"Vatican II is like
www.RemnantNewspaper.com) After a plenary meeting of
the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (PCED)
December 12, 2006, Jorge Cardinal Medina told reporters
that the Commission had discussed two documents for a
total of four hours. The first was the long-awaited, and
reportedly much edited, motu proprio expected to
be forthcoming that will ease restrictions to offer the
Traditional Roman rite of Holy Mass.
second document that was discussed, according to
Cardinal Medina, was a canonical structure for the
eventual reintegration of the Society of St. Pius X,
whose four bishops, along with Archbishop Marcél
Lefebvre and Bishop Antộnio de Castro Mayer, incurred
latae sententiae excommunications according to the
motu proprio Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, issued
July 2, 1988 by Pope John Paul II. Joseph Cardinal
Ratzinger was at the heart of the discussions with the
late Archbishop Lefebvre, and now as Pope, is
intimately familiar with the case and the historical
circumstances surrounding this unfortunate incident.
Since the year 2000, shortly after the Society of St.
Pius X conducted a Roman pilgrimage with several
thousand of its Catholic faithful, Superior General
Bishop Bernard Fellay met briefly in a private audience
with Pope John Paul II. After exchanging greetings and
praying the Pater together, the meeting ended,
which later lead to a meeting with three of the
Society’s four bishops.
Bishop Fellay and two other Society priests met with
Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Castrillón for 35
minutes. In the September 2005 30 Days, both
Bishop Fellay and Cardinal Castrillón were interviewed
separately to discuss their meeting and a path forward
to possible eventual canonical regularization.
his interview, Cardinal Castrillón publicly proclaimed
for the first time that although the consecration of
four bishops without papal mandate was illicit and
caused a separation, he said “it was not a formal
schism.” This proclamation was reiterated by the
Cardinal later in 2005 on Italian television.
These consistent and public statements by the Holy See’s
arm responsible for traditionalist concerns was a
reaffirmation of a statement by then Una Voce
International President Ralf Siebenbürger, who after a
private audience with Cardinal Castrillón March 13,
2004, said, “The Cardinal underlined that Archbishop
Lefebvre had never founded a proper structure of his
fraternity that could be considered as a concrete act of
while the Society of St. Pius X’s canonical situation in
the Church continues to be irregular and a formal
canonical structure is now maturing, the language used
by the PCED is much more measured in 2007 than in 1988.
following is the most recent and exclusive interview
with Bishop Bernard Fellay, re-elected Superior General
of the Society of St. Pius X to another 12-year term in
July 2006, for which he received a letter of
congratulations from the Holy See recognizing his
It was announced on your news site that the faithful
attached to the Society chapels prayed 2.5 million
rosaries for Pope Benedict XVI, which you presented with
a letter to him. Have you sent this spiritual bouquet
and can you tell us any of the contents of the letter?
The letter has not yet been published. It has been sent,
but it has not been published, so I cannot say much. But
of course, with such a letter, when you offer a bouquet,
you cannot say much about other recommendations than the
ones you have when you give the bouquet. So it is a
limited message, you might say. But the intentions of
this crusade or bouquet are very clear and precise.
you speak of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of
Mary, you of course have in mind Fatima. You also have
in mind the big, big, big fight announced by the Blessed
Virgin Mary—the fight between the devil, the forces of
evil, and the Church—the fighting which we are (engaging
in). We believe that particularly Fatima deals with that
fight. If we mention that, we intend to include the
present situation and crisis of the Church in that
battle in this enormous battle. And we do see the
outcome of the victory in doing what the Blessed Virgin
Mary has asked for.
when we speak of the Kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that is a very clear message. It is not only the “Our
Father,” “Thy Kingdom Come,” but it is also Quas
Primas. It is again the whole fight, the whole
crusade of the Church that has to spread the Gospel not
only to souls, but to the natural social societies in
which mankind is involved, which is the human society.
We want Christian states. But it is not only we, but the
Church has always wanted that.
we are giving him a bouquet, but in the bouquet, there
are some flowers with some messages. And of course, more
immediate, there is the Mass. But when we say the Mass,
it is not just to have permission to say the Mass. We
know the Tridentine Mass has a tremendous power in
itself. It has a power of restoration of the Church—a
power of killing the viruses that have been introduced
into the Church by Vatican II.
of this is present in this bouquet in our intentions.
Part of this is said, and part of this is not said, but
which is definitely there.
So it is a re-emphasis on these points of Catholic
doctrine that have been lost or ignored in the last 40
Yes. Of course.
Some Catholics of good will today may desire to attend
regularly the Traditional Latin Mass, including those in
your chapels on a regular basis for peace and
tranquility of soul and mind and worship and to escape
the post-Conciliar chaos and nonsense, but are dissuaded
from doing so due to the Society’s irregular status
within the Church.
Do you believe if the Holy See lifts the decrees of
excommunication, even if full canonical agreement and
regularization hasn’t occurred initially, that the
Society chapels may be overrun by many new Catholics
desiring peace and tranquility?
Has this possibility been discussed between the Society
of St. Pius X bishops, priests and leadership? Do you
have a plan to deal with this possible phenomenon?
We definitely have thought about it.
Personally, I do not think things will happen that way.
I do not see the big heat wave immediately after the
publication of greater permission for celebration of the
Because we are still considered the black devil
(chuckling). I don’t really know what kind of name we
have to use to qualify us as the devil.
course, if the decree of excommunication is taken away,
then it will be an open door. But once again, over time.
I don’t think that there will be an immediate flow of
faithful. With time, I think it is possible. I don’t
know. It is definitely a possibility we have to
envisage. So we definitely have to be open to that
possibility—probably in some places more than in others
we will see things like that.
What do you mean by that? In some countries?
In some countries, cities and towns. I see it as a long
process—when I say long—some years—some years. At the
very start, you will see a big fight of the progressives
who will try to bring it down.
then little by little, things will settle down, and the
faithful will come to it, and some priests will
celebrate it, and then you will have this comparison
between the new and the old. And of course, the new
can’t stand it.
I don’t see it as an immediate effect. I see it rather
as a process. It will take time. We surely have a plan,
but I don’t think it would be realistic to think it will
How has the Society prepared to assist many priests who
may desire to learn to offer the Traditional Roman rite
of Holy Mass once the motu proprio is
promulgated? How many priests in other areas of the
world do you believe desire to offer the Traditional
It is obvious there is a great expectation. It is very
difficult to then qualify with the numbers these
expectations with priests. In Germany, which looks so
progressive, we have been impressed with the number of
priests who have asked to receive the DVD [Ed. Note:
Training video for priests to learn how to offer the
Traditional Roman rite]. There have been more than 1,000
requests, while we sent the DVD offer to only one-third
of all the German priests.
shows that even in such countries, we have a great
expectation. I’m sure that especially among younger
priests, this expectation is there. There remains the
possibility, and that will depend upon what is, or will
be, in this famous motu proprio. And there I
cannot say much because I have no idea what it is.
There is an expectation. And just speaking about the
possibility of having a motu proprio is spreading
the appetite around. I’m pretty sure there will be an
interest everywhere. Also, there will definitely be some
priests getting in tight with us—more so than there are
now. It will open doors, there is no doubt.
In a December 11 interview with the French newspaper,
Nice-Matin, you said the Society of St. Pius X has
already asked for the removal of the decrees of
excommunication several times from the Holy See,
including formally in writing. Did Cardinal Castrillón
ask you to provide this formal request from the Holy
Father? Something like “all the Pope awaits from you is
Since the year 2000, we have started with two
preconditions. We have asked the Holy See because we
said, “We don’t trust you.” We have asked for some
gestures to start to increase the trust. And one of the
points was the lifting of the decrees of
excommunications. And this fact has been put in writing
have asked the Holy See and the Pope several times, even
before the audience (August 29, 2005 with the Holy
Father) for Rome to perform these acts. That is why I
said I am not going to write one more letter. I said
that in one of the interviews. This is because I have
already asked for this several times. In fact, between
August and October 2005, I think I have asked three
times. It is a request we have always had.
it is not exactly, “All the Pope awaits from you is your
letter.” That is wrong. Rather, (it is,) “Write the
letter, and then we’ll see…” something like that. And I
say, “I don’t need to write a letter. I have asked you
several times for it.” You see?
don’t want to say it is like a dog running after its own
tail. It is not exactly that. It is “What do you ask?
What is this for?” We have definitely asked for this as
a precondition—that the decrees of excommunication be
Again, in the recent Nice-Matin interview, you
said that although there has been no further formal
meeting since your August 2005 meeting with the Holy
Father, the Society of St. Pius X and the Holy See have
exchanged letters since then.
Can you share with our readers any of the
contents of those letters?
Did the letters contain theological discussions
regarding the official magisterial interpretations of
religious liberty, ecumenism and/or collegiality?
There are two things. We met the Holy Father on the 29
of August [Ed. Note: for 35 minutes] and with Cardinal
Castrillón on the 15th of November [Ed. Note:
for 4 hours]. That is all. Those are the only meetings I
have had with Rome.
There are not so many letters. In fact, let me think…
There is one letter of Cardinal Castrillón. And then of
course greetings for my election [Ed. Note: Bishop
Fellay’s re-election as Superior General in July 2006].
I don’t know if you want to count that or not. There is
nothing more than that. And then I answered this letter
of Cardinal Castrillón. It [Ed. Note: The letter Bishop
Fellay wrote] is more like “Why don’t you answer? Why
don’t you move?”
does not yet deal with in-depth things. There are
openings. There are invitations to go ahead and so on.
And we say, “Please, first do the preconditions.”
This is the kind of thing we have asked since the year
doesn’t go very far, but I think with time, it creates a
climate that probably will open to these happenings [Ed.
Note: theological discussions].
think we could be not very far from fulfillment by Rome
of the two preconditions. When? It could be 2 or 5
years, or it could be tomorrow. I do not know. I have no
The recently erected traditionalist Institute of the
Good Shepherd in France is charged with a specific
mandate of engaging in deep theological reflection and
criticism of certain sections of the Second Vatican
Council documents it believes may be inconsistent, or
less than clear, with the perennial doctrine of the
Do you see this as a positive sign?
Isn’t this very similar to what the Society of St. Pius
X is requesting of the Holy See?
Why or why not?
My feeling is that it is… I don’t want to say it is a
joke, but it is almost that. I don’t see any specific
mandate to the Good Shepherd—not at all. It is just
words. It doesn’t go any further. It doesn’t impress me.
may say, okay, probably we are going one step ahead with
these things, but not much more. We can’t dream.
First, I am pretty sure it is not a specific mandate.
Rome would never give to five people such an importance,
which would be the case if the Good Shepherd had
received this specific mandate.
That is what they claim. Definitely, that is what they
say. But as I said, I don’t think so. I think it doesn’t
go very far.
But, Your Excellency, isn’t it a change from 15 or 20
years ago, where a Catholic was not even allowed to
criticize any aspects of even the “Decree on Social
Communications in the Church,” for instance, or any of
the lesser important theological documents of the Second
Vatican Council without being called a heretic?
It seems that by the Holy See at least opening up to
some constructive theological criticisms of the Second
Vatican Council documents is a significant change from
the climate of 15 or 20 years ago.
We are living in a tremendous mess. It looks like a
Russian salad. I don’t know if you have this expression.
You put in every kind of ingredient. So in the middle
of everything, you have this text which suddenly says,
okay, you can bring some pointed remarks about the
Council. What does it really mean? What will be the
effect? And there, I am very, very, very doubtful
because it is not the way things will go.
see for ourselves, I do not expect very much from
doctrinal discussions, I must say. What I expect from
them when they happen, is “Can we as a loud speaker
bring into the Church again thoughts from the past which
will help people today to think again?” Thoughts which
were just forgotten.
fighting against people who really see the Second
Vatican Council as more important than Nicea, there is
not much to do. And also for those who have
philosophical backgrounds that are so far removed from
the Scholastic, we cannot do much. I may say, it could
be a dream. There could be something tricky in these
Church needs to go back to the principles, to the solid.
Vatican II is like plastic. It’s not solid. It’s
ambiguous. It’s inconsistent. Even discussing Vatican II
is not going to bring you much. We have to go back to
the solid. If the discussions bring us to that point,
then fine. But if the base of the discussions is Vatican
II, then forget it.
You delivered a more recent talk in Martínez, Buenos
Aires, Argentina, on December 16 where you emphatically
stated the motu proprio freeing the Traditional
Roman rite has already been signed by the Pope.
Are you sure about this? Can you elaborate?
If so, was it signed prior to the December 12
plenary meeting of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia
Dei, and if so, what do you think has happened
My knowledge is zero. I know it looks funny, but it is
like that. I have absolutely no idea what they are
preparing us. I see that they do prepare.
told them, “Listen, not yet.” First, we need to discuss,
and they seem to want to make a shortcut there. And so
there is a big question mark there on what is going to
happen in the future. They seem to be in a hurry, and we
they want to provoke something in the Society’s
movement? I really don’t know. I just look at the facts.
I don’t know what will be in this motu proprio,
neither when it will be published. So we play it by ear.
We are in a fog trying to see our way through.
was pretty sure before it had been signed, yes. So the
fact it has been put again on the desk, it means
definitely, the French bishops are mighty. That’s all I
can say because I really don’t know more. But I was
pretty sure it had already been signed.
After the December 12 plenary meeting, Cardinal Medina
said that two documents were discussed for 4 hours. One
was the motu proprio freeing the Traditional
Mass. The second was a juridical framework for the
reintegration of the Society of St. Pius X, according to
Has the Society of St. Pius X been actively
engaged in reviewing the contents or basic structure and
contents of this juridical framework?
If so, could you share with our readers any of
the contents of this proposed juridical framework. Will
it be similar to a military ordinariate or an apostolic
No. The Vatican has never brought us any kind of
blueprint of our future structure. The only thing they
said in 2003, it was something between an apostolic
administration, a personal prelature and a military
ordinariate. So it was something in between these. They
said they didn’t have a name for it. This was the only
thing we know. We don’t know much, and since then, we
have never had any concrete discussions on this topic.
Again, in your December 16 address in Argentina, you
said “there was something else—another thing” in
addition to the motu proprio that has been
discussed and may be released.
Do you believe this “other thing” possibly may be the
lifting of the decrees of excommunication against the
Society of St. Pius X bishops?
Once again, there we are discussing the future. I have
no hint, so I cannot say much about that. Everything is
open. About the whole thing, for several months, the
only way I recommend to deal with it is that we will
believe it when we see it.
About the excommunications, they spoke about it last
year in front of the Cardinals (March 2006), so I think
it is an open question. I have no idea. Sometimes I
thought I could guess it… After that, POOF! (laughing)
Now, I’m not sure.
Some Catholics read conflicting or inconsistent messages
coming from you, Bishop Williamson for instance, and the
recent sermon by Fr. Regis de Cacqueray, Superior of the
French District of the SSPX, criticizing the Pope’s
recent visit to the Blue Mosque. Are these indeed
conflicting messages specifically on how to deal with
the Holy See? Are public rebukes really the best method?
A: If you remain on a superficial level with a
dialectical outlook, you may see conflicts or
inconsistencies, which in essence, do not exist. The
rest is a matter of prudence.
After your initial meeting with Cardinal Castrillón and
two other Society of St. Pius X bishops in 2000, you
were quoted as saying that Cardinal Castrillón requested
the Society to continue in its battle against Modernism
within the Church.
Do you still foresee this as being a primary mission and
mandate of the Society, assuming the excommunications
are eventually lifted and full canonical regularization
I don’t think the Church is willing to give us such a
mandate. The Church does not want to look at things in
terms of “battle” and “fight,” but instead as “unity.”
So I don’t think they will ever say, “Go and fight
modernism. Go and fight liberalism.”
than that, I think the present Pope would be in the
other camp. This is very clear for example in the
question of the relations between Church and State. So I
don’t expect that from him. We do definitely see that in
terms of Divine Providence. We do see that we are in
this very big fight.
to say this will be a mandate coming from the Holy See?
No, I don’t see that happening.
But am I correct that Cardinal Castrillón had said that
to the Society bishops in the past?
Yes, sure. But what do they mean? It is the whole
problem. It is the whole problem with the perception of
the whole crisis. We see in it something that goes down
to the roots. They see it as something as only
certainly want our help and our services, but their
perception of how deep does it go is totally different
from our position.
If the two preconditions are granted by the Holy See,
with the Society of St. Pius X being recognized as being
in full and perfect communion with the Church by the
a. How do you think the vast majority of the Church’s
bishops around the world will react?
b. Do you think another “schism of the left” might
If I speak only humanly, I would say there will be a
reaction, and the reaction will not be good. Will it be
violent? Will it be mighty? I think a few will be
violent. The majority will be a kind of a passive
Strong enough to bring a schism? Probably not. Probably
not. At least not open. Maybe, just as it is already
think the great risk is the texts published by the Pope
may have the same effect as all the texts published in
the last 10 to 15 years. That is, that it will have no
effect at all. That is the great danger of the inertia
of the Church today. They have their ways and their
vision, and I don’t know if the Pope is able, or if he
is even willing to change this vision. So I think it
will take time.
don’t think there will be an immediate change in the
Church even if these conditions are granted. I think it
is like a seed. First, it needs to grow. For the first
years, it needs to go very silently and gently just like
any seed that has to grow out from the earth. That’s my
vision on all of these things. Some of the bishops will
go along, but the majority will probably just ignore it
Long term, do you think there can be a theological
“ecumenism” within traditionalist priestly ranks to
serve as leaven in the dough of the Church?
No. Why? Because the great majority of the Ecclesia
Dei movement sticks to the Mass, but not to the
doctrine. They have already swallowed the poison. So, I
don’t see any big traditionalist ecumenism.
Why is this? Is it because you believe their formation
is not Thomistic enough?
They go from the principle that Vatican II is good. They
don’t make the necessary distinctions on the magisterium,
so they swallow Vatican II and the ideas of Vatican
II—at least in principle.
maybe in practice, it is less so because they want to be
traditional. But in principle, they have accepted all of
these things. And that is the big difference between
Ecclesia Dei and the Society.
As a final opportunity, would you like to add or clarify
anything for the benefit of our Catholic readers on the
Society of St. Pius X.
The Church is supernatural. The Church is in the hands
of God and in the control of God even throughout this
crisis. If we use the means He wants us to use, we will
have some effect, and these means are supernatural.
must be courageous in our Faith. We must be integral in
our Faith and in our confession and profession of the
Faith, and also in the morals and in all the aspects of
our religion. There will be a happy ending and we want
to be on the right side.
has a master’s in theology and bachelor’s in
news-editorial journalism. He has written for several
Catholic and secular publications, both print and