Interview Granted by Bishop Bernard Fellay to the Valaisan Daily Le Nouvelliste (February 16, 2009)

Source: FSSPX News


Document sans nom

“We would like a clarification”

Your Excellency, when do you go back to the Vatican?

No date has been fixed. After the uproar which broke out recently, we all need to let the dust settle.

You have accepted to discuss with Rome; are these discussions going to take place soon?

There again, there is no date… but, yes, they will begin.

Will these discussions last long? Do you have a timetable?

They may very well be long if we take into account what has just happened. Not because of us, but because of the reaction in the Church at large, especially with regard to our positions concerning the Second Vatican Council. This council introduced many ambiguous terms into its texts in order to obtain the assent of a larger majority. We are paying for this today.

The texts are not clear. There is a multitude of various interpretations given in the Church. If we do not want the Church to break up, clarifications are urgently needed concerning this council which was intended to be pastoral and not dogmatic. Already in 1982, John Paul II said that heresy had been sown throughout the Church by the handful. Hence, we are pleased that Rome speaks of necessary talks with us in order to deal with the root problems. But this will probably take time.

But Benedict XVI already has a precise interpretation of Vatican II.

During the private audience he granted me in 2005, he told me that the only possible interpretation of Vatican II was that which followed the criterion of the living Tradition. On December 22 of that same year, he clearly condemned the hermeneutic of rupture with the past of the Church. But this is too vast and too vague. It will have to be stated with precision.

The pope took a big step in your direction, yet we have the impression that he is somewhat lonely and abandoned by many bishops who apparently are not too keen on having you in the Church.

At a time when we speak of a return to full communion, the pope may indeed be wondering who is closer to him: certain bishops or ourselves?

With the motu proprio concerning the old Mass and the lifting of the excommunications weighing upon you, Benedict XVI performed spectacular and unilateral acts. What will be your response?

We have already answered by stating our determination to follow, in a positive state of mind, the path of discussion indicated by the Holy Father. But we do not want to do so with precipitation. When you walk on a minefield, you need both prudence and moderation.

Yet you hope to reach a doctrinal consensus with the pope…

This seems difficult. Certainly, he gives the impression of being very close to us on the liturgical issue. On the other hand, he is very strongly attached to the novelties of Vatican II.

We will have to see in what proportion divergences are due to different philosophies. A serious discussion requires a minimum amount of trust.

To manage to create this more serene atmosphere, we had specifically asked certain gestures from Rome, among them the withdrawal of the decree of excommunication. Let us now hope that this labor will bring to the whole Church a greater doctrinal clarity. Indeed, there are too many ambiguities in the Second Vatican Council.

Yet you are aware that you will be asked to accept Vatican II.

This has just been strongly recalled in a note from the Secretariat of State dated February 4, 2009. But the Holy See cannot today give to the council more authority than this latter intended to grant to itself.

Now, it never wanted to engage infallibility, so it remains on a lower degree of authority. It will never be a super-dogma, and it will always have to be appreciated according to the criteria of the constant Magisterium of the Church. Neither the Faith, nor the Church began with Vatican II.

If you move in the direction of Rome, do you fear a split within the Society?

I do not fear that too much, but it always remains a possibility. We would run such a risk if we were seeking to reach merely a canonical agreement with Rome and not a solution to the root problem, which is the doctrinal and moral crisis in the Church. But such is not the case.

Lastly, what about Bishop Williamson whom you have asked to make a statement on the issue of the Holocaust within a “reasonable” time?

He is studying the question, and will take his responsibilities. But he must be given time because he wants to study the matter seriously in order to give a sincere and true answer.

Interview conducted by Vincent Pellegrini.