Surprise: Traditionalist Catholics Have Not Converted the Vatican

In 2009, Pope Benedict surprised, delighted and horrified different sections of the Catholic church with his announcement of the lifting of excommunication orders on four bishops of the traditionalist Society of Pius X. In launching an attempt at dialogue, he and his Vatican colleagues were hoping to find some sort of agreement and compromise that would resolve the decades old rift.

The SPX, in contrast, had simpler aims: to convince Pope Benedict and the rest of the Church to end their foolish ways, and to recognize what the society have claimed all along: that Vatican II was a big mistake, with no validity for its resolutions. Their intention, says Bishop Fellay, was to make the Catholic faith understood in Rome.

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Your Excellency, you have decided to attempt doctrinal discussions with Rome. Could you remind us of the purpose?

Bishop Fellay: You have to distinguish between Rome’s purpose and ours. Rome indicated that there were doctrinal problems with the Society [of St. Pius X] and that these problems would have to be cleared up before any canonical recognition, problems which obviously would be up to us to resolve, concerning our acceptance of the [Second Vatican] Council. But for us it is about something else: we hope to tell Rome what the Church has always taught and thereby to show the contradictions between this centuries-old teaching and what has been done in the Church since the Council. As we look at it, this is the only goal that we are pursuing.

Besides witnessing to the Faith, is it important and advantageous for the Society of St. Pius X to go to Rome? Is it dangerous, and do you think that it might last a long time?

Bishop Fellay: It is very important that the Society give this witness; that is the reason for these doctrinal talks. It is really a matter of making the Catholic faith understood in Rome and trying, why not, to make it understood even more throughout the Church.

They now accept that they have not succeeded.

Has there been a development in the thinking of our dialogue partners since they read the presentations by the SSPX theologians?

Bishop Fellay: I don’t think that you can say that

You can read more of the nuttiness at the SSPX website, where the above extracts are taken from an extended interview with Bishop Fellay, the Superior General,  but here’s a mental health warning: don’t try to find too much of any sense or rationality in it.

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