Having seen bishop Fellay in action a few months ago when he came to Gateshead for the opening of the SSPX church there, this comes as no surprise to me. He did not give the impression he was a man about to seek reconciliation with the Holy See. I was quite disappointed by him: having been led to believe he was the moderate face of the SSPX, he appeared no less extreme than bishop Williamson. At least things are becoming more sharply defined with the SSPX now as they call for the rejection of the Second Vatican Council. Clearly this cannot going to happen. How can the Church reject a General Council? What happens to the indefectibility of the Church? The best way forward is that outlined by pope Benedict on December 22nd 2005 when he called for the council to be understood and interpreted according to a `hermeneutic of continuity`. It appears that the schismatic nature of the SSPX is clearer now.
However, of course, many will agree with some of bishop Fellay`s points about Summorum Pontificum. It is true that there has been in some quarters an underwhelming response: in some places in the world bishops have arranged for a Extraordinary Form Mass to take place in their cathedral, in others it has been generally ignored and swept under the carpet. I was speaking to a young Polish student recently who spent a year in a seminary in Poland. He told me that the Polish bishops have done very little to expedite Summorum Pontificum and that if a seminarian expresses an interest in the Extraordinary Form this counts against his progress in the seminary. Clearly this is wrong: it should now be the task of seminaries to ensure that all students are trained in the Extraordinary Form.
On a brighter note there are rumours flying about that the extravagantly named Transalpine Redemptorists, a body under the aegis of the SSPX, are seeking reconciliation with the Holy See.
Here is the article from the Catholic Herald:
Lefebvrists snub Pope's call for unity
By Mark Greaves
25 April 2008
The head of the Society of St Pius X has said that full communion with the Catholic Church cannot happen until Rome rejects some of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the SSPX, ruled out the reconciliation sought by Pope Benedict XVI in a letter to his estimated one million followers last weekend. He said that "the time for an agreement [with the Vatican] has not yet come". His announcement ends hopes that Benedict XVI's liberation of the traditional Latin Mass would clear the way for reconciliation after more than two decades of near-schism.
The Pope's Motu Proprio, published in July, granted priests everywhere the freedom to celebrate the "extraordinary form of the Mass in the Roman rite".
It was hoped that this would pave the way towards unity with traditionalist groups which had strongly objected to the suppression of the "Tridentine" Mass in the wake of the Second Vatican Council.
But Bishop Fellay said in his letter that a change to the Church's liturgy needed to be accompanied by a substantial reversal of its doctrine.
The Motu Proprio was "not accompanied by logically co-related measures in the other areas of the life of the Church", he said in a French-language letter.
"Nothing has changed in Rome's determination to follow the Council's orientation, despite 40 years of crisis, despite the deserted convents, abandoned rectories and empty churches," Bishop Fellay said.
"The Catholic universities persist in their ramblings, the teaching of the Catechism remains unknown at the same time that the Catholic school does not exist anymore as particularly Catholic," the Swiss-born bishop wrote.
He also complained of "brutal resistance" to the Motu Proprio from whole groups of bishops. It is understood that Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, head of Ecclesia Dei, believes the statement is only a modest setback and is determined to bring the SSPX back into the Church.
But other Vatican officials are much more pessimistic about the prospect of reconciliation. One Vatican source said he believed the society was a sect closer to Calvinism than Catholicism.
One of the main doctrinal obstacles to re-union is the refusal of some in the society to accept that the Jews cannot be blamed for the death of Christ - a declaration made by the Second Vatican Council document Nostra Aetate.
Bishop Fellay made clear in his letter that the SSPX would not end its dialogue with the Vatican and would continue "on the path defined in the year 2000" when its bishops met Cardinal Castrillon on a pilgrimage to Rome.
He also said that the SSPX would continue to appeal to Benedict XVI to overturn the excommunications of its leaders in 1988 after its founder, the French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, ordained four bishops against Rome's wishes.
His letter will disappoint many Catholics who believed that the Pope's Motu Proprio would lead to the SSPX becoming re-united with the Church. The Motu Proprio allowed priests to celebrate the traditional Mass without the permission of a bishop and was partly aimed at bringing traditionalist groups back into the Church.
On the day it was made public Bishop Fellay expressed his "deep gratitude" to the Pope and said he had created "a favourable climate" in which to consider disputes over doctrine.
However, signs that the SSPX did not feel ready to re-join the Church emerged in February when it accused Benedict XVI of caving in to "foreign pressures" by amending the Good Friday prayer in the extraordinary form of the Mass.
The Pope removed a reference to the "blindness" of the Jews and an appeal that they "be delivered from darkness" and that God "may take the veil from their hearts".
Bishop Richard Williamson, one of the four excommunicated bishops of the SSPX, said he believed the amendment was "anti-Semitic".
Fr Arnaud Sélégny, the general secretary of the SSPX General House in Menzingen, Switzerland, confirmed that the SSPX was not ready to be reconciled with Rome until the Church repudiated some parts of the Second Vatican Council.
He said that the society was "satisfied" with the Pope's Motu Proprio, but added: "On all the points where we have special difficulties, there is no change. These novelties [of the Second Vatican Council] are continuing to infect the body of the Holy Church."
He admitted that it might seem "optimistic" to expect the Church to reject some of the Council's documents.
However, he said it was impossible to conceive that the Church would not eventually reject teaching that was "against its tradition" - and predicted that it would do so in 10 or 20 years.
He said the post-conciliar era was a crisis period in Church history similar to the Great Schism, when the removal of the papacy to Avignon, France, led to the election of more than one pope.
"These big crises in the Church always last for 70 years," he said. "That's why I think that in 10 or 20 years - at about 2030 - [the current crisis] will be finished."