Bishop Fellay’s sermon given during the ceremony of the ordinations, in Winona (USA) on June 17, 2011 (part 2)
In the first part, Bp. Fellay recalled the priestly spirituality which will feed the new priests ordained during the ceremony. He then provided an update about the situation in the Vatican and the relationship between the Society of Saint Pius X and the Roman authorities.
My dear brethren, you would certainly like to hear something about the Society’s present situation. Where do we stand? What’s going on? I would prefer to tell you that it’s all sunshine or all clouds, but I have to tell you what it’s like today: we have clouds and sun! This is the case to such an extent that, for the last two years, we have constantly faced contradiction. Already two years ago, in 2009, I requested a meeting with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Bertone, because of the difficulty of the contradictions that we are always facing. I do not exaggerate the word “contradiction.” What does it mean? It means that we receive from Rome contradictory messages; some will tell you this and some will tell you that. It’s not only divergence; it’s contradiction.
Of course we think about it and ask why it is the case. Where does it come from? Our understanding is that, in Rome, as in the whole Church, there are different currents. To simplify, let’s call them the progressive and conservative currents. There are certain churchmen who are close to us and who like to see us be fostered. But there are others who hate us, this being the only phrase which correctly describes their behavior towards us. They hate us and they are in Rome. Sometimes things come from them and sometimes from the others.
Let me give you an example which took place last September. A priest, who used to belong to a religious order, and who had just joined us, received a letter from his former superior. He was told that he was no longer a member of his order and that he was excommunicated. To this letter was joined a letter of confirmation from the Congregation in charge of religious in Rome, stating the following: “Father is indeed no longer member of your order because he is excommunicated as he has lost the Faith by joining the formal schism of Archbishop Lefebvre.” This letter was dated last September!
So I went to Rome and asked the Secretary of the Eclessia Dei Commission what this was all about. He did not even let me finish the passage which I was reading from this letter before he said: “I know already. We–the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith–have told the Congregation for religious that they do not have the right to say something like that. They are incompetent, and they have to revise their judgment.” He then continued: “This is what you have to do with this letter” and acted like he was throwing it away. That’s the gesture he made! In other words, take it and put it in the trashcan. So one authority in Rome is asking me to throw away another Roman authority’s decision. Is that not a contradiction? He continued by saying the following: “You must tell your priests and faithful that not everything that comes from Rome comes from the pope!” I said to him: “It’s impossible. How do you want the faithful and the priests to be able to make that judgment? What comes from Rome, comes from the pope! Or else one might say what pleases me comes from the pope and what displeases me does not come from the pope!”
With such an example, my dear brethren, you have to understand that there is a serious problem in Rome. If an authority tells us: “Be aware that not everything that comes from Rome comes from the pope”, where does it then come from? How is it possible? Rome, the Vatican, is supposed to be the right hand of the pope. This means that the pope is no longer in control.
When I speak of contradiction, my dear brethren, I mean that certain people in Rome consider us as being outside the Church, excommunicated, and even as having lost the Faith and being heretics. But there are others who very clearly accept us as Catholics. When Bishop de Galarreta and our priests go to Rome for the doctrinal discussions, they say Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. How can you have both attitudes at the same time? Do you see how strong this contradiction is? My dear brethren, that’s why you can understand that we are very cautious. We are not going to throw ourselves into this turmoil, however much we welcome the sun but hide ourselves from the clouds.
Who is going to win in the Holy See? We have so many examples where we see that, when the pope wants to do something good, he’s blocked or paralyzed. I will give another of so many examples. The only Trappist abbot in Germany requested from the pope to return, not only to the Tridentine Mass, but to be able to restore the Rule and Constitutions that were in place prior to Vatican II. The pope granted it and, in order to make it possible, he removed him from the Benedictine Federation, which uses modern Rules, so that he could follow the old one. The pope placed the abbey directly under himself. Six months later, the abbot called a friend in Rome and asked him what was going on. “I have no news,” he said. His friend replied: “Write again to the Pope, but this time send the letter to me and I will personally take it to the pope,” which he did. He brought the letter and asked the Holy Father what was happening with this abbey. The pope, very surprised, said: “I granted the permission six months ago!” An inquiry was made and they found out that someone–we know exactly who it was–had put the letter in a drawer at the Secretary of State’s office. This time, this friend –who told me the story personally, so there is no hearsay–said to the Holy Father: “Write concesso (“permission granted”) in the letter and I will take care of it. I will bring the news to the abbey.” By doing this, they went around the Secretary of State to give news of the Pope’s decision. This is just one example.
To show you how limited the pope himself is in his actions, look at the recent text about the Tridentine Mass. This is yet again a beautiful example of the contradictory forces which are in Rome. On the one hand, it’s very obvious that there is a desire, with this text, to spread the Mass everywhere, to make it possible for every soul to have access to not only the old Mass, but to the old way the sacraments were given: all of the liturgical books are put at everyone’s disposal. But at the same time, there are surprising restrictions. The first restriction, which is very surprising, is that modern seminarians cannot have the old rite. Only those who are under the Ecclesia Dei Commission can be ordained according to the old way. Why then is it said that the pontifical which provides the old rite of ordination is put at their disposal?
But I may say that there is something worse. On the one hand, you have this desire to put the Old Mass at the disposal of all the souls in the whole world. But then you have paragraph 19 which says that those who want to be the beneficiaries of this must neither belong to groups nor even help those who are against the New Mass. But 95 percent of those who want the Old Mass are against the New Mass! Why do we want the Old Mass? If we were satisfied with the New, we wouldn’t even think about the Old one! Those who are against the validity or the legitimacy of the New Mass are deprived of the Old one. For them: nothing! That is no longer an act of reconciliation; that’s an act of war!
I think that the only way to explain how such divergences are possible in one text is precisely these divergences within the Vatican itself. Each party tries to get something. And, of course, we are in the middle of this mess.
So you hear all kinds of rumors: absolutely everything possible and impossible! Please, my dear brethren, don’t run after these rumors. If we know something, we will tell you. We have never hid anything and we have no reason to hide what’s going on with us. If we don’t tell you anything, its because nothing is happening. Some people say that something is going to happen. No; this is not true! The truth is that Cardinal Levada has called me to Rome and it appears that it will be around the middle of September. That’s the only thing I know. It’s about the discussions we had with Rome. After these discussions, it had been said that “the documents will be given to the higher authorities.” These are the exact words. That’s the only thing I know about the future. All the rest is made up. Please don’t run after these rumors.
All this shows, my dear brethren, that the fight is continuing. There are two dangers today, if I may say. The first is to be under the illusion that everything is fine, everything is finished, the fight is over. That, however, is an enormous illusion. I can guarantee you, my dear brethren, that if and when Rome finally corrects this canonical situation, the fight will start. It will not be the end! But we are not there yet. How long do we have to wait? I don’t know; I have no idea! We will continue to say that there is a crisis in the church. Sometimes it’s really frustrating because in Rome they give the impression that everything is fine, and the next day we talk to them it’s not. These are the words from the Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “But you know, it’s the priests, it’s the bishops, it’s the Catholic universities: they are full of heresies!” That’s what the the Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith told us in June 2009! So they know that the situation in the Church is dramatic. If they are able to say that it is full of heresies everywhere, it really means something! At the same time, they act as if everything is fine. It is disappointing and confusing, my dear Brethren, but that’s the situation.
Therefore, don’t get caught up in all these illusions. But at the same time, don’t let discouragement touch you. It’s true that this fight is long but we cannot change that. The devil remains the devil and we are not going to make peace with the him. It’s going to last as long as God wants, but we have all we need for this fight: grace and the support of God. So we must continue in this fight with serenity and without discouragement. It’s so clear that we are blessed by God. The traditional Mass that we are celebrating is nurturing the Christian spirit inside of us, the spirit of Christ, which teaches us that we have to stay away from the world, to make moderate use of earthly goods, and that what is most important is not here on earth. What is most important is God, heaven, our eternal destiny.
My dear brethren, if I call you to this Rosary Crusade, it’s precisely to help you get out of these traps, both of illusion and of discouragement. In this prayer, in this chain of roses which unites us to the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are sure to be under her protection and to be fighting the right fight. She will lead us! Do not fear; the good Mother is not going to abandon her children. Be generous, be really generous in these prayers. We cannot expect good things for the Church through human means. No, we expect them by supernatural means and prayer precisely is one of the mightiest means we have.
So my dear Brethren, I invite you to pray the rosary and to pray it well. The quantity does not matter so much as the quality: the way you pray. Why did the Blessed Virgin Mary bring the rosary to St. Dominic? What was her purpose? It was to unite the faithful with God in contemplation by meditating upon the events in the life of our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary. That’s the purpose of the rosary. It’s not just to say 15 decades or a certain number of rosaries but it’s like the melody, the background music which helps us meditate on the mysteries which unite us with our Lord Jesus Christ and with the Blessed Virgin Mary. So let us pray well! A well prayed rosary–we can be certain–is a very, very powerful thing. Sister Lucy of Fatima dared to say that the Blessed Virgin Mary gave a special efficaciousness to this prayer in such a way that the rosary would be the solution to all problems.
My dear brethren, in continuing this ceremony, let us place ourselves under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and under the protection of the Holy Ghost, asking Him to set the world afire, to put the flame of charity more and more into these priests and deacons that they, in turn, set the world afire, the invincible fire of charity, the love of God and one’s neighbor for the love of God. Amen. (Source : SSPX-Winona – Dici No. 237, 06/25/11)