Tom McFeely is the National Catholic Register’s News Editor. He lives in British Columbia.
Pope Benedict XVI has made acceptance of the legitimacy of the Second Vatican Council a precondition for achieving unity with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X.
But with talks about the doctrinal differences separating the SSPX from the Church slated to begin in the fall, SSPX superior general Bishop Bernard Fellay has reiterated the society’s continuing intransigence about accepting the council’s legitimacy.
In an interview with the Italian news agency Apcom translated here by the Rorate Caeli blog, Bishop Fellay said,
[Apcom:] And, regarding the Council, will you accept a compromise with Rome?
[Fellay:] We will not make any compromise on the Council. I have no intention of making a compromise. The truth does not tolerate compromise. We do not want a compromise, we want clarity regarding the Council.
Earlier in the interview, Bishop Fellay was questioned about harsh comments about the Second Vatican Council made by the SSPX’s three other bishops:
For Williamson, the Second Vatican Council is a “poisoned cake”, to be thrown in the “dustbin”; for Tissier de Mallerais, the Council should be “cancelled”; and for Alfonso de Gallareta [sic] there is not “much to salvage” from the Council: is there a division inside the Fraternity of Saint Pius X? How do you intend to solve it? The Vatican maintains that there are divisions inside the Fraternity.
[Fellay:] I might say that I do not see union even in the Vatican. The problem in the Church of our age is not us. We have become a problem only because we say that there is a problem. Besides, even if we may give the impression of opposing or even contradictory declarations, there are no internal fractures. For example, on the Council, we may say that almost all of it is to be rejected. But it may also be said that what is possible should be salvaged. But we all can never say the same thing. The Council is a mixture: there are good things, and bad. Even the Pope, when he maintains that a hermeneutic of continuity is to be desired, that he does not want a rupture, rejects the Council interpreted as rupture.
It’s hard not to be pessimistic about the prospects for unity with the SSPX, given the stance of Bishop Fellay and the other three SSPX bishops. But he insists at the conclusion of the Apcom interview that hope remains that unity can be achieved:
[Apcom:] Do you believe that this tired matter of the Lefebvrians may finally reach an end with this Pope?
[Fellay:] I do believe that there is certainly good hope. I believe that we must pray intensely, they are very delicate matters. We have been in this situation for 40 years, and not for personal considerations, but truly for serious things which pertain to the faith and to the future of the Church. We certainly see in the Pope an authentic will to reach the core of the matter, and we cherish this with all satisfaction. We pray, and we hope, that with grace of the good God we will reach something that is good for the Church and for ourselves.
[Apcom:] What do you think of Benedict XVI?
[Fellay:] He is an upright man, who regards the situation and the life of the Church most seriously.