Rorate Caeli

Fellay to visit the Pope at Castelgandolfo?

The month of August begins in a couple of days -- almost one year since the first and only meeting of Pope Benedict with the Superior-General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX/SSPX), Bishop Bernard Fellay.

Paolo Luigi Rodari* suggests today, in an article on the summer "projects" of Pope Benedict, published in the Roman daily Il Tempo, that:

Castelgandolfo is also the place in which the Pontiff loves to receive, in a private fashion, many personalities whom he has not been able to meet during the year. [The possibility] that Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X (the schismatic community of priests founded by Marcel Lefebvre), will arrive at the Roman hills is not excluded. In the month of August, Ratzinger could readmit the Fraternity to the bosom of the Church of Rome.

* Caveat : this is the same journalist who wrote, last Palm Sunday, that a document on the liberalization of the Traditional Mass would be signed or released during Holy Week.


  1. I don't believe it for a second after that "declaration" that the SSPX made. If the Pope does invite Fellay, though, it would prove to me his pastor's heart.

  2. "In the month of August, Ratzinger could readmit the Fraternity to the bosom of the Church of Rome."

    It seems rather a joke. But would be great if true. Let us pray for the libralization of the Mass, praying our Rosaries.

  3. The journalist himself, naturally, is exclusively responsible for the article -- as is always the case in the translations we post.

    This is obvious -- but some people find it hard to grasp the idea.

  4. Thank you for reminding us of the caveat!

  5. What a poor & misinformed author of the quote that SSPX is "schismatic". He obviously does not know very much about the issue. SSPX very definitely is not. More of the same old boring media nonsense - just keep repeating the same old lie and people will believe it.

  6. "Liberalisation"or "liberation"? Public discourse on this point has change emphasis. The potential for "liberalisation" reminds one of all the pastoral & doctrinal chaos we have witnessed post-VCII, as a result of "liberalisation". Is this the next ploy to try and wreck The Latin Mass of all times? Take heed SSPX that you are on the same wavelength where this is concerned.

  7. Of course SSPX is schismatic. I could also make the case that SSPX is heretical since they have denied Vatican II and thereby have denied the authority of the Magisterium.

  8. The Magisterium was not involed by Vatican II; it was only a pastoral council, and the obligation for accepting its documents is only obsequium religiosum, according to Paul VI, in his decree approving the council's documents.

    Those who try to make it seem otherwise, are sinning against history.

  9. TTM

    I'm at a loss to understand your offense at the "Statement". It says absolutely nothing new, and conspicuously avoids caustic or inflammatory terms.


    Don't be silly.

  10. Br. Alexis,

    As usual, you are uninformed. However, you give me your opinion and I'll give you the facts. As anyone with eyes to see, the following quotations (and I credit Fr. Stephen Hand for these) more than give the lie to your assumptions:

    You might start with your friend Thomas Aquinas:

    'Obviously one who holds fast to Church teaching as to an infallible rule of faith gives assent to all that the Church teaches. Conversely, anyone who from among the many things taught by the Church picks some and not others as he chooses no longer holds fast to Church teaching as an infallible rule, but to his own will.' -- St. Thomas Aquinas, ST 2a 2ae 5, 3.

    Vatican II was not simply a pastoral council; that is a convenient way of marginalizing it, thus making it easier to deny its continuity with the past and making it easy for those of you who disagree with it to pass over it (usually not in silence).

    "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium, above all in an Ecumenical Council." This is stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    "The living magisterium, therefore, makes extensive use of documents of the past, but it does so while judging and interpreting, gladly finding in them its present thought, but likewise, when needful, distinguishing its present thought from what is traditional only in appearance. It is revealed truth always living in the mind of the Church, or, if it is preferred, the present thought of the Church in continuity with her traditional thought, which is for it the final criterion, according to which the living magisterium adopts as true or rejects as false the often obscure and confused formulas which occur in the monuments of the past. Thus are explained both her respect for the writings of the Fathers of the Church and her supreme independence towards those writings--she judges them more than she is judged by them....There is, therefore in the Church progress of dogma, progress of theology, progress to a certain extent of faith itself, but this progress does not consist in the addition of fresh information nor the change of ideas. What is believed has always been believed, but in time it is more commonly and thoroughly understood and explicitly expressed."--- Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912, Tradition and Living Magisterium
    And the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 892. on the Ordinary Magisterium.

    ..."tradition" means above all, that the Church, living in the form of the apostolic succession with the Petrine office at its center, is the place in which the Bible is lived and interpreted in a way that binds. This interpretation forms a historical continuity, settng fixed standards but never reaching a final point at which it belongs only to the past. "Revelation" is closed but interpretation which binds is not. There can be no appeal against the ultimate binding force of interpretation. So tradition is essentially marked by the "living voice" --i.e. by the obligatory nature of the universal Church." ( ----Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Church, Ecumenism & Politics, Crossroad NY, pp. 79-80, 1988)

  11. Janice

    Calling a religious uninformed. And then quoting St. Thomas out of context. With the help of Stephen Hand.

    Need anyone say more?

    Well I would add one more. Janice, can you please inform me what as a Catholic I am obliged to believe because of Vatican II?

    Oh. Could you also get a memo to Cardinal Cassidy and Cardinal Castrillon? They both seem to say that the Society is not schismatic. But perhaps, they are as "uninformed" as Br. Bugnolo. Is that how they teach you to talk to religious in the Novus Ordo?

  12. Stephen,

    will you apply the same requirements of respect for religious to your own comments about various clerics, such as bishops, and popes?

    Don't you think you're making an "ad hominem" when you refer to Janice, who appears to be obedient to the Roman Pontiff, as "Novus Ordo"?

    Don't you think it's dishonest to use a reference to a letter which says nothing of the canonical status of the SSPX to support your position that they are not schismatic? The distinction that they are still part of the Catholic Church carries no such inference.

    Your use of this concilliatory statement "the situation of separation came about, even if it was not a formal schism." is a very weak argument to support your assertion that there is no schism. The forum itself of an informal interview is insufficient to make it in any way a legal statement, as opposed to the very clear determination of schismatic acts having taken place in the consecrations. Even so, he qualifies it with an "if", a rather large one. Then he qualifies it again with another rather large "formal", which leaves open the idea that he considers them as absolutely "materially" schismatic. That is certainly the case with some of them, the question is open as to who that all would entail, just the bishops? the priests who participate in illicit ordinations and sacrements? The more resolute adherents who refuse communion with the rest of the Church?

    I would urge Janice, if she has a hope for the restoration of the Church to attempt to echo the tone of her Pope, and the Cardinal, and avoid such inflammatory rhetoric.

    I pray for a meeting with the Pope and Bp. Fellay, and for the Holy Spirit to guide the two great men to a common declaration of a resolution to the canonical situation, and the freedom of the traditional Roman missal. In this way the great restoration may continue at a solid pace.

  13. Dears bloggers:

    The positions of SSPX and traditionalism regarding Vatican II are qualified by the Church as ERRONOUS, RASH, DANGEROUS and “TUTO DOCERI NON POTEST”.

    This results from the Doctrinal Commentary of the Congregation of Doctrine of Faith on the Concluding Formula of the Professio fidei(expressly approved by the Holy Father John Paul II exercising his supreme magisterial authority).

    “10. The third proposition of the professio fidei states: "Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the college of bishops enunciates when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.
    To this paragraph belong all those teachings on faith and morals presented as true or at least as sure, even if they have not been defined with a solemn judgment or proposed as definitive by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. Such teachings ...require religious SUBMISSION OF will and INTELLECT....
    A proposition contrary to these doctrines can be qualified as erroneous or, in the case of teachings of the prudential order, as rash or dangerous and therefore "tuto doceri non potest." [Cf. Canons 752, 1371; Eastern Churches Canons 599, 436 §2]”

    Adding infra:

    "As examples of doctrines belonging to the third paragraph, one can point in general to teachings set forth by the authentic ordinary Magisterium in a non-definitive way, which require degrees of ADHERENCE differentiated according to the mind and the will manifested; this is shown especially by the nature of the documents, by the frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or by the tenor of the verbal expression."

    "In contemporary usage, the term "Church" has come to include a variety of meanings, which, while true and consistent, REQUIRE GREATER PRECISION WHEN ONE REFERS TO THE SPECIFIC AND PROPER FUNCTIONS of persons who act within the Church. In this area, IT IS CLEAR THAT, ON QUESTIONS OF FAITH AND MORALS, THE ONLY SUBJECT QUALIFIED TO FULFILL THE OFFICE OF TEACHING WITH BINDING AUTHORITY FOR THE FAITHFUL IS THE SUPREME PONTIFF AND THE COLLEGE OF BISHOPS IN COMMUNION WITH HIM. The Bishops are the "authentic teachers" of the faith, "endowed with the authority of Christ", because by divine institution they are the successors of the Apostles "in teaching and in pastoral governance": TOGETHER WITH THE ROMAN PONTIFF they exercise supreme and full power over all the Church, ALTHOUGH THIS POWER CANNOT BE EXERCISED WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE ROMAN PONTIFF.”

    In reference to the last paragraph, SSPX bishops and –of course- Brother Bugnolo have ANY TEACHING POWERS in the one Church of Christ.


  14. Stephen Heiner,

    Here's what you're obliged to believe because of Vatican II:

    First, let me preface the entire answer with remarks from Cardinal Ratzinger (The Ratzinger Report, 1985, 28-29, 31):

    "It must be stated that Vatican II is upheld by the same authority as Vatican I and the Council of Trent, namely, the Pope and the College of Bishops in communion with him, and that also with regard to its contents, Vatican II is in the strictest continuity with both previous councils and incorporates their texts word for word in decisive points . . .

    Whoever accepts Vatican II, as it has clearly expressed and understood itself, at the same time accepts the whole binding tradition of the Catholic Church, particularly also the two previous councils . . . It is likewise impossible to decide in favor of Trent and Vatican I but against Vatican II. Whoever denies Vatican II denies the authority that upholds the other two councils and thereby detaches them from their foundation. And this applies to the so-called 'traditionalism,' also in its extreme forms. Every partisan choice destroys the whole (the very history of the Church) which can exist only as an indivisible unity.

    To defend the true tradition of the Church today means to defend the Council. It is our fault if we have at times provided a pretext (to the 'right' and 'left' alike) to view Vatican II as a 'break' and an abandonment of the tradition. There is, instead, a continuity that allows neither a return to the past nor a flight forward, neither anachronistic longings nor unjustified impatience. We must remain faithful to the today of the Church, not the yesterday or tomorrow. And this today of the Church is the documents of Vatican II, without reservations that amputate them and without arbitrariness that distorts them . . .

    I see no future for a position that, out of principle, stubbornly renounces Vatican II. In fact in itself it is an illogical position. The point of departure for this tendency is, in fact, the strictest fidelity to the teaching particularly of Pius IX and Pius X and, still more fundamentally, of Vatican I and its definition of papal primacy. But why only popes up to Pius XII and not beyond? Is perhaps obedience to the Holy See divisible according to years or according to the nearness of a teaching to one's own already-established convictions?"

    Therefore, Vatican II has the SAME, BINDING AUTHORITY behind it that Trent and Vatican I do.

    Second, if you have read the documents of Vatican II, especially Lumen gentium and Dei verbum, you are obliged to believe that:

    1) Vatican II is in continuity with all of the previous councils;

    2) human beings have rights, including the right of religious liberty, which inheres in the dignity of the person;

    3) the reaffirmation of episcopal collegeality, present in the ancient Church; covered over during the Middle Ages and early Modern period; unable to be developed during the First Vatican Council due to its truncation (Italian Risorgimento);

    4) the rediscovery of the Church as communio, also a theme of the ancient Church. Communio has In this biblical context the word "communio" has a theological, Christological, soteriological and ecclesiological characteristic. It enjoys a sacramental dimension that is absolutely explicit in St Paul: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body ... " (I Cor 10,16ff.). The ecclesiology of communion at its very foundation is a Eucharistic ecclesiology.

    5) the notion of the historical dynamics of the Church, i.e., the development and constant renewal of the Church. This means that one cannot imprison onself in the Church of yesteryear, be it in the patristic Church or the Church of Pius X. The result of such repristination is THE CREATION OF A CHURCH THAT IS MADE BY A TOTALLY HUMAN IMAGINATION AND INSPIRATION, DEVOID OF ANY CONTACT WITH THE DIVINE.

    6) Eucharistic ecclesiology: Vatican II reiterated that one cannot make a Church [in the protestant manner], but can only receive Her.

    7) God reveals Himself and Revelation is not to be identified completely with Scripture. Moreover, revelation is to be understood as the act in which God encounters human beings, rather than as merely propositions about God. In other words, one must actively receive the revelation of God, not simply passively assent to propositions about God. It is also predicated on a personal relationship with God and with Jesus Christ.

    By the way, with respect to Cardinal Cassidy, he was the one who had to be corrected in 1999, when the Lutheran-Catholic "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification." Cassidy was then head of the Dicastery for Ecumenical Affairs and had not checked with the CDF beforehand. The result was that Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a: "Response of the Catholic Church to the Joint Declaration of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Fedreation on the Doctrine of Justification," because Ratzinger objected to a number of statements in the joint declaration. So much for Cassidy as someone to trust when it comes to theology and definitions.

    I do love Cardinal Castrillon, but I think he wants the Tridentine Mass so badly, he's even willing to put up with the SSPX to get it.

  15. By the way, SSPX is nothing more than another Protestant sect. According to the criteria set forth in Dominus Iesus:

    1) The Church of Jesus Christ only subsists in the Church of Rome. As DI says: "The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity — rooted in the apostolic succession — between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church (DI #16)."

    2) Further, "Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him (DI #17)."

    3) "On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense; (DI #17)." Therefore, SSPX is not a valid Church in the proper sense, since it has not preserved a valid episcopate.

    4) The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches (DI #17)." These are the Orthodox Churches, which can trace their origins to the apostles.

    SSPX is not in communion with the successor of Peter or the bishops in communion with him. It does not have a valid episcopate nor a valid presbytery. It cannot trace its origins back to the Apostles. Like the Protestant churches, it is a breakaway from the Roman Catholic Church and was formed by human hands, after human aspirations and has no divine charter.

  16. Janice:

    I think you err when you say that SSPX has not a valid episcopate. It is, theologically, quite risky to affirm SSPX Episcopal ordinations are invalid. Cardinal Ratzinger thought this, although he was not totally clear in the subject, as it has been a questio aperta. SSPX needs faith to understand its delicate situation in relation with the Church of Christ.

    It exists a certain doubt about the validity of certain Masses of the SSPX celebrated in a schismatic character, in accordance with Church Tradition and the opinion of the Fathers of the Church on this subject. I think that Tridentine masses celebrated by cripto sedevacantists or frontal schismatic SSPX`s priest are completely invalid.


  17. Mack,

    I would not be so hasty on my judgment. The issue of schism is not as clear as you seem to assert it is:

    On the issue of schism and the SSPX reasonable and good Catholic minds differ. On their face, Canons 1382 and 1373 condemn the consecrations of bishops and the attitude of opposition to the Holy See and those who promote it, respectively. Further, the texts of Dom Grea in his "The Church and its divine constitution" used by the Fraternity's theologians in 1986-7 to set the theological ground for episcopal consecrations without Rome's assent subject the possibility of such an act to a state of "necessity" that necessarily requires a suspect subjective judgment (other than Rome's) on the part of the interested party. On this point, Pius XII's encyclical "Ad Apostolorum principis" condemned consecrations without papal permission in tougher situations of necessity fitting Dom Grea's thesis to the tee (in the case of Chinese bishops under Communism). Pius XII subjected the consecrators and consecrated bishops to excommunication thereby giving a precedent to the SSPX's future situation. Note: Dom Grea himself stated that his findings would not be shared by the likes of Bellarmine and other great ones -- so reasonable and holy theologians differ on matters of this sort.

    Lefebvre's own statements at the time recognize that his bishops would not have jurisdiction except on a case by case basis, based on the pastoral "need of souls", but we all know that it is the Church and not souls who grants jurisdiction and only to priests in a regular state. That is, in order to apply the doctrine of pastoral necessity one has to be not excommunicated. Otherwise, to say that pastoral needs grant jurisdiction without more is to regularize all those outside the Church (including Old Catholics, Protestants, etc.) who can find souls in need of pastoral care (fancy finding Lefebvre in such oecumenical company!).

    So, on the face of things we are left with two possibilities: either the juridical Church is visible (and we grant it its canonical authority) or it is invisible (and anything goes). That is, it has to be that it is either the valid authority of the Church of Rome or the Church does not exist any more: i.e. the Church has excommunicated itself and its decrees have no authority any longer, as many traditionalists have basically concluded. Lefebvre himself understood this principle and the necessity of excommunicating the Church in order to skip the thorny issue of the visible Church's juridical authority over his consecrations. He is said to have stated repeatedly that they [the SSPX] were the visible Church and not Rome (giving to the SSPX the attributes of the true Church and denying these of modern Rome: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic)! (as quoted by Jean Madiran in Revue Itineraires, September-October 1989, Le Choc, June 1989 and the Credo Association Bulletin at that time quote words to this effect). So, either the SSPX is the Church instead of Rome and the excommunications do not have any standing or Rome is still the Church and its canonical authority still has standing.

    Therefore, I think it rational to hold that the Church is still the visible Church of Rome and that the SSPX, at most, would form a part of it were it not for the excommunication. Thus, it is rational to hold that the presumption continues to be that the SSPX is excommunicated (therefore in schism) until Rome says otherwise, and what the author stated is not a repetition of the "old lie".

    Charity demands that the benefit of the doubt on this matter should fall on Rome's (visible Rome, that is) side and not the SSPX. Let us not confuse our love and defense of the Immemorial Mass with the SSPX's canonical status even if we were to grant the opinion that we owe to the SSPX's stance the continuation of such Mass. I find this opinion unconvincing but hard to refute by the simple fact that we do not know what would have happened had Lefebvre had more trust in Divine Providence and not consecrated bishops against Rome's will. But that is another discussion for another day.

  18. Even the validity of Masses is being discussed here now! It is certainly not in doubt for the Holy See...

    As for the episcopacy, the Holy See already HAS accepted, without any kind of "reordination", a bishop of the line of one of the FSSPX bishops -- namely, Bishop Licinio Rangel, consecrated by Bishop Tissier de Mallerais -- so the matter is completely settled, as it has always been.

    Dear friends, please let us avoid comments which have no base in sound theology and are unrelated to the strict topic of the post. Any other comment on sacramental validity in this thread will be deleted.

    I am pretty busy these days, so, please, help me here...

  19. Dear Mr Soria,

    I am very sorry, but I had to delete your last comment. I ask all those who wish to discuss sacramental validity to do so in private or in a forum related to the subject.

  20. Dear New Catholic:

    It seems that you, then, must be coherent and delete your own ABSOLUTE and DOGMATIC comments and statements on the subject.

    Properly these statements:

    "Even the validity of Masses is being discussed here now! It is certainly not in doubt for the Holy See...

    As for the episcopacy, the Holy See already HAS accepted, without any kind of "reordination", a bishop of the line of one of the FSSPX bishops -- namely, Bishop Licinio Rangel, consecrated by Bishop Tissier de Mallerais -- so the matter is completely settled, as it has always been."


  21. Mr. Soria,

    Thanks for your comments. For clarification, however, how is it that the SSPX could have a valid episcopate? Certainly, Lefebvre's own episcopal consecration was valid, but once he was no longer in communion with the Church of Rome, how could those he consecrated as bishops be regarded as valid by Rome? They would be valid only for the SSPX. At least as I understand it. Moreover, as regards priests ordained by these bishops, wouldn't the same apply?



  22. Dear Janice:

    I prefer to answer you privately or in other blog.

    In other case, we will violate the dogmatic definition of New Catholics and other trads of this site about the validity of SSPX Episcopal ordinations and the masses celebrated by schismatic and cripto sedevancatist priests of the SSPX.


  23. Since some readers cannot act upon a very simple request, I will have to suspend comments for this post, unfortunately.

    I will now try to find an Orthodox forum to bring to our separated brethren from the East the news that they have had no bishops for centuries now.