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Bishop Fellay has two-hour meeting with CDF officials in Rome

By on Thursday, 14 June 2012

Bishop Bernard Fellay, leader of the Society of St Pius X (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Bishop Bernard Fellay, leader of the Society of St Pius X (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), met for more than two hours with officials of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith yesterday.

The Vatican did not immediately issue a statement on the meeting, part of ongoing talks aimed at reconciling the breakaway group with the Catholic Church. The society’s founder, the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who rejected some teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the modernising reforms instituted in its wake, was excommunicated for ordaining Bishop Fellay and three other bishops without papal permission in 1988.

In April, Bishop Fellay submitted to the Vatican his second official response to a “doctrinal preamble” outlining what the Vatican said were “some doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation of Catholic doctrine necessary to guarantee fidelity” to the formal teaching of the Church, presumably including the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

The bishop’s reply was studied by the cardinal-members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and, ultimately, by Pope Benedict XVI.

The cardinals and the Pope had studied Bishop Fellay’s first response, which was submitted in January, and later issued a statement saying his position “is not sufficient to overcome the doctrinal problems that are at the basis of the fracture between the Holy See and the society”.

While Bishop Fellay has been generally positive about the possibility of reconciliation with Rome, leaked letters show that the society’s three other bishops have had serious reservations about the process.

In May Fr Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said: “In consideration of the positions taken by the three other bishops of the Society of St. Pius, their situation will have to be treated separately and individually” from the effort to reconcile with the SSPX as a whole and with Bishop Fellay.

“It is not that this is a process that necessarily will reach a solution that embraces all the positions” found among all the SSPX members, Fr Lombardi said.

Pope Benedict’s latest efforts to bring about reconciliation with the traditionalist group began when he lifted the excommunications incurred by Bishop Fellay and the other SSPX bishops after they were ordained without papal permission. The Pope also established a Vatican committee for doctrinal talks with society representatives in 2009 and drafted the “doctrinal preamble” to explain the “minimal, essential” elements on which the society would have to agree for full reconciliation, Father Lombardi had said.

When the Vatican’s doctrinal discussions with the society began in 2009, both sides said the key issues to be discussed included the concept of tradition in general, as well as the Second Vatican Council’s teaching on the liturgy, the unity of the Church, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue and religious freedom.

  • JabbaPapa

    I personally interpret this event as meaning that the Pope has given his agreement to the reconciliation of the SSPX with the rest of the Church ; and that the SSPX (or the individual bishops) is now being asked to agree with the conditions of that papal agreement.

    I’m really reather hopeful !!

  • Jae

    To what I have gathered at Rorate Caeli is that the Holy Father gave his final offer through the CDF headed by Cardinal Levada to Bishop Fellay for his acceptance. If Msgr. Fellay agree and sign the offer from the Pope then there will be a full reconciliation. Glory to God alone!

  • beimabao

  • HapHarris

    Personally I hope Bishop Fellay has the good sense to turn his back on Rome and walk away from this entrapment scheme.  Both he and Pope Benedict have divided minds wishing to have things both ways.  It’s not possible and Bishop Fellay has been advised by his other three Bishops that this is an impossible dream.  The Society of St. Pius X did not schism from Rome.  Rome schism-ed from the Society.  The SSPX is the Remnant spoken of in these End Times foretold both in Scripture and by Our Lady of Fatima.  Say your prayers folks…here comes the final test of your Faith. 

  • Jae

    SSPX is NOT the Catholic Church, bishop Fellay is NOT Peter and who says the SSPX is the remnant church? Can you clearly show where in Scripture does it say SSPX is the remnant church? Also where did Our Lady say of the same? Please provide solid and clear proof, if you can’t then we say stop this nonsense- you are just interpreting prophesies by yourself or by others apart from the Apostolic Authority of the Church.

  • Nat_ons

    That stance is in the line the Lutheran rebellion against Rome not that of a loyal opposition to well perceived mistakes. A society formed for the preservation of traditional values in belief, teaching and practice cannot itself replace the See of Peter, even if those closest to it may wander .. the Society can only witness with that See and to the church catholic in its communion, and not cease from so doing. Not least in regard to the remnant spoken of in prophetic texts or heavenly visions, for the revelation of divine will is not open to private interpretations .. even if offered in mirroring the personal opinions of three apparently Lutheranising bishops (one may only trust the Lutheran obduracy in spirit is mere politicing and can thus be dismissed as posture not purpose, if it is anything more then it leads to heresy not schism alone: Sede Vacante! Ecclesia est societas S. Pii X).

  • Mark

    To be Catholic one must accept the doctrinal teaching authority of Popes but not necessarily administrative decisions of Popes, especially if those decisions are contrary to established Catholic tradition. Various saints such as St. Catherine of Sienna, while respecting the Popes’ authority, sought to correct their bad administrative decisions; one example was St. Catherine urging the papacy to return to Rome after 70 years in Avignon France. Popes John XXIII and Paul VI made administrative errors in convening and then reconvening the 2nd Vatican council because at that time, as CIA records

    now reveal, there were many KGB agents that had infiltrated the Church in order to weaken it from within by mixing Marxist ideas with theology. The council happened when the Church was most vulnerable to communist infiltrators on the inside. VII was sabotaged in its focus but especially in its implementation. KGB agents that defected to the United States have attested to this before congressional committees. It is now up to the current leadership to correct those errors and we should support them.

  • Jae

    Even if Satan himself was present or comspired with KGB or any demonic elements at the Council of VII it doesn’t matter! The Dark Lord cannot do a thing to influence the OUTCOME of the Council because the Holy Spirit won’t allow it by virtue of the Great Promise of God Himself and not because of the weaklings nor the abilities of men, do you guys understand this? It’s a Catholic Dogma found in Scripture and Tradition or it’s just a matter of not trusting with God’s providence. What errors are you talking about anyways?

  • JessicaHof

    Deeply puzzled. As a non-Catholic I thought that the Pope was infallible in certain matters of faith and doctrine, and that recognition of his authority was necessary to be a Catholic. It seems to this outsider as though there are some who claim to be more Catholic than the Pope!

  • JabbaPapa

    Nope, completely wrong — only some doctrines are infallible, not any Pope.

  • JessicaHof

    I did qualify it by saying ‘some’ – but obviously not enough.

  • Tom Canning

    Nat ons

     It should be recalled that it was Fr Joseph Ratzinger who left Munich as he could NOT understand the works of Aquinas and went off to Tubingen -which is a Lutheran University to teach alongside the Heretic Hans Kung and even to-day he would sooner quote Kant than Aquinas ……NOT achbshop Lefebvre nor his four Bishops ….

  • Tom Canning

    Jessica -

                ONLY when he teaches Catholic Infallible Doctrines – not otherwise – those that you infer are more Catholic than the pope do TEACH Catholic Doctrine – at all times 

  • JessicaHof

    Are you saying the Pope does not?

  • JabbaPapa

    The expression “papal infallibility” really should be banished from one’s vocabulary, because it describes a falsehood — Popes are not infallible.

    The proper understanding is that there can be “doctrinal infallibility”, and that a Pope can, exceptionally, declare such “doctrinal infallibility” to exist for a certain doctrine — *exceptionally*, because ordinarily infallibility is provided by Tradition and the Magisterium, or by Church Councils.

    “Infallibility” means of course nothing other than “undeniability/unfalsifiability by a Catholic”.

  • JabbaPapa

    as he could NOT understand the works of Aquinas … ???

    Traditionalist Catholics are sometimes overly enamoured of Aquinas, but the good Doctor is not the be-all and end-all of proper Catholicity.

    It is quite possible to disagree with both specific opinions of Aquinas, as well as more broadly with his philosophical and theological system of thought, *without* being in a state of “not understanding” what one reads.

    Aquinas is more important in the so-called Sorbonne Tradition, derived from the no longer extant Theology department at that University, (and its further development in Catholic thought into the present day) than in either the Oxonian or Roman intellectual Traditions. Bishop Tissier de Mallerais is an exemplar of that Sorbonne tradition.

    Aquinas was also very fashionable in 19th century post-Counter-Reformation Catholicism specifically, that many contemporary Traditionalists hearken to, consciously or otherwise. (the “19th century” thing is not an implicit criticism, BTW, it’s a neutral historical perspective)

  • Nat_ons

    Yes Tom, Aquinas is not everyone’s cup of tea .. he is mine. However understanding Aquinas (or rather being ready to engage with Aquinas’ understanding and and more importantly his methods of understanding) is not the make or break item of catholic orthodoxy. Necessary though it is to presenting an apt philosophical approach to Catholic Truth, it is not the only manner by which man may reasonably present this truth; Kant and even Luther, undoubtly flawed as their presentation of orthodoxy can be, are no less valuable as witnesses to the Truth than say Tertullian or Origen – even if only by addressing their confusions/ mistakes/ errors.

    For what little it may be worth, I agree with the witness of Archbishop Lefebvre set on the necessity of rigorous conformity to Sacred Tradition, and I like your affirmation of this – placing Josef Ratzinger, priest, theologian and bishop, in his contextual millieau.

    This does not make the Society of Saint Pius X a replacement for the church catholic nor any bishop (however philosophically traditional and apt in witness) a magisterium apart from the See of Peter and its divinely allotted successor .. least of all HH Benedict XVI (an indefatigably awesome witness to the necessity of continuity with the Tradition of our Holy Faith and within it – not opinion seen as divorced from it or beside it).

    Reading Plato can be as important to reasoning with our Faith as following Aristotle, yet these are only a means not an end; so too studying Gilson or Wittgenstein – for language games and the Thomist system are useful to engaging with modern reasoning yet neither are that Faith; Jesus of Nazareth is the One in whom we live and move and have our being, God from God, the Word eternal with the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost .. the Angelic Doctor can help us show how to explain aptly what this means in faith, Kant may help the reasoning human mind confront the problems it presents to man’s limits, but communion with the Pope, God’s beloved called to be saints at Rome, and the Catholic Church yesterday, today and for each tomorrow is the only, the necessary and the sufficient context for all these.

    “And the God of peace crush Satan under your feet speedily. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Rom 16 : 20.

  • Nat_ons

    Engaing with Aquinas and his method of witness to the Faith is an indespensible tool in aptly explainly this Faith; it is – of course - not the Faith nor a replacement for it let alone the only understanding that can be offered.

    The reaction against Aquinas in the post-war era was a dreadful – yet understandable – event; or at least the bone-dry, lifeless, unspiritual use that often filled the life of seminarians and scholars.

    Even the lively and spirited reading of Etienne Gilson’s studies of Aquinas left many cold in the face of a seething emotional turmoil – rather than a simply irrational rejection of faith – here Kant, Teilhard de Chardin and even Wittgenstein seemed to address if not answer a ‘new’ need: honestly confronting problematic feelings that seemed to unbalance reason. 

    Aquinas is even more neccessary today than in the early 20th Century revival; not least for seminarians and theologians and bishops (even popes) – not to replace all and any other perspective, but to show how to offer an apt, orthodox and rational witness to the one and the same Faith, resting on the Rock of Ages (and his choice of rock on which to build .. feeble as it may appear to man).

  • JabbaPapa

    One should certainly never dismiss nor reject Aquinas’ teachings generally, which would be quite foolish — he is a Doctor of the Church !!

    I am just saying that it is possible for a Catholic to use a different intellectual foundation as a basis of a Catholic individuality than Aquinas — such as Augustine for example, or Thérèse de Lisieux, Duns Scot, Origen, or Erasmus of Rotterdam for example.

    An exaggerated reverence towards Aquinas is one that would deny that possibility, whereas it is possible to both appreciate and respect Aquinas’ teachings whilst basing one’s understanding and appreciation of them on just such different foundations as I have mentioned.

  • HapHarris

    Suppose you went around England in 1530 and asked people, “Are you Catholic-?”  They’d say, “Of course I’m Catholic-!”  In 1630, if you went around and asked them if they were Catholic, they’d say, of course I am-!”  But by that time they no longer had the Mass.  They no longer had obedience to the Pope.  They had reached Protestantism, but they didn’t know it.  They were Anglicans.  They no longer had valid priests.  They no longer had valid sacraments.  That was all gone and they didn’t know it.  Similarly with today’s Catholics, they don’t know what’s happened.  How could they know-?” [Fr. Malachi Martin]

     Since adopting the precepts of Vatican II the Church of Rome has simply ended up where Our Holy Mother warned it would.  It is suffering the Great Apostasy [right now] as was foretold by St.Paul himself.  

    These [are] the “End Times.”  Today Rome is at best a Protestant Church. To call itself Catholic is preposterous-!  If you are not at least 67 years old you have no adult recollection of what true Catholicism is.  Today there are somewhere around 150,000 folks who have remained true Catholics. You’ll find them if you start burning up your Rosaries with prayers to the Blessed Virgin. I found my way after 40 years in the same wilderness you are now traveling.  God love you, Hap

  • JabbaPapa

    It’s not the first time that you have posted this rubbish — you seem to be quite unaware of the massive resurgence of Catholic orthodoxy ongoing in the Church today.

  • Jae

    So whatever this Fr. Malachi said it’s your gospel, right? Sorry try again. Anyways, you still don’t provide any support or evidence to your assertion, WHERE IN SCRIPTURE IT SAYS THE SSPX IS THE REMNANT CHUCH?

  • andy

    I love the Tridentine Rite and the traditional Latin Mass but I’m appalled that the Catholic Church is seriously contemplating allowing these fascists of the SSPX back into the fold. Even Fellay (the best of a dubious bunch) can’t get his head around the issue of religious freedom as a basic human right. How on earth are we meant to help the millions of persecuted Christians around the world if we deny non Catholics the rights we demand for our bretheren in lands where they are the minority? In this context the SSPX position on religious liberty is downright disgraceful. It is perhaps no surprise that one of the 3 Bishops, Williamson, appears to devote much time to downplaying the number of Jews slaughtered in WW2. A pattern emerging here? You bet and unless and until this so called “society” accepts without equivocation the right to religious liberty, one of the most basic, fundamental and obvious entitlements of a human being one can imagine the Holy Father should politely tell them to get packing back to rural Switzerland to carry on playing with their cowbells.

  • Carmenvillaviejadiaz

    Dawkins lies to us.Evidence that Dawkins is a liar.

  • Tom Canning

    Jessica  - 
                   it would appear that there has been a certain shyness in “infallible’ statements of doctrine since Piux XII – Vatican II was pastoral they keep telling us

  • JessicaHof

    I think I’d expect infallible statements to be few, wouldn’t you?

  • HapHarris

    Forgive me, Your Excellency Bishop Fellay;
    Rome has been conquered by the 1st born of hell and you are up against an arch-angelic intelligence
    far superior to your own.  Today you are
    being invited to rejoin Rome as it succumbs to the New World Order and its One
    World Religion.  You are the head of the
    only “Resistance” left on this planet against “The Mystery of Iniquity” and YOU

  • Simpsonsp

    I am really rather terrified and appalled in equal measure,,!! I am sure the Holy Spirit will protect the good name of the Church by causing the rejection of those who so scandalise by their warped view of the Lord’s gospel of love of God and respect for all….Come Oh Holy Spirit

  • padraig

    If the SSPX hold a warped view of the Lords Gospel of love and God and  respect for all where does that leave the Church of pre Vatican 11s view of above? After all the SSPX hold fast to the teachings of the pre V11 Church.They are where they are for objecting to the changes that the Church now embrace.

  • Disqus

    No! I don’t think so! Your comment is full of overgeneralisations and misunderstandings concerning both the Church and SSPX I’m afraid!

    “the best of a dubious bunch” HA! Don’t even try and make comparisions between SSPX and those ‘clerics within the Church’. Why the number of peadophiles, unchaste priests etc within the Church’s ranks make the entire Society look like saints! ‘You shall know them by their fruits’ – INDEED!

  • Disqus

    “You shall know them by their fruits” and the fruits of the concicular Church have been pretty bad and meager to say the least!

  • Disqus


  • andy

    Tell me then, how would you advocate for the rights of Christians in Muslim lands if you’re not prepared to accord religious liberty to non Catholics in overwhelmingly Catholic countries? Waiting for your reply with interest.

  • Kennyinliverpool

    SSPX would lose its appeal to its core constituency if it joins the ‘official’ Church…
    a big part of its appeal for people seems to be its claim to be clinging on to some sacred truth; if it compromises on that then it will lose its popularity??
    – The battle aganst ‘modernist’ Rome is big business for SSPX – I can’t see them giving in any time soon. Having them in Rome to meet the Pope is only feeding their insatiable appetite to feel important …. !!
    I think if everyone just ignores them they will go away … #
    They do make some legitimate points (maybe?) about how terrible contemporary Catholic worship is … but it’s always easier to be the constant critique than be the person who actually works in mainstream churches with normal church members doing the real work of the Church??

  • Divinemercy

    As much as I like the Latin Mass, the SSPX is nothing more than right wing protestantism. I hope they come back to Thee Church, but unless they accept the role of the Holy Spirit in Vatican II, I doubt it…

  • Scholar

    Don’t have endless meetings with the SSPX. Set a deadline…If an accommodation can be found accept them back into the fold. Otherwise leave it to the next Pope. If we are pressured, we would end up bending backwards