On November 7, the Rorate Coeli blog posted an interview of Bishop Fellay by diocesan priest (Fr. Kevin Cusick, of the Archdiocese of Washington), on the occasion of the blessing of the new SSPX seminary in Dillwyn, Virginia.1 Not surprisingly, most of the Resistance commentary centered on this excerpt:
I asked the bishop if he had good news to share about the status of the personal prelature rumored to be on offer in Rome in order to integrate the Society fully and permanently into the life of the universal Church. The bishop described the current arrangements as “almost ready” and one of “fine tuning”, his demeanor and expression exuding confidence and serenity. When I asked if the situation was one merely for prayer he was very quick to assert that developments in the canonical proceedings had progressed beyond that point. But, he said, “the problem is not there” but with the matter of Vatican II.2
Certainly, this passage is worthy of attention for many reasons:
In letting the priest’s comment slide about a hopeful future integration of the SSPX into the universal Church, Bishop Fellay seems to have bought into the new ecclesiology of Vatican II, which features communion by various degrees, rather than the traditional “in or out” membership of Pius XII and Mystici Corporis Christi, et al.
Bishop Fellay seems not to believe – despite his words to the contrary – that he is already fully part of the Catholic Church. Were it otherwise, canonical recognition could not be for him the urgent issue it so obviously is. He feels himself and the SSPX to be defective in some way; he believes that the SSPX suffers not merely from the appearance of illegality, but from illegality properly speaking.
Insofar as Bishop Fellay admits that the canonical proceedings have advanced beyond the need for prayer, while simultaneously acknowledging the doctrinal problems remain with regard to Vatican II, it seems that the canonical proceedings have eclipsed the doctrinal considerations; that these doctrinal discussions are really just negotiations in search of verbiage acceptable to both sides (which would represent a very large victory for the Vatican, and a catastrophic loss for the SSPX and the Church).3
Regarding these doctrinal considerations, while the Resistance media has focused commentary on the passage quoted, it seems to have omitted commentary on what I consider Bishop Fellay’s single most significant comment in the interview:
We must arrive at a point where one can “disagree and still be a Catholic” when it comes to the mentioned points of Vatican II at issue.4
And what are these “mentioned points of Vatican II”?
Well, a few paragraphs prior, Fr. Cusick reveals Bishop Fellay’s thoughts on the matter:
He went on to elaborate, however, that the documents of Vatican II are at issue, a matter with which many readers are already aware, the remaining sticking points being those documents treating religious liberty, ecumenism and reform of the liturgy. The Society has been very firm and consistent over the years that these teachings are incompatible with the integral tradition of the Church.5
There is some incoherence here, because just after informing Fr. Cusick that the SSPX has always “been very firm and consistent over the years that these teachings are incompatible with the integral tradition of the Church,” Bishop Fellay nevertheless states the need to “arrive at a point where one can ‘disagree and still be Catholic’ when it comes to the mentioned points of Vatican II at issue!”
My friends, they have a name for this willingness to “agree to disagree” on essential matters of the Faith:
It’s called “doctrinal pluralism.”
Yet doctrinal pluralism is so clearly contrary to the faith, that no Catholic may presume to accept it. Doctrinal pluralism is synonymous with religious indifferentism (which is itself a rejection of the idea of one true Church instituted by God, outside of which there is no salvation). In presenting itself to the world as a tolerant posture recognizing the (alleged) good in all religions, it is in fact a Masonic artifice derived from the rejection of them all (i.e., naturalism):
If all religions are false, then what principled objection can there be to a co-existence of competing beliefs (and all the more so within the same confession)? In that case, why not just be “nice?”
And while it is true that a certain pluralism can exist in matters liturgical (e.g., the different approved rites of the Church) or canonical (e.g., different codes of canon law for the Latins and Orientals), it is absolutely prohibited in the domain of doctrine, in instances where the Church has already spoken to settle the matter (as is the case with regard to the ecumenism and religious liberty mentioned by Bishop Fellay), and this for obvious reasons:
Not only would a freedom of opinion in decided matters of doctrine present a rupture of the unity of faith within the universal Church, but it would also represent an implicit attack upon the teaching authority of Peter (and therefore upon the dogma of Papal Primacy): “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.”6
What Bishop Fellay Used to Tell Us
Bishop Fellay used to recognize and oppose (at least outwardly, and/or seemingly) this idea of doctrinal pluralism in the Church:
The authorities see there is a crisis, but they don’t want to use the right means to solve it. We are still here. I might say, we are stuck here! Currently, there is no conviction that tradition is the right way. They see the fruits; they even say the fruits are good! They say the Holy Ghost is there! (Not too bad!) But, they don’t say, “That’s the way to go.” Instead, they say, “Tradition is a way amongst other ways.”
Their perspective is pluralism. Their thinking goes something like this:
Oh, look, if we have progressive people who do silly things as members of the Church, then we should also have a place for those who like tradition – a place in the middle of this circus, of this zoo, a place for dinosaurs and the prehistoric animals – that’s our place(!) – “But just stay in your zoo cage,” they will train us…7
Almost two years later, Bishop Fellay was still condemning doctrinal pluralism:
I think Rome’s friendliness towards us is because of its ecumenical mentality. It is certainly not because Rome is now saying to us, “Of course, you are right; let’s go.” No, that is not the way Rome thinks about us. The idea they have is another one. The idea is an ecumenical one. It is the idea of pluricity, pluriformity.
Zoo cage Catholicism
To illustrate this ecclesiastical pluralism, I use the analogy of a zoo. Up until the time of the Second Vatican Council, there was only one species of member in the Catholic Church – genuine Catholics. If somebody did not want to be a Catholic, if someone wanted to teach something else than what the Church taught, he was excommunicated. However, if you read the theology books published since the Council, you can almost say and think anything you want and still be in good standing. At the Council itself there was a general will to broaden the limits – the borders – of the Church.8
What a different position Bishop Fellay seems to take in the new interview!
The apparent metamorphosis is all the more striking when one stops to consider that the acceptance of doctrinal pluralism evinces an even greater evolution of position in the SSPX than had it “merely” accepted Benedict XVI’s “hermeneutic of continuity,” because in the latter, one agrees to pretend there is no contradiction, but in the former, one openly recognizes and accepts the existence of doctrinal contradiction (i.e., the acceptability of mutually exclusive doctrines somehow artificially co-existing within the same religion).9
But the idea is not only a violation and attack upon the unity of the Church (which must always be united in the one true faith), but even an attack upon sound reason, in violation of the principle of non-contradiction (i.e., two contradictory statements cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense).
Taken to its logical conclusion, violation of this principle would imply the entire world could be incorporated into the Catholic Church without any doctrinal conversion:
If the necessity and unity of faith is replaced by doctrinal pluralism, then what keeps the Pope from recognizing the Dalai Llama as “Catholic,” if all that is truly required is legal recognition?
In fact, Bishop Fellay acknowledged this consequence of doctrinal pluralism for the Church in the same interview just cited, when he observed:
This idea of broadening the Church’s borders, of putting everybody in, allows Cardinal Kasper to say what he said in L’Osservatore Romano: “The Orthodox, as they have all the means of salvation, do not need to convert.” He says it black on white. You have others like Mother Teresa, who said that the important thing for a Buddhist is to be a good Buddhist. Okay, so be a good Buddhist, or a good Hindu, or a good Muslim, and everybody goes to heaven.10
And how did Bishop Fellay react to Rome’s plan to carve out a cage for the SSPX in the pluralist zoo?
But if this is the new concept of the Church, then why not grant a little cage to the dinosaurs? If you already have all the birds and all kinds of animals, why not have a little place for the “fossils” which they think us to be? There is a condition, though: the dinosaurs have to stay in their cage. Imagine crocodiles or dinosaurs all over the zoo! Never!…So we come to them and we say, “Well, we are sorry, but there is no zoo.” The Catholic Church is not a zoo. This comparison may show you how deep is the difference of vision.11
Yet 12 years later, Bishop Fellay can openly declare (apparently without adverse reaction from his clergy or parishioners?) that:
We must arrive at a point where one can disagree and still be a Catholic when it comes to the mentioned points of Vatican II [religious liberty, ecumenism, liturgical reform] at issue.12
That statement would appear to be a complete contradiction of his previous position, and a wholly unacceptable position for any Catholic to profess.
How does one account for such an apparent evolution in the Superior General?
One possibility is that there really never was any true evolution at all; that while the rank and file SSPX clergy and laity were led to understand Bishop Fellay as being opposed to a juridical recognition before Rome converted back to the Faith (among other reasons, because of the problem of doctrinal pluralism), the bishop himself never really viewed doctrinal pluralism as an impediment to the juridical recognition of the SSPX.
In the pages that follow, we will supply the evidence in support of this thesis.
Compiling the Evidence
In constructing our argument, we will rely upon the following evidence in support of our thesis that Bishop Fellay never truly viewed the implicit acceptance of doctrinal pluralism as an impediment toward the juridical recognition of the SSPX:
Ambiguous quotes from Bishop Fellay on the matter of doctrinal pluralism relative to relations between the SSPX and Rome;
Bishop Fellay’s support of GREC;
The resumption of dialogue between Menzingen and Rome after the failed “doctrinal discussions” of 2009 – 2011;
The signing of the April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration;
Bishop Fellay’s June 2012 letter to Pope Benedict XVI.
Our method, therefore, will be the cumulative presentation of evidence, none of which may be definitive in proving our point when considered in isolation, univocally, or individually, but which evidences, considered en masse, will present such overpowering indications that Bishop Fellay has made peace with doctrinal pluralism, that our conclusion will not be disputed by any objective and reasonable reader, which is this:
That, to whatever degree doctrinal pluralism may be odious to Bishop Fellay personally (or to the Catholic Church itself), it was never going to be permitted to stand as an obstacle to a juridical recognition of the SSPX, regardless of whatever the SSPX had said on that matter in the past, and without reference to the objective consequences this implicit acceptance has for the unity of the doctrine of the faith, and the common good of the SSPX, and the future recovery of the Church at large.
An agreement struck upon such a basis, then, becomes simple theological gamesmanship: A matter of “finding the right words.”
Ambiguous Quotes of Bishop Fellay Regarding Doctrinal Pluralism
In the previous section, we supplied quotes of Bishop Fellay which seemed to indicate a rejection of any agreement based upon the principle of doctrinal pluralism. In this section we return to analyze Bishop Fellay’s words on this subject a bit more closely.
On December 9, 2002, Bishop Fellay gave a conference in Kansas City on SSPX relations with Rome.13 He spoke of Rome’s desire to create a pluralist “zoo” as a solution to the juridical problem for the SSPX with these words:
But, they don’t say, “That’s the way to go.” Instead, they say, “Tradition is a way amongst other ways.” Their perspective is pluralism. Their thinking goes something like this: Oh, look, if we have progressive people who do silly things as members of the Church, then we should also have a place for those who like tradition – a place in the middle of this circus, of this zoo, a place for dinosaurs and the prehistoric animals – that’s our place(!) – “But just stay in your zoo cage,” they will train us,
You can get your food – the Old Mass; that’s for the dinosaurs, but only for the dinosaurs. Don’t give that food to the other zoo animals; they would be killed!
That is why we cannot reconcile where this mentality is prevalent.14
Sounds like a pretty clear condemnation of doctrinal pluralism, right? And in fact, I have used it as evidence of such in other writings (e.g., Where I have pointed certain apparent contradictions between Bishop Fellay’s current and past positions in this regard).
The problem is that, upon closer inspection, this seeming rejection of pluralism is limited to liturgical pluralism. It is the reader himself – not any words supplied by Bishop Fellay – who must logically expand that condemnation of liturgical pluralism to extend to doctrinal pluralism generally. But you will not find that expansion anywhere in Bishop Fellay’s conference itself.
Have I misread or exaggerated the quote (i.e., “That Bishop Fellay was only giving an example of pluralism in the liturgical domain, does not mean he was accepting of it in the doctrinal domain.”)?
Well, hold that thought for a moment, and fast-forward to another conference given by Bishop Fellay less than two years later, when in November/2004 (at the same venue), he returns to the subject of pluralism.15 After beginning this section of his talk by briefly comparing / contrasting the pre-Vatican II doctrinal unity with post-conciliar pluralism,16Bishop Fellay begins to speak of pluralism and negotiations with Rome (which is once again reduced or confined to a matter of liturgical pluralism):
So the Tridentine Mass for everybody? – No! For the dinosaurs in their little cage? – Fine. So when Rome comes to us with a big smile, that is their ulterior motive. That is, we grant you a place, but you must stay very quiet there and not move. So we come to them and we say, “Well, we are sorry, but there is no zoo.” The Catholic Church is not a zoo.17
Hence, the rejection of pluralism is again situated within the context of liturgical pluralism, not doctrinal.
Let us also take a look at a third statement attributed to Bishop Fellay, which seems to reinforce the idea of Bishop Fellay’s openness to doctrinal pluralism:
In February 2013, the French La Sapiniere blog published a bombshell “Open Letter to Bishop Fellay from Thirty-Seven French Priests”,18 which was subsequently translated into English by The Recusant.19 In the course of revealing many previously unknown and scandalous comments of Bishop Fellay and the General Council (i.e., Frs. Pfluger and Nely), the letter says of Bishop Fellay:
You said in front of the [SSPX] priors of France: “I am tired of arguments over words.”20
I have never seen the factual veracity of this damning allegation contested by Menzingen, and it certainly could not be for lack of knowledge of its existence: Fr. Daniel Thiemann explicitly references the “Letter of Thirty-Seven French Priests” in the Q&A section of his famous 2013 “Resistance to What?” conference in St. Mary’s, Kansas (attacking its credibility for anonymity and questioning the actual number of signatories, but having very little to say regarding its substance, and nothing on this particular point).21
If therefore Bishop Fellay is battle weary, and “tired of arguments over words,” it would certainly suggest an openness to doctrinal pluralism (or at least a determination not to permit that consideration to present an obstacle to the attainment of juridical recognition). In fact, the “Open Letter” cites corroborative evidence of this in the form of quotes by Fr. Pfluger and Fr. Nely (1st and 2nd Assistants to the Superior General) to this effect (with the former being “shaken” by the failure of the doctrinal discussions, and the latter commenting to one of the Society negotiators that he could have fudged the lines a bit to come to the desired result).22
The same “Open Letter” alleges:
Another Capitulant [2012 General Chapter member] said to a colleague: “It is necessary to recognize that the Chapter failed. Today it is okay to have a liberated Society inside the Conciliar Church. I was devastated by the level of reflection of some Chapter members.23
Surely, this passage can be attacked as hearsay, and for its anonymity. And yet it has the ring of truth, insofar as it matches the situation of the SSPX today, being gradually and incrementally regularized in exchange for so many concessions made.24
And more damning than all of this, and prima facie evidence of the very allegation we are endeavoring to prove, is the undisputed fact of Bishop Fellay’s willingness to accept a practical accord from unconverted Rome today: If he has determined to accept juridical approval by a magisterium mired in modernism and condemned doctrines, then he has determined the acceptability of “co-existing” with the other animals in the “zoo.”
His previous writings evince an awareness of the problem of doctrinal pluralism, and his present actions (for a good many years now) evince a willingness to proceed despite it.
Thus, the careful reader must situate Bishop Fellay’s Dillwyn, VA comment that “we arrive at a point where one can disagree and still be a Catholic when it comes to the mentioned points of Vatican II [religious liberty and ecumenism]” within the context of his earlier comments cited above, to come to the conclusion that not only does Bishop Fellay not object to doctrinal pluralism today, as he ought, but that he never has.
In this, Bishop Fellay is manifesting the hallmark symptom of the liberal mind: The willingness to tolerate mutually exclusive doctrinal propositions simultaneously.
Bishop Fellay’s Support of the GREC Initiative
On February 14, 2009, Fr. Jean of the traditional Morgon (France) Capuchins drafted a letter to Bishop Fellay which, among many other remarkable features, exposed for the first time to the general public, the existence of the Groupe de réflexion entre catholiques, more commonly known by its acronym: GREC. This letter eventually made its way to the folks at “Tradition in Action,” who subsequently translated the letter into English.25
The GREC was (is?) a collaborative effort of conciliar, Roman, and SSPX clergy and lay members dedicated to finding a political solution to the canonical status of the SSPX:
GREC was started in 1997 at the initiative of Huguette Pérol, widow of the ambassador of France to Italy Gilbert Pérol.
For twelve years, the group met monthly, inviting various speakers and organizing a much-noted 2003 colloquium on the theme “Tradition and Modernity”.
After having organized discreet meetings between the SSPX and the Holy See at the nunciature in Paris, it decided to place itself in abeyance in 2009, when doctrinal discussions began.26
As Fr. Michel Lelong (conciliar GREC member) writes in his 2011 book “Towards a Necessary Reconciliation”:
Two other priests contributed decisively to the creation and life of our Catholic think tank. One of them who has since returned to God was the Dominican, Fr. Olivier de La Brosse, the other, Fr. Lorans of the SSPX. I got to know them in 1997 during a dinner to which we had been invited by Mrs. Pérol. On that day GREC was born.27
Fr. LeLong also mentions other SSPX collaborators as Fr. Emmanuel le Chalard, and Bishop Fellay himself (who was kept abreast of developments by Fr. Lorans28), and later, Fr. Gregoire Celier29, and the SSPX’s unofficial lay spokesman, Mr. Jacques-Regis du Cray30, et al.31
What was to be the method?
According to the review of Fr. LeLong’s book by “Gentiloup:”
The GREC “think tank” was founded in 1997 with the goal to integrate SSPX with Modernist Rome… GREC’s goal is not ambiguous. It is clearly defined throughout the book by different protagonists as being “Interpreting Vatican II in the light of Tradition,” according to the formula John-Paul II gave to Archbishop Lefebvre in 1978… The ‘Charter’ of the group was defined by Mr. Pérol shortly before his death: it is “to interpret Vatican II in light of Tradition,” which Benedict XVI himself calls the Hermeneutic of Continuity, in opposition to the Hermeneutic of Rupture as Archbishop Lefebvre ruefully observed at the end of his long quest to reach a tentative agreement with the Conciliar Church.32
While it is interesting to note that the GREC only placed itself in a state of abeyance (i.e., a temporary suspension), which strongly suggests such abeyance was lifted in 2011 with the conclusion of the doctrinal discussions33, and equally interesting to recall that all during this period (1997-2009), Bishop Fellay was telling the world there could be no practical accord with unconverted Rome (a principle which even manifested itself in the 2006 SSPX General Chapter Declaration34), even as he endorsed and promoted the GREC initiative toward that end from the beginning, evincing thereby a stunning duplicity of character (!), these observations have been dealt with elsewhere, and are not directly on point.
What is directly relevant to our thesis is that, in offering his support and encouragement to the GREC initiative, which had as its goal a practical accord – not a doctrinal conversion in Rome (which is itself clear and unambiguous evidence of the acceptance of doctrinal pluralism) – Bishop Fellay was accepting JPII’s 1978 “hermeneutic of continuity” (i.e., Interpreting the conciliar and post-conciliar aberrations “in the light of Tradition”) as the means by which the SSPX’s juridical issue could be resolved.
But in doing so, he was only accepting a disguised doctrinal pluralism. An overt acceptance of doctrinal pluralism was much too crude to escape notice and would raise alarms within the society.
And there can be no doubt as to the fact of Bishop Fellay’s acceptance of the hermeneutic, insofar as he signed the AFD, which contained this clause:
The affirmations of the Second Vatican Council and of the later Pontifical Magisterium relating to the relationship between the Church and the non-Catholic Christian confessions, as well as the social duty of religion and the right to religious liberty, whose formulation is with difficulty reconcilable with prior doctrinal affirmations from the Magisterium, must be understood in the light of the whole, uninterrupted Tradition, in a manner coherent with the truths previously taught by the Magisterium of the Church, without accepting any interpretation of these affirmations whatsoever that would expose Catholic doctrine to opposition or rupture with Tradition and with this Magisterium.35
Unpacking this hermeneutic of John Paul II, which the GREC has fastened upon as the “solution” to the Society’s canonical problem, is Bishop Williamson (paraphrased):
Some players have blue uniforms, and some players have green uniforms. Nevertheless, all players having green uniforms shall be interpreted as having blue uniforms.36
In this way, the violation of the principle of non-contradiction is subjectively averted, but not objectively. Objectively, this dishonest method robs words of objective meaning and signification; it is self-imposed delusion and insanity.
And for what end?
Answer: It is a game that is played, allowing both sides to maintain their contradictory positions: To each other, they will say they have reached an agreement; to their own people, they will say they have not capitulated. But there is a punishment for this kind of trickery; an inherent curse which attaches itself to all who live this kind of lie, and which is often quoted by Bishop Williamson:
Those who do not act as they believe, will end by believing as they act.37
This is the key to understanding the “internal dynamism” of reconciliation which Fr. Cottier explained impacts all who go this route with Rome, following upon his conquest of Campos:
Many Lefebvrists maintain that “our” Paul VI Mass is not valid. At least now this group will not be able to think such a thing. Little by little we must expect other steps: for example, that they also participate in concelebrations in the reformed rite. However, we must not be in a hurry. What is important is that in their hearts there no longer be rejection. Communion found again in the Church has an internal dynamism of its own that will mature.38
Why does the internal dynamism of reconciliation “mature?”
Because having already moved from a position of certitude to doubt, and then again from doubt to reconciliation (via this dishonest hermeneutic, which makes of all who consent to use it double-talkers), the ego has lost itself, and floating in a dazed and confused state, ends up concluding, “I guess we don’t really disagree at all.”
The process of reconciliation is finally concluded at this point.
What is to be retained for the purposes of this article, is that Bishop Fellay’s willingness to participate in GREC placed the practical solution ahead of doctrinal considerations; it agreed to disagree on the doctrinal question, and in doing so, embraced pluralism.
I have just shown you how that matter will conclude in the end.
The Resumption of Talks with Rome in the Wake of the Failed Doctrinal Discussions
Shortly after the doctrinal discussions between Roman and SSPX theologians regarding disputed points of Vatican II began in 2009, Bishop de Galarreta gave a sermon at the seminary in La Reja, Argentina, which was no doubt designed to address concerns among the laity, who were in the initial stages of doubting the point and purpose of these discussions:
The SSPX had made a pilgrimage to Rome in 2000, which represented the first public manifestation of a willingness to come to a practical accord, per the GREC model (though none knew it at the time); a tainted motu proprio in 2007 declared the traditional Latin Mass had never been abrogated (but nevertheless went on to abrogate it, and also degrade it by subordinating it to the Novus Ordo); the “excommunications” of the four SSPX bishops were “lifted,” not declared null (an implicit admission by the SSPX and Rome that they were valid), while the “excommunications of Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer were left in place.
Meanwhile, Bishop Williamson had been sequestered indefinitely, and removed as an obstacle to the doctrinal discussions and an eventual practical accord.
Developments seemed to be following a conscious process.
Would the doctrinal discussions simply be a rubber stamp to an agreement already decided upon?
To pre-empt or calm these budding concerns, Bishop de Galarreta stated:
Everything is being recorded by their side and by ours, and it is also being filmed. So, though for obvious reasons we cannot relate everything that we are saying and studying, everything will be documented: there will be a testimony that is written, recorded, and filmed—before you, before the Church, before God.39
Leaving aside the fact that not a word of these negotiations has ever been released to the public, despite Bishop de Galarreta’s assurances (which makes the honesty of them suspect), there was never any hope that such discussions would ever bear fruit, without the conversion of one side or the other, as they held mutually exclusive positions: Either Dignitatis Humanae is, or is not, compatible with the teachings of the pre-Conciliar magisterium; etc.
As Bishop Williamson said in an interview with Mr. Pierre Panet regarding these discussions (at about the same time Bishop de Galarreta was giving his assurances):
I think that will end up as a dialogue of the deaf. The two positions are absolutely irreconcilable. 2+2=4 and 2+2=5 are irreconcilable. Either those who say 2+2=4 renounce the truth and agree that 2+2=5 — that is, the SSPX abandons the truth, which God forbids us to do — or those who say 2+2=5 convert and return to the truth. Or the two meet halfway and say that 2+2=4-1/2. That’s wrong. Either the SSPX becomes a traitor or Rome converts or it’s a dialogue of the deaf.40
Nothing could be more obvious.
Yet, Fr. Pfluger was “shaken” by the failure of the doctrinal discussions, and Fr. Nely complained that the SSPX’s theologians were “too closed up” during the discussions.41
This suggests that their hopes were not disappointed by failure of the SSPX theologians to convert their Roman adversaries, but rather, that the highest authorities of the Society were willing to go beyond “mere” doctrinal pluralism (you believe what you believe, and we will believe what we believe), and actually compromise their own doctrinal position itself.
Minimally, it evinces a hope that “the right words” would have been found to allow Rome to declare that the SSPX had accepted Vatican II, while Menzingen could declare it had retained its opposition to the conciliar errors. Which is to say, Menzingen hoped equivocation and ambiguity (the same tactics used at Vatican II) could have been implemented to reach such a result.42
Not to be deterred by the failed doctrinal discussions, Menzingen mobilized to plow ahead towards a practical accord with unconverted Rome. It called a meeting of all major superiors (sans Bishop Williamson, of course) in late 2011 to discuss what at that time was being called the “doctrinal preamble” (and later known as the Doctrinal Declaration), which would later be shown to include all the ambiguities and equivocations the General Council had hoped would have been agreed upon during the doctrinal discussions.
The salient point is this: The doctrinal discussions had completely failed to bring the Romans around to sound doctrine, but this did not dissuade Bishop Fellay from plowing ahead towards a juridical accord. But it was not a dialogue of the deaf after all:
Menzingen had compromised.
It consented implicitly to the heterodox principle of doctrinal pluralism: We will each continue to believe what we believe, and find the right words to satisfy both sides. But in reality, by adopting this “practical” principle of action, the SSPX had morphed from doctrinal intransigence, to doctrinal pluralism, and agreed to take its place in the pluralist conciliar religion, alongside the other “flavors” of “Catholicism.”43
Nothing says it better than this statement distributed by Bishop de Galarreta at the October 2011 meeting of major superiors in Albano, Italy:
But we have just seen in doctrinal discussions what is their design: pure modernism revised and corrected. In particular there will be implied that we would accept three principles implicitly:
1. Relativism of truth, even dogmatic, need for pluralism in the Church. For them we have the experience and charisma of Tradition, good and useful to the Church, but only partial truth. Their system and modernist dialectic (claiming the contrary) allows them to integrate us in the name of “unity in diversity”, as a positive and necessary element, provided we are in full communion (obedience to authority and respect for others and ecclesial realities) and that we remain open to dialogue, always looking for the truth. Proof of this is that they are ready to accept after the statement, both sides, a doctrinal opposition to faith – real and essential. How implicitly accept this principle, by explicit integration in their system and the official interpretation they give, then it is the foundation of modernism and is destructive of all natural and supernatural truth? It is accepting the relativism of Tradition, the only true faith.44
That Bishop Fellay brushed off these concerns, and proceeded towards signing the Doctrinal Declaration a few months later, is perhaps the strongest evidence of his acceptance of doctrinal pluralism: Actions speak louder than words.
The next time you hear someone claim that the SSPX is being “accepted as it is,” understand it is a lie. In accepting doctrinal pluralism, the Society is accepting the foundational principle of liberalism and ecumenism; it is accepting the Masonic “tolerance” preached by Voltaire; it is accepting the religious liberty of Dignitatis Humanae.45
The Society might not like to be told this, but neither can it deny it.
The April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration
In the spring of 2012, a letter of Bishops de Galarreta, Tissier de Mallerais, and Williamson was written to the SSPX General Counsel (Bishop Fellay, Fr. Pfluger, and Fr. Nely), and was subsequently “leaked” to the internet, in what has since become known simply as “The Letter of the Three Bishops.” The letter was a compilation of concerns and objections to the General Council’s signing of a practical accord with unconverted Rome. Among the many objections contained in the Letter was the following:
But, some will say to us, Benedict XVI is really well disposed towards the Society and its teaching. As a subjectivist this can easily be the case, because liberals subjectivists can tolerate even the truth, but not if one refuses to tolerate error. He would accept us within the framework of relativistic and dialectical pluralism, with the proviso that we would remain in “full communion,” in relation to the authority and to other “ecclesiastical entities.” For this reason the Roman authorities can tolerate that the Society continue to teach Catholic doctrine, but they will absolutely not permit that it condemn Conciliar teachings. That is why an even purely practical agreement would necessarily silence little by little the Society, a full critique of the Council or the New Mass. By ceasing to attack the most important of all the victories of the Revolution, the poor Society would necessarily cease being opposed to the universal apostasy of our sad times and would get bogged down.46
These three bishops understood that the acceptance of the Doctrinal Declaration was the acceptance of doctrinal pluralism, and that a merely practical accord would be disastrous for the faith of the Society and the entire Church.47 They also obviously understood the process of “internal dynamism” which would “mature,” as a consequence for entering into pluralism (as evinced by the last three sentences of the quote provided above).
Had not Fr. Cottier already exposed the plan and the process to plain view after his conquest of Campos?
Little by little we must expect other steps: for example, that they also participate in concelebrations in the reformed rite. However, we must not be in a hurry. What is important is that in their hearts there no longer be rejection. Communion found again in the Church has an internal dynamism of its own that will mature.48
The advice of the three bishops was quickly repudiated by Menzingen, which argued (among many other astonishing arguments) that:
If the pope expresses a legitimate will concerning us which is good and which does not order anything contrary to the commandments of God, have we the right to neglect or to dismiss this will?49
Had the process of “internal dynamism” “matured” to such a point already in 2012 (at least among the General Counsel of the SSPX) that they could not see that the acceptance of the doctrinal pluralism which the April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration imposed under the disguise of the “hermeneutic” (which allows each side to maintain its own position, initially, at least) was in fact the very order “contrary to the commandments of God” they claimed not to see?
Could they not perceive how roundly it contradicted St. Paul’s injunction to the Ephesians:
One body and one Spirit; as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism.50
But with the signing of the April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration only one day after having received the Letter of the Three Bishops (A letter which the response from the General Council said had caused them to accept a deal without further delay!), it was clear that Menzingen undervalued the concern about doctrinal pluralism, and was perfectly willing to represent but one more flavor of Catholicism in the conciliar pantheon.
The Letter of Bishop Fellay to Benedict XVI
By June of 2012, the “reconciliation” process of the SSPX was already in shambles. Though Bishop Fellay had survived the General Chapter that same month (with a little help from Rome51), he wrote a letter to Benedict XVI, stating:
I must admit to no longer knowing what to think. I had believed that you were disposed to leave till a later date the resolution of outstanding disagreements over certain points of the Council and liturgical reform, rather like when the Council of Florence, in order to achieve union, overlooked the question of the Greeks allowing divorce following adultery, and I committed myself in this perspective despite the fairly strong opposition in the ranks of the Society and at the price of substantial disruption. And I fully intend to continue to do my best to pursue this path to reach the necessary clarifications.52
Some might argue that this statement of Bishop Fellay does not evince a willingness to enter into doctrinal pluralism, but rather that it simply means what it says: That the doctrinal questions between the SSPX and Rome would be worked out later (just as Rome had proposed to do in the case of the Orthodox in the example cited by the bishop), not that we would “agree to disagree.” The problem with that argument is that it ignores the fact that, in making that offer to the Orthodox, Rome always considered that, eventually, the Orthodox would have to consent to accept Catholic doctrine regarding marriage/divorce. In making that analogy, therefore, one must allow that Bishop Fellay will eventually be expected to consent to the Conciliar doctrines.
That Rome has stated this explicitly (numerous times) shows the correctness of this interpretation: Either the statement of Bishop Fellay evinces a willingness to enter into doctrinal pluralism, or, it evinces something even worse (i.e., pluralism as a segue to total capitulation). We already know from Fr. Cottier (now Cardinal Cottier) above precisely how Rome anticipates and wills things to evolve in this regard.
When Bishop Fellay said that we must arrive at a point where one can disagree and still be a Catholic when it comes to the mentioned points of Vatican II at issue (religious liberty, ecumenism, and collegiality), the comment was overshadowed by other parts of Fr. Cusick’s interview.
It shouldn’t have been.
The statement as it stands is an endorsement of doctrinal pluralism.
To show that the statement was not taken out of context, or pre-empted by previous comments of Bishop Fellay seemingly contradicting and repudiating the notion of doctrinal pluralism, we took a closer look at some of those statements, to show that in fact such statements may not have been what they first appeared, confining, instead, the condemnation of pluralism to liturgical pluralism. We then corroborated this new reading of Bishop Fellay’s statements by stepping back to take a broader view of Bishop Fellay’s actions regarding a practical accord during his tenure which seemed to support our conclusion: His support of the GREC; his willingness to resume discussions regarding a practical accord with Rome in the wake of the failed 2009-2011 doctrinal discussions; his signing of the April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration; his letter to Pope Benedict XVI.
In each of these actions, we demonstrated how they implied an acceptance of doctrinal pluralism, thereby supporting our thesis, which we restate here:
The evidence tends to show that doctrinal pluralism was never truly an impediment in the mind of Bishop Fellay towards a practical accord with Rome.
We leave the reader with this parting thought from Archbishop Lefebvre on the inevitable consequences of accepting doctrinal pluralism:
The Pope desires unity outside the faith. It is a communion. Communion with whom? What? What? It is no longer a unity. This can be done only in the unity of the faith. This is what the Church has always taught. Why there were the missionaries, to convert to the Catholic faith. Now you must not convert. The Church is no longer a hierarchical society, it is a communion. Everything is distorted. It is the destruction of one notion of the Church, Catholicism. This is very serious and this explains why many are Catholics who abandon the faith.53
Did you catch that? A unity in government, but not in faith/doctrine, implies the whole religion is false, and causes the loss of faith for many who will come to the realization that religion is nothing more than theological gamesmanship.
But for those who have been given, and not forfeited, the grace of faith, an acceptance of a pluralistic solution is anathema. It would mean the voluntarily surrendering of your faith to a process of dissolution (even if you desired to retain it); to the relentless process of “internal dynamism” which is only fully “mature” when you have reached apostasy.
It happened to Rome.
It will happen to those Rome converts.
- Because the SSPX will have regressed from its former doctrinal intransigence and clarity, to a state of doctrinal ambiguity, as in fact was the case with the April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration.
- Ephesians 4:5
- The conciliar justification for this “unity in diversity” is the new “communion ecclesiology” of Cardinal Journet and Yves Congar at Vatican II, which found its expression and sanction in the new theology of Lumen Gentium (and later in Dominus Iesus). For an interesting article on “communion ecclesiology,” see here: http://cdn.theologicalstudies.net/58/58.3/58.3.4.pdf
- Ibid. “To illustrate this ecclesiastical pluralism, I use the analogy of a zoo. Up until the time of the Second Vatican Council, there was only one species of member in the Catholic Church – genuine Catholics. If somebody did not want to be a Catholic, if someone wanted to teach something else than what the Church taught, he was excommunicated. However, if you read the theology books published since the Council, you can almost say and think anything you want and still be in good standing. At the Council itself there was a general will to broaden the limits – the borders – of the Church.”
- http://www.lasapiniere.info/archives/100 (Note: This blog is managed primarily by Fr. Olivier Rioult, a Resistance priest formerly of the SSPX French District).
- See here at minute 12:30 http://sspx.org/en/media/audio/resistance-what-3b-question-and-answer-1864
- Ibid.Regarding Fr. Pfluger: Effectually, Fr. Pfluger [the First Assistant to Bishop Fellay] says he personally suffers from the canonical irregularity of the Society. He confided to a colleague, in June of 2012, “to have been shaken by the doctrinal discussions.” At the end of his conference at Saint Joseph des Carmes, he said, in a contemptuous way, to whoever wanted to hear him: “To think that there are still some people who do not understand it is necessary to sign! [an agreement with Rome].” Regarding Fr. Nely: Father Nély [the Second Assistant to Bishop Fellay], in April of 2012, in Toulouse, declared to twelve or so of his colleagues [SSPX priests], that “if the doctrinal relations with Rome failed, it is because our theologians were too closed-up” but he said to one of these theologians: “You could have been more incisive.”
- ablf3.com/attachments/response-to-an-sspx-pries1-pdf.197/ (See a very abridged list of 20 concessions/compromises in this article).
- Lelong, Fr. Michel. “Towards a Necessary Reconciliation,” p. 24.
- DICI editor Fr. Alain Lorans, one of the four founders of GREC, was the spokesman for the SSPX District of France. He immediately obtained permission from Bishop Fellay to participate in the dialogue “for a necessary reconciliation.” He was very attentive in keeping Bishop Fellay up-to-date with the progress of the dialogue.” http://www.therecusant.com/grec-book-review
- Fr. Gregoire Celier is a disturbing character. Among other things, his 2007 book “Benedict XVI and the Traditionalists” carries within it a Foreword written by Mr. Jean-Luc Maxence (a public Freemason and blasphemer). That’s two strikes against Fr. Celier: Participation in the GREC which has as its goal the reintegration of the SSPX into the conciliar church, and close friendships with the Lodge. Now given that most French politicians like Gilbert Perol (who conceived of the idea of the GREC) are in fact also Freemasons, we must be allowed to wonder whether the GREC itself is a Masonic artifice devised to conquer Archbishop Lefebvre’s Society, and eliminate the traditional Resistance. And certainly, in light of this strong evidence, we are also permitted to wonder about Fr. Celier’s connections to the Lodge, without being accused of rash judgment (which is only rash in the absence of such evidence). See also this thread on ABLF3.com: http://ablf3.com/threads/fr-grégoire-celier-agent-of-influence.807/
- Jacques-Regis du Cray, in addition to his overt GREC activities, has also served Fr. Lorans in the capacity of unofficial internet monitor and SSPX spokesman, combating Resistance arguments with the reconciliationist/GREC spin, as was recounted in Fr. Olivier Rioult’s book, “The Impossible Reconciliation.” Still active on the internet, particularly in France, but also frequently on Rorate Coeli under various pseudonyms as “Come de Previgny” and Ennemond,” Mr. du Cray presumably continues to exercise this unofficial and de facto role for the SSPX under Fr. Arnaud Rostand (successor to Fr. Lorans as SSPX Communications Director, responsible for internet communications, among other things).
- For evidence of the de facto resurrection of the GREC, see this article which reports on several GREC members reconvening for a colloquium much like that of 2003 mentioned above: http://sodalitium-pianum.com/g-r-e-c-reborn/ See also this thread on ABLF3.com: http://ablf3.com/threads/grec-reborn.815/
- Likewise, the contacts made from time to time with the authorities in Rome have no other purpose than to help them embrace once again that Tradition which the Church cannot repudiate without losing her identity. The purpose is not just to benefit the Society, nor to arrive at some merely practical impossible agreement. When Tradition comes back into its own, “reconciliation will no longer be a problem, and the Church will spring back to life.” http://archives.sspx.org/superior_generals_news/2006_general_chapter/declaration_of_2006_general_chapter.htm
- I could not find the source for this analogy in the Eleison Comments; possibly it was in one of the many YouTube conferences/videos.
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXs6qchnj0Q Minute 28:10
- See endnote #11
- “Ambiguity is the language of the modernist.” Pope St. Pius X in the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis.
- This observation ought to be remembered before all others, when hearing the Society claim that they are being “accepted as we are.” It is the most concrete doctrinal compromise among many pointed out elsewhere: The regression from doctrinal intransigence to doctrinal pluralism is a glaring manifestation of liberalism at the highest levels of the Society, and they are taking the whole edifice with them in the name of obedience, authority, and unity.
- It will not suffice to rebut my comments by pointing out that by the same rationale, I am unwittingly accusing Archbishop Lefebvre of accepting doctrinal pluralism, since he too was at one time willing to accept a practical accord with unconverted Rome: All Archbishop Lefebvre’s efforts were directed to the conversion of Rome. Once he realized Rome was no longer interested in converting, and promoting Tradition, he ceased the negotiations (and declared his unwillingness to resume them until Rome came back to the Faith). Conversely, Bishop Fellay has pursued his negotiations for a practical accord on the basis of an alleged “act of justice,” and as a perceived good for the SSPX, despite Rome’s manifest hostility towards Tradition, and clear signs it has no intention of coming back to Tradition. Has not Pope Francis explicitly stated, “There is no turning back the clock?”
- Note that since 2012, Bishops de Galarreta and Tissier de Mallerais have fallen victim to their own prognostication, even before the final consummation of the deal. Both now support the very accord they so vigorously opposed in 2012. Recall Bishop Williamson: “Those who fail to act as they believe, will end by believing as they act.” The internal dynamism of all the partial and incremental concessions and regularizations have taken their toll on these men. It would be a miracle of grace if they were able to recover.
- Ephesians 4: 4-5
- Recall that Rome had gotten cold feet regarding the deal, having witnessed the rebellion against the deal caused by the leaking of the Letter of the Three Bishops, the reaction against the response to it by the General Counsel, and the airing on the internet of the April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration, and all just before the convocation of the General Chapter. In order to help Bishop Fellay survive that Chapter as Superior General, in order to make a later attempt at an accord, Rome rejected the signed Declaration, and counter-offered a new deal which it knew Bishop Fellay must reject: The integral acceptance of Vatican II. This would create the illusion of Bishop Fellay rejecting the deal, with the result of restoring confidence among the ranks in his leadership. That in June, Bishop Fellay would still write the letter to Benedict XVI evinces he may not have been aware of this tactic.
- Fideliter, #79 (p. 8)