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Bishop Fellay, The Three and the SSPX Deal: A Preliminary Analysis

Three who give testimony...

THE EXCHANGE of letters in April 2012 between three SSPX bishops (Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Gallaretta, April 7, 2012) and SSPX Superior General Bernard Fellay (April 14, 2012) over whether SSPX should accept a Vatican offer to be integrated into the Conciliar Church represents a fascinating twist in the ongoing drama of the Society of St. Pius X’s negotiations with “Rome.”

The three bishops, consecrated together with Bp. Fellay by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988, wrote to Bp. Fellay in order to express their grave reservations about the accord he was in the process of negotiating with the Vatican over the Society’s status. The letter of “The Three” (the French are big on designating groups of individuals with a number) was leaked on May 8, shortly followed by Bp. Fellay’s response.

The two documents have caused intense speculation and heated discussion on the Internet. Here are some of my preliminary thoughts.

... et hi tres unum sunt?



“The Three” make a number of excellent points in their letter, in particular:

1. They nail exactly how an SSPX integration without a doctrinal accord would fit into the Ratzingerian ecclesiology, which allows for “union” among those who do not profess the same doctrine. This is the “Frankenchurch” heresy.

2. They “call out” Benedict XVI’s subjectivism — a topic that +Tissier analyzed in great detail, and that +Williamson repeatedly addressed in a popular and easily comprehensible way.

3. They also nail the practical effect an SSPX integration would have in the long run — gradual (or perhaps not-so-gradual) absorption on the level of apostolate and theology.


One for the price of four?


Bp. Fellay’s response is noteworthy because:

1. It demonstrates, I think, that +Fellay is determined to do the deal with or without “The Three.”

2. It in effect explains why so much of the SSPX senior management has been thumping the drum for the deal. +Fellay needed to show B16 that he has the support of the people who actually CONTROL the organization.

3. He makes it very clear that as Superior General he does indeed control the organization, that this was what +Lefebvre wanted, and that by that standard, they are out of line.

4. He more or less recapitulates standard ecclesiology on the need to submit to the Roman Pontiff, and rubs their noses in it by hinting that what they say makes them (gasp) SED*&@#@N+!STS. (This is a cheap shot at them; fat chance!)

5. His response to The Three’s warnings about absorption and compromise tells me he is either disingenuous or clueless.

Both sides, predictably, trade quotes from +Lefebvre to back up their respective positions. No surprise there, as I’ve pointed out.



How could this rather fundamental dispute play out from the Vatican’s perspective? Obviously, they would want to get all FOUR bishops on board for the deal in order to end what they see as a schism.

To allay the Vatican’s fears, +Fellay could pitch the deal to them more or less as follows:

• I control the organization and the properties.
• The senior SSPX officials throughout the world, as you can see, all weighed in and support the deal.
• As my upper management and branch managers, I can count on them to keep the lower clergy in line.
• I can also count on them to pitch the deal to the laity through speeches, magazines, bulletins, etc.

A sweet deal

• Realistically, The Three do not present much of a threat.
• +Williamson is compromised because of the Jews, etc. No confirmations by HIM, Your Holiness, in your old Bavarian backyard!
• + De Gallaretta, as a Spaniard has no home constituency.
• +Tissier is the only threat because he would have considerable support in France. He is also extremely intelligent and has written extensively on modern theological errors,
• However, +Tissier is older, has a less-than-dynamic personality, and, since any of his French clergy supporters would be shut out of the properties SSPX would still control, he would have to conduct his apostolate in the meeting rooms of Sofitels (or whatever).
• In countries outside of France, the situation would be the same. Supporters of an SSPX “rump faction” would have no bases from which to operate, and in the face of our already existing parishes, etc. would find it virtually impossible to operate.
• Effectively, The Three would be marginalized and would pose no threat whatsoever.
• Ergo, Your Holiness, let’s do the deal.
• And pass the strudel.

* * * * *

THUS MY initial reading of the exchange.

However things may finally turn out, though, you don’t need the gift of prophecy to predict that for trads, the rest of May 2012 will be very interesting indeed!

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