Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos
Bishop Fellay, Superior
General of the Society of St. Pius X, addressed – this past June 22nd
– an answer to the letter of Cardinal Hoyos of May 7th (the
essential Excerpts of which you will find at the end of Bishop Fellay’s
We know that Bishop
Fellay, during the ordinations of June 29 at Ecône (Valais) cited several
passages, in his homily, of his response.
Our eyes fixed on the Sacred Heart,
whose feast day we celebrate today, according to His will, I implore in
His mercy that He imbue the lines which follow with His light and His
The Jesuit Mgr. Pierre Henrici,
then Secretary of Communio said in a conference on the maturation
of the Council, that in the Second Vatican Council two theological traditions
collided with each other, which fundamentally could not understand each
Your letter of May 7th
has caused a similar impression of misunderstanding and deception.
We have the impression that we
are placed in a dilemma. We either enter into full communion, and thus
are reduced to silence about the great evils which attack the Church (for
lack of a golden cage, they impose upon us a muzzle), or else we stay
We do not accept the responsibility
of this dilemma. It is because on the one hand we have never left the
Church, and on the other hand the uncomfortable situation that we are
in surely is not an action which is our fault, but the consequence of
a disastrous situation in the Church from which we have tried as best
we could to protect ourselves. The different decisions taken by Archbishop
Lefebvre have been made with the desire to keep the Catholic faith and
to survive in the midst of a universal collapse of which Rome is well
aware. We call this a “state of necessity”.
If we would like to go beyond the
deadlock in which your letter takes us, it would be necessary to profoundly
change the perspectives, the status quaestionis.
In fact, for your Eminence,
1. We have broken ourselves away.
2. The reasons given to justify
our actions, the consecrations, among others, are entirely insufficient.
Because the Church is holy and the Holy Spirit has always assisted the
Magisterium, the deficiencies of which we complain do not exist or else
are abuses that remain within bounds. Our problem stems from our having
a point of view of the history of the Church and of its crisis which
is much too obstinate and narrow-minded, and so prevents us from understanding
the homogenous evolution and from justifying the different adaptations
to today’s world effected by the Council and its subsequent Magisterium.
3. Rome is being generous enough
in offering us the agreement proposed to us. It is an abuse to ask for
more, maybe even offensive to the Holy See, in these circumstances where
Rome has taken the first step. No conditions will be granted, and especially
not that of the Mass, which would create trouble within the Church.
For our part, it seems it can be
affirmed, according to Popes Pius XII and Paul VI that the Church finds
itself in a situation literally apocalyptic. It is undeniable that the
problems within the Catholic hierarchy – as Cardinal Seper said “the crisis
in the Church is a crisis of the bishops” – the deficiencies, the silence,
the inductive reasonings, the tolerance of errors, and even positive destructive
actions can be found among the Roman Curia and unfortunately even with
the Vicar of Christ himself. They are public actions that are noticed
by the ordinary people.
To affirm the existence of these
acts is not in contradiction with our faith in the sanctity of the Church
or in the assistance of the Holy Spirit. But here we are dealing with
the Mystery of the Church that concerns the union and co-ordination of
the divine and the human elements in the Mystical Body of Christ. To keep
to the truth of this reality, we must consider both the affirmations of
the faith as well as the observance of the actions.
In the affirmation of the infallibility
of the Sovereign Pontiff, the First Vatican Council has explicitly declared
a limit for the assistance of the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit has not
been promised to the successors of Peter for making known under His guidance
a new doctrine, but that with His assistance they would keep intact and
faithfully hand down the revelation transmitted by the apostles, that
is, the deposit of the faith.” Denzinger-Hünermann, No.
We openly adhere
with all our heart to the following paragraphs of Pastor Aeternus
and Dei Filius.
But it is precisely
here that we enter most profoundly into the present day mystery. It is
precisely that the novelties of the new theology, condemned by the Church
under Pius XII, have entered under Vatican II.
How does it happen
that all the big leaders of the Council, the expert theologians, have
received disciplinary action under Pius XII? De Lubac, Congar, Rahner,
Courtney-Murray, Dom Beaudoin (who died just before the Council). And
a little before, Blondel, Teilhard de Chardin…
Would they have
us believe today that these novelties were a homogenous development with
the past? They have been condemned, at least in their principles. Cardinal
Ratzinger himself called Gaudium et Spes a contra-Syllabus. (Theologische
Prinzipienlehre, p. 398. Erich Wewel Verlag, München, 1982.) Therefore
a choice must be made.
That these doctrines
were later approved by a Council that did not wish to be dogmatic is not
enough to justify them. The seal of a vote does not change an error in
the infallible truth: to prove this we have the response of Mgr. Felici
in the Council on the question of its infallibility. (Notification of
Nov. 16th, 1964, DH 4350-4351)
problem of the Council does not primarily come from individual’s interpretations.
It comes also from a lack of precision in the terms, from its wilful ambiguity,
(according to the experts of the Council) which allow the possibility
for various interpretations.
The problem stems
also from certain interpretations given by the Holy See itself.
If one would follow
its instructions, one would end up at Assisi, in the synagogue and in
the sacred forests of Togo. “See Assisi in the interpretation of the Council”
Jean Paul II, Audience of August 22, 1986.
What is the explanation,
in the light of the Catholic faith, of this key phrase of John Paul II’s
theology, which clarifies many passages otherwise incomprehensible (such
as “the way of the Church, is man”, or Gaudium et Spes 22) : “In
the Holy Spirit, each person and every race have become, through the cross
and the Resurrection of Christ, children of God, partakers of the divine
nature and heirs of eternal life”? (John Paul II, Message to the people
of Asia of February 21, 1981, DOC 1894, March 15, 1981, p. 281.)
A Magisterium that
contradicts the teachings of the past (for example the present ecumenism
and Mortalium Animos), a Magisterium that contradicts itself (see
the Joined Declaration on Justification and the preceding note
of Cardinal Cassidy, or the condemnation and the praise of the term Sister
Churches), that is the pervading question.
This crisis in
the Magisterium poses a problem that is for all practical purposes almost
impossible to resolve.
How does one make
the necessary distinction between that which is truly the Magisterium
and that which only appears to be?
And the nightmare
extends from the Curia to residential bishops. Here are a few most recent
examples, one of a thousand.
When Mgr. Tauran
declared in the Philippines on June 4th, 2001: “It would be
erroneous to consider a person of another religion as someone to convert.
He is rather a person that needs to be understood, leaving to God the
role of enlightening his conscience. The religions must not enter into
competition with each other, but must rather be as brothers and sisters
who walk hand in hand to construct channels of brotherhood, building a
beautiful world where it would be possible to live and to work”, was he
faithful to the Catholic faith? When Cardinal Kaspar declared at New York:
“The ancient theory of substitution no longer exists since the Second
Vatican Council. For us Christians in today’s world, the alliance of God
with the Jewish people is a living heritage. There cannot be just a simple
coexistence between the two alliances. The Jews and the Christians, because
of their own specific identities, are intimately united with one another.
The Church believes that Judaism, that is, the faithful response of the
Jewish people to the irrevocable alliance of God, for them constitutes
salvation, because God is faithful to His promises”, does he express the
Catholic faith? Is he faithful to St. John, to St. Paul, to our Lord Himself?
Yet, one of these
quotations comes from an intimate collaborator of the Pope and the other
from a sovereign of the Church, recently honoured with the title of Cardinal,
one who will elect the future Pope. It is impossible to be in communion
with them. They no longer have the faith.
We could cite dozens
and dozens of episcopal statements of the same nature. What is to be done
when the guardians of the faith fall? Do we blindly follow them? Would
they not merit to be labelled with the same appellations that St. Catherine
of Sienna bestowed upon certain sovereigns of the Church in her time?
To declare this
does not put us in good standing with the Holy See. But we have concerns
that are much more serious. The thousands and millions of Catholics who
fall away because of these deficiencies with Rome, that is our concern.
“Quicumque vult salvus esse, ante omnia opus est, ut teneat catholicam
fidem: nisi quisque integram inviolatamque servaverit, absque dubio in
aeternum peribit.” (Whosoever want to be saved, before all things
it is necessary that he hold to the Catholic Faith. Which Faith if anyone
does not keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.)
Athanasian Creed, DH 75
must be made between Rome and Rome. That is what we are trying to do.
The words of Pius
XII, then Secretary of State to Pius XI, resound in our ears: “Suppose,
dear friend, that communism would be only the most visible instrument
of subversion against the Church and the tradition of divine revelation.
Then we would be witnessing the invasion of everything that is spiritual:
philosophy, science, law, schools, the arts, the press, literature, the
theatre and religion. I am alarmed by the secrets of the Virgin Mary to
little Lucy at Fatima. This persistency of the Good Lady in the face of
danger menacing the Church is a divine warning against the suicide that
would arise from an alteration of the faith, in its liturgy, in its theology,
and in its soul…
I hear around me
innovators who would like to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, to destroy the
universal flame of the Church, to throw out its adornments, to make it
regret its past history.
Alas, my dear friend,
I am convinced that the Church of Peter must accept its past or it will
dig its own grave.
… a day will come
when the civilised world will deny his God, when the Church will doubt
as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God,
that His Son is nothing but a symbol, one philosophy among many others,
and in the churches the Christians will look in vain for the red lamp
where God awaits them.” (Mgr. Roche and P. Saint Germain, Pius XII
regarding history, pp. 52-53)
To his friend John
Guitton, Paul VI said, in substance, that within the Church there exists
a way of thinking which is not Catholic. Perhaps it will prevail, but
it will never be the Catholic Church. (John Guitton, Paul VI secret)
Facing this catastrophe,
what are the faithful to do? Are they allowed to do something? We simply
follow the guidance of Saint Vincent of Lerins in his Commonitorium
(N3): “Therefore what would the Catholic Christian do, if a part of the
Church were to detach from the communion of the universal faith? What
other course could he follow, but to prefer the body in its ensemble,
which is healthy, rather than the gangrenous and corrupted member. And
if some new contagion would strive to poison not only a small part of
the Church, but the entire Church all at once? Well, even then his greatest
concern would be to attach himself to antiquity, which obviously cannot
be captivated by any lying novelty.”
Here is a status
quaestionis which must be a first step in order to try to find a solution.
We are but a sign that warns of the tragedy which the Church is undergoing,
perhaps one which is worse than any before, where not only one but all
of the dogmas are attacked, from within the pontifical universities themselves
up to and including the education given in the home.
problem is somewhat similar. And, besides, the faithful are forced to
take upon themselves the task of looking around for a suitable liturgy.
They can no longer simply attend the parish church. It is a problem which
is not only found amongst traditionalists.
Hence a massive
transformation in the Catholic world, at any rate in the Old World: the
breaking up of parish life, the development of ecclesiastical movements
are due largely to the fact that the faithful no longer find in their
parishes the nourishment that is needed to sustain their life of faith
and of grace. The new liturgy is not without responsability with this
We cannot ignore
this immense problem. With all our heart, with all our soul, we would
like to work for the restoration of the Church, but we cannot act as if
everything was going well or as if it was just a question of details.
We are ready to
testify our faith to Rome, but we cannot call good that which is evil,
nor evil that which is good.
your Excellency, the lengthiness of this letter, its general remarks and
certain affirmations, which need to be defended much more. We are entirely
disposed to continue this work, if Rome would like…
We want to remain
Catholic, we want to preserve our faith entire without abandoning anything;
this is the cause of our combat, of our efforts, of the opposition that
we suffer. We are convinced that we do not harm the Church in doing so,
even if the appearances speak against us.
Your Eminence, the expression of my devoted and religious sentiments,
in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary”
Here are the essential
points of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos’ letter of May 7th 2001
to Bishop Fellay:
first condition, a certain number of cardinals, bishops and faithful judge
that such a permission must not be conceded. It is not that the preceding
sacred rite doesn’t merit respect, or that we do not recognise its solid
theology, its beauty and its contribution for centuries in the Church,
but because this permission could cause confusion in the minds of many
who would see it as a discredit to the value of the Holy Mass which the
Church celebrates today. It is clear that, in the statutes of your reinsertion,
we fully guarantee that the members of the Society, and all those who
have a special attraction to this noble liturgical tradition, may celebrate
it freely in your churches and places of worship. It may also be celebrated
in other churches with permission of the diocesan bishop.
second condition, it is clear that the Holy Father wishes to grant it
at the time when the return will be finalised.”