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Fellay to Guimarães:

The SSPX Bishops Did Not Compromise;
Your Critique Is a Delirium

In reply to Mr. Guimarães analysis on the recent interview of Card. Castrillón Hoyos to L’Osservatore Romano regarding the increasing approximation of the SSPX Bishops to the demands of the present day Vatican, TIA received the following two letters of protest, each one forwarding a supposed rebuttal by Bishop Bernard Fellay. We transcribe first the messages, and then Mr. Guimarães’ refutation.

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First letter
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Dear TIA,

The comments made by Mr. Guimaraes concerning the interview given by Cardinal Hoyos were passed on to His Lordship Bishop Bernard Fellay by a longtime SSPX supporter. His Lordship graciously replied to the supporter, and allowed his reply to be passed on to others. I am taking generous use of His Lordship's permission to pass on his comments to you. As you have seen fit to attack the Society leadership, I trust that you are honest enough to post this response as well.


From Bishop Fellay:

Dear XXXX,

Thank you for your note concerning the delirium of M. Guimaraes following the phantasy of Card Castrillon. The interview of Card. Castrillon is very tricky and severely misleading, and as you say it could bring in confusion amongst the faithful - and the priests.

1. Card Castrillon means all the four bishops, when he says the bishops of the Society, and not only one or the other.

2. Note that about the council, he only says that the bishops and myself do recognise Vatican II as an oecumenical council, which does not mean anything...Vatican II is a historical fact, and it is an eocumenical council, it does not mean anything about its goodness or badness... and so Card Castrillon is misleading everybody. Because now as before, our postion has not changed in anything about the danger, poisons and errors of Vatican II.

3. By saying that we emphazise the ambiguities of Vatican II, this is true, but this is added to the the other points of opposition, religious liberty, collegiality, oecumenism...

4. About the priests who would have signed the Roman document: There are always a very few who do that since 1988, there are few. I am not aware of anyone right now, but it is always possible that one or another--again, very very few go away...

You may distribute largely this little note to your friends.

     God bless you,

     +Bernard Fellay

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Second letter

Dear Mr. Guimaraes,

It was with tremendous sadness that I read your attack on Bishop Fellay in which you generously applied the assumption of veracity to the statements of Cardinal Castillon while, at the same time, mischaracterized the courageous stand taken by His Excellency Bishop Fellay. I would have expected this from Morrison's Traditio, but not from the more respected Tradition in Action. Please, in justice, print the following letter from Bishop Fellay which answers your words against him:

(The same text printed above follows this message).


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Guimarães to Fellay:

Did You Accept the Legitimacy of Vatican II or Not?  Don’t Beat around the Bush

The Editor responds:

Dear Mrs. P.T.P. and Mrs. C.M.,

I thank you for the service rendered me and the readers of TIA in forwarding to us the supposed text of Bishop Bernard Fellay regarding my previous analysis of Card. Hoyos’ interview to L’Osservatore Romano.

I am pleased to pay my respects to the good intention of both of your notes, which you imagined saved the leader of SSPX from an unjust attack. For me, it is always agreeable to acknowledge a noble attitude, even when it lacks objectivity and comes against me. I hope that the assessment I will make of the content of Bishop Fellay’s message will not wound the delicate sensibility of two ladies, who, like almost all ladies, put their emotions above their reason when it comes to defending the ones they love.

1. Reservations on the authenticity of the document

The document you sent me suffers from some deficiencies regarding its authenticity.

First, it is a supposed response of the current Superior General of the SSPX to an anonymous inquirer. Mr. XX preferred to remain in the comfort of anonymity when he forwarded the Bishop’s message to two ladies. So, I do not know of a primary source testifying that this message actually came from Bishop Fellay.

Second, Mr. XX also preferred not to communicate the questions he submitted to Bishop Fellay, so that the numbers 1,2,3,4 of the answer might be clarified by the terms of his questions.

Third, the permission given by Bishop Fellay, “to spread it largely among the friends of Mr. XX” would typically make his message an internal matter for SSPX members. I am not a member of SSPX, and I suspect that Mr. XX does not count me among his friends since I did not receive anything from him. Thus, the fact that two ladies forwarded this message to me may be considered an abuse of confidence, revealing communications that were supposed to remain within the limits of the organization.

Fourth, the feeble guarantee I have that this message was written by Bishop Fellay and was intended to come to my knowledge is the fact that both ladies, who I know as being enthusiastic SSPX supporters, quickly sent it on to me as if it were the due response to my critique of their Bishops. They also emphatically asked me to post it on the TIA website.

In principle, to avoid all these uncertainties, I could well drop this matter. But out of consideration for my two correspondents, I will admit the document they sent as authentic and as being the Bishop’s indirect answer to my recent post.

Having placed these reservations, I will enter into the analysis of Bishop Fellay’s message.

2. The content of the document

Before presenting any facts, Bishop Fellay uses several strong words to appease the concerns of Mr. XX. He affirms that my critique is a “delirium,” and that Cardinal Hoyos’ interview is “a phantasy” [= fantasy], “tricky and severely misleading.”

But when he goes on to specify exactly what the “fantasy” would be in the Hoyos’ interview, he sets down his points 1, 3 and 4, upon which he agrees with the Vatican Cardinal. That is to say, in point 1, he clarifies that Hoyos and he agreed that he was speaking on behalf of the four Bishops. In point 3, he agrees with Card. Hoyos that the SSPX Bishops emphasize the ambiguities of Vatican II. In point 4, he admits that there might be some priests who have left the Society, as Card. Hoyos claims. In these points, what Hoyos affirmed was essentially ratified by Bishop Fellay. Thus none of the strong words Fellay uses are applicable to them.

A. Fellay’s confession: I accepted Vatican II

In point 2, three different statements are made by Bishop Fellay:

First, he confesses that he and the other three Bishops of SSPX accepted Vatican II as an ecumenical council, a point that also agrees with what Card. Hoyos said in the interview. This is an important statement by Bishop Fellay that deserves some analysis. Speaking on behalf of the other Bishops, he actually confirms Hoyos’ testimony that he recognized Vatican II as an ecumenical council in the presence of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Even if I suspected that this recognition had been made, I did not know for sure of it until I read the mentioned interview by Hoyos. In this message Fellay confirms it.

B. I accepted it because “it is a historical fact”

Second, as soon as he confesses that he accepted Vatican II, Fellay tries to justify his position. Indeed, the Bishop states: “He [Hoyos] only says that the Bishops and myself do recognize Vatican II as an ecumenical council, which does not mean anything… Vatican II is a historical fact, and it is an ecumenical council, it does not mean anything about its goodness or badness…”

Things are not so simple, fast and evident as Bishop Fellay pretends in this phrase.

The Novus Ordo Mass is also a historical fact, but this is not a reason to accept it. When one accepts it as such, one recognizes its legitimacy. The same occurs with the Vatican II, when one recognizes it as “a historic fact,” one accepts its legitimacy.

This is so true that the two first points of the Ecclesia Dei protocol demand that the bishop or priest who wants to receive a celebret [permission to say the Tridentine Mass issued by the Vatican] must recognize the Novus Ordo Mass and Vatican II as legitimate. The other two points of the protocol are disciplinary, only these first two are doctrinal.

Now then, I believe that neither the New Mass nor Vatican II can be accepted as legitimate.

The New Mass is not legitimate, because it was the product of a team of Catholic and Protestant theologians working in common accord to diminish the doctrinal and liturgical differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. Indeed, almost all the changes have a strong Protestant flavor, that is to say, it has a strong flavor of heresy. In the 40 years that the New Mass has been used, the Vatican has consistently followed this same orientation. To recognize the News Mass as legitimate is to contradict the Council of Trent and the 400 years of Church teachings that followed it.

Vatican II also cannot be recognized as legitimate because its documents are the cause of the systematic destruction of the Catholic Church that has been carried out in the last 40 years. The Dogmatic doctrine of the Church, her Morals, Exegesis, Canon Law, Liturgy, Religious Life, Apologetics, Catechesis, Missiology, almost all her traditions and customs, were turned upside-down or partially destroyed as a consequence of Vatican II. Now then, how can any authentic traditionalist leader admit that it was a legitimate council?

Therefore, the vital point missing in Bishop Fellay’s statement to Mr. XX is this: When he accepted Vatican II as “a historic fact,” did he also accept its legitimacy? He should clarify this point if he wants to be taken seriously.

His affirmation that he recognized Vatican II “as a historic fact” is quite insufficient and, if no further explanation is forthcoming, it can easily be qualified as deceitful and deceptive.

C. Two perspectives to discuss the “poisons of Vatican II”

Third, after being in agreement with Hoyos up until now, Fellay mentions only one point where his words would apply: “… and so Card. Castrillón is misleading everybody. Because now as before, our position has not changed in anything about the danger, poison and errors of Vatican II.”

What were the precise words of Card. Hoyos for us to confer how and where he would be misleading people? Referring to the objections of the SSPX Bishops to Vatican II, Hoyos stated:

“I think that their criticism of the Council regarding above all the clarity of some texts, in the absence of which the road to interpretations out of accord with traditional doctrine is opened up. The biggest difficulties are of an interpretive nature or they have to do with some gestures on the ecumenical plane, but not with the doctrine of Vatican II. We are dealing with theological discussions, which can have their place within the Church, where in fact there exist different discussions of interpretation of conciliar texts, discussions which can go on also with groups who return to full communion.”

First perspective: J’accept [I accept the Council]

I believe that Hoyos, like any common reader of his words – myself included – would think that the recognition of Vatican II as an ecumenical council implies the acceptance of its legitimacy as well as the ensemble of its doctrine. His text above is quite consistent in this respect. Once the legitimacy of the Council is accepted, there is a basic doctrinal agreement, according to which theological objections or points that need further clarification may be discussed as much as necessary within the Conciliar Church.

Therefore, if Bishop Fellay does in fact recognize the Council’s legitimacy, the “poisons of Vatican II” could be discussed by the four SSPX Bishops with the Vatican officials, as much and as long as they want. These discussions would be carried out sitting under the umbrella of Progressivist Rome. If he recognized the Council’s legitimacy, his supposed indignation and strong words would be mere theatrics.

Second perspective: J’accuse [I accuse the Council]

But if, instead, Bishop Fellay did not and does not accept the Council’s legitimacy, he remains outside Vatican control, and is free to accuse and resist the Modernist and Progressivist novelties that were introduced in the Church by the Council.

At this point, a collateral question necessarily surfaces: If Bishop Fellay remains free and was unjustly accused by Card. Castrillón Hoyos, why doesn’t he publicly defend himself? Wouldn’t his grassroots feel much more secure to see their leader making a public rebuttal to this ”fantasy,” rather than watch him hiding behind an anonymous correspondent and sneaking his response to critiques via some ladies? Further, this rebuttal makes little reparation with regard to what was said in the interview by Hoyos, who will probably never hear of it. In fact, if Fellay does not defend himself publicly, one could fairly surmise that he had already committed to not raise public polemics with the Vatican.

I hope not. I would like to see him following the steps of his predecessor, among whose notable actions the manifesto J’accuse le Concile [I accuse the Council] stands out.

Thus, it is between these two perspectives – from the J’accuse to the J’accept – that the future of SSPX movement oscillates today.

Final appraisal

One can see that nothing in the Hoyos’ interview was demonstrated to be a “fantasy” or to be “tricky and severely misleading.” Every single item of Fellay’s letter and the Hoyos interview can be reasonably harmonized. The whole picture still looks very much to be what Card. Castrillón Hoyos presented.

Since no “fantasy” was substantiated in the Hoyos piece, consequently no “delirium” was demonstrated in my analysis of it. Bishop Fellay’s strong words seem to have been used with the sole purpose of re-establishing the confidence of Mr. XX, without too much concern for the objective truth.

I close this analysis assuring my two correspondents that it was a pleasure this one time to analyze the message they delivered. However, if Bishop Fellay would like to discuss this or another topic further, next time I would ask him the favor to avoid the mediation of anonymous persons or ladies and address his topics directly to me, as is customary in polemics between men. I can be easily reached through this website or any other written means of correspondence His Excellency would like to use.


     Atila S. Guimarães

Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted April 10, 2008

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