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Another Round? New Claim that Bishop Fellay Met with Pope Francis

May 11, 2014
The Secretary of the Congregation for Consecrated Life, Franciscan José Rodríguez Carballo,
at a meeting of the Union of Religious of Catalonia [May3,4] explained that fidelity to
Vatican II is a central component to modern religious life: "For the consecrated,
the Council is a point that cannot be negotiated." He affirmed that those who search into
the reforms of Vatican II all the ailments of religious life "deny the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church."

Another Round? New Claim that
Bishop Fellay Met with Pope Francis

By John Vennari

A May 10 report from Rorate Caeli claims that Bishop Fellay has quietly met with Pope Francis. The report reads:

“Rorate has learned and can exclusively confirm that Bishop Bernard Fellay, the Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X (Fraternité Sacerdotale Saint-Pie X - FSSPX / SSPX), was received by Pope Francis in the Domus Sanctae Marthae sometime in the past few months. In order to protect our sources, we cannot detail the date and persons involved in the meeting, but only generally locate it in time - if the current pontificate so far can be divided into two halves, the meeting took place in the second half.

“We can also add as part of this exclusive information that it was not a merely fortuitous event - that is to say, many off-the-record meetings with His Holiness have taken place since his election precisely because his being at Saint Martha's House make him much more accessible and available than many previous pontiffs. No, that was not the case at all - the pope was previously duly informed and duly met Bishop Fellay. The meeting was apparently short and cordial.

“The Pope has a true interest in resolving this situation, it seems to be understood by our sources.”

As I write (May 11) SSPX leadership has yet to confirm or deny that the meeting occurred. Is it true or yet another rumor? No doubt the SSPX will soon issue some sort of public response. [
update: click here for May 12 SSPX press release]

On my part, I am neither surprised nor scandalized if this meeting took place. Archbishop Lefebvre was well aware that the SSPX is not an entity unto itself, but part of the Catholic Church. As such, he always responded if the Pope wished to meet with him. The SSPX has spoken with every Pope since the Council, and I never thought it would be any different under Pope Francis.

However, if there are discussions with Francis, I do not think these meetings will produce any sort of Agreement. I do not think deliberations with Pope Francis will be favorable to Tradition. Nor do I think the SSPX will compromise.

It is said that “the Pope has a true interest in resolving this situation,” but it is hard to know exactly what this means, especially from Papa Bergolgio’s context. In his short time in the Vatican, Francis already has a track record of derogatory comments about traditional Catholics.

Here’s a quick review:

Speaking against so-called “Restorationists” [Traditional Catholics], Francis said on April 16, 2013, “The Council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit. Consider Pope John. He looked like a good parish priest; he was obedient to the Holy Spirit and he did it. But after 50 years, have we done everything the Holy Spirit told us in the Council? In the continuity of growth of the Church that was the Council? No. We celebrate this anniversary, we make a monument, as long as it does not bother us. We do not want to change.
What is more, some people want to go back. This is stubbornness, this is what we call, trying to tame the Holy Spirit, this is what we call becoming foolish and slow of heart.

In June 2013 Francis said, “I share with you two concerns. One is the Pelagian current that there is in the Church at this moment.
There are some restorationist groups. I know some, it fell upon me to receive them in Buenos Aires. And one feels as if one goes back 60 years! Before the Council... One feels in 1940... An anecdote, just to illustrate this, it is not to laugh at it, I took it with respect, but it concerns me; when I was elected, I received a letter from one of these groups, and they said: ‘Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries.’ Why don't they say, 'we pray for you, we ask...', but this thing of counting... And these groups return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through - not you, because you are not old - to disciplines, to things that in that moment took place, but not now, they do not exist today...”

In July 2013, Francis again spoke of his concern for what he called “The Pelagian solution,” (Incidentally, “Pelagianism” has nothing to do with the Traditional Catholic, Francis is not even using correct terminology, but that is cause for another commentary). Francis goes on to lament, “This basically appears as a form of restorationism. In dealing with the Church’s problems, a purely disciplinary solution is sought,
through the restoration of outdated manners and forms, which, even on the cultural level, are no longer meaningful. In Latin America it is usually to be found in small groups, in some new religious congregations, in (exaggerated) tendencies to doctrinal or disciplinary ‘safety’. Basically it is static, although it is capable of inversion, in a process of regression. It seeks to ‘recover’ the lost past.”

Pope Francis returned to take another swipe at traditional Catholics in his first Apostolic Letter. In §94 and 95 of
Evanglii Guadium, Francis speaks of “the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic (i.e. self serving) and authoritarian elitism…we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church`s prestige…In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few.

Then on February 14, 2014, there was the now famous report from Archbishop Graubner who spoke with Pope Francis during the Czech bishops ad limina visit. Graubner says that when “When we [he and Pope Francis] were discussing those who are fond of the ancient liturgy and wish to return to it, it was evident that the Pope speaks with great affection, attention, and sensitivity for all in order not to hurt anyone. However, he made a quite strong statement when he said that he understands when the old generation returns to what it experienced, but that he cannot understand the younger generation wishing to return to it. ‘When I search more thoroughly,’ the Pope said, “I find that it is rather a kind of fashion [in Czech: 'móda']. And if it is a fashion, therefore it is a matter that does not need that much attention. It is just necessary to show some patience and kindness to people who are addicted to a certain fashion. But I consider greatly important to go deep into things, because if we do not go deep, no liturgical form, this or that one, can save us’.

Francis’ public statements regarding traditional Catholics do not exactly sound like “great affection, attention, and sensitivity.” Moreover, his constant reference to “going back 60 years,” a “lost past”, and “outdated manners and forms” reveals a Modernist spirit that believes some essential aspects of the Catholic doctrine and practice should change with the times – a poisonous error condemned by Pope Pius X, Pius XI and Pius XII.

The recent trials under Papa Bergolgio of the traditionalist-leaning Franciscan of the Immaculata are well known; and all indications show that the root of Francis’ problem with the FFI is their adherence to traditional doctrine.

In the same vein, The Secretary of the Congregation for Consecrated Life, Franciscan José Rodríguez Carballo, at a meeting of the Union of Religious of Catalonia [May3,4] explained that fidelity to Vatican II is a central component to modern religious life:
"For the consecrated, the Council is a point that cannot be negotiated." He affirmed that those who search into the reforms of Vatican II all the ailments of religious life "deny the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church."

Carballo went on to explain that in the Vatican’s Congregation for Consecrated Life, they are "particularly concerned" with this matter: "we are seeing true deviations." Above all because "not a few institutes give not only a pre-conciliar, but even an anti-conciliar formation.
This is inadmissible, it is to place oneself outside of history. It is something that worries us greatly in the Congregation."

Francis and his Vatican have made clear they do not hold traditional Catholics in high regard, but see them as hard-headed, anachronistic “restorationsists” who resist the Spirit.

Yet a central element to any sort of alleged agreement between the SSPX and Rome is the SSPX’s insistence that they remain free to critique Vatican II. Even more, the SSPX rightly identifies Vatican II as the central cause of today’s catastrophic crisis of Faith worldwide.

Bishop Fellay already refused to make an agreement with Rome in 2012, as Pope Benedict, ever faithful to the Council, insisted they would not be considered “free” to denounce the errors of Vatican II.

If this was the case under Pope Benedict, who at least held that a ‘misinterpretation” of Vatican II may be the root of many present ills, then under Pope Francis, who consistently champions the absolute worst aspects of the Council, I believe no sort of “agreement” would be possible.

Bishop Fellay already stated at the Angelus Press
conference this past October that Pope Francis is a “genuine Modernist”. He noted at the same conference, “In the beginning of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, I said, ‘the crisis in the Church will continue, but the Pope is trying to put on the brakes.’ It’s as if to say, the Church will continue to fall, but with a parachute. And with the beginning of this [Pope Francis] pontificate, I say, ‘he cuts the strings, and he put a [downward] rocket’.”

Bishop Fellay “vigorously protested” the canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II in his “
Letter to Friends and Benefactors” only a few weeks ago. In this Letter, he laid out in detail the destructive course of the Council and its disastrous aftermath.

No doubt the Internet rumor-elfs will be all a-chatter over this latest report; both those who favor an agreement and those dead-set against it. While I do care deeply what happens to the SSPX, at this point I almost have a “wake me up when it’s over” attitude, since I believe that if we are indeed into a new round of discussions, it will be yet one more series of talks that ends in stalemate.

May 12 UPDATE:
SSPX Press Release "About the Meeting"

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