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SSPX leader: Discussions good for whole Church

June 22, 2009
Bishop Bernard FellayFive months since Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications of four Society of St. Pius X bishops, the traditionalist group continues to generate headlines by announcing priestly ordinations that the Holy See has called “illegitimate”. Yet, somehow, Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX, passed through Toronto last week largely unnoticed by the media.
He did, however, pay a visit to Salt + Light Television, where he granted a rare half-hour interview to Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B. for both the English and French editions of Witness. No topic was off-limits, as the bishop discussed his revoked excommunication, disgraced Bishop Richard Williamson and Vatican II. The English episode premieres on S+L this Sunday, June 28th at 8:30 PM (ET), while the French interview airs the following Monday at 8 PM.
Until then, here are new excerpts from my own interview with Bishop Fellay that appeared in ZENIT. The bishop told me that, from his perspective, it's the Vatican who must compromise during the society’s upcoming negotiations with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—a point that he has already made clear to Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, president of the pontifical commission that oversees relations with the SSPX:
I said to him, ‘Forget about us. There are problems in the Church.’ Our problem is that we say that there is a problem. So deal with the problems in the Church and you will see that the society is no longer a problem. […] You see, we have many major problems in the Church right now. And, of course, these may be affected by these discussions. I may say, that is what we hope. […] If these discussions can happen in a serene, calm and peaceful way, and we really get down to the bottom, to the crux of the matter, [then] I really think that we can expect good to come from it—not only for us, but for the whole Church.
Observers have questioned how the Holy See’s dicastery for doctrinal matters and the SSPX can possibly find common ground, given Pope Benedict XVI’s insistent affirmations of Vatican II and the SSPX’s continued vocal opposition to the Council’s reforms related to interfaith relations, religious liberty and the Novus Ordo Mass. Bishop Fellay believes that these very reforms have resulted in the Church’s depleted influence and that, in time, the Vatican will also see judge this correlation to be causation:
It is not we who say after the Council there has been tremendous turmoil in the Church. We have Paul VI who said, […] “the smoke of Satan has entered by the temple of God.” He spoke of self-destruction of the Church—very strong words. And, I may say, that’s our position. We say there is something going on in the Church, that is demolishing the Church. And, well, maybe we are not exactly right in what we point out but, essentially, we are right.
It is a common understanding that there is something wrong, there is something hurting the Church: the empty churches, the lack of vocations, the religious orders that are disappearing. These are words that come from Rome now, not from us. […] We are like a thermometer: we just say there is a fever in the body. Now, the doctor can be mad at the thermometer [and] can smash it. But it is not going to take away the fever.
Watch Witness this  Sunday to hear more from Bishop Bernard Fellay as he explains the controversial positions taken by the Society of St. Pius X and reflects on five tumultuous months since the lifting of the excommunications.
Witness airs Sunday at 8:30 PM & 12:30 AM, repeats Thursday at 8 PM & midnight, Friday at 12:30 PM and Saturday at 5:30 PM. Témoin (French Witness) airs Monday at 8 PM & midnight, repeats Saturday 7:30 PM (All times eastern.)
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