Criticism of Bp Fellay’s Doctrinal Declaration of 15 April, 2012
The following document was read out loud by its author, Father de Jorna, to all members of the General Chapter of the SSPX in July 2012. No objection to it was raised from any member.
Its author is Father Benoît de Jorna (Left:Rector of the St Pius X Seminary, at Econe, Switzerland), ordained by Abp. Lefebvre in 1984. He is one of the best theologians in the Society of St. Pius X. He was a member of the Theological Commission set up by the SSPX for the Doctrinal discussions with Rome between 2009 and 2011.
Fr. De Jorna proves in his document that Bishop Fellay’s “Doctrinal Declaration“ of April 15, 2012 amounts to the “hermeneutic of continuity”' of Benedict XVI.
[TEXT] […] II. Absolutely necessary distinctions must be made concerning the magisterium. We accept all the magisterium [official teaching] of the Church until Vatican II. But since then, there is a new magisterium, for the most part opposed to the previous magisterium. We cannot, therefore, declare that we accept this new magisterium as magisterium of the Church.
This distinction is all the more important now that Benedict XVI has declared his intention:"Either we are with his [John Paul II’s] predecessors who proclaimed the truth of all time, who are consistent with the Church from the Apostles until Pope Pius XII. Or we are with the Council and then we are against the predecessors of the current Pope. You have to choose, there is a choice to be made. It is clear that Tradition is with the 250 popes who preceded Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council. That is clear. Or the Church has always been wrong. This is the situation in which we find ourselves. We must be firm, clear and determined not to hesitate. "(Abp. Marcel Lefebvre, 14 May 1989, in the French review “Vue de Haut,” no. 13 p. 70).
On the other hand, the 1989 Profession of Faith was consistently rejected by our founder because it required adherence to Vatican II."The issues to be addressed now are essentially doctrinal in nature, particularly those concerning the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and the post -conciliar magisterium of the Popes ... the magisterial authority of the Church cannot be frozen in 1962 and this must be very clear for the Society [of St Pius X]" (Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops of the world concerning the remission of the excommunication of the four SSPX bishops, March 10, 2009).
On III, 1 of the Doctrinal Declaration [On Lumen Gentium No. 25]
We cannot accept the doctrine of “Lumen Gentium” chapter III. Even understood in the light of the Nota previa, no. 22 to “Lumen Gentium,” it retains all its ambiguity because it still implies that there is in the Church a double subject of the Primacy [the Pope alone, AND the Pope with all the bishops] and opens the door to the denial of the teaching of Vatican I (DS 3054 ).
Archbishop Lefebvre insisted on this error on the occasion of the publication of the new 1983 Code of [Canon Law].
This § III, 1 does not avoid a serious ambiguity in that it declares acceptance of both the teaching of Vatican I on the primacy of the Pope and of Vatican II on collegiality. It is at least seriously questionable whether this is possible. And the Holy See will not fail to see the possibility and even the duty to interpret the first Vatican Council according to Vatican II. Archbishop Lefebvre would never have signed these statements and there is no reference to ch. III of “Lumen Gentium” in the1988 Protocol of agreement.
On III, 2 and 3 of the Doctrinal Declaration. [Vatican II’s notion of Tradition]
“Tradition” can be understood in three ways:
1) The subject [who does the transmitting],
2) The act [of transmitting]
3) The object [that which is transmitted])
The Modernists play on the ambiguity of this plurality of meanings. Only Tradition in the sense of “subject” and “act” may be called “living”, not Tradition in the sense of “object.” The latter is unchangeable in its meaning. It would have been better to have taken the words from our doctrinal discussions [with Rome] and to have spoken only of “constant” Tradition. The Anti-Modernist Oath (DS 3548-3549) clearly rejects the false notion of the new living tradition when it evokes "the absolute and immutable truth" of Divine Tradition. These clarifications are all the more essential since Benedict XVI develops a false meaning of Tradition along evolutionary lines .
On the other hand, to say [in the Doctrinal Declaration] that "the Church perpetuates and transmits all that she is and all that she believes” is not unambiguous.
Firstly because, for Benedict XVI and Vatican II, the fundamental subject that transmits Tradition is the Church, meaning the whole People of God, a living subject making its way through history, and secondly because the magisterium of the Church does not pass on what the Church “is and believes"; it preserves, transmits and defends the objective deposit of faith received from Christ and the Apostles ? all the truths revealed by God, keeping always the same meaning.
For Benedict XVI, the Church, “People of God,” transmits its belief by which is meant an “experience” of immanentist connotation. It would be better to say that the Magisterium of the Church teaches with authority, in the name of God, the definitive and immutable meaning of the revealed Truth, having recourse to the normative expressions which are the dogmas.
On III, 4 and 5 of the Doctrinal Declaration [Vatican II’s doctrine on religious freedom, collegiality and ecumenism]
We cannot say [in the Doctrinal Declaration], without being more precise, that Vatican II, “enlightens, deepens and clarifies certain aspects of the life and doctrine of the Church.” For, in the mind of Benedict XVI, Vatican II wanted to redefine the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought.
This led to a contradiction or serious putting into question of the constant teaching of the Catholic Tradition on several key points. Religious freedom is in contradiction with Tradition. Ecumenism and Collegiality also break with Tradition.
Let us remember that in 1978 Archbishop Lefebvre said:
It is necessary to repeat that our founder always said:“We profess the Catholic faith fully and completely ... We reject and anathematize all that was rejected and anathematized by the Church ... Insofar as the texts of Vatican II and the post- conciliar reforms oppose the doctrine expounded by those popes from before Vatican II, and give free rein to the errors they condemned, that we feel in conscience bound to make serious reservations about these texts and these reforms. " (French review Itinéraires, n. 233, May 1978, p. 108-109).
These precisions are all the more necessary in that the Roman authorities play on the word Tradition:"…saying that we see, we judge the documents of the Council ‘in the light of Tradition,’ obviously means that we reject those that are contrary to Tradition; that we interpret according to Tradition those which are ambiguous; and that we accept those that are conform to Tradition.” (Vue de Haut, n. 13, p. 57).
We cannot let it be understood that it is possible and necessary to reconcile Vatican II and Tradition, we would lose the freedom to denounce errors and we would be in a golden cage amid the "spaces of theological freedom” of which Bishop Ocariz speaks of."In the mind of the Holy Father [John Paul II] and that of Cardinal Ratzinger, if I understand correctly, it would be necessary to integrate the decrees of the Council into Tradition; make it so they fit in at any cost. This is an impossible undertaking." (Vue de Haut, n. 13, p. 57).
On III, 7 of the Doctrinal Declaration [New mass and new sacraments]
We cannot simply assert that the Novus Ordo Missae is valid. The New Mass is bad in itself. It presents an occasion of the sin of infidelity. This is why it cannot oblige under pain of sin in one’s duty to sanctify the Sunday. At a time when Rome recognizes the two rites it is necessary to remember that,
III 8 of the Doctrinal Declaration [New canon law]"Concerning the New Mass, let us immediately destroy this absurd idea that if the New Mass is valid, you can participate. The Church has always forbidden attending the Masses of schismatics and heretics, even if they are valid. It is obvious that we cannot participate in sacrilegious Masses, or Masses that put our faith in danger." (Abp. Lefebvre, La messe de toujours, Clovis, 2005, p . 391)
We have always refused the new Code of 1983. It is:
"Imbued with ecumenism and personalism, it sins gravely against the very purpose of the law." (Abp. Lefebvre, Ordinances of the SSPX, p. 4).
In addition, this new Code conveys the spirit of the new ecclesiology; democratic and collegialist.
This statement [Doctrinal Declaration] is profoundly ambiguous and sins by omission against the clear and distinct denunciation of the principal errors that are still rampant within the Church and destroy the faith of Catholics. This statement [Doctrinal Declaration], as it stands, suggests that we accept the premise of the "hermeneutic of continuity." Such a document[Doctrinal Declaration], if it were the principle of an agreement, would make such an agreement equivocal from the start and would favour any subsequent drifting away [from our original positions]. [here ends Fr de Jorna's text]
After Fr de Jorna’s presentation, no one contradicted his statement.
Then Father Pagliarani (Right -Rector of the Argentinian seminary) rose and broke the silence in favour of Bishop Fellay in these terms:
"Dear colleagues! We are surely not going to give a slap in the face to our superior by demanding a retraction from him! This will be done implicitly in the final Declaration of the Chapter."
Then they went on to another topic ... The case was closed.
The “resistant” members were out-manoeuvred. They could not move on to the next phase which would have been the call for Bishop Fellay’s resignation. The Chapter participants were led to believe that the Declaration was “withdrawn” with an “implicit disapproval” of its author.
Bishop Tissier was deceived like the others. In a letter, dated 29 March 2013, he said it was "tacitly concluded that there was no need to dwell on this subject, as it was obvious that the Superior General regretted his ‘faux pas’ and was resolved not to do it again." (Official Bulletin of the French District [destined for priests] No. 251, Annex to the Circular Letter No. 2013-04)
The General Chapter erroneously concluded that Bishop Fellay had understood the intrinsic evil of the Declaration and that he tacitly disapproved of his thoughts. However, since the Chapter, Bishop Fellay has continued to defend the contents of his Doctrinal Declaration.
To do this, he has abused the oath of the Chapter [concerning silence about its deliberations]. Bishop Fellay thought that, since the members had promised to remain silent, no one would dare to contradict the official version of the General House.
The SSPX’s “official version” presents the Doctrinal Declaration as a "minimalist text which could lead to confusion among us" (Bishop Fellay , Cor Unum 102); or, a " sufficiently clear text " ( Bishop Fellay, Écône , 7 September 2012). A Doctrinal Declaration in which "any ambiguity was avoided on our judgment of the Council, including the famous hermeneutic of continuity.” A Declaration which "was not understood by many prominent members of the Society, who saw ambiguity or a rallying to the thesis of the hermeneutic of continuity." (Bishop Fellay , Cor unum 104, Note on the doctrinal statement of 15 April 2012).
If Bishop Fellay considered his text to be ‘unambiguous,’
- Why didn’t he help, during the Chapter, the "prominent members of the Society” to understand his statement?
- Why allow Fr Pagliarani to spring to his defence in order to prevent “a slap in the face" and to focus on "an implicit withdrawal," and afterwards to claim that his statement was “too subtle,” no longer useful but basically sound?