A guest-post by Côme de Prévigny
These words truly belong to Bishop Fellay. They were pronounced in Winona, Minnesota, on February 2, on the occasion of the conferral of the cassocks in the American seminary of the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX). Do they summarize the entire thinking of the Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X? In any event, not less than all those that were used, distorted or taken from their context, by some journalists who impatiently picked the headlines "The failure of the negotiations", or still, "We could not go further in the confusion". Moved by a growing panic as news of the regularization of the Fraternity move closer in time, Progressives and Sedevacantists now advance hand in hand, the first not even hesitating to quote the second. "From enemies that they were, they were made friends," says Holy Writ.
The truth is that Bishop Fellay has done nothing else than repeating what he said in Écône last December 8. The Society will not sign the preamble as it was presented on September 14 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. At the same time, he recalls that the work of Archbishop Lefebvre cannot be conceived separated from the Apostolic See: "We are not an independent group. Even if we are fighting with Rome, we are still, so to say, with Rome." There is found the entire attitude of Abp. Lefebvre, who went to Rome whenever he was called. Without fleeing when faced with traps, he preferred to discern them with prudence, he moved forward, as usual, by asking for evident signs from above. What mattered to the Archbishop, on the one hand, was to proclaim the faith, as it had been professed throughout the centuries, and, on the other, to keep relations with the Roman Curia, recalling that the solution would come from Rome. He distinguished with the same care the search for a regularization, a matter of prudence, from the proclamation of the faith, a matter of principle. As long as the latter is put in grave danger by a canonical regulation, it has priority over the juridical questions. The day in which the Superior judges this proclamation possible in a legal order, then it might be dangerous to neglect those souls hesitating to come hither for fear of censure.
In the past few days, eminent Cardinals have studied, it is said, the response delivered by the Society of Saint Pius X. Germans, Frenchmen, or Swiss, these high prelates are not considered to be an Areopagus that is indulgent towards the defenders of the Traditional Mass and catechism. It was actually despite their negative opinions that Benedict XVI took the decision to free the Traditional Missal and to revoke the censures weighing on the Bishops consecrated in 1988. Why would the pope suddenly act in a different manner? Mentioning Abp. Lefebvre, the Superior General of the SSPX merely indicated his availability: "if you accept us as is, without change, without obliging us to accept these things, then we are ready." The ball is on Rome's court, where the Pope has powers that are much more extensive than Bp. Fellay, because he can, simply with his signature, confer the widest prerogatives to the work directed by the Swiss prelate from the Valais. He can eventually acknowledge this recent thesis that defended, in Rome, that, "the authority of the magisterium of Vatican II is that of a homily in the 1960s." Had not he himself affirmed that the Council "deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council"?