Bishop Fellay addresses the faithful about the 2009 withdrawal of the excommunications invalidly imposed upon the SSPX's bishops in 1988.
Bishop Fellay on the withdrawal of the 1988 excommunications
As I announce in the attached press release,
the excommunication of the bishops consecrated by His Excellency Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, on June 30, 1988, which had been declared by the Congregation for Bishops in a decree dated July 1, 1988, and which we had always contested, has been withdrawn by another decree mandated by Benedict XVI and issued by the same Congregation on January 21, 2009."
It was the prayer intention I had entrusted to you in Lourdes, on the feast of Christ the King 2008. Your response exceeded our expectations, since 1,730,000 rosaries were said to obtain through the intercession of Our Lady that an end be put to the opprobrium which, beyond the persons of the bishops of the Society, rested upon all those who were more or less attached to Tradition. Let us not forget to thank the Most Blessed Virgin who has inspired the Holy Father with this unilateral, benevolent, and courageous act to. Let us assure him of our fervent prayers.
Thanks to this gesture, Catholics attached to Tradition throughout the world will no longer be unjustly stigmatized and condemned for having kept the Faith of their fathers. Catholic Tradition is no longer excommunicated. Though it never was in itself, it was often excommunicated and cruelly so in day to day events. It is just as the Tridentine Mass had never been abrogated in itself, as the Holy Father has happily recalled in the motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum of July 7, 2007.
The decree of January 21 quotes the letter dated December 15, 2008 to Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos in which I expressed our attachment “to the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ which is the Catholic Church,” re-affirming there our acceptation of its 2000 year-old teaching and our faith in the Primacy of Peter. I reminded him that we were suffering much from the present situation of the Church in which this teaching and this primacy were being held to scorn. And I added:
We are ready to write the Creed with our own blood, to sign the Anti-Modernist Oath, the profession of faith of Pius IV, we accept and make our own all the councils up to the First Vatican Council. Yet we can but express reservations concerning the Second Vatican Council, which intended to be council 'different from the others' (cf. Addresses by Popes John XXIII and Paul VI).”
In all this, we are convinced that we remain faithful to the line of conduct indicated by our founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, whose reputation we hope to soon see restored.
Consequently, we wish to begin these “talks”—which the decree acknowledges to be necessary—about the doctrinal issues which are opposed to the Magisterium of all time. We cannot help noticing the unprecedented crisis which is shaking the Church today: crisis of vocations, crisis of religious practice, of catechism, of the reception of the sacraments… Before us, Paul VI went so far as to say that “from some fissure the smoke of Satan had entered the Church”, and he spoke of the “self-destruction of the Church”. John Paul II did not hesitate to say that Catholicism in Europe was, as it were, in a state of “silent apostasy.”
Shortly before his election to the Throne of Peter, Benedict XVI compared the Church to a “boat taking in water on every side.” Thus, during these discussions with the Roman authorities we want to examine the deep causes of the present situation, and by bringing the appropriate remedy, achieve a lasting restoration of the Church.
Dear faithful, the Church is in the hands of her Mother, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. In Her we place our confidence. We have asked from her the freedom of the Mass of all time everywhere and for all. We have asked from her the withdrawal of the decree of excommunications. In our prayers, we now ask from her the necessary doctrinal clarifications which confused souls so much need.
Menzingen, January 24, 2009