SSPX head says members must preserve their identity, tradition
Catholic News Service photo
Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior of the Society of St. Pius X, gestures during an ordination ceremony in Econe, Switzerland.
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — The head of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X said he would inform the Vatican soon on the society's official position on Vatican efforts to bring the group back into full communion with the church.
The response will insist that the society must preserve its identity, which is "the only efficacious means to help the church restore Christendom," said Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the society.
His remarks were contained in an interview published July 16 on the group's website, www.dici.org, after members of the society held their general chapter meeting to discuss Vatican efforts to bring them back into full communion.
The bishop said the chapter meeting gave him an opportunity to explain fully his discussions with the Vatican and correspondence relating to a "doctrinal preamble," which the Vatican has asked the society to sign. The document, which has not been made public, outlined what the Vatican said were "doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation of Catholic doctrine necessary to guarantee fidelity" to the formal teaching of the church.
Bishop Fellay said the chapter discussions cleared up doubts and misunderstandings among the society's members, leading to "peace and unity of hearts."
The members agreed that they must continue their mission to preserve what they see as Catholic tradition, he said. "We cannot keep silent when facing the rampant loss of faith, the staggering fall of the number of vocations, and the decrease of religious practice. We cannot refrain from speaking when confronted with the 'silent apostasy' and its causes," he said.
In the interview, the bishop also was asked about Pope Benedict XVI's appointment July 2 of Archbishop Gerhard Muller of Regensburg, Germany, as the new prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The congregation has been overseeing the Vatican's doctrinal discussions with the Society of St. Pius X.
Bishop Fellay said it was "no secret" that Archbishop Muller "does not like us."
While Pope Benedict reached out to society members to begin a dialogue in 2009, Bishop Fellay said Archbishop Muller "refused to cooperate and treated us like we were lepers. He is the one who stated that our seminary should be closed and that our students should go to the seminaries of their dioceses of origin, adding bluntly that 'the four bishops of the SSPX should resign.'"
However, Bishop Fellay said, "for us what is more important and more alarming is his leading role at the head of the congregation for the faith," which has the mission of uprooting "doctrinal errors and heresy."
But, he said, some of Archbishop Muller's statements on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, on Mary's virginity and on the need for membership in the Catholic Church for salvation "are questionable, to say the least."
Bishop Fellay said society members do not want to break with the church, but they feel an obligation to protect tradition.
"It is not us who will break with Rome, the eternal Rome, mistress of wisdom and truth. Nevertheless, it would be unrealistic to deny that there is a modernist and liberal influence in the church since the Second Vatican Council and its subsequent reforms. In a word, we maintain faith in the primacy of the Roman pontiff and in the church founded upon Peter, but we refuse all which contributes to the 'self-demolition of the church,'" he said.