The arch-traditionalist Catholic Fraternity of Saint Pius X hopes that praying the rosary will help them where repeating their positions has not. The SSPX leader, Bishop Bernard Fellay, has urged his followers to pray a million rosaries to the Virgin Mary by Christmas “to obtain by her intercession the withdrawal of the excommunication decree.” The SSPX’s founder Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and its four bishops — including Fellay — were excommunicated when Lefebvre consecrated them as bishops in 1988 against the will of the Vatican.
In his latest Letter to Friends and Benefactors (here in French), Fellay says the SSPX is in a “delicate position” following the ultimatum the Vatican presented in June to accept papal authority and cease criticising the pope. Fellay effectively rejected the conditions as too vague while claiming to be open to further discussion on the condition that the Vatican drops the excommunications. But, as he makes clear again in his Letter, the SSPX remains firmly opposed to accepting the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). “We cannot and do not want to leave any ambiguity on the question of accepting the Council, the reforms and the new attitudes that are tolerated or favoured,” he wrote.
Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, the head of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,” has since complained that some traditionalists had responded to the liberalisation of the old Latin Mass last year by making even more demands. He called them “insatiable, incredible.” He didn’t mention the SSPX by name and his comments appeared to be aimed more broadly. But the change in tone from the cardinal who has done so much to accommodate the SSPX cannot be a good sign for Fellay.
Just yesterday, Pope Benedict made it clear what he thought about Vatican II. In a message to a Rome conference on the Council and Pope John Paul II, he wrote that the council “came from the heart of John XXIII, but it is more accurate to say that in the end, as with all the great events in the history of the Church, that it came from the heart of God, from his salvific will … The multifaceted doctrinal heritage that we find in its dogmatic constitutions, in the declarations and decrees, moves us even now to go deeper in the Word of God to apply it today to the Church…” (see the report in English on Zenit, full text in Italian).
It doesn’t look like the compromise Fellay wants is coming any time soon. In the meantime, the SSPX has a website for people to pledge rosaries for this campaign.