Bishop Fellay on Radio Courtoisie, December 8, 2005

Source: FSSPX News


Fr. Lorans: Your Excellency, I thank you for coming this evening. You have a busy schedule. This morning you were at the seminary of Flavigny, in Burgundy, for what purpose?

Bishop Fellay: I celebrated a pontifical Mass to receive the final engagement of two of our priests. This evening, some other priests in Saint-Nicolas will make their final engagements. December 8 is also our feast, if we may say so, since it is the day appointed by our venerated founder, Archbishop Lefebvre, for making our engagements in the Society.


Fr. L.: Archbishop Lefebvre would have turned 100 years old this year, he was born in 1905. You are his second successor. You have known him. May we ask in what circumstances you have met Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

Bp. F.: It is very simple and also quite touching. The good Lord disposed things thus: I was in Ecône before Archbishop Lefebvre. It is true that at that time there was no seminary. There was a power plant, and also the Canons of the Great St Bernard  owned a farm which for some years did serve as a seminary. Those few buildings came to the possession of the Society almost at its beginning. The Society began in 1969 in Fribourg, it was officially founded in 1970, also in Fribourg, and in the Fall of 1970 the Archbishop opened the year of spirituality in Ecône. While the superior classes continued in Fribourg at the university of theology.


Fr. L.: How old were you then?

Bp. F.: At the time I was still quite young. And I cannot say that I remember everything. I was twelve. But I still remember some things. My father being the director of the power plant had placed a certain number of rooms at the disposal of the seminarians who could not be accommodated in the seminary buildings. Thus in the house next to where I lived, and which we called the bachelors’ house, several seminarians lived over a two-year period, while the new buildings were erected. During all that time, there was a very nice family atmosphere. And that is how I came to know Archbishop Lefebvre.


Fr. L.: Was your vocation born from the contact with the seminarians who were your next-door neighbors?

Bp. F.: I think my vocation was there even before, but it was quite re-awakened. And afterwards it was confirmed while I was in High School in Saint Maurice with the Canons. For it was not difficult to make the comparison between what I could live during the day in High School, and the seminarians, and priests I could see in the evening, on Wednesday afternoon, and at Sunday mass. So it was not difficult to choose a camp - if I may use this word.


Claude Giraud: Example helped you to make a choice?

Bp. F.: Oh yes, and quite easily!


Fr. Lorans: You said you would see the seminarians on Wednesday afternoon, in which circumstances?

In ball circumstances! You see, it would happened that the seminarians would come home to get me to play football with them!

Fr. L.: I think that you would go to daily Mass, before going to school – there is always a 6:00 am Mass - , on this occasion, you could see Archbishop Lefebvre say Mass. But you could also see him with your father. Did he come to inspect the seminarians’ lodging, for he was a very practical man?

Bp. Fellay: I can’t say I remember much about such contacts. I remember of a certain December 31 when there was a New Year’s eve meal at the seminary with the Archbishop and a few seminarians who were staying during the holidays. That was at the very beginning. Afterwards, when I was about 15, my memories are more complete, if I may say so. At that time, the seminarians were in the seminary and no longer lodging outside of its buildings.


Fr. L.: How old were you when you entered the seminary?

Bp. F.: I was 19. It was after graduating in 1977, and after military service which made me miss almost one month in the seminary. But I had made the retreat before the military service which lasted 17 weeks. So I spent the summer in the army, and then in the seminary.


Fr. L.: Seminary training was lasting 5 or 6 years at that time?

Bp. F.: When I entered it was 5 years, and by the time I left it was 6. But I missed the sixth year, I was ordained 5 years after entering the seminary. Archbishop Lefebvre was then Superior General and appointed the newly ordained priests. For my first charge, he appointed me with him in Rickenbach as General bursar. I would hold that charge for 12 years. In 1991, we moved house and went from Rickenbach to Menzingen, near Zurich.


Fr. L.: Then came the year 1988 which notably modified your charge. You were no longer only general bursar. Archbishop Lefebvre chose you with three other priests of the Society and asked you to accept the bishopric.

Bp. F.: Yes, and that was a second surprise, still greater than the first. To be appointed general bursar was already no mere trifle, but to become a bishop was a mighty more important thing. Indeed, that happened in 1988.


Fr. L.: And you still remained with Archbishop Lefebvre?

Bp. F.: Yes and no. In 1982, Archbishop Lefebvre was still General Superior. But there was a chapter and he had his successor elected who at that time was elected as Vicar General. The next year, in 1983, Archbishop Lefebvre retired and left his charge of Superior General to Fr. Franz Schmidberger. Thus, I was with the Archbishop for a year in the Mother House in Rickenback. – Ecône, which is the cradle of the Society is in Wallis, and that is the seminary. The Mother House, or General Headquarters, if you prefer, had been separated from Ecône since 1979 and located in Rickenbach, near Soleure, and then in 1994 in Menzingen.


Fr. L.: A precision for our auditors who would not know much about the SSPX,  already as general bursar you had to visit lots of houses in lots of countries…

Bp. F.: We check up on the SSPX, which means that we travel across the world. We visit priories, seminaries, chapels, schools… under the financial aspect.


Fr. L.: And presently, you keep traveling as Superior General of the Society. Can you tell us what the SSPX represents? What are your latest journeys, what are your projects?

Bp. F.: Today, the SSPX is a small world. We have priests residing in 30-31 countries. From those countries we still reach another some thirty countries. So we reach a total of 60-65 countries. I say 60-65, because in some countries, we make mere incursions, but we may number 61 countries where we exercise our apostolate on a regular basis. Recently, we have been called upon by faithful in Uganda… The great principle for our apostolate is very clear. We have always maintained that we did not receive any ordinary mission, any canonical mission from the Church. Our function, our help to the faithful must be likened to that of the Good Samaritan. That is to say: we go wherever the faithful call for help. This is how our whole apostolic life developed. We never sought people out, or prospected: the general rule is to answer the calls from the faithful, and this in the whole world. As soon as we can, if the number of faithful is sufficient, we begin a more or less regular apostolate. And if the number of faithful is important, we then think about founding a priory, i.e. sending resident priests. In mission countries, we must sometimes wait long before making any establishment, either for political reasons or simply because of the lack of priests.


C. G.: When you go to those countries, do you meet with hostility?

Bp. F.: Yes, as a rule, from Church authorities. That is where the first hostilities come, especially on the occasion of our first visits. Often we are quite astonished to see the reactions we can raise from official authorities. Quite recently, this very week, the Ukraine and Poland were crying out: beware, the Society is spreading its tentacles. Thus a bishop organized prayer marches and processions against the Society which was declared to be dangerous. In the Ukraine, it is not SSPX priests who are under attack, but a dozen priests of the Eastern rite, whom we have been supporting. They have been resisting for very good reasons. Of course, it is not directly the Tridentine Mass which is attacked since they are of the Eastern rite, but those priests are resisting all the novelties of Vatican II Council. We have founded a priestly society for them, which is not the SSPX, but is dependent upon it, since they consider me as their superior. This earned for them the wrath of Church authorities. Speaking of this, it is interesting to see what respect civil authorities in the Ukraine have for the bishop’s authority. One of the priests of their society was accused by the local bishop of not being Catholic. Civil authorities intervened to raze his church to the ground, forbid any celebration and threaten him with imprisonment. So I made a decree saying I was taking him under my protection, and this saved him from imprisonment. He can still exercise his apostolate.


Fr. L.: Excellency, you have just said a word which is often used against the SSPX: excommunication. We could even add another: schism. What do you answer to this kind of objection?

Bp. F.: That we never took them seriously…

C. G.: Excellency, there are Catholics listening to you and for whom the word schism is not a mystery but an imprecise notion. Many of them confuse schism and heresy. Could you not explain the difference between these two words?

Bp. F.: Heresy comes from the denial of a dogma, i.e. a point of doctrine defined by the Catholic Church. For instance, today we are celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Well, those who deny this privilege to the Blessed Virgin Mary are professing a heresy. And the result of heresy is the loss of the faith. Someone who tenaciously holds a heresy immediately looses the Catholic faith, and by this very fact is cut off from the Catholic Church. That is excommunication. He breaks the communion of faith with the Catholic Church.

Schism is different. It is the case of someone who breaks away from or denies authority, i.e. the government of the Church, and begins to be on his own. As a rule, schism is concerned only with submission to legitimate authority and not with faith or doctrine. Of course, consecrating a bishop without the agreement of the pope may give the impression of being on one’s own. And so appearances were against us when Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four bishops against the monitions and warnings of the Holy Father. However, Archbishop always made clear the intention he had when consecrating, and especially his resolution not to be cut off and to always acknowledge the pope’s authority. It is capital to understand this point: these consecrations were not done with the intention of setting up a parallel hierarchy, a new Church. That would have been a schism. The determining element in that respect would have been to claim an ordinary authority, what is called jurisdiction and  which is given by the appointment made by the pope. Since we do not have this appointment, we say that we, the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre, do not have this ordinary jurisdiction, this ordinary authority over souls. Then, how do we exercise our episcopal apostolate? We must speak of a jurisdiction of supplement. Indeed, the Church foresees that in case of grave necessity, when recourse to ordinary authority is impossible or very difficult, the Church, out of concern for the salvation of souls, will supplement, i.e. will grant sufficient authority to perform ecclesiastical acts, the sacraments licitly and of course validly, for the good of the faithful, for their salvation. And given the situation of the Church caused by the council and the aftermath of the council, it is not difficult to show that we are in a state of necessity which is going to justify these episcopal actions out of the ordinary. This is why we are extra-ordinary bishops!

From Rome’s viewpoint, quite recently the cardinal appointed by the pope to take care of our dossier, Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos, declared on the Italian TV (see insert below), that there was no heresy with us, that we are not heretics. And then, concerning schism, using the words in their strict sense, it could not be said, according to the cardinal, that the SSPX was schismatic. He even went on to insist on the fact that we were inside the Church, that there was no question of conversion, since we were already within; that it could not even be said "not in perfect communion", it should be said that we were presently seeking a "more perfect communion", since we are already in communion.


Fr. L.: An auditor is asking when Rome will give an official  order to the bishops of France and of the world to cease persecuting the SSPX, because it seems that all the problems come from them? Do you think that the problems come from the bishops?

Bp F.: I am not quite sure that all the problems come from them. Part of the problems, yes, and let us say it is the part most obvious to the faithful, because they first see their priests, their bishop, and as a rule, do not go much farther. If the bishop is somewhat complacent, he allows the Mass, and maybe even a little more. If you have a good parish priest, a good number of problems are solved – not all of them, but a good number. But we have to go all the way back to Rome. The problems are above the level of the local bishops. I think, we can trace them back to the council. Of course, all the problems in the Church do not come from the council. There were some already before. The council gathered, compressed and inoculated into the lifeblood of the Church a number of problems from the 50’s which Pius XII had tried to keep under control. And he had already obviously lost control, not officially, but underhand. You could then see punishments, chastisements against those who were raising their head too much. There was a whole work of subversion under Pius XII in the 50’s. Thereupon the council came to bless this underground subversive work.


C. G.: This underground work, wasn’t it modernism?

Bp. F.: In the sense given by St Pius X when he defines it as the cesspool of all the heresies… yes, in that sense it was! At the time of the council we witnessed some sort of explosion, but it was a not too strong explosion. It was a clever explosion. If things had been too obvious, there would have been reactions. During the council you did not see any dogma being openly attacked as such… there were a certain number of truths which were under attack, like the question of religious liberty, or the question of the relations of the Church with the world, the relations of the Church with other religions. Such things are not strictly speaking dogmas, in the sense of a clear and precise definition of a point of doctrine. They are a set of truth belonging to the treasure of the Church and which, until then had not been contested and so did not need to be defined by the Church. Points of that kind were going to be attacked. And often attack would take on the form of a great confusion. What was clear before would become confusing. They were going to open doors. They would leave people with doubts. They would sow ambiguities. And after the council, they would draw all the conclusions you can possibly imagine and which cause the present cacophony and disaster. It is a tragedy which has made the Church suffer atrociously, I think we may use that word, for now forty years.


C. G.: These currents which brought about the council were for the main part underground currents. According to you, by whom were they inspired and for what purpose?

There are several inspirations. First, from enemies outside the Church. For instance, Free Masonry. Free-Masonry is certainly the sworn enemy of the Catholic Church. They certainly do not like that we say so, but it is as such that the Catholic Church has seen them for a very long time. For instance, in the 19th century you can see the sect of the Carbonari, the Alta Venta setting up a real plot against the Catholic Church. But not a plot of only one year… The texts which Pius IX requested to be published, especially by Cretineau-Joly, show that Free-Masonry was considering a plan which in its estimation should take at least 150 years. So, it is not something of small ambition. This plan consisted in changing deeply, in upsetting the Catholic spirit, that is to say, Catholic life, Catholic mentality to replace it with a liberal mentality, of Masonic style. The Carbonari declared that they must prepare a generation worthy of the pope they were expecting. We can say that with the council and the popes who will come at that time, all this will have been done.

There is a second inspiration among these exterior enemies which we can designate with certainty: communism. We have enough proofs to affirm that communism meant to infiltrate the Church. There is the communism of Russia. There is the communism of the Eastern countries, especially after the war. There is the communism of France, and it is known that they send Party men into the seminaries. It is said that there is a report from NATO dated 1974 – which I would very much like to get a hold of – which esteems that there are some 3,000 communist agents infiltrated in the hierarchy of the Church. You also have this movement in the Eastern countries, in Poland, - Cardinal Midszenty denounced it in Hungary, in Czechoslovakia… As a rule they are priests from the Pax movement.

Then, inside the Church, you have what we can summarize under the word modernism. I say summarize because it is like some sort of jelly-fish, with no back-bone and yet consistent, but elusive. Well organized, they support each other. It is really an underground work, quite subversive and which St Pius X denounced when he said that the enemy was inside. We can really think that St Pius X managed to block, to stop the movement which, nevertheless managed to subsist like a smoldering fire. Obviously, after the war which would play a great part in upsetting the Catholic Church, it was going to come up again and break forth once more. It would be called neo-modernism to distinguish it from the modernism denounced by Saint Pius X. But, basically, the ideas are always the same: confusions in the domain of the faith, and especially a new philosophy, the modern, subjectivist and idealistic philosophy which places all religions on an equal footing, because it reduces religion to a feeling born from the depths of man’s subconscious. Consequently, if religion comes from man, then, all the religions are equal. Whether you go by Buddha or Allah, it is all the same. And these modernists managed to get a foot inside the Church.


Fr. L.: Your Excellency, after what you have just told us, and with what you know of the present situation, what do you expect from the contacts you are having in Rome presently?

Bp. F.: Immediately, not much. It is a long-term work. In the Church there are not only modernists, communists, and Free-Masons. There are also good souls who are partly deceived, ignorant, and not only among the faithful but also among  the priests and even the bishops. So in this polymorphic or polychromic whole, what we are trying to do, is very simply to recall what the Church has always taught and always done and we hope that souls of good will may be moved, and may come back… not to us, but to what the Church has always done. These are values which are absolutely stable, they are pledges of holiness and thus of salvation. And they are not going to claim today, after two thousand years of existence of the Church, that they can do better than the Apostles, than what Our Lord taught. You only have to look at the past to see that we have lots of extraordinary examples of holiness. We only have to imitate them quite simply and we see that what we are trying to follow, what we call Tradition, is exactly what they were living from. And we also see through daily experience that those graces, this life of grace, this sanctifying faith brings us closer to God, detach us from sin, makes us love God more, makes us more pleasant, more charitable, and also more attentive to our neighbor. It is the whole Catholic life, quite simply. We find everything again.

Fr. L.: Your Excellency, may we read through your answers the expression used several times by Archbishop Lefebvre: "Let us make the experience of Tradition!"; do you make your own this request from the Archbishop?

We may make it our own on condition that we understand it correctly. Today, there are some who would understand it wrongly. Rather than "let us make" – since we are making it already - , I would say: look, come and see. You seem to be having some problems in the modern world, you seem to have lost your landmarks. Well! Look, even more, examine closely – why not – what those faithful and priests are doing who are trying to be faithful to Tradition. And see that the fruits are there and speak louder than any other proof.

Fr. L.: During the conference you made in Brussels last June (Cf. Christendom n° 1, Ed.), you gave several examples. You said that the faithful do not suspect the impact of their behavior which for them is quite natural, and supernatural at the same time ; they ignore their influence and even their capacity of attracting others. Could you tell us more? You travel much, you meet many people, you have witnessed this influence.

Oh, certainly so! It is for me a daily source of joy to see, lets call it the miracle, the miracle of grace, to see souls who are being sanctified, who, I was almost going to say, remain normal in a world which gets crazier by the minute. Well, this is some kind of miracle, and we witness this miracle daily. I think that one of the most striking example is obtained by asking anyone: How are your children doing? What about them? When we want to compare a state school with one of our schools, we only have to enter the playground to see the difference. It is quite simple. It is an experience we make daily in the whole world. Quite recently, Fr. du Chalard brought to Ecône 8 Italian priests who discovered the seminary and the primary school nearby. Those priests could not get over their surprise at seeing children who were polite, who greeted them, who were considerate, careful of others, who would open the doors to them, who did not quarrel during recess. They could not get over it. One of them said: "We have seen a little corner of heaven".

Fr. L.: An auditor is asking: What role did the Sillon, the movement of Marc Sangnier, in the 19th century, play in the destruction of the Church?

The Sillon was condemned by Saint Pius X. Basically it is some sort of naturalism. It moves away from Catholicism, it is no longer the faith. They leave the canals of faith. To put it in a nutshell, we could say that it places the faith at the service of the temporal order. It is somewhat like what we see after Vatican II. In Liberation theology, with this preferential option for the poor, you see a Church which is occupied almost exclusively with the world’s miseries. I am not saying you should not turn to them. Of course, the Church always practiced the works of corporal mercy. But it did so always in view of a higher and much more important objective: the salvation of souls. What does it profit to give bread to the poor if you leave them in their spiritual misery? There is no contradiction between giving bread to the poor, and bringing them salvation; but if you have to make a choice, it is obvious that you must choose salvation. By this I do not mean to say that we must not care about the poor and alleviate human miseries. Oh, no, quite the contrary.

Fr. L.: You are here in the country of Saint Vincent de Paul, and we understand quite well that in the poor we must see Jesus Christ himself. But let us go back to our main topic, Rome today. You tell us what you know of the present situation, you tell us why you think you must discuss, speak with the Roman authorities, but with what you have also just explained to us about the Council, we may wonder if this is not going to be the stumbling block.

Probably. But if it is a stumbling block, we do mean to go over it. The Council cannot and must not be an insurmountable obstacle. If today it makes the Church suffer, it is bound to be overcome one day by the Church. I do not know what the Church will do, but in any case, this obstacle must disappear. So, we can work in that direction.

C. G.: Do you think that presently you can, you may discuss the Council?

We are doing it daily, and I am quite convinced we may. Today Roman authorities have, let us say, mixed feelings. Some warn: Do not touch to the Council! You can’t touch it because it is an ecumenical council! It has the seal of the Holy Ghost, the seal of infallibility. It is true that if it is infallible, then there can’t be any discussion. But precisely, this council is different from all the other ecumenical councils in so far as it explicitly wanted to be something else. The other councils were dogmatic, they were about doctrine and dogma. This council wanted to be pastoral, that is about the activities of the pastor: how to address the young, the not so young, what do we tell them, how do we adapt the liturgy in such a country… and necessarily this pastoral touches upon what is concrete, it touches changing historical circumstances. And so, it is a council which by definition, from the start, gives itself as a goal something which will one day be outdated. It is probable that some principles will remain, inasmuch as the pastoral principles evoked were always existing. But as for the concrete applications, they will change. If only from this point of view, we may argue and say: We must go further. We must look at the world again today. And it is not too difficult to see that the prospects opened for instance by Gaudium et Spes – considered as the key to the understanding of the Council – these prospects are outdated. A cardinal told us expressly: Gaudium et Spes is outdated. Now, if the key to the Council is outdated, imagine what is left of the Council itself!

Fr. L.: You say that the historical situation is changed. Between 1965, the end of the council, and now, forty years later, what is it that makes the council no longer up to date?

There are many elements; social elements, if we want to begin with what is most simple. The society in 1965, at least in Europe, was still fairly Christian. There was still a good religious practice. The seminaries were almost full. Today it is a complete void. There is an immense disappearance of Christianity. An immense disappearance, and it is a veritable society phenomenon. Society today is no longer permeable to religion, it goes so far as this famous European Constitution which even wants to forget its Christian roots. This shows what point we have reached.

Fr. L.: If we understand you correctly, your Excellency, to apply the Council today is not only inadequate, but it could even foster this dechristianization?

Exactly so. And we can go even further. Since the council wants to be an adaptation to the world and the world has moved even further away from the Church, to want to adapt to this situation means to move even further away from God. And this is deadly for the Church. We really have to put an end to this!

Fr. L.: Could you tell us if, after your meeting with the Holy Father, dialogue continues?

It is not completely at a standstill. There is no secret, no back-handed blow, no plot; nothing of the sort. But there is simply a certain aperture from Rome – something new, which began in the year 2000 – which we must analyze very closely. The private audience itself shows a pope well disposed to listen to us, at least up to a certain point. We take advantage of this to say what we can say, what we have to say, hoping that one day it may touch hearts. I think this should lead to a discussion which will perforce be discreet, because in the official Church there are still too many enemies who would like to wreck everything. If there is a discussion, it will necessarily deal with points of the council, and for the peace of such a discussion, we must avoid any kind of tension. It must remain serene, even if it is tough as far as the arguments are concerned. But we have not reached that point yet. I offered to Rome to draw up a list of the issues on which we disagree, which cause a doctrinal problem. We have not yet drawn it up. But Rome seems to be open to the idea of receiving that list. What is going to happen next? Will they agree to begin a discussion? Well, we will see.

C. G. So, there will be small steps taken?

Presently, I do not think we can expect more than small steps. There is a certain aperture, I may even say a certain hope in Roman circles, and not only in Roman circles. We see that with the accession of the new pope, Benedict XVI, there is like a shiver of hope. Plainly speaking, this lethargy, this paralysis of the Church is hurting everywhere, and men of good will are expecting something, they are expecting a renewal. They also see a sign of hope in this private audience. And this hope is that the official Church gives credit to, receives Tradition, and we may even say receives her Tradition. We find this even in the Roman Curia, we have people sympathetic to us even up there.

C. G.: Your Excellency, what do you think the reactions may be in the Roman Curia?

Mixed. Some are expecting with hope, others with gnashing of teeth. We must really pray. It is a time for prayer.

Fr. L.: Thank you so much, your Excellency. May we ask your blessing?


Declaration of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos on television

(TV Channel 5 in Italy)on November 13, 2005

Commentator: The old Mass in Latin is attractive, but it is also a source of quarrels. Today, in order to celebrate it publicly, the permission of the local bishop is required, but for months rumor has been having it that Benedict XVI could decide to liberalize it. This persistent rumor, however, finds no echo in the declarations of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, Head of the Congregation for the clergy, and major artisan of the dialogue with the Traditionalist groups, and first of all with the SSPX which gathers the faithful of Archbishop Lefebvre.

Cardinal Castrillon: This is the habitual rule. It is the local bishop who is responsible. It is up to the bishop to judge whether or not this is good for his diocese at a given time and for pastoral reasons which he knows and for which he will have to answer to the pope, but even more to Jesus, to God.

Commentator: So, it is a matter of re-affirming episcopal authority, but at the same time an appeal to their conscience in order to avoid useless rigidity and contribute to the long process of a rapprochement with the disciples of Archbishop Lefebvre, as already undertaken under the pontificate of John-Paul II who, in 1988, excommunicated the French Archbishop for performing illicitly 4 episcopal consecrations. This dialogue seems to have taken a new start with the meeting in Castel Gandolfo between Benedict XVI and the Superior of the SSPX Bishop Fellay, last summer.

Cardinal Castrillon: We are not confronted to a heresy. It cannot be said in correct, exact, and precise terms that there is a schism. There is a schismatic attitude in the fact of consecrating bishops without pontifical mandate. They are within the Church . There is only the fact that a full, more perfect communion is lacking – as was stated during the meeting with Bishop Fellay – a fuller communion, because communion does exist.