Some rather high minded people have refused to talk about this. I regard it as too late. The story is out and the material is available in public fora. It is essential that people understand the positions of those involved because too much is at stake, not for those who run high-minded blogs, but for those whose lives are bound up with the interlocutors of those letters and the decisions that they will soon take.
I've been sitting on this story since last night but a quick sweep of the web confirms that this news is leaking out. There has been a sharp exchange of views between the four bishops of the SSPX concerning any possible agreement with Rome.
On the one side are found Bishops Tissier de Mallerais, de Galaretta and Williamson, and on the other there is Bishop Fellay, accompanied by his two assistants Fr Pfluger and Fr Nély.
There are some rough translations of these documents out on the web. I don't have time to craft a better translation now, so I will attempt to summarize the arguments which they contain. I post JPEGs of them below.
Letter of Bishops Tissier de Mallerais, de Galarreta and Williamson
The SSPX General Council has for months been considering Roman proposals for a practical accord, and this letter is to state our unanimous formal opposition to such an accord.
Of course there are honest folk on both sides, but all must admit that the Church's authorities have separated themselves from Catholic truth and are more determined than ever to continue as such, as recent events (Assisi III) have shown.
The profound problem which Catholics face was characterised by Archbishop Lefebvre as a continuation of the papal fight against liberal Catholicism over the last two hundred years and against the attempt to reconcile the Church and the Modern World. His conclusion was that Vatican II did not just include particular errors but represented a total perversion of the mind, a new philosophy founded on subjectivism.
Benedict XVI is no better than John Paul II in this regard, as Bishop Tissier's study of his thought (La Foi au Péril de la Raison) has shown: he puts human subjective fantasy in the place of God's objective reality and subjects the Church to the modern world. How can a practical agreement sort out this problem?
If Benedict XVI is benevolent towards Tradition, he can afford to be since he is a subjectivist. But if liberal subjectivists can tolerate truth, they cannot tolerate truth which refuses to tolerate erro; and they will not tolerate it if it condemns the Council's doctrine. So no practical agreement can be made which will not involve gradually silencing the Society's critique of the Council and the New Mass. The Society would then cease to oppose the universal apostasy of our time, and who would protect it from the Roman Curia and the bishops? Benedict XVI?
This slide will be inevitable, and already confession of the Faith is the exception rather than the rule. Many decent people begged Archbishop Lefebvre to make an agreement in 1988 and to extend thus his apostolate, but he refused, saying to us that it would be ambiguous and that the Society and Rome would be working in opposite directions and that this would make us rot. How can an agreement be made now and the Society not rot in contradiction?
When Rome later made benevolent gestures, the Archbishop was still wary. He feared that such actions were simply strategies to draw back as many of the faithful as possible and he told us to beware of this very danger: we have not fought for so long against errors only now to put ourselves into the hands of those who profess those errors. More than denouncing errors, the Society's role is to oppose the Roman authorities which spread them. So will the Society now put itself into the hands of those whose obstinacy (in error) we have recent witnessed again?
Beware. You are leading the Society to an irreversible split, and if you make an accord it will have powerfully destructive forces which the Society will not be able to stand. Since the situation has not been changed and the condition of the 2006 General Chapter not met (doctrinal change in Rome), listen to our Founder who was right 25 years ago, as now. Do not make a purely practical accord.
Bishops de Galaretta, Tissier de Mallerais and Williamson.
Letter of Bishop Fellay, Fr Pfluger and Fr Nély
Thanks for your letter which describes the errors that surround us. Unfortunately, your description has two faults: lack of a supernatural view and a lack of realism
Do you still believe that the Church is the Church and that the pope is pope? Can Christ still speak through him? If he expresses a legitimate desire or decision, should we not obey, and will not God help us?
Your all too human and fatalistic attitude implies that we should not count on God's help, his grace or the Holy Spirit. If Providence guides men's actions, has it not been guiding the movement back to Tradition? It makes no sense to think God will let us fall now, especially since we only want to do his will and please him.
Likewise you lack realism, just as the liberals make the Council a superdogma, you are making the Council a superheresy. Archbishop Lefebvre made distinctions about liberal Catholics, and if you do not make them, your caricature of reality could lead to a true schism.
You blame all the current evils on the authorities even though they are trying to extricate the Church from them (e.g. the condemnation of the hermeneutic of rupture) and are thus not all obstinate in heresy. That is clearly false. Hence when it comes to the crucial question of making an accord, we do not come to the same conclusion as you.
We have not sought a practical accord and would prefer to carry on as we are, but Rome will no longer tolerate it. The Personal Prelature is not a trap because 2012 is not the same as 1988. There is a change in the Church's attitude seen in BXVI's words and acts. Young priests and bishops are supporting us and the pro-VII hierarchy is losing ground. Now, a combat within the walls is possible, though very difficult. If many still sing the glories of Vatican II, fewer and fewer think that way.
Archbishop Lefevre would have accepted what is proposed; we must not lose his sense of the Church.
Church history shows that we only recover gradually from heresies and crises, so it is not realistic to wait until everything is sorted out. If we refuse to work in this field, we fall foul of the parable of the wheat and the cockle in which Our Lord warns us that there would always be internal conflict.
Your various attitudes in recent times have made it hard for the Superior General who has been faced with your total incomprehension. Archbishop Lefebvre told us that the SSPX's principle of unity was the Superior General but for some time you have all worked to undermine me in different ways, even with threats and publically. I wish you had tried to understand why we have thus acted.
We pray so that we might all be united for the greater glory of God and for the love of our Society.
Bishop Fellay, Fr Pfluger and Fr Nély.
I am sure these letters are authentic, but it is not yet clear how these letters were leaked. The first might have been leaked by one of its authors before the second one was counter-leaked. Maybe they were both leaked by Menzingen because this opposition was already becoming clear and was alluded to by Bishop Williamson in a recent newsletter (although, I was curious to discover that his reference to 'the bishops one and three' was interpreted by some to mean that he was out of step with the rest!).
The time is soon coming when the SSPX will split. Perhaps one or other of the three bishops will come to Bishop Fellay's side. But all of them? It is most unlikely. The battle lines are reforming. We can only hope and pray for those in the midst of these most serious conflicts.