Rorate Caeli

The Fellay Report - II
The Pope himself recognized the
possibility of a state of necessity

An important exchange from the book "Report on Tradition - In conversation with the successor of Monsignor Lefebvre", an interview with the Superior-General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX), Bishop Bernard Fellay.

[Fellay:] ... We have been told, more than once, to ask the Pope for the sanctions against us to be removed. Therefore, it is Rome itself that does not see the reason for this measure [of excommunication] to subsist and that tells us that the door to suppress it is open.

[Interviewers:] But you, in the meantime, how do you feel regarding the Church?

We feel completely inside the Church, and we work solely for the good of the Church. We certainly wish to discuss openly with the Roman authority, and, to this purpose, we have used a somewhat superficial argument: dialogue – but we have done so to try to progress towards the solution of the problem. After the Council, to facilitate dialogue, Pope Paul VI abolished the excommunication of the Orthodox. In return, the Orthodox abolished their excommunication against the Vatican. I do not think that also we have first to excommunicate the Vatican and, afterwards, attain a reciprocal removal of the excommunications. Regardless of the pleasantries, the fact remains that the argument of dialogue is a truly weak one.

We have given Rome another argument to attain the removal of the sanctions against us, a much more substantial argument, derived from Canon Law itself: the state of necessity. When someone fulfills an act which goes against the ordinary norms of Canon Law, for the necessity of the good of the Church, as monsignor Lefebvre did [when] consecrating four bishops, he does not incur in the penalty of excommunication. This is the well-known case – may it serve as an example – of the episcopal consecrations accomplished in secret, backstage, under the Communist regimes.

[Interviewers:] The Congregation [sic] for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts has opposed an objection, sustaining that the state of necessity is not comparable... [sic]

We, in our turn, can bring with us an opinion of greater weight on this argument. Pope Benedict XVI directly provided it, during the audience which he granted to us on August 29, 2005. At a certain point [during the audience], the Pontiff himself put the matter on the table: pondering on the state of the Church in countries such as France and Germany, Benedict XVI recognized as perfectly well-grounded the question of the subsistence of the state of necessity in such countries... [sic] The Pope said this, not we.
(Rapporto sulla Tradizione
Cantagalli, Siena, 2007
pages 34-35)