Thursday, 10 May 2012

Letters between the SSPX bishops and the SSPX General Council

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.

(L-R: Bishops de Galaretta, Tissier de Mallerais, de Castro Mayer (co-consecrator), Archbishop Lefebvre, Bishops Williamson and Fellay)

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.


ben ingledew said...

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
As black as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.

Lets hope the crow is not too far off.

Richard Collins said...

A split is certain and, I suspect, those against Bishop Fellay will quickly slide to the Sede Vacante mob.
The Society will be smaller but purer (in the Holy Father's words in another context) as a result.
I will miss Bishop de Malleray but not Bishop Wiliamson and the few others of his ilk.
Prayers needed as you say Ches.

Cruise the Groove. said...

I wonder how this will play out for the common layman in the pews if the SSPX splits?
I live in the USA and our only recourse to an TLM is at an SSPX chapel.
Will the chapels priest decide if he is on the side of Bishop Fellay [wherein we can still go to Mass there] or will he decide on the sede side in which case we cannot?

_ said...

My understanding is that after the sedevacantist departures in the United States in the 1980s, which led to unpleasant legal wrangling and the loss of chapels and other properties, legal title of all of the Society's properties was transferred to Menzingen - which means that a split would leave +Williamson and co. having to start from scratch. Let's hope that's the case, and let's pray that the other bishops realise the folly of breaking with +Williamson.

The talk you gave late last year in CS Lewis' old haunt seems to be proving depressingly accurate in its analysis of the situation.

_ said...

For clarity's sake, should say that "breaking with +Williamson" meant "breaking away from Menzingen with +Williamson".

Ches said...

I thought as much!

Ecumenical Diablogger said...

3 impossible cases (Bishops)? Time for the big guns, Saints Rita, Jude & Philomena, pray for them/us.

benedict said...

I find it rather sad that you have lowered your usually high standards in posting these letters. It serves no useful purpose for any party or indeed for those who propogate it.

Yes, altogether rather sad and unecessary. Sometimes silence is golden.

I shall pray for you as I shall for those of the SSPX.

W.C. Hoag said...

The Society that we knew, Ches, is dead.

Yes, the split is coming and although a majority will stay with Fellay and unite with Rome, I fear that the minority who leave will be overwhelmingly Americans. Too many are enamoured of Msgr. Williamson and too many are de facto sedevacantists.

Let the renewed Society arise in communion with B16!

GOR said...

Yes Ches, sadly this seems to be the case and a split appears inevitable. This is unfortunate for many reasons – for the Church, the Society itself and for individuals – leading to further internecine rivalry and distancing from the Truth.

In Gospel terms this is similar to when Our Lord spoke of giving us His body to eat and His blood to drink. This was ‘too hard a saying’ and people walked away. Or, like the Rich Young Man who “went away sad…” One wonders what became of those people. Did they or he later convert and embrace the fullness of the Gospel message? Or did they miss the opportunity of a lifetime and never realize it?

So too, for the Society. While it is never too late to repent or convert this side of the grave, each opportunity missed can lead to a growing deafness to the voice of God and blindness to the grace being offered. Praying that the deaf may hear and the blind see…

Ches said...

I'm sorry to sadden you Benedict, but in this instance, since the material was already in the public domain, and since this matter is going to affect people in the very organisation of their lives - my family and many others beside have moved house to be near the SSPX or have worked for them for years - I believed it justified to speak on these matters.

Conchúr said...

WC Hoag,

The crypto-sedevencantist wing of the SSPX has always been disproportionately Anglophone. But anything is possible with God; in the US recently an actual Sedevacantist monastery reconciled to the Church.

1917 said...

Why is it that if one does not go with +Fellay he/she is a sedevacantist? I have never believed the seat of Peter to be empty. All I want is a traditional mass. I don't like Assisi III, nor II or I. I grew up with the NO and know it very well. It has not improved over the years, rather the opposite. Making a person out to be a sedevacantist just because they don't want the possibility of having to attend a NO mass is daft and very short-sighted! If we join Rome what assurance do we have that we will still have the full traditional mass?

Conchúr said...

"If we join Rome what assurance do we have that we will still have the full traditional mass?"

Eh, Summorum Pontificum? Universae Ecclesiae? The offer of a personal prelature? Campos? FSSP? ICKSP? IBP? FSSR?

Barbara Schoeneberger said...

If the SSPX splits, those not part of the canonical structure will eventually end up like the Old Catholics after Vatican I. Schism from the Church eventually leads to many other problems.

Bishop Fellay is doing the right thing. He has set the right example for all RC bishops by asking for millions of Rosaries over the past five years that have led us to this point. I hope for a Personal Apostolic Administration, not a Personal Prelature.

Trust in God, not man.

David Werling said...

By publishing the private correspondence of persons you do not know, without their permission, is wrong. Even though you were not the first to publish this document on-line, by re-publishing it here, you are participating in the sin.

JonathanCatholic said...

I have to concur with 'Conchur', 1917, it is a grave thing indeed, and not the Catholic way, to lightly invoke schism from authority, particularly when that authority is undeniably orthodox, as is Bishop Fellay. Given Summorum Pontificum, and all else Conchur invoked, there is not even close to sufficient reason to justify splitting with Bp. Fellay, doing so is a rebellious, shortsighted, schismatic, and frankly sedevacantist in attitude, action. It's simply thumbing the nose at authority and saying you know better.

God speed the reconciliation.

Frank and Lori said...

I am not worried, as long as we all try to do God's Holy Will (and not our own) then what do we have to worry about? I am so excited and grateful the Bishop Fellay has kept up the "good fight" we are part of the Roman Catholic Church, why desire or settle on being "outside". Truth will prevail and I am trusting that Mgr Fellay will make the right decision. We are coming to the end of another Rosary Novena, I know that Our Lady will bring this to a happy end. Don't let the devil confuse your spirit. It is wrong to be outside the walls of the Holy Catholic Church. Please don't lead souls away from Holy Mother the Church, lead them to her through the Truth. God Bless You all.

1917 said...

To insinuate someone is a sedevacantist is wrong. Sorry Conchur, but my friend's local priest basically said no Traditional Mass 'over my dead body' - fact. In answer to JonathanCatholic, if God leads me elsewhere it's because he knows better, not me. Even Bishop Fellay doesn't know yet, so how can we? I have never felt outside Holy Mother Church ... I just disliked the New Order mass so much (including nuns giving out communion) I had to go elsewhere. We all belong to Holy Mother Church in Rome, but many inside shouldn't be there! God's will be done!

Kadon said...

Richard Collins said: "A split is certain and, I suspect, those against Bishop Fellay will quickly slide to the Sede Vacante mob......"
Being a member and common pewsitter in the SSPX I may end up disagreeing with Bishop Fellay...but I will never become a sedevacantist. I can say that for many of us. Do not jump to these conclusions please.

Ches said...

I cannot speak for Richard but it does seem that the longer the SSPX situation goes on, the more traditionalists may be drawn towards sedevacantism. To acknowledge the pope and then to act with almost complete autonomy is not coherent. Ideas have consequences. Still, let's hope that logic is subverted.

Kadon said...

I reaffirm the fact that sedevecantism is out of the question for the average Catholic like me. When one has received the true faith deep into the soul it can never be taken away by any outside forces/persons/movements/opinions etc. I thank God to have been led to a place where I can receive the unchanging Sacraments through holy priests. If a split in the SSPX happens and we are cut off from our priests, or if our Church and school comes under the jurisdiction of a local Bishop who speaks with a different voice to the Good Shepherd, the only way I can lose my faith is if I, (me/myself) cut it off.
God will never abandon us! I would continue to practice my faith with praying the Mass at home, saying the Rosary and trusting absolutely in the unchanging teachings of the Church founded by Christ with the (current)Pope as Vicar of Christ on earth. Our Lady has provided for us THROUGH THAT CHURCH outside of which there is no salvation.
From the highest to the lowest we are all sinners and all the teachings of the Church since its foundation are a sure and certain guide.

Picard said...

So I hope after nearly one year and after the events that took place that year and esp. after this disaster now in Rome after the election of Francis many will re-think their harsh judgement about/re H. E. R. Williamson.

I hope many of you see now clearer, how wise, how right and prophetic the three bishops were and how naive Bf. Fellay (and many of us, me included!).

All is getting clearer...

Oh, and btw. the way, not Bf. Williamson is unsound, but Fr. Pfluger and Bf. Fellay have some very uncatholic spirit, unsound doctrine resp way of thinking: they are jansenists, at least they have a strong inclination towards jansenism. - I am myselfe from Germany and can testify to that from first hand informations and insights - and the facts speaks also a clear language.

Ches said...

Your two days late for April Fools Day, Picard! Nice try though.

Picard said...

Thanks, Ches, but not at all intended to be joking and kidding around.

Meant very seriosly. It is very, very ernest.

GOD bless You. May the Mother of GOD protect You and Your readers.

Reyth said...

Sorry but the posts that started out this thread in 2012 are just as correct today as they were then. Even though the Pope has changed and it certainly appears as a concrete step backward, Bp. Fellay has not changed and continues to pursue the agenda of Abp. Lefebvre. There is still no proper matter for a "split" with the Society and there has never been one. Padre Pio remained silent for years at the command of his spiritual inferiors because they occupied offices of authority; all of us are called to humility whenever possible within the Faith and if that principle had been followed , there would be no "split". Let us all pray for Bp. Fellay & Bp. Williamson.