Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, was interviewed by Swiss newspaperLe Nouvellisteafter the Requiem Mass celebrated Saturday in Écône (for the souls of the deceased Seminarians).
Monseigneur Bernard Fellay, at what date will you return to the Vatican?
No date has been set. After the storm that has taken place, we all need to pull ourselves together.
And the discussions which you accept to have from now on with Rome, are they for soon?
Still for that, no date... but, yes, they will begin.
Will these discussions take long? Do you have a timetable?
They could take very long if we consider what has just taken place. Not because of us, but because of the reactions in the entire Church, notably regarding our positions on the Second Vatican Council. The Council included many ambiguous words in its texts in order to attain a greater majority. We pay for this today.
The texts are not clear, and there is a multitude of different interpretations which are accepted within the Church. If we do not desire the collapse of the Church, clarifications on this Council, which wished itself to be pastoral and not dogmatic, are urgent. John Paul II already said in 1982 that heresy had spread abundantly within the Church. We are thus glad that Rome speaks of necessary discussions with us to deal with foundational questions.
But Benedict XVI already has a precise interpretation of Vatican II.
In the audience which 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 the same year, he clearly condemned the hermeneutic of rupture with the Church's past. But this is very vague and wide. It is necessary to expound on it.
The pope has accomplished a great step towards you, but one has the impression that he finds himself somewhat alone, disregarded by a number of bishops who apparently do not want you in the Church.
At a moment on which we speak of a return to full communion, the Pope is effectively, perhaps, asking himself who, between certain bishops and ourselves, is closer to him.
By way of the motu proprio on the ancient Mass and of the removal of the excommunications which weighed on you, Benedict XVI made spectacular and unilateral gestures. But what will be your gesture? A
We have already responded by affirming our desire to follow, with a positive state of mind, the path of discussions indicated by the Holy Father. But we do not with to do so precipitously. When we march on a minefield, prudence and moderation are necessary.
You have, nonetheless, the hope of reaching a doctrinal consensus with the Pope...
That seems difficult. True, we have the impression that he is close to us on the liturgical question. On the other hnd, he believes very deeply in the innovations of Vatican II.
It will be necessary to see what part of the divergences are due to different philosophies. A serious discussion demands a minimum of confidence.
In order to establish a more serene climate, we precisely asked Rome for gestures, wherefore the removal of the decree of excommunications. We now hope that this work brings to the whole Church greater doctrinal clarity. There are, in effect, too many ambiguities in the Second Vatican Council.
You are all the samer conscious that it will be asked of you to accept Vatican II.
Which has just been strongly reaffirmed in the note of the Secretariat of State of February 4, 2009. But the Holy See cannot grant to the Council a greater authority that [the Council] did not wish to grant itself.
Well, it has not wished to commit to infallibility, it remains on a much lowere degree if authority. It will never be a super-dogma and it should always be viewed according to the perspective of the cosntant Magisterium of the Church. Neither faith nor Chuch begin at Vatican II.
And if you move towards Rome, do you fear a division at the interior of the Fraternity?
Not much, but it is always possible. There could be such a risk if we sought from Rome a purely canonical agreement, and not a solution which concerns the foundation of the problem, which is the doctrinal and moral crisis within the Church. But that is not the case.
And, finally, Mgr Williamson, to whom you asked for declarations, in a "reasonable" time, on the question of the Shoah?
He is studying the matter, and he will fulfill his responsibilities. But it is necessary to give him time, because he wants to study the matter seriously to give a sincere and true response.