On the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the pontificate of John Paul II, it seems to us important to address ourselves to you, as well as to other cardinals, to share with you our serious concerns on the situation of the Church. Due to the deterioration of the Holy Father’s health, we have had to forgo writing to him directly, even though the enclosed study was initially intended for him personally.
Beyond the optimism that surrounds the celebration of this 25th anniversary, the extremely serious situation that both the world and the Catholic Church are passing through does not escape anyone. The Pope himself, in his Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europa, acknowledges noticeably that the time in which we live is that of a “silent apostasy” wherein there reigns a sort of “practical agnosticism and religious indifference whereby many Europeans give the impression of living without spiritual roots and somewhat like heirs who have squandered a patrimony entrusted to them by history.”
Amongst the principal causes of this tragic state of affaires, how can we not put in the chief place the ecumenism that was officially initiated by Vatican II and promoted by John Paul II? In the avowed purpose to establish a new unity, and in the name of a will to “see rather that which unites us rather than that which divides us”, there is the pretense to sublimate or to reinterpret or to put aside specifically Catholic elements that appear to be causes of division. One despises thereby the constant and unanimous teaching of Tradition, which states that the Mystical Body of Christ is the Catholic Church and that outside of it there is no salvation. This ecumenism, has seemingly destroyed the most beautiful treasures of the Church, because instead of accepting the Unity which is founded on the plenitude of truth, it wishes to establish a unity adapted to a truth mixed with error.
This ecumenism was the principal reason of a liturgical reform that has been disastrous for the faith and religious practice of the faithful. This ecumenism has revised the Bible, distorting the divinely inspired text in order to present a watered down version incapable to hold up the Catholic faith. This ecumenism now seeks to found a new Church of which Cardinal Kasper in a recent conference has given the precise outlines. We can never be in communion with the promoters of such an ecumenism which leads to the dissolution of the Catholic Church, that is, Christ in His Mystical Body, and which destroys the unity of the faith, the true foundation of this communion. We do not want the unity wished by this ecumenism, because it is not the unity wished by God, it is not the unity that characterizes the Catholic Church.
It is thus this ecumenism that we mean to analyze and denounce by the enclosed document, as we are persuaded that the Church cannot correspond to her divine mission if she does not begin to renounce openly and to firmly condemn this utopia which in the words of Pius XI, “completely destroy the foundations of the Catholic faith .”
Conscious of belonging by right to this same Church, and ever desiring to serve her more, we beg of you to do all that is in your power to give to the present Magisterium, as soon as possible, the centuries old language of the Church, according to which “the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it .” The Catholic Church will then become again the lighthouse of truth and the port of salvation in the midst of the world that risks its ruin because the salt has lost its savor.
Please, your Eminence, do not believe that we would want in anyway take the place of the Holy Father, but rather we await from the Vicar of Christ the energetic measures necessary to liberate the Mystical Body from the morass in which a false ecumenism has sunk her. Only he who has received the full, universal, and supreme authority over the entire Church can perform these salutary acts. From the successor of Peter, we prayerfully hope that he would hear our humble appeal for help, and that he would heroically manifest that charity which had been asked of the first Pope when he received his office, the greatest of charity – “Amas Me plus his”, the charity necessary to save the Church.
Deign, your Eminence, to receive our devoted and most respectful sentiments in Jesus and Mary.
+ Bernard Fellay
Franz Schmidberger +
First Assistant General
+ Alfonso de Galarreta
Second Assistant General
+ Bernard Tissier de Mallerais
+ Richard Williamson
1. John Paul II, Ecclesia in Europa, nº 7 & 9.
2. W. Kasper, The Tablet, Saturday 24 May 2003, May They All Be One? But how? A Vision of Christian Unity for the Next Generation.
3. Pius XI, Mortalium animos, 6 January 1928, AAS 20 (1928), pg. 7.
4. Ibid. pg. 14.
date : 31/1/2004
For the full document in PDF format available at the Society's DICI site (Documentation-Information-Catholiques-Internationales). Go to From Ecumenism to Silent Apostasy - 25 Years of Pontificate For Dici's exclusive interview, see below.
This interview was given on February 2, 2004 as a result of Bishop Fellay's letter to the cardinals, which included the document, "From Ecumenism to Silent Apostasy."
DICI: Your Excellency, what is your intention when you address this document on ecumenism to all the cardinals?
Bishop Fellay: The fight for Tradition which we have been waging, following the example of Archbishop Lefebvre, for more than 30 years now, necessarily includes the criticism of the errors which lie at the origin of the present crisis. This work of theological criticism was undertaken by our founder himself, and never failed to be present. It is maybe even more necessary today when we see these errors produce more and more poisonous fruits. It is from this point of view that were undertaken the works of the 2nd Symposium of Theology in Paris, in October 2003, the 6th theological congress of SI SI NO NO in Rome, last January; as well as the book on The Problem of the Liturgical Reform, and so many articles published in our reviews and bulletins.
It is along this same line that was written the denouncement of ecumenism which we sent to all the cardinals. As I wrote in the last Letter to Friends and Benefactors, this ecumenism, under the influence of Cardinal Kasper, is experiencing a development which is close to sweeping away movement. And we must acknowledge that these ecumenical breakthroughs are backed up by the documents signed by the pope.
DICI: Was the publication of this document opportune at a time when word went around about possible agreements between Rome and Econe?
Bishop Fellay: It is true that since the year 2000, under the impulse of Cardinal Hoyos, a change of attitude has been manifested in Rome regarding Tradition. But, let us be frank: it is only a change of practical attitude, made manifest by interviews and exchange of mail; but we must note that it does not change a thing as to the upsurge of post-Conciliar errors. And, in fact, the discussions with Rome have been at a standstill ever since the pure and simple refusal opposed to our request of freedom for the traditional Mass, a freedom which we consider as an indispensable prerequisite for any discussion.
It is not a "canonical sort of put-up job" which can bring order back into the Church. And with this document we want to remind them of the necessity of a debate on the root of the problem. That is why, far from being untimely, our approach of the cardinals aims at reminding them opportunely that this debate is doctrinal.
DICI: Don’t you think that it is urgent nevertheless to try to come to an agreement with this pope, because you do not know what his successor has in store for you?
Bishop Fellay: It is true that for the Holy Father the day of judgment is approaching, and that he will have to account for his pontificate. It is a work of charity to try to help him to evaluate these 25 years of pontificate under the eyes of God. For the blatant fact is there: John Paul II, at the end of his pontificate, sees himself the state of silent apostasy in which Europe now is. And leaning upon traditional doctrine, we strive to show that this situation is caused by 25 years of ecumenism.
Of course, we are sure that the return of the Church to her Tradition will happen only under the authority of the Vicar of Christ. But when? We do not know. The only thing we know for sure is that the Church has the promises of eternal life.
DICI: Nevertheless, isn’t it a sign of a certain hardening of the SSPX? Maybe even of the will to cease all discussion with Rome?
Bishop Fellay: On the contrary. We desire this discussion, but once again we want it on the doctrinal level. It is impossible to envision a serious debate if we ignore the root of the problem. Be it only to give a clear definition of the words we use, and thus be sure that, beyond the words, we agree on the same realities.
We do not want this "differentiated consensus", within the framework of "unity in pluriformity" in the name of which Cardinal Kasper is discussing with the Protestants. This ambiguous expressions, this veritable contradictions in terms show with evidence that the Conciliar ecumenism does not care for the doctrinal demands, and even more simply still for the demands of sheer logic. What would you say of an agreement based upon the acknowledgement of a "differentiated consensus", or of "consensual differences"?
DICI: The tone of the document may sound stern.
Bishop Fellay: It is certainly austere because the theological problems raised by ecumenism demand a rigorous exposition without approximations. But the letter which accompanies this document clearly indicates the meaning of our endeavor: it is a respectful appeal to the pope and to the cardinals asking them to give back to the Church her Tradition, which has been contested and even attacked since Vatican II.
DICI: Do you really think that the solution to the present crisis is purely on the doctrinal level? Do you, a priori, exclude a more diplomatic and more pragmatic approach?
Bishop Fellay: According to me, it is being pragmatic, and in any case realistic to want to give solid bases to a discussion. And whether we want it or not, these bases are doctrinal. Pragmatism is not synonymous with "burying one’s head in the sand", this voluntary blindness on the root of the problem can only lead to "not being on the same wave length", or even to being swindled.
The same dramatic realities are forced upon everyone, the pope as well as us. We are in a state of silent apostasy. We can get out of it only by a recourse to the Tradition of the Church. The answer to the silent apostasy must make itself heard with a strong and clear voice. Before the extent of the evil, we cannot be content with inefficient half-measures, measures which, in the end, are accomplices of the evil which they merely soothe without ever being willing to eradicate it.
For past feature articles , see Exspectans exspectavimus Ecclesia Dei ARCHIVES