Fellay surprised by how quickly excommunications were lifted

February 12, 2009

Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the ultra-traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), has made some interesting comments in an in-house video interview shown at a meeting of his supporters in Paris on Thursday evening. First of all, he said he was surprised to see how quickly the Vatican lifted excommunication orders against him and three other bishops. Relations with Rome had been “rather cold” for months, he said, since he declined to accept a Vatican ultimatum last June to stop criticising the pope and to accept his authority in doctrinal matters. Fellay said he wrote to the Vatican in December requesting the retraction of the excommunications as a way to make contact again. “Since the letter was relatively severe, I didn’t expect a quick response. It was just a way to reestablish contact,” he said.

(Bishop Fellay’s interview in French on Feb 5 in Paris, issued on Feb 12 by SSPX communications office DICI/also on gloria.tv)

Another reason not to expect any change in his status, Fellay said, was the fact that rumours he heard from Rome said the Vatican was thinking of reaffirming his excommunication because he was leading a “schismatic drift”. Just before he was due to leave for Rome in mid-January to make courtesy calls on some Vatican officials, he said, he got a call saying officials there wanted urgently to discuss the excommunications with him.

We know the rest of the story from there. The excommunications were lifted, Bishop Richard Williamson’s interview caused an uproar and the Vatican handled the whole thing very poorly. What is striking in this part of Fellay’s account is the apparently sloppy handling of this even beforehand. Let’s step back and remember that this split was the most important schismatic act since the Second Vatican Council. The Vatican has been dealing with this issue for years. Why such a rush all of a sudden?

(UPDATE: Le Figaro‘s Jean-Marie Guénois reports that the decree lifting the excommunications was “signed on the pope’s orders by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re on Saturday Jan 17 and handed the same day to Bishop Fellay, who had been summoned to the Vatican for this purpose.”)

Fellay did not discuss the much-criticised Vatican handling of the excommunications announcement. He  blamed the uproar over Williamson on “progressives and left-wingers” in the Catholic Church who “used the unfortunate comments of Bishop Williamson to force Rome to go back” on its opening to the SSPX. He denied the SSPX was anti-Semitic and said it was often labelled unfairly. It had earlier been branded as excommunicated and was now being branded as anti-Semitic. “We don’t like this label at all, it’s worse than the other one,” he said.

Asked about the future, he said the negotiations with the Vatican over rehabilitating the four SSPX bishops would be “not necessarily short, maybe even long”. As for the SSPX position going into such talks, he said, “The principle of the solution is in the purification of thought. We have to get back to Church doctrine in all its purity … one cannot hope for a stable and profound unity of the Church without a clear proclamation of the faith without any ambiguity, as it was done down all the centuries.”

Fellay is not as blunt as Williamson, but their message seems quite similar — we can’t support all of the Second Vatican Council. Fellay said as much in an interview distributed yesterday.

Pope Benedict is trying to patch up relations with Jews but the rumbling still goes on within the Church, especially in the Germans-speaking countries. Benedict confirmed on Thursday that he will go ahead with his planned trip to Israel, which is due in May. This story may be settling down after the initial uproar, but the Israel visit on the horizon promises to keep a certain tension that could flare up again at any time.


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2 Maccabees 2:16-23

As we are then about to celebrate the purification, we have written unto you: and you shall do well, if you keep the same days. 17 And we hope that God who hath delivered his people, and hath rendered to all the inheritance, and the kingdom, and the priesthood, and the sanctuary, 18 As he promised in the law, will shortly have mercy upon us, and will gather us together from every land under heaven into the holy place. 19 For he hath delivered us out of great perils, and hath cleansed the place. 20 Now as concerning Judas Machabeus. and his brethren, and the purification of the great temple, and the dedication o the altar: 21 As also the wars against Antioch the Illustrious, and his son Eupator: 22 And the manifestations that from heaven to them, that behaved themselves manfully on the behalf of the Jews, so that, being but a few, they made themselves masters of the whole country, and put to flight; the barbarous multitude: 23 And recovered again the most renowned temple in all the world, and delivered the city, and restored the laws that were abolished, the Lord with all clemency showing mercy to them.

Posted by Ted | Report as abusive

With that kind of friends …the Vatican do not need enemies….wow….now we are seeing why they are escomunicated before…now I understand the reasons of Pope Jean Paul II in the past.
With a little detail you can know all the situation…Acording to this article :” Folley said he wrote to the Vatican in December requesting the retraction of the excomunications as a way to make contact again”…”did courtesy call”….I understand ” they did that “ONLY” for that purpose? if is yes ….SO WE HAVE TO READ THEIR MIND, decode their unilateral codes AND HIDING PURPOSES….MMMM ….ARROGANT SOULS ….and then, when they received an openning from the actual Pope, and welcome because they direct request to the Vatican ….they feel SURPRISE….mmmm -well only Players do that.
I prefer to be an ignorant but honest that an erudite and educated manipulator player that are puting the seed of confusion and darkness, in their words, and surprise innocents souls of all the world that are not understanding what is happening inside the Catholic Church.
Shame of you …
You are damaging the hard work of Missionary around the world creating a shadow of confusion around Catholic faith and your arrogance attitud….
Please Priest Fellay practice your Humbleness and stop your doble game.

Posted by Maria | Report as abusive

I am reminded on the passage of the Bible, Luke 15:11-32, the parable of the lost son. There is this man who had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, “Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me”. So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to weat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, “How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get uop and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserved to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.” So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son. But his father ordered his servants, “Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his fingerand sandals on his feet.Take the fattened calfand slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found”. Then the celebration began. Now the older son had been out in the field, and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.The servant said to him, “Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound”. He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father and came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, “Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf”. He said to him, “My son, you are hear with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice , because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found”.

I hope that lay Catholics, Bishops and Priests who had criticized the decision of the Pope lifting up the excommunication of the 4 Bishops of SSPX will reconsider their views in giving pressure to the Pope to reaffirm their excommunication. From said passage of the Bible which I quoted, the younger son committed a graver offense against his father than the SSPX. If the said Father rejoiced the return of his son, with more reason that the Pope will rejoice to hear the SSPX coming home to Rome. Though the reaction of the older brother which some of us shares is understandable, but the reason given by the Father deserves more weight. I hope we can agree that Jesus wants his flock to be one, and not be divided.. God bless

Posted by Daniel Rosaupan | Report as abusive

“Fellay surprised by how quickly excommunications were lifted”

IT WAS a matter of 1.2.3 however I thought a bit late in fact decades too late.

Posted by lember | Report as abusive

Doesn’t that Superior understand yet that he’s been “had”. Does he really believe that the Swedish Television production was a coincidence; that it was coincidence that they asked that Bishop such “pointed” questions about his readings of history; that the Swedes did not know about this so-called “recommunication?”. Who told them? Answer that question. It had to be someone in a position to know. Who knew? The Modernists and the Jews got alot of political mileage out of the hides of that Order. …and they’re not finished yet. By the way, “recommunication” into what? Hell?

Posted by anastasia51 | Report as abusive