SSPX head says Vatican sent mixed messages

Bishop Bernard Fellay

Bishop Bernard Fellay

January 14, 2013

The head of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X said he has been receiving mixed messages from the Vatican for years over how the group might be brought back into full communion with the Church.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the society, claimed top Vatican officials told him not to be discouraged by the Vatican’s official statements, because they did not reflect the pope’s feelings.

The Vatican press office declined to comment on the claims.

According to an audio recording posted on YouTube Dec. 30, the bishop gave a nearly two-hour talk Dec. 28 in New Hamburg, Ont.

Apparently speaking without a text, he also called the Jewish people “enemies of the Church,” saying Jewish leaders’ support of the Second Vatican Council “shows that Vatican II is their thing, not the Church’s.”

The Vatican spokesman responded by saying the Catholic Church finds it “absolutely unacceptable” to consider the Jewish people as enemies.

“It is absolutely unacceptable, impossible, to define the Jews as enemies of the Church,” Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said.

Lombardi said the Second Vatican Council, as well as many papal speeches and Vatican initiatives, reflected the Church’s continued, firm support “of dialogue and deepening relations” with the Jewish people.

Pope Benedict launched a series of discussions with the SSPX in 2009, lifting excommunications imposed on its four bishops, and saying he hoped they would return to full communion with the Church.

In 2011, the Vatican gave SSPX leaders a “doctrinal preamble” to sign that outlines principles necessary to guarantee fidelity to the Church and its teaching; the Vatican said the SSPX leaders would have to sign it to move toward full reconciliation.

But Fellay said he repeatedly told the Vatican that the preamble was unacceptable.

He said he only continued discussions with Vatican officials because others “very close to the pope” had assured him the pope did not agree with the Vatican’s official pronouncements.