Speaking to Fr. Alain Lorans of the French Radio Courtoisie, Bishop Fellay discusses a wide range of topics, from Vatican II & Amoris Laetitia to the ungodliness of the modern government and the truth behind the latest talks between the Society and Rome. He also talks about the spiritual infertility in the modern church. This man speaks so beautifully on the Faith and tradition, that it is well worth the read. I have posted his insightful interview from the Dici website, which you can read below. God bless Bishop Fellay & the Society of St. Pius X, and may our patrons keep them steadfast in the Faith always.
~Damsel of the Faith
Fr. Alain Lorans: Your Excellency, you have been the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X for over 20 years. Over this period of time, have you seen a change in the Church, in the Society, or in the world during your travels? You just returned from South America; where have your latest trips taken you?
Bishop Bernard Fellay: My latest trips? First I went to the United States for the blessing of the new seminary. I also participated in a congress on the other side of the United States, the west coast. And then in December we had ordinations in Argentina. While I was over there I stopped in Peru to see how things are coming in Lima; we have a chapel there, too. Those were my two most recent big trips last year.
Fr. Lorans: Have you noticed an evolution over the last 20 years and more?
Bishop Fellay: It takes time to tell if something is really moving. There has been a certain evolution, but it is very gradual. Extremely gradual, practically imperceptible. I think there have been some changes, but the heart of the struggle – we will probably come back to this – the heart of the struggle is still the same. There are new elements and the battle of ideas has not changed. What has changed is men, or to be more precise, a generation has come and gone. The fighters of the early days are in a better world now – not all of them, but most of them. The older ones – I might say my generation (I was just in my twenties, and I remember it well) – the older ones lived in a much more aggressive climate than today.
But there is a new aggressiveness coming, but this time it is not coming from the Church – the Church is in such decline, there is no new aggressiveness, just the same things over and over. But with the governments, there is a sort of global ideology setting in worldwide; it is very left-wing and it is taking over; it wants to take over. It is the same ideas as always, but it is becoming more aggressive.
Governments increased aggressiveness towards the Natural Law
Fr. Lorans: In France we have seen “marriage for all,” “homosexual marriage,” and the “Gender theory.” Have you seen that everywhere in the world?
Bishop Fellay: Yes, it is universal.
Fr. Lorans: And are all the Catholics close to tradition protesting and fighting against these ideologies?
Bishop Fellay: There are not enough traditional Catholics to make up a political group or movement. An ideological group, yes. And there are others, the conservatives, who are reacting more or less. It depends on the countries. We try to help them, too, and even to participate, but it is different from country to country. We are in the fight, but perhaps not always at the head of it. From our point of view, of course, we are, because we always have something to say, but we cannot look only at ourselves. If we look at the overall picture, we are but a very small number. As far as numbers go, we have no weight, whereas as far as ideas go, we do. As far as the battle of ideas goes, we represent something very solid, and I think that is why we are feared.
Fr. Lorans: By whom? Who fears us? Who is afraid of tradition?
Bishop Fellay: Oh, everyone! I think it is very widespread. Certainly not just what we used to call the progessivists, or the ecclesial groups that tried to wreak havoc in the Church with Vatican II. They are there, they are still there, and that battle is still waging. But there are also those who helped inspire these changes in the Church or tried to establish them in the Church. And they are still as aggressive as ever, if not more so. It is easy to see that Freemasonry is behind these modern ideas. Something new that didn’t exist 30, 50 years ago is the homosexual lobby. At the time, it wasn’t very well known, it was rare, and no one talked about those things because they weren’t very well known. And then suddenly they came in like a wave, and they are trying to make everyone believe they are the majority. I do not think they are, but they have what they need to impose these laws that destroy society, because they destroy the laws of all society, the natural law. If things continue in this way, the world will die of sterility.
Fr. Lorans: Because there will be no more children?
Bishop Fellay: There will be no more children. People seek personal pleasure and have lost any sense of the common good, of a good that is greater than man, and to which each man must contribute – and that is called the common good. Everyone benefits from it, but it supposes everyone’s collaboration. The minute the personal good comes first, it leads to the destruction of society, and that is what is happening under our very eyes in the most stupefying way. I don’t think it is anything new. It began 20 years ago. Or maybe some 40 years ago. I think that 1968 was the start, but this anti-natural current was not yet visible. It came later, I think it came before the year 2000, in the 80’s and 90’s with what we call the New Age. That is when these new destructive ideologies came in.
The heart of the fight is the same as ever: it is the fight of those who are against God, who reject any law that does not come from men alone – the “social contract.” And yet it does not take much to see that there are laws everywhere. Take the physical laws for example; they weren’t written in nature by men. The same with human nature. There are laws that have to be followed for the normal development of human nature. There is no doubt about it: if you do not wish to respect them, it is like any law, any manual, any instruction booklet. If you have a washing machine and you do not wish to follow the instructions, well, you ruin your machine. And here they are ruining the human machine, be it the individual, the person, or society.
We are really coming to exceptional times. A time of dissociety. A sort of dissolution of society, a loss of the common good, the disappearance of the idea that there is a goal, that every society has a goal. And we have also lost the idea of authority, the need for an authority to unite men’s wills in order to reach this goal. Hence the need to submit to authority, and the need for authority to remain objective and not arbitrary. When you see how governments are behaving today, it seems like so many absolutely fundamental values are forgotten in favor of the individual or of whoever wishes to establish his own personal power or to keep his power. And we see this as much in society as in the Church. Today in the Church – and this is new – we are also witnessing a time of dissolution in the Church. The loss of unity in the Church today is absolutely staggering.
Sterility affects the Church
Fr. Lorans: You speak of a society marked by sterility in the most concrete sense of the word: no more children, no more fecundity; it is a form of suicide. And you even say that the Church is affected, too? Is she, too, heading towards a suicide through infecundity? Especially since there are so few vocations?
Bishop Fellay: Yes, exactly. We can see that adopting modern ideas, the modern mindset that came in with the Council – these ideas were at least latent before, and the Council more or less incorporated them, and so in the end they really entered into the Church with and thanks to the Council – these ideas of the modern world, these modern ideas have the same results. It may be less visible, but the result is there: empty seminaries, empty churches, convents, and religious societies that are extinct or going extinct. There are so many. It is a phenomenon that is very present today and that is parallel to what is happening in society. So far the Church seems to reject, more or less timidly, sometimes strongly, the attacks on the natural law. So there is still a struggle between the world and the Church. It still exists, so it is not exactly the same thing, but it is still a little bit of a parallel development. And we do not hesitate to say that when it comes down to it, the fruits, the evil fruits, come from the same spirit, the spirit of the world.
It is a spirit of independence from God, a spirit that wishes to free itself from the yoke of God’s law that is too harsh or too difficult. No more spirit of sacrifice: that is one of the marks of the modern Church. The Crucified Christ is taken off the crosses, they do not put Our Lord on the cross any more. They have taken Him down; they no longer want to see the Man of Sorrows. He has risen from the dead and Alleluia! But the world we live in remains a world of suffering, and oh, how we need to know that God Himself willed to share our sufferings, not only to lighten them, but to save us, to give these sufferings a redemptive value! But they have taken all that away and replaced it with a sort of new mysticism, the Paschal mystery. In reality, it is a mystification. It used to be very simple: there was Good Friday, when Our Lord died for us, for our Salvation, and then He rose from the dead because He is God. He is true man, He died. He is true God, He cannot die, and He rose again because He is God. Now they wish to forget death, they wish to forget that we have to go through death and mortification. They wish to forget it.
Fr. Lorans: They want to go straight to Easter Sunday and erase Good Friday?
Bishop Fellay: The interesting thing is that in the economy of salvation, the order we have to follow to obtain salvation and eternal life, we have to die. That is what they no longer want. They want to obtain life without dying.
Fr. Lorans: So they refuse “unless the seed die?”
Bishop Fellay: Exactly. That is exactly it. That is the problem with the modern Church.
Fr. Lorans: And so the seed remains alone and bears no fruit. It becomes sterile.
Bishop Fellay: Exactly. They no longer bear any fruit and they have become sterile. It is all there. As soon as a conservative bishop opens a seminary in which he upholds order and requires a little discipline, the seminary fills up. But so few bishops have understood that. The others do not want to hear it; they prefer to remain sterile. And I am convinced that they do not understand why it doesn’t work. But we understand very well why.
Fr. Lorans: You say they refuse sacrifice; there was much talk of the family at the last Synod. Is it the same thing with the post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia: a refusal of discipline, authority, the teaching of Christ and a sense of sacrifice?
Bishop Fellay: I don’t think it is out of principle. It is somewhat of an unusual event. I’ll try to explain it. What I see in our pope today, Pope Francis, is a care for souls, but especially souls that are rejected, so souls that are lonely, that are set aside or despised or simply in difficulty. What he calls the “existential peripheries.” So is it really the famous lost sheep? Is Pope Francis leaving the flock of 99 other sheep, thinking he is where he should be, taking care of the lost sheep? Is that maybe what he is thinking? I say maybe, I am not trying to give a complete answer. Let’s just say that we can see in everything he says that his attention is universal, he does not look only at the Faith. He looks at the homeless, immigrants, and prisoners. And yes, these are people who have been left aside by others, but one does not need the Faith to see that. One does not need the Faith to see that these people suffer. And then you have divorcees. They, too, suffer. And you have us, we are rejected, too. And in the end, we are all sort of in the same category, the category of those rejected by the common body. And he wants to care for those souls. He wants to try to do something. The problem is that for many of these souls in difficulty, they are there because they have butted heads with a law in one way or another.
So we have a pope who has a problem with the law that hurts some of humanity, so to speak, and who tries to see if there is not some other way, – not to get rid of the law, I do not think that is his idea – but to see if there is some other path for them. I’m trying to understand what he does, but it is not easy.
Cardinals’s dubia on Amoris Laetitia: work of public salvation
Fr. Lorans: It is so difficult that four cardinals voiced their doubts, saying that Amoris Laetitia presents serious doctrinal problems.
Bishop Fellay: And they are right. But look at how the exhortation is written – and that is the problem today – it opens up gray areas! The pope says things are not all black and white, some are gray, but the law is made to state things clearly! And it necessarily establishes a black and white, a yes and no. We know that in everyday reality, there can be exceptions, at least in ecclesiastical law – there is an important distinction between the law of God and the law of the Church, for God foresees everything, He knows all the circumstances, He knows all the situations men could find themselves in when He establishes the law, and His law has no exceptions: the law of God, His commandments have no exceptions. But in human law, even Church law, in other words the laws made by the Church, man does not have this infinite wisdom of God, and the Church knows there are bound to be circumstances in which the law, if applied, would harm souls, and these are exceptions, and in this black and white situation, we can say it is gray. When it is a matter of ecclesiastical law, the Church is ready to make exceptions very easily and very broadly; it is admirable to see just how broadly. But again, the law of God has no exceptions.
Fr. Lorans: So does communion for the divorced and “remarried” depend on the law of God or the law of the Church?
Bishop Fellay: The law of God. Our Lord explicitly spoke of the precise case of separated spouses. St. Paul said so clearly, – and when we say St. Paul, we have to be careful; he is one of the instruments of God who transmits the Word of God, so it is not St. Paul as a man, but God speaking through St. Paul. It is Sacred Scripture. In the Gospel and the epistles, there is no doubt, it is God speaking. It is God speaking through St. Paul. This law is very clear, there is no gray area: he or she who is separated from his or her spouse and lives with another in a marital way commits adultery. Our Lord says so (see Matt. 19:9). He has broken faith, his word given to his spouse; he violates this promise with someone else. It is a sin, and because this union is on the level of society, it is a public sin. Even if there are not many people around, it is a public reality. So it is a sin that is more serious because of the bad example, the scandal for others. That is why God, but also the Church, takes very severe measures: a public sinner, for example, is not allowed to receive burial in the Church. The Church is very severe. As well she should be, because it is about protecting healthy souls.
In fact, the problem we have today is that a certain number of bishops and priests have for years and decades blessed these false unions themselves. The Vatican even had to intervene in France to forbid these rituals . . . that still continue. That is what I was told in Rome. And for Rome to step in, it had to be pretty widespread. These are priests and bishops who have blessed people living in sin, and then you want to refuse them communion. It makes no sense! It is logical, but it is a logic in sin. And it is serious. Very serious.
The texts themselves are not going to be explicitly open to this perspective. In the text of Amoris Laetitia, it is not going to say explicitly: now we can give them communion. It is much cleverer than that. It opens the doors without stepping through them: others will step through them. That is what is so serious: where there was once a clear distinction between good and evil, it opens a gray area that does not exist. And then it says: within this gray area, each man is left to his own conscience or to who knows what. That is false! Simply false. So the cardinals who spoke out, we can say that they accomplished an extremely important work of public salvation. It is too bad they were so few, but I think that is part of human weakness. We know very well that there are many more, but the brave are not legion.
Vatican II and Amoris Laetitia present the same problem
Fr. Lorans: Cardinal Burke said we might see a form of fraternal correction from the four cardinals towards the Holy Father, but very recently, Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that the Faith was not challenged in Amoris Laetitia and that [the dubia of the four cardinals] should not have been made public. What do you think?
Bishop Fellay: I think it is a perfect illustration of the problem we have today. We, the Society, with our objections to the Council. I think in a way it is the same problem. There are several levels. There is the level of the battle of ideas, and there is a second level, the level of those who spread these ideas, the people. And there is a back and forth movement between the two. You have people who see the problem but do not dare to say anything or to mention it for several reasons. Some distinctions are needed here: they do not dare to say anything because of the famous principle of the Holy Ghost’s assistance to the head of the Church. The Holy Ghost governs the Church through her head. The Holy Ghost cannot be mistaken, so it must be the same for the Vicar of Christ. Then, for lack of distinction and depth, perhaps out of superficiality or because it is easier, they begin to say, “Everything the Pope does is good.” Something he does cannot be bad. It must be good. Something he says cannot be false, it must be true. These are things we have been told about the Council. And even today, some reproach us, they tell us we cannot be against the Council. It’s not possible: it is a Council of the Church, there is the Holy Ghost, He is good, period, end of story! And we say that there are still problems. And they answer, “Yes, sure, some have misinterpreted the Council. But that is not the Council!” To which we answer, “Perhaps, but they understood it by going from the texts, and the texts were ambiguous!”
Those we speak with in Rome go so far as to admit, “Yes, it is true, some texts were ambiguous.” Even Benedict XVI in his famous speech to the Roman Curia before Christmas 2005 admitted: “Ambiguous texts were drawn up in order to obtain a greater majority, a greater consensus.” But they tell us that a Catholic has no right to read these texts in anything but a Catholic way. So he must eliminate all possible interpretations that go against what the Church has already taught, against the Faith. In theory, this is true, it is perfectly true, and it is exactly what we say. It is exactly the criterion Archbishop Lefebvre gave us on the Council: we accept everything in the Council that is faithful to Tradition. We accept everything that is doubtful or ambiguous insofar as it can be understood the way the Church has always taught it. And following the Archbishop’s example we say: there is a third category of documents that are not just ambiguous, but actually false. And since this category goes against what the Church has always taught – it is not our own little personal judgment; we are not Protestants; the Church had already spoken of these things and she even condemned many of the errors – we continue to condemn it, because the Church has always done so.
That is our position. We say, “In theory, it is perfectly right to state that the only Catholic way to interpret the Council is in the light of Tradition.” But the problem is that once this principle is laid down, they tell us, “That is the way it is, so everyone is interpreting it in a Catholic way.” But we answer once again, “Open your eyes, look around you! That is not what is happening. In theory, it should be like that, but in reality there is a huge problem. The reality is different.” That is what we see with Amoris Laetitia. You have Cardinal Müller who says, “This text does not go against the Faith.”.In other words, it can be interpreted in a Catholic way. Not only we can, but we must interpret it in a Catholic way. Those who do not interpret in a Catholic way are wrong. He doesn’t say it as clearly as that because if he did, he would be pointing a finger at his leader. What he leaves unsaid is extremely important . . . and the four cardinals rightly pointed out this gaping flaw in the doctrine that had been clear until now, really very clear. For the door that has been opened to the divorced and remarried had no right to be opened. Simply no right. And that’s why Cardinal Müller says, “We have not gone through the door, we have not abandoned divine law.” Officially, this is true, except that a certain number of Bishops’ Conferences have already shown the way out.
Fr. Lorans: And in a laxist direction?
Bishop Fellay: Obviously. And others, thank God, the Polish bishops, in a Catholic direction. So what happens? That is the present, the real situation. Faith and morals for a Catholic are on the same level. The Church and the Pope are infallible on these matters, if he wishes to call upon his infallibility. The teaching of the Church has always been: communion cannot be given to someone who is in a state of sin. It is very simple. So someone who is living with a partner as if married, which is necessarily a state of sin, cannot be given communion.
The only gray area, and it really is not gray, is that if these persons no longer live as a married couple but only as brother and sister – and today there can be some very complicated situations with all the reconstructed families, the children of both spouses, etc. For the good to be safeguarded, the good of the children for example, sometimes we have to tolerate two people living together under the same roof. And we tell these people, “If you wish to go to heaven, there is only one way: you have to live without sin. You have to live as brother and sister.” So not in the same bed, not in the same room, it is complicated, difficult, but at least you will be living without sin. And discreetly and privately we will be able to give you communion. But we have to be certain you are living as brother and sister, you have to be honest. This is God, and God knows everything. You can trick men but not God. Receiving communion is an act that signifies one’s union with God, and that one is at peace with Him. We must first go to confession before receiving Our Lord. And if we are at peace with God, then we can receive communion. But how many of these people who live as divorced and “remarried” couples, how many of them live as brother and sister? Some do, but it certainly is not the majority.
And so, to start making laws for these situations, classing them as a generalized situation, is a way of turning things upside down. It’s as if on the road, what counted was not the cars that drive correctly but the cars that have accidents. No. Laws are made so that cars will drive properly, not so they will run into each other. All the laws are made to avoid running into each other. It would be turning things upside down. Turning the particular into a universal. There is an inversion, and in the battle of ideas, this is terribly serious.
Are doctrinal discussions with Rome still useful?
Fr. Lorans: You said at the beginning that the battle of ideas is still the same as ever, and last year you declared after your meeting with Pope Francis that the doctrinal discussions would continue, that bishops would visit our seminaries and have discussions on things like religious freedom, ecumenism, and the New Mass. Are these discussions really continuing? And after what you just said, do you think these discussions are of any use?
Bishop Fellay: First question, are they still going on? The answer is yes; they are still going on. There had been a pause, but there needed to be, so we are going to start again, and continue the discussions. It is very interesting because we and Rome both want them. We want these discussions. Perhaps not exactly for the same reasons, but I think that in the end our reasons are similar. Why? Because for us it is very important, and we have said so from the start, when we said that we have a problem with some of the Council’s statements, not personally, but because they go against what the Church has said and done, against the teaching and practice of the Church. That is our problem. If you want to insist that the Church is infallible, you have to stick to the problem. If she is infallible, why could she suddenly contradict herself? So there are serious problems and they cannot simply be resolved by the authority argument. It is not enough to say that it is the authority speaking, so: Amen. Roma locuta causa finita. No. Obviously this authority – we admit it – can be infallible; it is an extraordinary privilege granted by God, but there is a condition! And that condition is for this teaching authority to be in keeping with a deposit, with all of the truths confided to her by God. And this authority’s mission is to transmit them. To holily preserve and faithfully transmit this deposit. So there is something absolutely objective that goes above and beyond this authority. It cannot arbitrarily decide what it likes and does not like about the deposit. No, it doesn’t work like that! That is the problem we present to Rome on these Council matters.
Fr. Lorans: In what you just said, we see your open opposition to Amoris Laetitia that troubles what used to be clear. In the same context, are the doctrinal discussions of any use?
Bishop Fellay: I would say yes, they are useful. Perhaps not immediately. But in the long run, ideas are what lead men. An error has tragic consequences in men’s lives, especially a doctrinal error. For a moral error, the consequence is more quickly seen. With a pure doctrinal error, it is more distant. If someone denies the Trinity, we see do not see the immediate practical consequence, or in what practical domain a moral fault will follow, but it will follow. It is impressive to see how closely it is all linked together. The Faith is like a sweater: every stitch has to be there. If you drop one stitch, the whole sweater comes unraveled. And there is nothing left in the end. So upholding the great principles in this confused situation we are living in, repeating them, even just repeating them, is already a very important work. We will not see immediate effects. But in the long run, it will gain strength, it will take over. But that means we have to keep fighting.
And so, in this sense, it seems capital to me that Rome agrees to discuss these things. Not only do they agree, they tell us: we need to discuss matters. And that, too, is something new ever since the last year and a half or two years. It is a position that is gaining strength: in these discussions, Rome does not try or no longer tries to force upon us the modern position on ecumenism, religious freedom, Nostra aetate, and even the liturgical reform. These four points have always been our great hobbyhorses, for the past 40-50 years, ever since the beginning. Well, now, all of a sudden, they are telling us, “Yes, we really need to discuss these matters.” First of all, they recognize that there have been errors, abuses, excesses; they do not go so far as to say that the conciliar text is wrong, but they do admit that something is wrong. They admit there are ambiguities that need to be eliminated. And Rome tells us explicitly, “These discussions are going to help us with that.” We are a little like a sort of catalyst to try to purify this magma of strange, false, mixed up, confused thoughts. And that is very positive.
But there is also another element that astonishes me and makes me very happy, and I would like to see – I hope someday it will show itself – yes, to see that what I am going to tell you now is really not just the thoughts of one or two people, but truly something that is taking over as the Church’s way of thinking. A short phrase sums up this novelty, a short phrase by Archbishop Pozzo who is our interlocutor in Rome, the secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, and who tells us that these matters like ecumenism, religious freedom, and even the liturgical reform and Nostra aetate are not the “criteria of Catholicism.” What does “criteria of Catholicism” mean? It means elements to which one absolutely must adhere in order to be Catholic. In other words, if these points are not criteria of Catholicism, then you have the right to think and say otherwise, and doing so does not mean you are no longer Catholic. And Archbishop Pozzo said that publicly. It is very important.
In my opinion, we are now going to see a debate arise for a time because of us. Will it be public or no, behind closed doors? But it is actually already here. A debate with the “super-progressivists,” those Pope Benedict XVI accused of trying to hammer into the Church that these points are absolutely obligatory. It is the Church of today, their foundation for the Church of today. And suddenly someone says, “Well, you do not have to adhere to that in order to be Catholic.” It is clearly crucial; it is a great struggle. If you look at the battle of ideas, this is an extremely important point. And so you have voices making themselves heard all over the place, saying that it is unacceptable to let the Society in with such a policy. We’ll see.
Canonical structure and freedom for “the experiment of Tradition”
Fr. Alain Lorans: Speaking of letting the Society in, of course we can’t help thinking of the canonical offers that have been made; there was talk of a prelature and recently Bishop Schneider said he had invited you to accept the canonical propositions soon and not to be too demanding, or in any case, not to wait for everything to be perfect. Where does all this stand? Did you really receive this invitation? And in that case, would a doctrinal union become a secondary issue? What exactly is the Society’s position?
Bishop Fellay: As far as Bishop Schneider goes, he did write to me, but a long time ago now; a long time, I mean, perhaps a year ago. So I do not have anything recent from him. In any case, recently, no, I have not received anything from him.
Other than that, the structure is not the problem. The structure, I think, is well established; there are still some points, shall we say, some finer points. The main idea is, really, it is adequate, it suits our needs. So for that, I am satisfied. Again, there are details that need improving and matters that still need to be discussed. The problem is not with this structure that they are offering us. If that was the only issue, we would say “yes” in a heartbeat. But it is not the problem.
The problem is, once again, this battle of ideas. Is a Church that for 40 years has imposed a way of thinking, this modernist way of thinking against which we fight, against which, or because of which we were even declared schismatic and everything else, outside of the Church; is this Church ready, yes or no, to let us continue on our path?
Archbishop Lefebvre used to speak of “letting us make the experiment of Tradition.” Are they going to let us, yes or no? Or are they waiting for us at a bend in the road, are they going to tell us tomorrow that we “have to fall into line?” To accept what we have been fighting against for forty years? That, we are not about to give up.
So it is all there, really; that is where the question lies. With these new, more open attitudes, when they tell us some things are not required criteria for being Catholic, there seems to be a path opening up. Now, is it just a door, or is it really a path? Is it a safe path? I mean, are we really going to be able to continue as we are? For us it is obvious that this is not the end.
Error remains error. So we remain today, just as before, just as convinced that there are errors that have been spread in the Church and that are killing the Church.
And of course, we understand that it takes time to purify and remove these errors, we understand. Men cannot be changed just like that; all sorts of bad habits have been acquired now; even just bringing back the holy liturgy. We understand very well that it cannot be done overnight. So if things take time, that is one thing, but is the intention even there? Is there any intention to leave this way of thinking that was imposed at the Council?
And we see, at least in the authorized voices, shall we say, the leading voices, that they are saying, “No, no. No, no, we shall continue along the same lines.” So we remain outlaws. Well, tolerated outlaws, and we might even say, in the most astonishing way, with Pope Francis we are more than tolerated, but we remain on the outskirts.
So are things going to stay as they are? Are things going to move ahead? Or tomorrow are we going to be swallowed up by this movement that, once again, is killing the Church? That is the question. And until we have a clear enough answer, we cannot move forward.
Support from many bishops
Fr. Lorans: At the beginning of our interview, you told us that things have changed imperceptibly. Among these changes, we might mention the attitudes of Cardinal Burke, Bishop Schneider, or the Polish bishops who are fighting against a laxist interpretation of Amoris Laetitia. But have you personally heard from bishops who tell you, “Even though you are an ‘outlaw,’ ‘on the outskirts,’ what you are doing is important to us because we do not wish to contribute to the suicide of the Church either?” Is this sort of comment a dream or a reality?
Bishop Fellay: We have some contacts, yes. And they are even increasing. Obviously, it is not the vast majority. But we do have some. And that is a very important element in this battle, but perhaps within Tradition we do not have a very clear perception of it, because it is discreet. People continue to see that things are not good, and that is about it. They have a very hard time seeing something else that really is real and that for me becomes clearer every day: that there is – at least in some – a desire for renewal, for a return to Tradition to be precise. And so a certain number of churchmen protest, not as loudly as us, not as publicly as us, but as strongly as us on the level of ideas, they protest against the novelties. It exists.
I recently met with a bishop who on his own, for he had never celebrated the Old Mass – he discovered it with Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio, took an interest in it and studied it – on his own, he told me that with the New Mass, they had changed the “substance of the rite.” So all by himself, he came to this conclusion which is precisely our reproach to the New Mass. Well, there you have a bishop who comes to this conclusion, a bishop who is simply honest. Obviously, he draws conclusions and consequences for himself and for his diocese. And he is not the only one. I received a letter from another bishop telling me: “Hold strong!” on all these points: religious freedom, ecumenism, Nostra aetate, relations with other religions. When you say Nostra aetate it is not just the Jews, it is the Muslims, the Buddhists, and Hindus . . . all the non-Christian religions. It is much broader. And this bishop adds: “There are many of us in the hierarchy, many of us bishops think like you.” Obviously, they do not say so publicly, because they would be decapitated. But they think about it, they see the situation. And in fact, they count on us, they count on us as – it is a modern word, but let’s try to use it correctly – as a witness. To use a perhaps more traditional term, as a lighthouse, even if we do not wish put ourselves on a pedestal. They simply count on us to represent the light that was once the light of the Church. This light that has remained lit in our midst, they count on it. They say, “You take the blows, but we are with you. We support you.”
Fr. Lorans: Among these bishops who tell you: “Do not give in on ecumenism, on the liturgy, on religious freedom . . . ,” are there any French bishops?
Bishop Fellay: There are some, even if they are not quite as clear. But really, there are some! It is interesting to see. It is another universal phenomenon. There are some in every country, more or less, of course. There is a certain proportion – not very big – of bishops who are taking a second look at a good number of things today. Even if they are still in a system that holds them back and makes any reaction difficult since it immediately creates explosive situations that are difficult to control. There are many problems when it comes to knowing how to react, how to improve the situation. It is obvious that at a given time it will have to come from the top. And so long as the top does nothing, any reaction will be a source of conflict. We have known this for 50 years, but at a given time, God will make the supreme authority take the lead in this movement. Until then we have to hold strong. Of course, it is a question of prudence, so that our position may bear the most fruit. And that does not necessarily mean make the most noise. We have to understand that, too; it is very important.
Hasten the triumph of the Immaculate Heart with prayers and penance
Fr. Lorans: You say that we have to hold strong, and you asked the priests and faithful to have a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin during this year 2017. For the hundredth anniversary of the apparitions of Fatima, you launched a Rosary Crusade. Is this request for more fervent prayers a part of the battle whose outline you have drawn up for us in this interview?
Bishop Fellay: It most certainly is a part of this great battle. And there is an element that we must never forget: the Church is not human. She has a human part because she is made up of men, but essentially, in her essence, in her nature, she is supernatural. She has elements, even fundamental elements that surpass men, men’s capacities, men’s reflections and men’s means. For the good of the Church and for our own good as members of the Church, if we desire the good of the Church, we must necessarily use supernatural means. It is the only way to fight this battle properly. And this battle obliges us first of all to call upon God Himself and His saints. The Blessed Virgin Mary has shown us so clearly that these times belong to her by the explicit will of God. We must have recourse to her, we must listen to her, and put her requests into practice. She tells us, “Prayer and penance, pray the rosary every day.” It is more important than ever. If you ask me, what we are seeing today is Fatima at its fullest. There are things we have not been told, but in the end, we shall see the triumph of Mary. God knows how. The triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, by a papal act, an act of authority. We wonder how it is going to come about, but that is not our problem. We just have to beg for this triumph, to implore God: yes, that is our job!