Superior General's Letters


Your Excellency, what do you think of the recent events that have disquieted the Fraternity of St. Peter?

           If one wants to understand what is going on, one can borrow a phrase from Bishop Henrici, auxiliary bishop of Coire in Switzerland and secretary of the magazine of theology, “Communio”: “At the Council, we assisted at the contention of two theological Traditions which basically were not capable of being mutually understood.” The Fraternity of St. Peter has refused to recognise this incompatibility; therefore it finds itself involved, in spite of itself, in an implacable course of events, and, I would say, it has passed the turning point between phase one and phase two. Phase one is the Fraternity of St. Peter in tranquil possession of the privilege to use the Tridentine rite, which, in a boastful manner and with a certain pleasure distinguishes itself from the warnings of Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X, affirming that one cannot trust Rome. Phase two marks a hardening from the part of Rome. It is explained to the members of the Fraternity of St. Peter that from henceforth their situation is not that which they had been led to believe. Mons. Perl expresses it well when he says: “The exclusive right to the Old Mass has never existed,” which signifies that the rite which is foreseen for the Fraternity of St. Peter, as being the rite of the Church, is the New Mass. Bi-ritualism doesn’t exist. For Rome, the right to celebrate the Old Mass is not a true right, it’s not even a private right, not even a privilege of a certain congregation; in juridical terms it is an indult, something passing and as an exception. The Fraternity of St. Peter must inscribe itself to this passing and exceptional characteristic. It has not been established by law as community conserving the old rite.

            To be convinced, it is enough to recall the reasons given in the “Motu propio” for the founding of this Institute by Rome. The Motu propio “Ecclesia Dei afflicta” manifests an understanding with regards to those who keep the old rite but only for nostalgia or as an instrument to facilitate their return to the Church after the “schism” of Archbishop Lefebvre. If one confines oneself to the text of its founders, the Fraternity of St. Peter has no reason to exist, except to be capable of leading this movement towards the conciliar Reforms, and it is precisely because it was considered by Rome as being too stagnant, because it did not correspond clearly to the purpose for which it was founded, that it has suffered this recent call to order and that the Secretary of State has supported the group of sixteen (the priests of the Fraternity of St. Peter who, in June of 1999 asked Rome for the right to celebrate the New Mass also). It was a question of obtaining an acceleration of the process of integration, and it has been accomplished since. Henceforth the New Mass is imposed by means of the concelebration for the chrismal Mass. In spite of disquietude and reluctance, the Fraternity of St. Peter has ceded on the principal of “Rocca di Papa”. Having accepted the New Mass, it is already a new Fraternity of St. Peter. It would be nice to say that it is only a question of one Mass per year, but the beginnings are there, the seed is sown. From now on it is simply a question of time. With subtlety, with all the cleverness which it possesses, the Curia will keep pressuring, as long as it takes. The Fraternity of St. Peter will be obliged, more and more, to accept the new rite, for as we can see, it has been founded for it, not for the privilege it had been given of celebrating freely and solely the Old Mass. It wants and has wanted to believe it; but the events show clearly that its only reason of existence, whatever people may think, is to facilitate the integration of traditionalists into the Conciliar Church and the acceptation of the new liturgy. The conclusion is obvious: Archbishop Lefebvre was right in not believing the false promises from Rome…

Thank you, Your Excellency, for this detailed response. Let us speak of your projects, also. What will take place at Rome in 2000, the pilgrimage of the Society of St. Pius X to Rome for the Holy Year?

            Faced with the ecumenical disasters, we look forward to manifest, with a spirit of combat, that the Tradition did not begin in 1962, that it is 2000 years old, and that today, if it doesn’t live in harmony with its past, it is destroying itself. We would like to present two texts to the Pope, one on the abominable beatification of John XXIII, foreseen to take place towards the end of this year, hoping that we may be able to prevent it, the other concerns the Mass, which is at the heart of our combat for the Church. Our presence is a profession of faith, to Rome and in Rome. We would like to proclaim the Roman aspect of our faith. Circumstances have it that the scope of this pilgrimage is greater still than when Archbishop Lefebvre, for the preceding Holy Year  in 1975, wished to go to the Holy City. It is true, we also go to ask for all the graces and indulgences that are attached to the Holy Year, but we would like to proclaim ourselves Catholics, and this in Rome itself, no matter what anyone else says.

What do you consider as the key projects of the Society of St. Pius X for the future?

            It is, of course, the seminaries, which are at the heart of the Society and are the problem in the crisis of the Church. What we have is a crisis of the priesthood: If the laity is in crisis, it is because of a transformation of the Mass, desired by the clergy. The whole crisis of the Church is explained with the theology of the New Mass, and is what one must term a mournful success, if we see it in the concrete application of a principle in the practical life. With the Christian priesthood, our combat is that of the Mass. Also, there is the ministry of education at all levels, which form future children of the Church, future families, which form future Catholic heroes, so needed in the Church.

What is the place for the laity in the Society of St. Pius X’s combat?

            I think there is an interaction: Lay people must support, both in the temporal and in the spiritual realm, the work of the Society because it is precisely the Society that conducts them to grace in the Church. Actually, given the circumstances, it can be said that the lay people live of the Church through the Society. As to the works of the laity, it seems to me that the Society must have for them a managing role, however respecting the “principle of subsidiarity”, that is to say, the skills of each individual. However, in politics, the Society must remember the principles of the Church – the principles of the natural law and of the Christian law that govern the State – but without getting involved with the practical application of political action.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X