Conference by Bishop Fellay, on June 7, 2007 - Report by La Croix, Monday June 11

Source: FSSPX News


The integrists want to go beyond the motu proprio


According to Bishop Fellay, an eventual liberalization of the Tridentine rite will not necessarily allow a rapid return of the Lefebvrists towards Rome.

 The liberalization of the Mass of St. Pius V as a solution to the Lefebvrist schism? During a talk given on Thursday evening to around 400 people (*) at the Mutualité in Paris, Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), was already expressing his doubts about a quick return to Rome by those faithful to Archbishop Lefebvre, in the event of a “liberation” of the Tridentine Mass. Certainly, “what we know of the motu proprio reflects the will of the Pope to restore the Traditional rite to its rightful position,” explained the man who was illicitly consecrated bishop in 1988. He sees in this gesture, “more than a mere concession to a group of nostalgic people” on the part of a pope “who loves the ancient Mass”. But is not this liberalization of the preconciliar rit a response to the first precondition – together with the lifting of the excommunications, imposed after the illicit episcopal consecrations of 1988 – laid down by the SSPX at the start of their discussions with Rome?

 “Even if Rome is unable to put it in such terms, there is a wish to respond to this demand,” in Bishop Fellay’s opinion. “But everything will depend on the restrictions laid down in the text,” he added. And he went on to explain: “If this opening is such that we can call it a veritable liberation, there will be no problem,” he said. “But if the power to close this open door is put back into the hands of the bishops, it will be impossible”. A direct reference to article no. 39 of the apostolic exhortation of Benedict XVI, Sacramentum caritatis, according to which it will be up to the bishop “to safeguard the unanimous unity of the celebrations in his diocese.” “If this argument is used to claim that the old Mass is a danger for the unity of the diocese…” warned Bishop Fellay, who foresees nonetheless that if the power of the bishop is reaffirmed by this motu proprio, the faithful can also appeal to Rome.

 “The post- motu proprio will be very interesting,” the leader of the integrists already anticipates. “If the two rites are left with equal status, it’s not difficult to guess which one will carry the day,” he said. In his opinion, “there is a real expectation amongst the Christian people regarding the old Mass.” “We have only to look at the empty churches: are they not a sanction against the new Mass?” he asks. Hence the opposition which he warns of on the part of those who have promoted the rite of Paul VI. “There will be a massive opposition movement,” he warned. An opposition which will certainly be “passive”, but “this is what frightens the pope” emphasized Bishop Fellay, according to whom “extensive work” is necessary. “In Rome, they tell us that in one generation the new Mass will have disappeared,” he said. “But in my opinion it will be more like two…”

Nevertheless, what he calls the “liberation of the old Mass will not be a sufficient to bring about the return of the SSPX to the Roman fold, thinks Bishop Fellay. “The Mass has been the instrument of the reform of the Catholic mindset: in this sense it is a cause of the current state of the Church. But it has been a tool for putting these principles into action: it is these that are dangerous and which must be fought against,” he explains, reproaching Benedict XVI for “wanting to be modern” and demanding a fundamental discussion on Vatican II, particularly on religious liberty, ecumenism and episcopal collegiality. “How could such a Council have taken place in the Church?” inveighed Bishop Fellay, according to whom “signing an agreement now would be an easy solution which would not demand any reflection on this Council which poses  enormous theological problems.”


Nicolas Senèze (La Croix, Monday June 11, 2007, p. 19)

(*) 404, to be exact (Ed.)