Interview with Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, SSPX

H.E. Bishop Tissier de Mallerais

The following interview was conducted by Catholic Family News Editor, John Vennari on February 11, 2009. It took place in Syracuse, New York at the time when Bishop Tissier de Mallerais visited Society of St. Pius X’s Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God Church to administer the sacrament of Confirmation and to give a Sunday evening speech. In this interview the Bishop speaks of Archbishop Lefebvre and the Social Kingship of Christ; the upcoming doctrinal discussions with Rome; the possible framework for “regularization”; and the SSPX’s position regarding the Second Vatican Council.

JV: Your speech in Syracuse on February 8 was entitled “Archbishop Lefebvre, the Priesthood and the Social Kingship of Christ”. What is the significance of this title?

BTM: I wanted to show that according to Father LeFloch, who was the teacher of Marcel Lefebvre in the French seminary in Rome, and according to Archbishop Lefebvre, the priesthood contains not only the sanctification of souls, but also the baptism of the nations. The integrity of the priesthood leads to the conversion of the nations so that civil society submits itself to Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the full aim of the priesthood.

JV: In this speech, you had mentioned that the seminarians trained in the French Seminary under Father Le Floch constructed a three-point outline of how a revolution proceeds. Could you enumerate them?

BTM: I followed what Father Fahey explained from the teachers of the French seminary. They describe the three progressive points of the revolution.

First step of the Revolution: The elimination in government of Christ the King through the laicization or secularization of the State. Through this laicization, the civil law will no longer be submitted to the Gospel; and the Catholic religion will no longer be acknowledged publicly by the State. According to this revolutionary principle, the State is unable to give a judgment of truth about religion.

Second step of the Revolution: the suppression of the Holy Mass. Freemasonry wanted to do this at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th Century with the separation of the Church and State. They hoped the Christian would lose the Faith and abandon the Church and the Holy Mass be no longer celebrated.

Third step of the Revolution: to make souls lose the Divine Life of Christ, so that souls do not live any more in the state of grace. To make pagan souls, to make laicized souls.

JV: How do you see the Second Vatican Council and its reforms in the light of this three-point outline?

BTM: With the Second Vatican Council, these three points were effectively accepted by the Church.

First, the destruction of the Catholic State by the Declaration on Religious Liberty; the separation of the Church from the State; the State is unable to give judgmentƒ of truth in matters of religion. That is what Cardinal Ratzinger explained to Archbishop Lefebvre in his interview of July 14, 1987; that the State is unable to know what the true religion is.

Second, the suppression of the Holy Mass. This happened after the Second Vatican Council with the New Mass. This New Mass does not express the sacrifice of propitiation. Rather, it expresses more an offering of the People of God, but not a sacrifice celebrated by the priest in order to atone for our sins. This second point was realized by the liturgical reform.

Third, the laicization of souls. This is practically the situation today because hardly anyone goes to confession. Most Catholics no longer go to confession. The sacrament of Penance has been practically suppressed with so-called general absolution. Now Rome wants a turning back to individual confessions, but I am sure that many bishops will not accept because many priests do not want to hear confessions.

JV: Yet there are a good number of priests out there who do want to hear confessions.

BTM: Yes, but in general, modern priests do not like hearing confessions, and do not encourage confession. Sin, Original Sin, the need for confession, and satisfaction for sin are no longer talked about. Statistically, there are few confessions in parishes. The result is the majority of Catholics who still may have the Faith cannot live in the state of grace. Let us be realistic, it is such a corrupt world, it is impossible to live in the state of grace without the Sacrament of Penance.

JV: You noted that Archbishop Lefebvre saw the answer to today’s crisis of Faith as consisting in a reversal of those three points. Can you elaborate?

BTM: Yes, take the revolution program but reversed.

First, to give the Holy Mass back to the faithful, so that they receive the graces coming from the Sacrifice of the Cross – through the true Mass. That is what we are doing with our faithful. We see the fruits of sanctification. We see many families with many children, and many vocations.

Second, through the traditional Mass and sacraments, to have souls living in the state of grace. That is the situation of our faithful. I think that most of them are living in the state of grace. They come regularly to confession in order to increase sanctifying grace or to recover it if they have the unhappiness to lose it. They are living in the state of grace. Children are living in the state of grace. Children are taught to fight against the occasions of sin.

Third, with this group of Catholics living in the state of grace, to make actions in order to “recrown” Our Lord Jesus Christ in society, to give Him back His crown. They do this in their homes, in our Catholic institutions, little-by-little in their jobs, in their professions, to make their professions run according to the law of Jesus Christ; to be a good example at work among fellow workers; all this ultimately for the re-Christianization of civil society.

JV: In your talk, you spoke of the modern notion of “personalism” as the philosophical error of the Second Vatican Council that has corrupted the doctrine of the Church.

BTM: This error corrupted the so-called Declaration on Religious Liberty, saying that everyone has the right not to be prevented from worshipping the Divinity according to his own mind. This comes directly from personalism.

The true definition of the human person was given by Boethius: an individual substance of a rational nature. The Thomist insists on “the rational nature”, because man has an intellect that is made to discover, to grasp, the truth; and to hold the truth. Thus the perfection of the intellect is to know the truth, because the truth is the object of the intellect. Thus the perfection of the human person consists in possessing the truth.

But now, the new “personalists” take the same definition of the human person, but stress rather the “individual substance”. The person consists of being an “individual”, so they must have rights according to their individuality. That is to say, to have liberty without consideration of the truth. By stressing the “individual substance”, the human person has the right of an “individual”, his own principles, his own choices, without consideration of the truth. The possession of the truth is not essential in the new definition.

This was the teaching of Jacques Maritain in France, who was a Thomistic philosopher, but converted to “personalism”. He had great influence on Pope Paul VI and on the Second Vatican Council.

Personalism insists that the individual must be free, must be independent, must choose by himself. In this consists “human dignity”. And this was condemned by Pope St. Pius X Letter to the French Bishops against Sillonism.

JV: Can you comment on what you said in your talk: the Church cannot keep the truth without fighting error?

BTM: The whole history of the Church demonstrates this principle. From the first centuries, the Church Fathers spent their time fighting heresies and condemning heretics. The Council of Nicea, the Council of Ephesus, are demonstrations of this truth. The Council of Trent was a splendid Council because it condemned Protestantism. Never does the Church put in clearer light her own principles than when fighting against heresies. Thus today the Church ought to condemn false principles in order to put into light her own principles, revealed principles. It is a necessity. The Church cannot teach the truth without fighting errors. It is the providential way that the good Lord established for the magisterium of the Church.

JV: Would you say that the new orientation of “dialogue” is a false substitute for condemning error?

BTM: Yes, under the pretext of “charity”. Saint Augustine says let us love the errants but fight the errors. But now it is also, let us love the errors, let us respect all these errors. Because error is always professed by persons, so if we respect the persons, we ought to respect their errors. It is subjectivism.

JV: In light of teaching the truth and resisting errors, what can you tell us about the upcoming doctrinal discussions between the SSPX and Rome ?

BTM: According to the January 21 decree of Pope Benedict XVI, he declared he is open to these discussions, and I think they will be set up quickly.

JV: The SSPX, are formed in perennial Catholic magisterium of the centuries; formed according to the Syllabus of Blessed Pope Pius IX and the Syllabus against Modernism of Pope St. Pius X. The modern churchmen with whom you will have these doctrinal discussion are men who for the most part have been formed in the counter-syllabus of Vatican II; and in the new anti-anti-Modernism of the Council. Can we speculate how there will be a meeting of minds in the upcoming discussions?

BTM: Our intention is to put them in front of the contradiction between their doctrines and the traditional doctrines. We want to show them there is a real contradiction.

JV: How will these discussions proceed?

BTM: We intend to engage in a written discussion. We will put in writing our objections and they will respond. Perhaps toward the end there could also be face-to-face discussions.

JV: In these discussions, do you see language as a potential problem? For example, words such as “continuity” and “Tradition” are defined differently by the traditional Catholic and by present-day leaders in the Vatican.

BTM: It is difficult to discuss with people who have the same language but not the same meaning of the same words. So we will try to understand their philosophy and speak to them in terms of their own false philosophy. When we speak of “Tradition” we speak with them with an understanding of how they understand it; not to accept their new definition of it, but in order to understand their understanding of it.

JV: In 1988, the following was supposed to be on the original protocol between Rome and the SSPX: 1) that the SSPX get its own bishop; 2) that it has a majority in the Vatican ‘s Ecclesia Dei commission; 3) that the SSPX has autonomy from diocesan bishops. Will the SSPX still insist upon these when the time comes to talk about a juridical structure for the SSPX?

BTM: Yes, and it is what Rome is disposed to give. Cardinal Castrillon has already made some such plan, though the SSPX having a majority in Ecclesia Dei is not likely. As far as independence from the diocesan bishops, it appears Rome is ready to give us a structure that gives us a certain independence from the bishops, which is possible under Canon Law. I should note that we cannot rapidly seek out regularization. The doctrinal discussions will last a long time.

JV: One of the reasons I ask about autonomy from diocesan bishops is due to a recent statement from the Bishop Müller of Regensberg, Germany. Bishop Müller said that if the SSPX is regularized, they must also “accept that the seminary of Zaitzkofen falls under the supervision of the Diocese of Regensburg . The seminary should be closed and the students should go to seminaries in their home countries – if they are suitable for this purpose.”

BTM: We must have a juridical structure that protects us against such an enterprise of destruction from the bishops.

JV: If the SSPX is regularized, who would perform the ordinations and the confirmations?

BTM: Our own bishops. It would be contained in the final documents. But I must stress that this final juridical solution will not occur if Rome does not make a real conversion, because it would be impossible to obtain such a thing if Rome does not convert. It would not be possible to live such regularization without the conversion of Rome . I said this in an interview in La Stampa in Rome , and it was considered a scandal. Some said, “This bishop is ridiculous! What pretension! To convert Rome!” But that is our intention. It is clear. When we discuss with these people, it is to convert them.

JV: Since you’ve opened that topic, I’ll ask: Do you think the representatives in Rome also approach these discussions with the same intention: to convert the SSPX to a more councilor position? To make you “see the light”, or at least “feel the heat”?

BTM: Yes, that’s true.

JV: What about the fact that Archbishop Lefebvre signed all the documents of Vatican II, which means, some believe, that he saw no problems with the entire Council?

BTM: I have demonstrated in my biography of Archbishop Lefebvre – in the chapters on the Council – that the Archbishop felt at the time he could not refuse a decision of a general Council without separating himself from the Church. The great majority of the bishops signed the documents of Vatican II. Bishop de Castro Meyer signed all the documents of the Council. It was a collegial decision, and in a collegial decision, even if you do not agree with the decision, you have to sign it. For example, in the decree of nullity of marriage, there may be three or five judges deciding. If one judge does not agree, he will sign the decree anyway because the decision is taken as from the majority. Same thing with a general Council. It does not mean that Archbishop Lefebvre accepted all the decisions of the Council. For example, he voted to the very end against the document on Religious Liberty, and continued to publicly oppose Religious Liberty until his death in 1991.

Rather than read Vatican II in light of Tradition, we really should read and interpret Vatican II in light of the new philosophy. We must read and understand the Council in its real meaning, that is to say, according to the new philosophy. Because all these theologians who produced the texts of Vatican II were imbued with the new philosophy. We must read it this way, not to accept it, but to understand it as the modern theologians who drafted the documents understand it. To read Vatican II in light of Tradition is not to read it correctly. It means to bend, to twist the texts. I do not want to twist the texts.

JV: You had been with Archbishop Lefebvre from the beginning in 1969. You were with Archbishop Lefebvre in the three great landmarks of the SSPX in its dealing with Rome: the withdrawal of the permission for the seminary in Econe in 1975; the suspension in 1976; and the impasse with the Vatican that led to the Episcopal consecration in 1988. How does the present situation in 2009 compare/contrast with these earlier landmarks?

BTM: I think that from them nothing is changed. Ultimately, they want to take us back to the Second Vatican Council. To make us accept the decisions of the Second Vatican Council. The lifting of the excommunications did not affect this deep problem of the Faith. It did change something for those Catholics who do not understand our fight, who now see that we are not excommunicated, so this is a certain amount of good for the Church.

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Matt Abbott’s Column on Women Priests and the Excommunication Controversy

Matt C. Abbott column
The excommunication controversy

Matt C. Abbott
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by  Matt C. Abbott
February 2, 2009
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Some “WomenPriests” aren’t too happy that Pope Benedict XVI hasn’t lifted their excommunications like he has for the four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X.

The Boston Globe’s Michael Paulson reports that a group known as “Roman Catholic WomenPriests” has released a statement asserting (in part):

    ‘No priest pedophiles have been excommunicated. No bishops who were responsible for their continued placement in parishes after their pedophile history was known have been excommunicated. Theologians who teach and support Vatican II teachings and who support women’s ordination are silenced and/or excommunicated. Women ordained as priests are excommunicated. Priests and laity who support women priests are excommunicated. But, priests who reject Vatican II and who deny the holocaust and who openly deny the full equality of women are ‘rehabilitated’ after earlier excommunication?’

Not only are these women theologically-challenged — click on this link for an essay on why women cannot, theologically speaking, be ordained as priests — they are canonically-challenged as well.

Pete Vere, a canon lawyer and co-author of Surprised by Canon Law: 150 Questions Laypeople Ask About Canon Law and Surprised by Canon Law, Volume 2: More Questions Catholics Ask About Canon Law, had the following response to the above portion of the “WomenPriests” statement:

    ‘The priest-pedophile argument is a red herring, at the very least a misunderstanding of the purpose of excommunication. As a censure, excommunication is considered a medicinal penalty. That is, it’s not designed to be permanent, but to bring about repentance so that another penalty can be substituted. Most of the priests guilty of pedophilia were sorry for their actions, so the proper response is to strip them of their priesthood. Of course, if they refused this punishment and continued to act as priests, the Church could excommunicate them. However, the vast majority of these priests have accepted the consequences of their actions.’The reason the excommunications cannot be lifted against these so-called WomenPriests is that they are still misrepresenting themselves publicly as Catholic priests. They haven’t accepted that they have done something wrong and that their attempt at ordination was invalid. So long as this is the case and they refuse to repent of their actions which brought about the excommunications, the excommunications must stand. Should they repent of their actions and stop presenting themselves as priests, they too would have the right to have the excommunications against them lifted.’

Mr. Vere had a featured article published in This Rock magazine on the subject of excommunication and canon law; read it by clicking on this link.

On a related note, Catholic attorney Christopher A. Ferrara, a strong supporter of the SSPX, repudiates the opinions of Bishop Richard Williamson in regard to the Holocaust. See Mr. Ferrara’s column by clicking on this link.


Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic columnist with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management from Triton College in River Grove, Ill. He has worked in the right-to-life movement and is a published writer focused on Catholic and social issues. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com

© Copyright 2009 by Matt C. Abbott
http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/abbott/090202

Benedict XVI: Remission of excommunication an act of mercy

Translated Version:

Decree Lifting Traditionalist Bishops’ Excommunication

Decree Lifting Traditionalist Bishops’ Excommunication

“A Sign for the Promotion of Unity in Charity”

benedictatprayer

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the decree released Saturday by the Congregation for Bishops, advising of the lifting of excommunication of the four bishops ordained without papal permission by Marcel Lefebvre in 1988.

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With a letter of Dec. 15, 2008, sent to His Eminence Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Monsignor Bernard Fellay, in his name and in that of the other bishops consecrated June 30, 1988, again requested the lifting of the excommunication latae sententiae formally declared by decree of the prefect of this Congregation for Bishops on July 1, 1988.

In the mentioned letter, Monsignor Fellay affirms, among other things:

“We are always fervently determined in the will to be and to remain Catholics and to place all of our strength at the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept all of her teachings with a filial spirit. We firmly believe in the primacy of Peter and in his prerogatives and because of this, the present situation makes us suffer so much.”

His Holiness Benedict XVI, paternally sensitive to the spiritual unrest manifested by the interested parties because of the sanction of excommunication, and trusting in the commitment expressed by them in the cited letter to spare no effort in going deeper in the necessary conversations with the authorities of the Holy See in matters still unresolved, and to be able to thus arrive quickly to a full and satisfactory solution of the problem existing from the beginning, has decided to reconsider the canonical situation of the bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, which arose with their episcopal consecration.

With this act it is desired to consolidate the mutual relations of trust, [and] to intensify and make more stable the relationship of the Fraternity of St. Pius X with the Apostolic See. This gift of peace, at the end of the celebrations of Christmas, also aims to be a sign for the promotion of unity in charity of the universal Church, and with this means, come to remove the scandal of division.

It is desired that this step be followed by the solicitous fulfillment of full communion with the Church of the Society of St. Pius X, thereby witnessing to authentic fidelity and a true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the Pope, with the proof of visible unity.

In virtue of the faculties that have been expressly conceded to me by the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, in virtue of the present decree, I lift from Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of excommunication latae sententiae declared by this congregation on July 1, 1988, and declare void of juridical effects beginning today the decree published then.

Rome, Congregation for the Bishops,

Jan. 21, 2009
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re
Prefect of the Congregation for Bishop

INSIDE THE VATICAN on the Lifting of the Excommunication

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Excommunications Lifted for Society of St Pius X Bishops

By Andrew Rabel from INSIDE THE VATICAN

Extraordinary news came on the afternoon of January 24, with the removal of the excommunications of four bishops from the Society of St. Pius X. In a document signed by the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops in the Holy See, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re dated January 21, 2009 (see text below).

LEFEBVRE/SOCIETY OF ST. PIUS X/EXCOMMUNICATION

H.E. Bishop Bernard Fellay

Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Alfonso de Galaretta and Richard Williamson (two Frenchmen, a Spaniard, an Italian, and an Englishman) were consecrated bishops on June 30, 1988, by the Society’s late founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and his co-consecrator, Bishop Antonio Castro de Mayer (also deceased), in a ceremony at the seminary in Econe, Switzerland. The following day it was announced by Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, at that time head of the Congregation of Bishops in Rome, that all six men had incurred excommunication latae sententiae (automatic excommunication), the penalty laid down in the revised Code of Canon Law, Canon 1382, for directly participating in an episcopal consecration in the absence of a papal mandate.

The January 21 document says that Bishop Fellay, the Superior General of the Society (one of the four consecrated bishops, photo left) had written in December to Cardinal Dario Castrillon-Hoyos, Prefect of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, requesting the removal of the excommunications, saying, “We are always firmly determined in our will to remain Catholic and to place all our efforts at the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept its teachings with filial animus. We believe firmly in the Primacy of Peter and in its prerogatives, and for this the current situation makes us suffer so much.”

For his part, Pope Benedict, increasingly impressed by the attitude of the group to open a dialogue about remaining questions, and to respect the legitimate authority of the Holy Father, decided to lift the excommunications.

The document says this was the Pope’s reason: “This gift of peace, at the end of the Christmas celebrations, is also intended to be a sign to promote unity in the charity of the universal Church and to try to vanquish the scandal of division.”

In a message published on the Society of St. Pius X website, Bishop Fellay said, “We express our filial gratitude to the Holy Father for this gesture which, beyond the Priestly Society of St. Pius X, will benefit the whole Church. Our Society wishes to be always more able to help the Pope to remedy the unprecedented crisis which presently shakes the Catholic world, and which Pope John Paul II had designated as a state of ‘silent apostasy.'”

In the next issue of the Osservatore Romano, there will be an explanatory note further outlining the reasons for lifting the excommunications. We will report on that when it appears.

Lefebvre founded the Society in the diocese of Lausanne, Geneva & Fribourg in 1970, in order to train young men for the priesthood because of disquieting trends he had observed since the close of the Second Vatican Council, primarily in regard to the reform of the liturgy and the training of clergy. Previously he had been the Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers, and administered dioceses in France and Senegal. During the Council, he had been allied to the International Group of Fathers, the group that remained unyielding with regard to what they saw as the excesses of aggiornamento, or updating.

The success of Econe and affiliated seminaries throughout the word contrasted to the dearth of priestly vocations elsewhere in the 1970s, and it quickly drew the ire of the French Bishops’ Conference, and a number of persons within the Holy See (the trump card being French Secretary of State Cardinal Jean Villot). The principal issue was Lefebvre’s rejection of the Novus Ordo Missae of 1969. He did not contest the validity of the new rite, but he and others charged it contained numerous theological errors, and he argued for the primacy of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1570 after the Council of Trent, and for that reason known as the Tridentine Mass.

Things finally came to a head in 1975, with Lefebvre’s first ordination of a group of priests. The following year, after an ordination ceremony at Econe on June 29, 1976, Lefebvre and the priests within the Society were suspended a divinis from clerical activity.

Despite this, the Society flourished. Soon there were Lefebvrist priests with traditional Mass, parishes in many countries around the world. By the end of the 1980s, as Lefebvre realized that he was coming near to the end of his life, he felt the desire to consecrate bishops to carry on his work. But Rome refused to grant permission for any such consecration. To try to head off a schism, Rome decided to send an “apostolic visitor” from the Vatican, the late Cardinal Eduard Gagnon, to inspect Lefebvre’s seminaries and schools. Gagnon and Lefebvre sought a comprehensive agreement in which Lefebvre would be allowed to consecrate one bishop, if he agreed to certain things the Vatican asked of him. Considrable progress was made, and by May of 1988, it seemed Lefebvre would agree to the proposed conditions, and received Vatican permission to consecrate a bishop to lead the Society after him. However, things fell apart at the last minute. After signing a protocol of agreement on May 5, 1988, in which relations between the Society and Rome were to have been normalized, and the Society was granted a juridical structure, Lefebvre changed his mind. Those close to him say his decision came after a night without sleep spent almost entirely in prayer. The next morning, he told Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger that he doubted the terms of the agreement would, over time, protect the integrity of his Society. Lefebvre’s decision to withdraw from the agreement set the stage for the events which followed less than two months later, when he proceeded to consecrate the four new bishops. Lefebvre passed away in 1991.

In 1994, Bishop Fellay was chosen to be the second Superior General of the SSPX, following Fr. Franz Schmidberger. In his public discourse and manner, he was perceived as the most moderate and conciliatory of the four bishops.

Felllay was instrumental in organizing a pilgrimage to the four patriarchal basilicas in Rome, during the Jubilee Year of 2000, in cooperation with the Holy See.

This seemed to open the way to a new round of negotiations with the Vatican. Such talks had been impossible due to completely opposing views over three main issues in addition to the liturgy: ecumenism, religious liberty, and collegiality. Lefebvre taught that erroneous “progressive” or “modernist” interpetations of the texts of the Second Vatican Council had led many in the Church to break with the Church’s perennial teaching on these three matters. His Society was uncompromising in its opposition to modernism, and based its opposition on the condemnations of many Popes, especially the Pope from whom they took their names, St Pius X.

During the first years of the new millennium, and especially after the election of Pope Benedict XVI in April, 2005, the Holy See had become much more favorable to the celebration of the Old Mass, with the emergence of groups like the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter and the Institute of Christ the King. What was especially noted in Rome was the attendance of many young people at these celebrations of the Latin Mass. Increasingly, many Catholics who had not grown up prior to the Council (1962-1965) seemed eager to attend the old rite of the Mass, where there was a certain decorum, reverence, solemnity (Gregorian chant, communion on the tongue, kneeling for communion, the priest turned ad orientem or “toward the east”) which seemed to be missing in celebrations of the new rite.

It was starting to become quite evident that it was not only Archbishop Lefebvre and his followers who shared concerns about the direction of Church life following Vatican II. At the same time, the “Lefebvrists” continued to flourish, coming to number about 700 priests, 500 seminarians and tens of thousands of laity in 62 countries.

In their talks with officials of the Holy See, representatives of the Society always stressed that for any normalization of relations, all restrictions on the celebration of the Old Mass throughout the word were to be removed. [Following the 1988 excommunications, John Paul II had promulgated the apostolic constitution Ecclesia Dei encouraging all who wished to attend Mass in the old rite, which was never prohibited by law but which in fact had been almost universally suppressed, to seek permission from a local bishop.]

This goal was seemingly accomplished, in large measure, with the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum which Pope Benedict issued on July 7, 2007, and the Pope’s decision was greeted with joy among more traditional Catholics, and praised by Bishop Fellay. The document said that the old Missal had never been abrogated — an argument used by Lefebvre to defend his attachment to the old rite. [John Paul II had appointed a Commission of Cardinals to investigate the issue, and they had concluded the same. However, in 1988, when Lefebvre consecrated the four bishops, John Paul felt the time had not arrived for liberalization of the celebration of this liturgy, because of the overwhelming opposition of European bishops.]

Bishop Fellay met with Pope Benedict at Castel Gandolfo on August 29, 2005, only four months after Benedict’s election, and from that moment discussions started in earnest for the removal of the excommunications, which had always been another pre-condition for normalization of relations.

The President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission (set up to manage issues involving the traditional liturgy), Cardinal Dario Castrillon-Hoyos said in November 2007, a few months after the new rules regarding the celebration of the liturgy: “The lifting of the excommunication weighing on the bishops of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X since 1988 can happen but that it definitely depends on them.”

On June 4, 2008, just half a year ago, Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos set several conditions to be met by the SSPX to facilitate a lifting of the excommunications:

1. The commitment to a response proportionate to the generosity of the Pope.
2. The commitment to avoid every public intervention which does not respect the person of the Holy Father and which may be negative to ecclesial charity.
3. The commitment to avoid the claim to a Magisterium superior to the Holy Father and to not propose the Society in contraposition to the Church.
4. The commitment to display the will to act honestly in full ecclesial charity and in respect for the authority of the Vicar of Christ.
5. The commitment to respect the date — fixed for the end of the month of June [2008] — to respond positively. This shall be a condition necessary and required as an immediate preparation for adhesion to accomplish full communion.

[Signed] + Darío Card. Castrillón Hoyos

At a pilgrimage on the Feast of Christ the King in November 2008 to the sanctuary in Lourdes, France, Bishop Fellay initiated a rosary campaign for the removal of the excommunications, receiving in excess of 1 million pledges.

Reaction to the Pope’s decision to lift the excommunications has been divided. Many Catholic believers attached to tradition (whether in communion with the Church or not) have attributed the decision to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But a number of more “progressive” Catholics have said they are surprised that the Pope has acted in such a positive way toward bishops holding such conservative positions.

The remarks of Bishop Williamson on a number of subjects, particularly on the subject of the Nazi persecution of the Jews (1933-1945), has led to the accusation that he is a “Holocaust-denier.” Lifting his excommunication seems likely to present problems for Catholic-Jewish dialogue.

The SSPX reverts to the penalties given by Rome prior to the episcopal consecrations, and all six bishops in the Society remain suspended a divinis. The Society remains a group of Catholics in an irregular state. No chapel of the Society of St Pius X in the world is in communion with the Universal Church, and its priests sharing in the suspension are deprived of the clerical state (a separate matter from the validity of their ordinations). They cannot offer the sacraments of matrimony and penance validly, because that requires faculties from a local bishop.

But the first great hurdle in the way of a full ecclesial communion for the Society appear to have been removed.

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Text of the decree:
Saturday, January 24, 2009

Document repealing excommunications

CONGREGATIO PRO EPISCOPIS

By way of a letter of December 15, 2008 addressed to His Eminence Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Mons. Bernard Fellay, also in the name of the other three bishops consecrated on June 30, 1988, requested anew the removal of the latae sententiae excommunication formally declared with the Decree of the Prefect of this Congregation on July 1, 1988. In the aforementioned letter, Mons. Fellay affirms, among other things: “We are always firmly determined in our will to remain Catholic and to place all our efforts at the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept its teachings with filial animus. We believe firmly in the Primacy of Peter and in its prerogatives, and for this the current situation makes us suffer so much.”

His Holiness Benedict XVI — paternally sensitive to the spiritual unease manifested by the interested party due to the sanction of excommunication and faithful in the effort expressed by them in the aforementioned letter of not sparing any effort to deepen the necessary discussions with the Authority of the Holy See in the matters still open, so as to achieve rapidly a full and satisfactory solution of the problem posed in the origin — decided to reconsider the canonical situation of Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta, which arose with their episcopal consecration.

With this act, it is desires to consolidate the reciprocal relations of confidence and to intensify and grant stability to the relationship of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X with this Apostolic See. This gift of peace, at the end of the Christmas celebrations, wishes also to be a sign to promote unity in the charity of the universal Church and to try to end the scandal of division.

It is hoped that this step be followed by the prompt accomplishment of full communion with the Church of the entire Society of Saint Pius X, thus testifying true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope with the proof of visible unity.

Based in the faculty expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, in virtue of the present Decree, I remit to Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of latae sententiae excommunication declared by this Congregation on July 1, 1988, while I declare deprived of any juridical effect, from the present date, the Decree emanated at that date.

Rome, from the Congregation for Bishops, January 21, 2009.

Card. Giovanni Battista Re

Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops

Bishop Fellay’s letter in response to the decree:

Letter of the Superior General of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X

Dear faithful,

As I announce in the attached press release, “the excommunication of the bishops consecrated by His Grace Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, on June 30, 1988, which had been declared by the Congregation for Bishops in a decree dated July 1, 1988, and which we had always contested, has been withdrawn by another decree mandated by Benedict XVI and issued by the same Congregation on January 21, 2009.” It was the prayer intention I had entrusted to you in Lourdes, on the feast of Christ the King 2008. Your response exceeded our expectations, since one million seven hundred and three thousand rosaries were said to obtain through the intercession of Our Lady that an end be put to the opprobrium which, beyond the persons of the bishops of the Society, rested upon all those who were more or less attached to Tradition. Let us not forget to thank the Most Blessed Virgin who has inspired the Holy Father with this unilateral, benevolent, and courageous act to. Let us assure him of our fervent prayers.

Thanks to this gesture, Catholics attached to Tradition throughout the world will no longer be unjustly stigmatized and condemned for having kept the Faith of their fathers. Catholic Tradition is no longer excommunicated. Though it never was in itself, It was often excommunicated and cruelly so in day to day events. It is just as the Tridentine Mass had never been abrogated in itself, as the Holy Father has happily recalled in the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of July 7, 2007.

The decree of January 21 quotes the letter dated December 15, 2008 to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos in which I expressed our attachment “to the Church of Our Lord Jesus-Christ which is the Catholic Church,” re-affirming there our acceptance of its 2,000-year-old teaching and our faith in the Primacy of Peter. I reminded him that we were suffering much from the present situation of the Church in which this teaching and this primacy were being held to scorn. And I added: “We are ready to write the Creed with our own blood, to sign the anti-modernist oath, the profession of faith of Pius IV, we accept and make our own all the councils up to the Second Vatican Council about which we express some reservations.” In all this, we are convinced that we remain faithful to the line of conduct indicated by our founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, whose reputation we hope to soon see restored.

Consequently, we wish to begin these “talks” — which the decree acknowledges to be “necessary” — about the doctrinal issues which are opposed to the Magisterium of all time. We cannot help noticing the unprecedented crisis which is shaking the Church today: crisis of vocations, crisis of religious practice, of catechism, of the reception of the sacraments … Before us, Paul VI went so far as to say that “from some fissure the smoke of Satan had entered the Church”, and he spoke of the “self-destruction of the Church”. John Paul II did not hesitate to say that Catholicism in Europe was, as it were, in a state of “silent apostasy.” Shortly before his election to the Throne of Peter, Benedict XVI compared the Church to a “boat taking in water on every side.”

Thus, during these discussions with the Roman authorities we want to examine the deep causes of the present situation, and by bringing the appropriate remedy, achieve a lasting restoration of the Church.

Dear faithful, the Church is in the hands of her Mother, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. In Her we place our confidence. We have asked from her the freedom of the Mass of all time everywhere and for all. We have asked from her the withdrawal of the decree of excommunications. In our prayers, we now ask from her the necessary doctrinal clarifications which confused souls so much need.

Menzingen, January 24, 2009
+Bernard Fellay

Deo Gratias, Excommunication Lifted!

Their Excellency's, Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta

Their Excellency’s, Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta

Updated at the bottom of the post.

Congregation of Bishops

By letter of 15 December 2008 addressed to His Eminence Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Mons. Bernard Fellay, also on behalf of the other three bishops consecrated on 30 June 1988, again petitioned for the removal of the excommunication latae sententiae formally declared by Decree of the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops on 1 July 1988. In the aforementioned letter, Mons. Fellay affirms, among other things: “We are always firmly determined in the will to remain Catholics and to put all our forces at the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept its teachings with filial spirit. We believe firmly in the Primacy of Peter and his prerogatives, and therefore the current situation makes us suffer so much.”

His Holiness Benedict XVI – paternally sensitive to the spiritual distress expressed by those involved because of the sanction of excommunication and trusting in the commitment expressed by them in the aforementioned letter not to spare any effort to enlarge upon more deeply in the necessary talks with the Authorities of the Holy See the questions still open, in order to be able to soon reach a full and satisfactory solution to the problem at the source – has decided to reconsider the canonical situation of the Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta arisen with their episcopal consecration.

With this act it is desired to consolidate the mutual relations of trust and to intensify and give stability to the relations of the Fraternity of St. Pius X with this Apostolic See. This gift of peace, at the end of the Christmas celebrations, intends also to be a sign to promote the unity in love of the Universal Church and to get to remove the scandal of division.

It is hoped that this step is followed by the prompt accomplishment of full communion with the Church of the entire Fraternity of St. Pius X, thereby demonstrating true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and the authority of the Pope by the proof of visible unity.

According to faculty expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, by virtue of this decree, I remit to the Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of excommunication latae sententiae declared by this Congregation on 1 July 1988 while I declare without juridical effects, as of today’s date, the decree issued at that time.

Rome, from the Congregation for Bishops, 21 January 2009.

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re

Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops

VIVA IL PAPA!

Updates:

From DICI’s website   

and

Letter from His Excellency, Bishop Fellay 

 and

CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS

.

Archbishop Burke Proves Lightning Strikes Twice in the Same Place!

 burkeb.jpgb2.gif

Play it again Sam! 

By: http://stlouiscatholic.blogspot.com/

Yes, it’s true. Yet another decree of excommunication was published in the St. Louis Review today. This time it is a decree against Stanley Rozanski and Bronsalaa (Bernice) Krauze, members of the Board of the Polish St. Stanislaus Kostka Corporation. For some reason that I cannot fathom, it does not yet appear on the Review’s website. Therefore, I will try to summarize and publish excerpts from the decree for the benefit of readers. In censure and content, it is similar to the decree issued concerning the “womenpriests” as it relates to the schism finding.The Archbishop begins by recalling that the members of the Board of Directors other than Rozanski and Krauze had incurred excommunication, latae sententiae, “by reason of having committed the canonical crime of schism on December 15, 2005” (this was after the hiring of Fr. Bozek and before the suppression of the parish on December 29, 2005).Echoing his findings with regard to the “Roman Catholic Womenpriest” organization, the Archbishop finds that since the date of suppression as a Catholic parish in 2005, “the entity of the Polish St. Stanislaus Kostka Corporation has never been and is not now a part of the Roman Catholic Church but instead is a sect and will remain so for as long as it willfully exists separated from full communion with the Vicar of Christ and the fold of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, loyally subject to him.”The Archbishop further noted that Rozanski received a canonical admonition on July 31, 2007, warning him of his obligation to resign from the Board, and not to present himself as a candidate for further election.

Despite this, Mr. Rozanski and Mrs. Krauze presented themselves for election, and were elected to the Board on August 12, 2007. According to the decree, “Mr. Rozanski and Mrs. Krauze took sacrilegious oaths of office to be directors of said sect”, and have continued to act as directors since that time.

The Archbishop further noted that the two had received three canonical admonitions and summonses since September 2007, and have three times failed to appear as directed.

Therefore, the Archbishop found that both Rozanski and Krauze are guilty of the canonical crime of schism (can. 751), and he has declared them to have incurred the censure of excommunication, latae sententiae (can 1364, sec. 1); they are no longer Catholics in good standing and they are forbidden, as in the case of the womenpriests, to receive Holy Communion and the other sacraments, including absolution, until they have publicly repented and made amends for their crime.

The decree is http://www.archstl.org/images/stories/pdfs/03-12-08-delcaration_rozanski-krauze.pdf

Archbishop Burke has issued the following statement

Statement Regarding New Members of Saint Stanislaus Kostka Corporation Board

As Archbishop of St. Louis, it is my responsibility to safeguard the unity of the Catholic Church and protect the souls of the faithful.

I have communicated with both Mr. Rozanski and Ms. Krauze that the Board of Saint Stanislaus Kostka Corporation is in schism, the parish had been suppressed, and that if they joined the board, they would be knowingly joining a sect that held and professed views outside the communion of the Catholic Church. Because they joined the board knowing this information, they excommunicated themselves from the Catholic Church. Church law requires me to publicly declare the excommunication.

The situation of Mr. Rozanski and Ms. Krause is sad for the whole Church. It is cause of great concern for me as archbishop. Please join me in praying that both will be reconciled with the Church and that the great harm which has been caused to the Church, with the help of God’s grace, will be healed.