Bishop Fellay Thanks Pope for Redirecting Debate

Shares Pontiff’s Wish to Preach Word to Modern Age

MENZINGEN, Switzerland, MARCH 13, 2009 ( The general-superior of the Society of St. Pius X thanked Benedict XVI for his letter concerning the situation of his congregation as the text refocused the debate to doctrinal concerns.

Bishop Bernard Fellay said this in a communiqué released Thursday, the same day the Vatican published a letter written by Benedict XVI that explained the intentions behind lifting the excommunications of four Lefebvrite bishops.

The four, including Bishop Fellay, were excommunicated in 1988 when they received episcopal ordination illicitly at the hands of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who ordained them without papal permission.

The decree to lift the excommunications was made public days after one of the four — Bishop Richard Williamson — appeared on Swedish television in a previously taped interview in which he refuted the extent of Holocaust. A furor ensued which led Vatican-Jewish relations to the breaking point.

“After ‘an avalanche of protests was unleashed’ recently,” Bishop Fellay wrote, “we greatly thank the Holy Father for having placed the debate at the level on which it should take place, that of the faith.”

Quoting Benedict XVI’s letter, the prelate assured that the society fully shares the Pope’s “utmost concern for preaching to ‘our age, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel.'”

Bishop Fellay continued: “The Church lives, in fact, through a major crisis which cannot be solved other than by an integral return to the purity of the faith.”

“Far from wanting to stop Tradition in 1962,” he added, “we wish to consider the Second Vatican Council and the post-Conciliar magisterium in the light of this Tradition.”

The superior-general assured the Pontiff of the society’s “will to address the doctrinal discussions considered ‘necessary’ by the decree of Jan. 21, with the desire of serving the revealed Truth which is the first charity to be shown toward all men, Christian or not.”

A February note from the Vatican Secretariat of State clarified that “a full recognition of the Second Vatican Council and the magisterium of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI himself is an indispensable condition for any future recognition of the Society of St. Pius X.”

“We place these doctrinal discussions under the protection of Our Lady of Trust,” Bishop Fellay concluded, “with the assurance that she will obtain for us the grace of faithfully delivering that which we received.”

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