Rorate Caeli

Holy See-SSPX - Winds blow (Part 2): Bishop Fellay speaks

In the second of its articles dedicated to the talks between the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX/SSPX), the Italian daily Il Tempo publishes today an interview with Bishop Bernard Fellay, the Superior-General of the Fraternity. The article has not been completely translated, for copyright reasons, and it includes an introduction (without any new information) and then the interview itself, translated as precisely as possible below (with only a small change of format).

Bernard Fellay ... expresses satisfaction for "the steps so far taken" with Rome ... .


Bishop Fellay, next March 23, the eve of his first consistory, Benedict XVI will meet the College of Cardinals and, in the list of discussions, other than those questions inherent to the reform of the Roman Curia, there may be the questions inherent to the talks which could bring back your Fraternity to full communion with Rome. Are you aware of anything?

-I know what the papers print. I have learned from newspapers that maybe the Pope would talk about us next March 23.

Therefore, you do not know if the Pope will revoke the excommunications soon?

-No, but we are not truly outside the Catholic Church.

In what sense?

-We live the Tradition of the Church. We celebrate Mass with the old rite and for this we cannot feel outside the Church, also because the Church cannot break with her past.

But did you receive the excommunications?

-Rome declared excommunicated only the bishops consecrated by Lefebvre without the mandate from Rome.

When was the last time you met the Pope?

-Last summer, in Castel Gandolfo.

Have you met again afterwards?

-Not anymore. Some have written and said that I had been in telephonic contact with him. But that is false.

In the August meeting, did you have the impression that the Pontiff wished to heal, after so many years, the wound provoked by Lefebvre's decision of ordaining [sic] priests without the mandate from Rome?

-The problem is not this. The consecration made by Archbishop Lefebvre of some bishops -- a very grave measure -- was an act which was proportionate to the situation which the Church lived. The true solution to the problems of the Fraternity with Rome may be found if there is an effort to overcome the crisis which has hit the Church.

In the future, in case the talks with Rome shall reach a definitive reconciliation, how do you see your Fraternity? Could it become a Personal Prelature or an Apostolic Administration?

-I cannot answer precisely. In any case, it is Rome which will make the proposals.

Do you consider yourself submitted to the Pope?

-We recognize the Pope because he is the Vicar of Christ. In this sense, we recognize the supremacy of the Pope.

How many times did you meet John Paul II?

-Only once.


-On December 30, 2000, in the Vatican. It was a quick visit, a hand-kissing and nothing else. He did not tell me anything in particular, except that he was content that the dialogue between Rome and us was open. We met him in his private chapel.

Is it true that, inside your Fraternity, bishop Richard Williamson does not wish to accept reconciliation with Rome?

-I would not say that. I would say that regarding this case Williamson is more pessimistic and I am more optimistic.


  1. Very interesting. Thanks so much.

    Other than the weird ecclesiology that says that it doesn't matter if you're excommunicated as long as you have the old liturgy, Fellay seems--as always--much the most intelligent and wholesome of the SSPX bigwigs.

  2. Jeff,

    If you want to know something more about the matter, I suggest you read the code of Canon law of 1983, which is online in English, where is says that excommunications are a displinary action taken against MEMBERS of the Church.

    Even St. Alphonsus was excommunicated, and died excommunicated BTW.

  3. Saint Alphonsus Mary Liguori died excommunicated? By the competent authority? Was he literally excommunicated or did he receive an incorrect judgment and punishment, like Saint Joan of Arc? Could you provide a basis for this affirmation?

  4. Now I'm not in the SSPX, though I thank them for the response to Tradition that they have engendered within the broader church. Still I feel bound to observe that there is nothing abnormal about "wierd ecclesiology" in the continuum of Catholic history. Just our big messy family going blithely about its business! Age of the three Popes, Babylonian captivity, noisy heretics...all part of Catholic Ecclesiology's rich pagent! TTFN

  5. Br. Bugnolo,

    Please cite the source that said that St. Alphonsus died excommunicated.



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