledge that Benedict XVI was elected in a movement of reaction. There is a certain expectation in the hierarchy in the face of the disastrous state of the Church. We may truly believe that he was elected in opposition to progressivism: at the fourth ballot he gained over 100 votes. The progressivists perceived this election as their defeat. All this gives us some hope. It is beyond doubt that Cardinal Ratzinger knows that the Church is in a terrible state. And let us not forget that he knows the third secret of Fatima.

However, it is not easy to speak about the future. To consider the future is something very delicate, given the fact that when we are talking about a man, we are talking about liberty, about contingencies… it is only a matter of probabilities. We cannot go any further than that.

However, our consideration of the future is also based upon the past. And we know Cardinal Ratzinger fairly well. Our opinion of the cardinal may also be applied to Benedict XVI, especially as far as his Hegelian position on the evolution of history and its development is concerned. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that he has the graces of state and special help from the Holy Ghost.


DICI: Three months after this election, has this glimmer of hope increased or faded?

Bp Fellay: We can not hide the fact that, from the outset there is a problem which threatens to extinguish this glimmer: Benedict XVI remains attached to the Council. It is his work, his child. He came to the Council as the youngest expert together with the man who would later become Cardinal Medina.

In 1985, Cardinal Ratzinger took stock of the Council: according to him, it is a bad understanding of the Council which has born these bad fruits. As for us, our position on the Council is that it contains errors and ambiguities which open the way to many other errors still worse. There is in it a spirit which is not Catholic.

So Rome is trying to find a formula which is "palatable"; it is a matter of understanding the Council in the light of Tradition. But which Tradition? In 1988, Archbishop Lefebvre was reproached for having an incomplete notion of Tradition, an "immobilist" concept: the "past". Whereas according to Rome, Tradition "is in the making today", - an ambiguous expression if ever there was one. However, everything can be well summed up in the traditional saying "nihil novi, nisi quod traditum est" (nothing new, nothing that has not been transmitted). It is the same story with the Mass: they tell us to acknowledge that the new Mass is valid, if it is celebrated with the intention of offering the sacrifice of Our Lord. But that is not the main problem with the new Mass. Even when valid, it is a poison, a slow poison which is killing the faith, mainly because it omits the essentials: the expiatory sacrifice, the real presence and the role of the priest. Thus, it no longer nourishes the faith as it should, and above all, by omission, it leads to error and protestant heresy. Unfortunately, in spite of all the current problems, which are patently obvious today, Rome has not managed to extricate itself from the Council and the conciliar reforms.

More especially, we must acknowledge that ever since his elevation to the sovereign pontificate, Benedict XVI has an idea – which will be the key idea of his pontificate – the reunification with the Orthodox. It is true that this does narrow down ecumenism appreciably. But this concept of unity with the "separated brethren" will be “neither an absorption, nor a fusion". What then is this concept of unity for the Roman authorities? "It will not be a conglomeration of Churches," said Cardinal Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians. In any case, it can not be both at the same time without falling into contradiction: absorption-fusion and conglomeration. Pope John Paul II used to say that all Christians have the same faith and Cardinal Kasper affirms that "to have the same faith, it is not necessary to have the same creed". Pontius Pilate’s famous question: "What is truth?" – people no longer even ask themselves this question. They live in the belief that: "everybody is good, everybody is nice". Modern man lives without any regard for the truth or for what is good.

Benedict XVI is surrounded by cardinals like Cardinal Kasper. What will he be able to do? What will he be willing to do? The appointment of Mgr. Levada, archbishop of San Francisco, as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is a very bad sign.


DICI: In spite of all this, do you still retain a glimmer of hope?

Bp Fellay: If we may make a comparison, before his elevation to the sovereign pontificate the Church was in free fall, Benedict XVI will open a parachute, and there will be a certain slowing down. A slowing down more or less significant depending on the size of the parachute. But the orientation remains the same. May we hope for more than this deceleration? The promises of Our Lord always hold true. And the good Lord uses everything to make His Church go where He wants it to.

Here I will give you my personal opinion: if Benedict XVI were pushed against the wall, in a crisis situation, faced with a very violent reaction from the progressivists or a political crisis, or persecutions, I think – from observing how he has acted and reacted up to now – that he would make the right choice.

Here are some facts:

- With his appointment as bishop of Munich, in 1977, whereas he had previously only been a professor of theology, he entered the sphere of reality and was obliged to forbid one of his friends to accept a chair of theology at the university. This earned him the hostility of his former friends.

- In France, in 1983, he reaffirmed that the catechism in force was the Roman catechism, i.e. that of the Council of Trent. And he had to brave the anger of the bishops of France.

- We know that Cardinal Ratzinger was against the interreligious meeting of Assisi in 1986 and did not attend it. The second time, in 2002, though still opposed to it, he was forced to attend. Several times he tendered his resignation as head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith because of disagreements with the pope, notably over Assisi.

- The Charter of Cologne, in 1989, signed by 500 theologians against the Roman magisterium, gathered together the great majority of the Catholic intellectual elite of the time. They openly manifested their hostility to Rome and to the magisterium. Subsequently the cardinal wrote some documents on the new theology. In a very perceptive and realistic description he showed the extent of the gravity of the situation. Unfortunately the remedies he proposed did not match up to the diagnosis, and in fact, were virtually non-existent.

Now that Cardinal Ratzinger is pope, we may expect that, considering the gravity of the situation, Rome may turn its eyes towards all those attached to the old Mass. Two currents are emerging: one in support the Society of Saint Pius X, the other which sets itself to reinforce Ecclesia Dei and cause the Society to crumble away. It seems that this latter has prevailed. There will certainly be two levels of action. We will see a reinforcement giving more weight to the support of those who want the old Mass. There will also be a reinforcement at the level of the Ecclesia Dei groups. But here, we see that everything works unto our good and that of Tradition; in the end, the good God uses the Fraternity of Saint Peter as a trampoline for the Society of Saint Pius X. In this way, we can but rejoice over any opening in favor of the old Mass.


DICI: If you were received by the pope, what would you ask him?

Bp Fellay: I would ask him for the freedom of the Mass for everybody and everywhere. As for our personal situation, there will also be the issue of recanting the decree of excommunication related to the consecrations. These are two pre-conditions which we can not dissociate from any further doctrinal discussion. We know very well that the issue of the Mass is not all, but we must begin with something concrete; we must begin with a beginning. It would be a deep and efficacious breach in the progressivist system; this would gradually lead to a change of atmosphere and spirit in the Church.

A head of a dicastery in Rome, seeing our processions during the Holy Year 2000, exclaimed: "But they are Catholic, we are obliged to do something for them". There are still bishops and cardinals who are Catholic, but the evil is so widespread that Rome no longer dares to take up the surgeon’s knife.

We see clearly that the Church is going through the same agony as Our Lord on the cross. I wonder whether the third part of the message of Fatima does not deal with an apparent death of the Church. We are living through an unprecedented situation, but the grace of God is still powerful. We can live in a Christian manner. We can still show that the Catholic religion exists, and that we can still live it. And this living example of Tradition carries much weight in our relations with Rome.

For Ecône is not against Rome, as the journalists would have it. We share with Pope Benedict XVI the same realization of the dramatic situation of the Church. And how could we not be in agreement on this point when we see the drop in vocations: in Dublin, Ireland, last year it seems there were not a single young man who entered the seminary! A year or two ago, there were only seven Jesuits who took their final vows in the whole congregation! But Rome does not go back to the cause of those effects which everybody sees, because that would be tantamount to questioning the Council. Rome must find again its own Tradition. Of course, it is not we who convert, only God can do that; but we may bring our little stone to the restoration, we must do what we can. We must make people understand that Tradition is not some archeological state of things; it is the normal state of the Church, even today.

We can also present the ecclesiastical authorities with theological studies on the Council. This takes time. Then, there is major work to be done among the bishops and priests. There are many faithful who are ready to take up Tradition again, many more than we think. For the priests, it is more difficult. Those who are as old as the Council, those who gave up everything and set out upon this adventure are no longer capable of going back. The younger priests are more open.


DICI: You are asking for the freedom of the traditional Mass, what solution can this Mass bring to the present crisis?

Bp Fellay: We are asking for the freedom for the old Mass and we can but rejoice over any opening in this direction. Why? Because the old Mass demands faith, it asks for integral faith and it gives the whole faith. When you say the old Mass, you do not want to say the new one again.

This Mass demands all the rest. It is the heart of the Church. It regenerates the whole Body. As the heart pumps the blood, the source of life, through the whole body, likewise in the Mystical Body, grace, the source of life, is diffused by the Mass through the channel of the sacraments. If this pump stops, life ceases. Thus the Church needs this supernatural pump which is the Mass. All sense of the Catholic faith, and all Catholic life go into the Church thanks to the Mass. As a matter of fact, it is because of that same principle that the new Mass, which is defective, causes so much damage. The Novus Ordo Mass is like a failing heart, which sometimes even suffers an attack.

Is this freedom for the traditional Mass impossible to grant? An example may prove that it is not. Cardinal Ratzinger and Cardinal Arinze, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, went to see Pope John Paul II to obtain a key position for a bishop who was convinced that the Church would not get out of this crisis without a return to the old Mass, and equally persuaded that the priest can not find his identity in the new Mass.

Another fact: Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, head of the Congregation for the Clergy and president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, declared in a conference at Münster: "The new Mass was acknowledged by the pope. It is infallible. Therefore it is good". Nevertheless he admitted privately: "It is true that something is missing in this new Mass". Now, evil is precisely the privation of good, this "something" cruelly lacking in the new Mass.

Rome realizes quite well that there is an injustice in this. They know perfectly well that this Mass cannot be forbidden. When I say Rome, I mean the Curia, John Paul II, Benedict XVI. Cardinal Medina, former head of the Congregation for Divine Worship acknowledges publicly that there is no text forbidding the old Mass.

It is quite possible that liberalization for the Mass may take place during this pontificate. But there is a strong opposition in the dioceses.


DICI: We sometimes hear this objection: With freedom for the traditional Mass, the faithful will go back to their parishes – what then will become of the Society of Saint Pius X?

Bp Fellay: Cardinal Ratzinger was working to reinforce Ecclesia Dei; this may mean today the erection of structures more or less exempt from the authority of the bishops. I think that then our situation will be still more difficult than under John Paul II, because many may be deceived.

We are asking for the faith in its entirety, all the sacraments, all the Catholic discipline. And not a Mass on probation: the Tridentine Mass with a conciliar predication. Why? There again, let us look at the facts:

- Look at the Fraternity of Saint Peter. In some places they are barely allowed to say Mass at all, in others they have a little more leeway. Elsewhere they are forbidden to give the other sacraments. In Germany, they may hear confessions for no more than a quarter of an hour before Mass. In Switzerland, catechism lessons are forbidden. An American bishop refused to grant the Mass to a group of 250 faithful even though they are in perfectly good standing with Rome.

- "But look at Campos!" you will tell me. The truth of the matter is that the Roman authorities chose Bishop Rifan who was disposed to offer the new Mass. "I will not say it," he said in Rome, "because this would create too much confusion among my faithful". For his part, Cardinal Cottier, the theologian of the pope, speaking of the status granted to Bishop Rifan, said: "It is the beginning of a dynamic which will lead him to the new Mass."

The Church which, as Cardinal Ratzinger acknowledged, draws “the waters from all parts”, needs to turn to its forgotten Tradition, in which we fully live and rejoice. We are the proof that Tradition is not outdated, but on the contrary adapted to the present time, because it is universal, because it is situated in the uninterrupted line of eternal principles. Because God does not change.

 © DICI 2005