The head of the traditionalist Society of St Pius X has called Jewish people “enemies of the Church”, saying Jewish leaders’ support of the Second Vatican Council “shows that Vatican II is their thing, not the Church’s”.
Bishop Bernard Fellay, the society’s superior general, said those most opposed to Rome granting canonical recognition to the SSPX have been “the enemies of the Church: the Jews, the Masons, the modernists”.
He said these people, “who are outside of the Church, who over centuries have been enemies of the Church”, urged the Vatican to compel the SSPX to accept Vatican II.
He made the comments during a nearly two-hour talk at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy in New Hamburg, Ontario, Canada.
In it he said he had been receiving mixed messages from the Vatican for years over if and how the group might be brought back into full communion with the Church.
He said top Vatican officials told him not to be discouraged by official statements from the Vatican, because they did not reflect Pope Benedict XVI’s true feelings.
The Vatican press office declined to comment on the claims and the society’s Swiss headquarters did not respond to a Catholic News Service request for comment.
However, the US branch of the society attempted to clarify Bishop Fellay’s remark in a statement on its website.
It said: “The word ‘enemies’ used here by Bishop Fellay is of course a religious concept and refers to any group or religious sect which opposes the mission of the Catholic Church and her efforts to fulfill it: the salvation of souls.
The group said “this religious context” is based on Jesus telling the Pharisees in the Gospel of St. Matthew: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
“By referring to the Jews, Bishop Fellay’s comment was aimed at the leaders of Jewish organisations, and not the Jewish people,” the statement said, adding that any accusations of the society being anti-Semitic were false and an example of “hate speech made in an attempt to silence its message”.
Pope Benedict launched a series of doctrinal discussions with the SSPX in 2009, lifting excommunications imposed on its four bishops, who were ordained in 1988 without papal approval, and expressing his hopes they would return to full communion with the Church.
In 2011, the Vatican gave SSPX leaders a “doctrinal preamble” to sign that outlines principles and criteria necessary to guarantee fidelity to the Church and its teaching; the Vatican said the SSPX leaders would have to sign it to move toward full reconciliation.
But Bishop Fellay said he repeatedly told the Vatican that the contents of the preamble – particularly acceptance of the modern Mass and the council as expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church – were unacceptable.
He said the only reason he continued discussions with Vatican officials was because others “very close to the Pope” had assured him that the Pope was not in agreement with hard-line official pronouncements from the Vatican.
According to Bishop Fellay, retired Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, then president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the office responsible for relations with traditionalist Catholics, had told him in March 2009 that the society would be formally recognised.
When the bishop asked how that could be possible when recognition hinged on accepting the teachings of Vatican II, he said the cardinal replied that such a requirement was only “political” and “administrative” and that, “by the way, that is not what the Pope thinks”.
Bishop Fellay said he continued to get similar messages from other Vatican officials, even as the formal talks continued. The verbal and written messages were very credible, he said, because they came from officials who saw the Pope “every day or every two days.”
He said he wouldn’t give names, but he did claim “the secretary of the Pope himself” was among those who told him not to worry too much about hardline Vatican positions.
Even if the doctrinal congregation ruled against the society, he claimed the secretary told him, the Pope “will overrule it in favour of the society”.
“So, you see, I got all of these kinds of messages which were not fitting together,” Bishop Fellay said. “I got an official thing where I clearly have to say ‘no’ and I got other messages – which are not official, of course – but which say, ‘No, that’s not what the Pope wants.’”
The unofficial assurances were what kept him engaged in talks, he said, since the Vatican’s official demands, which carried the Pope’s approval, “would mean the end of our relation with Rome”.
The Vatican has not made the preamble public, but said it “states some doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation of Catholic doctrine necessary to guarantee fidelity” to the formal teaching of the Church, including the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, and that it leaves room for “legitimate discussion” about “individual expressions or formulations present in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the successive magisterium” of the Church.
Bishop Fellay said Pope Benedict wrote to him, emphasising that full recognition required the society accept the magisterium as the judge of what is tradition, accept the Council as an integral part of tradition and accept that the modern Mass is valid and licit.
Bishop Fellay said: “Even in the Council there are some things we accept,” as well as reject, however, the group wishes to be free to say, “there are errors in the Council” and that “the new Mass is evil”.
The group will not accept reconciliation if it means no longer being able to make such pronouncements, he said.
Here we publish the full statement issued by the US district of the SSPX on Saturday, January 5:
During a 2-hour conference given in Ontario, Canada on December 28th, 2012, Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society St. Pius X, commented on the relations between the Holy See and the SSPX during the last two years.
During the conference Bishop Fellay stated “Who, during that time, was the most opposed that the Church would recognize the Society? The enemies of the Church. The Jews, the Masons, the Modernists…”
The word “enemies” used here by Bishop Fellay is of course a religious concept and refers to any group or religious sect which opposes the mission of the Catholic Church and her efforts to fulfill it: the salvation of souls.
This religious context is based upon the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in the Holy Gospels: “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” (Matthew 12:30)
By referring to the Jews, Bishop Fellay’s comment was aimed at the leaders of Jewish organizations, and not the Jewish people, as is being implied by journalists.
Accordingly the Society of St. Pius X denounces the repeated false accusations of anti-Semitism or hate speech made in an attempt to silence its message.