with Mgr Bernard FELLAY, Superior General of the Society of Saint
will perhaps be at Sinai in the year 2000... but on the side of
the God of armies and of wrath.
The Priestly Society of Saint Pius X is going to celebrate its twenty
fifth year. For what do you give the most heartfelt thanks? What
do you ask in particular from God for the year 2000?
The most important thing is the faith preserved and clearly explained
in the Mass.
thanksgiving? I would have to say simply: the Church preserved.
Without that we may take ourselves for the Church, we notice in
the history of the Fraternity a visible sign of this preservation...
By it people are even coming to identify Church Tradition with the
Society of Saint Pius X.
What is necessary
for the year 2000? Faithfulness in guarding the deposit of the faith,
the "despositum custodi" of which Saint Paul speaks. It is a question
not only of transmitting it to our own but equally of communicating
it to others. To see to it that they find, in its integrity, Catholic
tradition for the salvation of their souls and ours.
Frightened, Nor Weary, Thank You!
One and a half years after having been elected Superior General
of the Society at Econe, do you feel yourself, Monseigneur, frightened,
crushed by your task or, on the contrary, confident, happy?
Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini! The hope of the assistance
of Heaven is founded on the promises of the Good God. I fill an
office which at each instant, exceeds human capacity. In spite of
that, I have more confidence than fear. Mgr. Lefebvre had the heaviest
task. The same fight continues but the principles by which we live
in the present circumstances, have been established by him. The
most difficult will have been of venturing the first step of reaction
against conciliar Rome. My concern, to me, is of gaining more influence
for the Society, in order to help Tradition to progress in its entirety.
Now, there are so many factors, other than personal, which enter
into the reckoning. No, I feel myself neither frightened, nor weary.
Not yet, thank you!
Government Governs At Menzingen
Does the office of Superior General consist principally in dealing
with the dossiers at Menzingen? To receive there, emissaries, priests,
the faithful. Or indeed, to travel the world visiting districts
The essential task is to govern. The government governs here at
it is necessary to know the positions. That demands that colleagues
inform, establish links. Beside the study of the files, the journeys
are irreplaceable. The Superior General does a little of all that
but to various degrees, and without impenetrable barriers between
the different activities of government.
the Superior General is not alone: the regional Council(1) helps
him in his decisions, as well as the district Superiors for their
is not so much a question of innovating as of making the constitutions
of our Society live. And here, the writings, the teachings, the
example of Mgr. Lefebvre, as well as the practical experience of
his first successor, are invaluable guides.
(1) The regional
Council of the SSPX is constituted, besides the Superior General,
of two assistants (Fathers Schmidberger and Aulagnier), with a general
Secretary (Mgr Tissier de Mallerais) and with a general Bursar (Father
Is Intensifying Slowly But Surely
Can an appraisal of the Society be established? What is the respective
share of the progress or the decline, of the hopes or of the fears?
Our progress, though continuing, is not absolutely equal from year
to year. There are some periods more fruitful than others. However,
since the foundation of the Society, our global curve has never
been negative in any sphere.
1995 remains, as regards vocations, a minor year in Europe but for
the whole of our international seminaries we have registered 50
admissions, figure to compare this to the highest ever attained,
which was 67 on two occasions, and to the most modest of the first
The big leap
concerns teaching. Today we are in charge of 60 schools, particularly
primary, but also secondary. We administered 5 in 1982.
It is the same
in all spheres, as the table below, which we have drawn up on the
occasion of the twenty-fifth year, shows.
slowly intensifying, not in a spectacular way, but solidly. Remember
that in 1994, the general Chapter of the Society had chosen stabilisation
as a policy rather than progression: "to strengthen what exists",
was called for in the most explicit manner.
Society Which is Growing Each Day
of the Society
of the Society
Hindered By The Society Of Saint-Peter, Except...
Has the existence of the Society of Saint Peter reduced your development
It is certain that because of the Society of Saint Peter, certain
vocations are not directed towards our seminaries. One dozen perhaps?
A small number in fact.
I am not sure,
however, that in the hypothesis where the Society of Saint Peter
had not existed, these seminarians would all have entered our seminaries.
of Saint Pius X does not feel itself hindered by the Society of
Saint Peter. Except, perhaps, in some places where the priests of
this last have been assigned, apparently because we were strongly
to speak of competition with regard to us, let us remark that their
apostolate extends in practice only where we are already established,
except perhaps in the USA.
But in fact,
we do not occupy ourselves much with them.
Rather Young Newcomers
On a world scale, do the aged priests, who remained faithful to
Tradition, find relief for their parishes?
The veterans are dying out little by little. We are often receiving
their heritage, which is asking for priests and new establishments.
this old guard, still numerous enough happily, some newcomers, rather
young priests, come to us from just about everywhere. May they join
the Society, may they work with us.
It is a movement
towards Tradition which, in the present circumstances, can still
become a little more marked. I do not believe, however, that it
will become for all that a notable phenomenon. I want to say: I
do not think that we will soon be faced with a massive influx of
external priests, coming back to Tradition.
must be made clear: "in the present circumstances." Because if Rome
continues and expands its unfortunate initiatives, then the situation
ceremonies forecast for the year 2000, for example, is profoundly
disconcerting to the faithful, especially in Latin countries, and
is making numerous priests feel ill at ease. When it happens, it
may trigger off a significant return to Tradition.
Bishop With Us
And still no bishop has joined you, not even one who has reached
the age of retirement?
Yes! One bishop in the Philippines has publicly demonstrated his
attachment to Tradition, in abandoning the new Mass, and his approbation
of the Society in coming to celebrate in accordance with the tridentine
rite in our Church in Manila.
78 years, is a highly skilled bishop (retired) from San Fernando
de la Union, in the Philippines. We are awaiting his visit to Menzingen.
Some other bishops encourage us also, with private support, having
said to us, "I, myself, am not courageous."
do not give up hope of "awakening" someone.
Await More Vocations
Why so few vocations? Is it necessary to call the methods of the
seminaries into question?
Certainly not! The problem is to bring candidates to the starting
block. And with a satisfactory standard of general education which
many are missing because of the general decline of society. In the
way of reforms, we are considering making a preparatory year on
entrance to the seminary. So as to provide some people with a knowledge
of Latin, grammar and even religious instruction which they are
the lengthening of studies might be a first test, but if the candidate
truly has a vocation, he will come out of it strengthened.
Why so few
vocations? you ask me. The question is not resolved. There are in
answer a number of elements: they are not absolutely decisive. So
we may wait for more vocations from our schools.
The evil of
the modern epoch is the lack of decisiveness, of taking responsibility.
We suffer also because young people often have difficulty in making
a decision; are afraid of a definite commitment, for life.
In any case,
as Our Lord says, it is God who sends vocations, and it is above
all by prayer that we obtain them. That is why we have launched,
especially in France for several years, a crusade of prayers for
Rome, It Is Always The Council
For the Society there is no doubt at all, the salute will come one
day, from Rome. Are the feelings of the Vatican becoming more favourable
to Tradition? On your side, are you making overtures?
I do not know what Rome, the Pope, the Cardinals truly think, but
I detect a slight shift towards us, towards the defence of Tradition.
It seems to me that Rome is beginning to think a little in our way.
Our steady development is certainly one of the motives, but not
the only one. I believe that the anarchy instigated by the progressives
could be there for a reason. On our side, we keep an extreme prudence.
Why? Because the position of the Vatican has not fundamentally changed.
It is always the Council and this time in the light of Assisi, of
the interreligious meeting of Assisi.
It is true
that one hears lamentations on the part of the Ecclesia Dei Commission,
for example: "It's a pity that all this energy, this strength of
the Society of Saint Pius X could not be at the service of the Church!"
However, up to now, the facts and the gestures of the Vatican have
not convinced me that Rome may be truly willing to do something
in favour of Tradition.
Has a good wishes message not reached you from Rome on the occasion
of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Society? That would have
been a good way of renewing the dialogue!
What do you think? Officially, we no longer exist for conciliar
Contacts, Nothing More
Yet, Rome ensures the ordinations of traditional seminarians
who have been won over.
Some traditionalists who have had to take all the medicine... They
were made to accept, in principle, all the reforms: the new Mass,
religious liberty, ecumenism, the new catechism, even if they are
still permitted to criticize the extreme consequences of the "abuse".
It is what Rome would like to do also with us.
are some periodical, personal, contacts with prelates, bishops,
but that is not going very far.
In 1994, Cardinal
Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity,
declared: "The Society is an internal affair of the Church. It is
not another Church in the sense used by the ecumenical board of
recognized in this way that we are not a strange sect of the Roman
Catholic Church, but indeed one of its branches. We clearly belong
to the Church, in spite of those who would wish for our exclusion.
But, for the
moment, there are no regular negotiations with Rome.
Are Refusing To Attend
Does the Society envisage "strong action" in the case where new
reforms in the conciliar spirit would play a part?
It is to be expected. With the setting in place of the programme
for the celebration of the year 2000, it is necessary to be prepared
for some rather lively reactions on our part.
The form of
these reactions? That will depend. In reality all will be decided
on rapidly, at the last minute, according to concrete circumstances.
What will the Pope do? What attitude will the bishops take?
battle consists in a radical opposition to several Roman documents
and to their practical consequences. While saluting with joy certain
reminders of doctrine and of traditional morality (condemnation
of the ordination of women, of abortion, of euthanasia), and we
are often almost the only ones to do it, we protest with vehemence
against the programme announced for the jubilee celebration of the
year 2000. We are refusing to attend.
I am not saying:
"We will be at Sinai", but if we are there, it will be on the side
of the God jealous of His glory, of the God of the celestial armies
and of wrath, who manifested Himself there to the rebellious Jews,
in the time of Moses!
Is Not Catholic
Henceforth, a traditional Catholic baptised in the Society receives
catechism there, studies there, marries there, receives the sacraments
and dies there without any more contact with the official Church.
Is there not a danger of withdrawal into himself?
It is an altogether objective danger, the natural inclination of
fallen human nature. It is necessary to turn away from it. Self-satisfaction
is, very simply, not Catholic. Each Catholic must be an apostle
at his level. We must all wish that Catholic Tradition will triumph
at Rome and in the whole Church. As long as Tradition has not been
fully restored we do not have the right to come to a standstill.
The Society of Saint Pius X will be missionary or it will disappear.
Fight For Life...Supernatural Life
Clearly, in the "fight for life" the Society has stayed rather in
the background. Is it not the occasion for widening our circle?
The fight for life is good, it is important. But it is used by some
people to attempt a mixture which we reject and which risks leading
to religious indifferentism.
We have before
our eyes the example of communists who, in the name of "unity in
action", attempt to regain some movements. One finishes, in the
case of the defence of life, by deviating from the essential. It
is not our niche. The mission of the Society is the defence of the
faith and of the supernatural life.
the laity, solidly armed with doctrine as Saint Pius X says, can
(and must) direct the fight on a political and social level, for
the reign of Christ the King.
Signal Beacon of Tradition
You spoke, Monseigneur, of a missionary Society. The sending of
priests to Albania, to the Ukraine, to Sri Lanka, does it not compromise
the return to Tradition of regions of the world where Catholics
are much more in the majority?
We cannot remain deaf to the call of Catholic souls. They receive
however only the crumbs which fall from the table... The basic essentials
of our work are situated in the ancient Christian regions.
in the regions disinherited on the religious level do some good:
without allowing that they make the episcopal conferences tremble.
It is not our
first activity but it is important as a signal beacon for Catholic
Is A Jealous Queen
The face of Mgr. Lefebvre grows fainter. Do you feel the necessity
of renewing some of his "approches" according to the development
of the situation?
In rereading some viewpoints, sermons, conferences of Monseigneur,
one is struck by their topicality. His perception of the practical
consequences following some principles adopted at the Council is
extraordinary. As if he had seen exactly!
This does not,
however, rule out that new problems are appearing suddenly to which
we must reply in the same well-plotted vein. All will depend on
the famous plan 2000.
1996 is still
the ante-preparation, as the encyclical Tertio Millenio Adveniente
says, the "preliminary to the preparation" phase. But the danger
draws near at full speed, and we must prepare ourselves for it.
From now on
we must warn the faithful of the grave danger of indifferentism,
a word which implies an equality of all religions, at least the
Christian ones. Until the year 2000, I am persuaded that that is
the point upon which it will be necessary to fight. The truth is
a jealous queen with her exclusive rights. In that case, let us