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The Recusant

An unofficial SSPX newsletter, fighting a guerilla war for the soul of Tradition!

The Leader Attempts to Explain Himself

An analysis of Bishop Fellay's talk 
in Ontartio, Canada
Friday 28th December, 2012

This talk by Bishop Fellay is certainly of interest to SSPX faithful, not least because it is the first such for several months. Coming at the end of such a turbulent and momentous year for the SSPX, it might reasonably have been seen as an opportunity for the Superior General to 'tell his side of the story', in some sense and to render to his priests and faithful an account of the year just gone. After all, why was all the fuss in 2012 necessary? What was it all about? What was it all for? Must the current situation continue, and if so, why?

The Troubles of 2012

To give him his due, the Superior General does use the first part of his talk to comment on the various disturbances, albeit not at any great length. He begins the talk by telling his audience that disputes and disturbances in the SSPX are nothing new. Virtually every year, he says, the SSPX “...is subject to the attacks of the devil. I use these precise words - it is not just a metaphor, it is a reality. You know the Holy Scriptures says the devil is turning around - is circulating looking to devour someone...”

Yet, he continues, until now these “attacks of the devil” have been confined to one corner or another, one localised area of the SSPX somewhere in the world. This was the first year, he says, where the “problem” was not confined to one part of the SSPX, but was more or less spread throughout the whole SSPX across the world.

How can we be so sure that the “attacks” of 2012 were “of the devil”? Well, according to Bishop Fellay:

So we have a problem and then we have the people who react to this problem and then there is a kind of proportion. I may say this is what we would call a normal problem. When suddenly there is a total discrepancy between the real thing and the reaction, you see that the passions, that there is an explosion… it’s like a volcano that goes in the air, then you know, you know that this proportion is caused by the devil. That is his way of acting”

If you are looking for more precise answers from the Superior General, dear reader, I am afraid you will be disappointed. What exactly was the nature and size (presumably small?) of the “problem” to which some people (which people?) overreacted? What exactly was the nature of this “reaction”, and how can we be so sure that their reaction was out of proportion? It almost seems that Bishop Fellay raises four or five new questions ever time he attempts to answer one. So many questions go begging, in fact, that we could fill this article with a discussion of what the Superior General does not say or does not explain. We are offered very little besides some vague talk and generalisations, and a rather blatant bid for sympathy (“... I had to endure...”). And yet, the whole gives one the impression that he believes he has said more than enough to set the record straight.

Take, for example, the moment near the start where he appears to raise one obvious question, but he then disappointingly lays it aside with a non-answer:

Why was there confusion? The problem with this confusion [is] that some people have then lost the trust in the authority. I may say that is a major problem because when you lose the trust with the authority then you are left to yourself.”

So what caused the confusion? Loss of trust in authority! Very well: what caused that loss of trust in authority? No comment. All we are told is that losing trust in authority is a bad thing. Which, in itself, is true, but that is hardly the point. In this particular case, was that loss of trust justified or not? Was it caused by the authority itself? Many SSPX faithful, especially in the West, have lost all trust in the secular authorities. The fact is that our governments most definitely do not merit our trust or support – surely the Superior General would not claim that we are wrong to mistrust such “authority” as Barack Obama or David Cameron? So, perhaps one could say that a loss of trust in authority may be good or bad, may be justified or unjustified; it all rather depends.

The Evil Internet

He does go so far as to say that there were: “...many things that were spread around in the internet during that time were just simply false.”

What might he be referring to here? Perhaps he was referring to the various talks by his own First Assistant, Fr. Niklaus Pfluger, publicised widely on official websites loyal to him and within his control? Take, for example, Fr. Pfluger's talk at the Spes Unica conference in Hattersheim, in April 2012. Fr. Pfluger assured his audience, as being a matter of fact, that the SSPX was being offered a “no-strings-attached” deal to sign, unilateral recognition with nothing required on the part of the SSPX, and that this fact justified the current negotiations taking place with un-converted Rome. Subsequent events, and Bishop Fellay's own words in Canada and elsewhere, have proved that this was nothing more than a baseless, groundless piece of rumour-mongering, for which no evidence, much less proof, exists. Fr. Pfluger's contention was, to use Bishop Fellay's own words, “just simply false”! Strangely enough, however, no action has ever been taken against Fr. Pfluger, and as far as we are aware.

Still, lest anyone should think that what Bishop Fellay was referring to was not Fr. Pfluger, but “naughty” websites such as Cathinfo and Ignis Ardens, we might do well to remind ourselves of the question (which Bishop Fellay also fails to address) of why so many people may have felt the need to refer themselves to websites which are not controlled by the official SSPX. Had a great number of the faithful not totally lost all confidence in the official SSPX websites (DICI and SSPX.org, et al) there might not have been quite so many “rumours” (virtually all of which, as it happens, have since turned out to be true!) If the reader wishes to see a very recent, concrete example of how utterly unreliable and one-sided DICI has become, and why the faithful have turned in droves towards 'unofficial' SSPX websites, we draw your attention to the article “Quo Vadis DICI...?”, posted on TheRecusant.com

Indeed, during the course of his talk, Bishop Fellay as good as admits (albeit unintentionally) that when we read something on DICI, we ought not to take it at face value; that he is capable of acting and speaking in public with ulterior motives. He tells his audience that he published his DICI interview of 8th June, 2012 with the main motive and purpose of seeing how Rome would react: “I made a test. I published a DICI interview...”

That being the case, how can we be certain that any future DICI interviews are not also there merely as a “test”? How can we be sure that his words at this talk in Ontario were not themselves a “test”, that this talk in Canada was not just one more piece of political manoeuvring, that he is waiting to see how we respond to it? It is a very serious matter when the Superior of a Society which is supposed to stand for straight dealing and truth-telling in the face of a dishonest modern world. Is itany wonder that faithful Traditional Catholics turn to 'naughty' unofficial websites when they percieve that the main concern of official SSPX sites such as DICI are more concerned with "Relations with Rome" than they are with telling the truth.

Lest we be accused of passing over it in silence, let us briefly mention the one concrete example of “internet falsehoods” which the Superior General does cite, namely that of the famous “Three-Year-Rule”. It was claimed on some 'naughty' websites that he revealed the conditions offered by Rome which he was considering accepting, to some Austrian priests around the time of Pentecost 2012, when he was visiting their District for Confirmations, and took part in their priests' meeting. Among these, it was said, was that the Society would in some way fall under the local Ordinary of whatever Diocese it operates in, and that the permission of the local Ordinary would be required to keep open Mass centres less than three years old. We shall deal elsewhere with the substance of this “rumour” (which we believe to be true) and its subsequent denial (which we believe to be false), semi-denial (which we view as back-pedalling) and twisting of the story (which we suspect is a fine example of how not to try to dig oneself out of a hole!). If what many of us suspect is correct, it provides yet more evidence, for anyone with eyes to see, of an episcopal politician whose words cannot be taken at face value. It is curious that he should choose this as his one example; needless to say, many of us remain convinced that what was spread around on the internet regarding his discourse to the Austrian priests was the very opposite of “completely false”!

A Telling Silence

So much of the rest of Bishop Fellay's talk is taken up with narrative regarding his various interactions with Roman clergy, that we must not let ourselves be distracted by what he is saying. With modern politicians, it is often the case that they will expend a great deal of energy, hot air and rhetoric in order not to say something. And it is undeniable that Bishop Fellay, in the course of one hour and forty minutes, makes no mention of many of the most important things which he must know need urgently to be addressed. There is, for example, no mention of his words in a certain CNS interview (besides other scandalous words; see Fr. Chazal's “I Excuse the Council”) which to this day remains un-retracted and on public record for all the world to see. No discussion of the scandalous text of an agreement which he himself presented to Rome on April 14th. No discussion of his own last-minute refusal to ordain the candidates of the Dominicans and Franciscans, for which no really convincing, serious reason has yet been given. No discussion of the arguments marshalled by a significant number of priests (and all three of his fellow bishops, at one time or another) against his own position and statements. No discussion of his heavy handed punitive measures against priests and faithful who dared publicly to disagree with him, or the persistent lack of any kind of clear explanation as to why they were punished. And finally, and most tellingly of all: no discussion whatsoever of the biggest elephant in the room (it was not even mentioned indirectly or alluded to in passing!): the recent expulsion of one of the four Bishops consecrated by the Venerable Founder, expelled for such crimes as travelling to Brazil to perform confirmations and refusing to break off his last remaining line of contact and instruction with the faithful throughout the world in the form of a short, weekly email called “Eleison Comments”. All the things about which his audience must have been hoping to hear were not talked about. All the relevant questions remain neither asked nor answered.

Yet, we must hope and pray that it occurs to the Superior General to ask himself a few pointed questions about what has happened to the SSPX. Feeling sorry for himself for having been “attacked” “by the devil” will do no good. It must surely occur to him to wonder why so many people, including former defenders of his name, all simultaneously spoke and wrote against him. As things stand, however, he leaves one with the distinct impression that he thinks that a large number of faithful and clergy (many of them amongst the most experienced and respected in the SSPX) just suddenly, unaccountably and spontaneously took leave of their senses, went mad and attacked him and the SSPX. And why? Well, they were acting on behalf of the devil!

On behalf of Bishop Fellay then, let us here remind the reader there do exist some very real causes of the disturbances of 2012 and the loss of trust in authority. To best explain them, we will use the words of one SSPX priest, known to many of us as very balanced an fair-minded, in his letter to Fr. Thouvenot of last June:


“...The terrible divisions which now undermine our Society are not the fruit of rebellion and disobedience, but clearly are the result of a seismic change of principle on the part of our Superiors in the relation to Rome.


No convincing argument has been presented as a justification for such a fundamental shift in position – the Holy Father has not altered in any way whatsoever his insistence upon the hermeneutic of continuity in relation to Tradition and the teachings of the last Council. And yet, we are simply meant to accept the contrary.

This approach could not but produce the profound malaise that now affects our Society. Additionally, the misuse of secrecy on such a grand scale by our current Superiors, accompanied by privileging a small group of trusted supports of the new policy towards Rome, has served to exacerbate this painful situation even further.

Hence, it is abundantly clear to me that those who truly bear responsibility for the current storm are not those who have attempted to preserve our Society’s firmness and unambiguous profession of the Catholic Faith in relation to the Conciliar authorities but those who chose to abandon the wisdom of insisting upon a real conversion on the part of Modernist Rome before envisaging a practical agreement.”

In light of the above, it might be understood why Bishop Fellay might want to avoid a discussion of the specific causes of the divisions of 2012, since he, more than any other, is at the centre of it. He is responsible for it, as he is ultimately responsible for all the fortunes and misfortunes of the SSPX – that, surely, is what it means to be a Superior. And ultimately, nobody is capable of setting matters to right but he himself, had he only the will to do it. That he does not do it, after all that has already taken place, many of us believe is because his priorities lie elsewhere. He would rather have a smaller, mutilated SSPX, one which is totally docile and obedient to his will and which could be led easily into an agreement with modernist Rome, than a larger, stronger, more united SSPX which would resist any such move.

Lamenting disunity and in-fighting whilst stubbornly refusing to acknowledge any of the likely causes, bemoaning destruction whilst doing nothing to prevent it: this is a pattern of behaviour which Holy Mother Church has witnessed before, relatively recently, and it may be that if Bishop Fellay is not careful he will go down in history as 'the Paul VI of the SSPX.' The closest he comes to recognising that he himself might have been involved in causing division in the SSPX in any way whatsoever, is when he says:

If I look and try to see where, or did this confusion come from, we have several elements which did not help. The first I may say probably the most deeper and the cause of all the others is that we are experiencing since years, a contradiction in Rome. I will try to develop that point because I think it is a major one.”

He then proceeds to talk at great length on a favourite topic, one which is well worn with years of use, (and which, for many of us, was interesting perhaps back in 2001, but whose novelty wore some time ago) - you've guessed it! - “Our relations with Rome.” Indeed, the vast majority of his one-and-three-quarter-hour long talk is taken up with this, and it might be thought somewhat surprising that Bishop Fellay devotes so little time to the fragmentation of the SSPX. Surely that is what most of his listeners were hoping to hear about?

A Contradiction in Rome”

What does Bishop Fellay say about his interactions with Rome? Well, some of it is of some interest, and a lot of it is not. As before, in many cases what is of greater interest is what he does not say, and what he reveals unintentionally. Readers may recall claims made by various individuals who have had close dealings with Menzingen (and alluded to in the article from The Recusant, Issue 3, “Knowing How to Stay Sane”) that an alarming optimism has overtaken people in the seat of SSPX power. It has been claimed that there is far too great a willingness on the part of Menzingen to believe whatever rumours they hear from the 'corridors of power' and accept the private, unofficial and unauthenticated word of individual Romans, (“our friends”) with an almost childlike naivety. These claims about Menzingen are borne out by Bishop Fellay, albeit perhaps unwittingly, several times during the course of his talk. Take the following, for example:

But the big, big problem facing at that time was the following. Even before the 14th September, I got messages from people working in Rome, and which are friendly with us. People who have even been burned, their fingers have been burnt because they were too close to us. And they work in Rome and they are our friends. And these people told me: "The Pope is going to recognise the Society. And he's going to do that the same way he did with the excommunications. That is, without anything from your side." Pope does it: done. And I got several of these messages from several different persons, who, let's say, authenticity I cannot put in doubt. For example, one of those was a person working in Ecclesia Dei, those who are dealing with us. And this very person, after we got the text, told us: "That's not what the Pope wants!"

So you see, I got all these kind of messages which were not fitting together. I got an official thing, where I clearly have to say no. And I got other messages, which are not official of course, but which say "No, that's not what the Pope wants! The Pope is much more inclined towards us, you!"...”

Unofficial message from 'a friend' in Rome: “The Pope is on your side!”; official message from the Vatican and the Pope: “You cannot say there are errors in the Council.” What a confusing contradiction! Perhaps Bishop Fellay ought to heed his own advice to the faithful and not be so ready to listen to rumours! After all, in every instance the contradiction faces the same way: it is the unofficial backroom whispers which sound positive, and the official Roman response which insists on acceptance of the Council. Has Bishop Fellay noticed this phenomenon, I wonder? If so, has it occurred to him to wonder why that might be? As observed by the author of “Knowing How to Stay Sane”, when one negotiates with modern Rome, signs an agreement, or places oneself under Roman authority, you may as well forget all about “unofficial Rome”, since it is 'official Rome' with whom you will be signing; the Rome which speaks openly; the Rome whose words, thoughts and attitudes can be clearly and consistently observed in its various actions and official documents. In any case of doubt, to which Rome would the prudent man pay more attention? In Bishop Fellay's case, the answer, it seems, is an abiding optimism, based on what “our friends in Rome” have told us (“the Pope is on your side”, etc.), and no lessons learned regarding the value of relying on what “our friends” in modernist Rome say. To our mind, Bishop Fellay's criticism of Rome's inconsistencies is totally unfair on the Romans. In public and in an official capacity, they have been and remain totally consistent throughout. Consistently for the New Mass; consistently determined to make Vatican II the touchstone of orthodoxy; consistently convinced, in deed if not word, that the Church began in the year 1965, and consistently uninterested (or even hostile) to anything prior to that consistently determined to take whatever steps necessary to silence any of the few remaining critics of Vatican II, of which the SSPX is perhaps the largest such remaining.

Many other problems besides

The talk contains much more of interest (though a lot of it indirect) than the little discussed above, but for reasons of space I will merely summarise some of it here. The reader who is sufficiently brave and patient can find the full transcript of his talk on our website, on the “Reference Materials” page, and judge for himself if what I have said is wholly without foundation.

  • Again and again, Bishop Fellay unintentionally reveals his devotion to Rome, and his strong desire to strike an agreement with the Rome of today. For example:

    • Now I tell you, this letter, if I would have only this letter, it would mean the end of our relation with Rome.” (Would that really have been such a bad thing?)

    • And um... that's the situation. ... everything is blocked. ... I still now wonder what we can do to, to continue doctrinal discussions. Can we, is it any way possible? I still don't know, well I have some ideas, but everything is blocked! […] And the problem is that we have the Modernist who would like to finish the story of the Society, with a condemnation, and we have some people who still hope that we'll get to something. I frankly don't know how it would be possible. For me, this situation now is really blocked. Really blocked.”
      Notice the very clear implications of this type of language. Rome is preventing an agreement. It is the Modernists who wish Rome and the SSPX to be separate. We, on the other hand, have done everything possible to continue our negotiations with the modernists, and we still hope for an agreement with modernist Rome, were it only possible.

    • Evidence of Bishop Fellay's willingness to bend to the will of Rome at least to some extent, to 'meet them half way', to acquiesce at least somewhat to the demands of the modernists is given in his example of his own decision not to hold Subdiaconal ordinations in Germany in 2009, because Cardinal Hoyos personally rang and requested it. In the event, he did not go as far as the Cardinal would like (completely cancelling them), but a precedent was at least set whereby the SSPX changes what would have been its normal practise in order to convenience modernist Rome.

    • Bishop Fellay as good as admits that he had a childlike trust in the good intentions of the Pope, at least until recently, and that he held more or less the time-honoured view of a good Pope whose hands are tied by evil Cardinals and Bishops. It is not altogether clear whether subsequent events have succeeded in disabusing him of such childish illusions. However, it is pretty clear that his view remains unrealistically trusting of “the Pope.”

    • What better evidence of this can we cite than his astounding admission that he sees something positive in the appointment of a Roman churchman whose description fits only Archbishop Di Noia (“...who seems to be more open or who wants to represent the position of the Pope”), an appointment which was made by the Pope, he says, in order to balance the “bad appointment” of Cardinal Mueller! Readers of The Recusant may recall Archbishop Di Noia's words quoted in our last issue, that the purpose of reconciling the SSPX is to lend validity to Vatican II in effect, by demonstrating that there is no rift between pre- and post- conciliar.

    • Bishop Fellay brings out an unsound argument, which he proposes (and has proposed to the Pope) as a way of 'reuniting' the SSPX and Rome. The Greek Orthodox, he says, were once given a declaration to sign in which the main point of dispute (the question of marriage annulments) was simply not mentioned. He asked the Pope for an agreement along similar lines: let's not talk about Vatican II. There are so many obvious problems with this that one does scarcely know where to begin. The reader may wish to consider the following:

    • How would the SSPX be allowed to continue to criticise the Council if the basis of our agreement were that we won't talk about the very thing about which we disagree?

    • What is at stake is not the validity of some marriages, important though that is, but the whole Catholic Faith. Modernism is a system of thought, and as such it encompasses the whole of the Catholic Faith and is capable of ridding any statement of Faith of its apparent meaning.

    • In the example of the agreement signed by the Greek Orthodox, the correct side of the dispute (Rome) was the larger, stronger, and more senior of the two sides. In our case today, the correct side is the weaker of the two by a long way. Negotiating from a position of strength is one thing; we are negotiating from a position of weakness.

    • If the 'silent' agreement signed by the Greeks was such a good idea, why are the Greek Orthodox still not reunited? History records the failure of this attempt. Why should it then succeed in our case?

    • Truth has its own primacy, and the Truth of Gods teaching has a right to be acknowledged by everyone, including modernist Rome. We do not want to be recognised in the name of pluralism. Rome must recognise the error of her ways and convert from her modernism. Signing such a “don't-mention-the-war” type agreement would do nothing to bring Rome back from her modernism. Worse, it would be tantamount to admitting that we do not really expect or require any such conversion. What we are demanding of Conciliar Rome is that they mend their ways. We do not want to be given a side altar in the Cathedral of conciliar pluralism, with an agreement that we will be left alone provided we ourselves agree to live in harmony with the other occupants.

    A Simplistic View of the Crisis

    Truth be told, it is perhaps Bishop Fellay's own view of the crisis in the Church which comes through in this talk, which is the greatest cause for concern. To the seasoned, battle-hardened Traditionalist who is used to discussing the crisis in the Church and seeing all sorts of different answers given by people holding different positions, it leaves a peculiar taste in the mouth. It is difficult to put one's finger on what exactly is wrong with it, and even at a second or third glance the problem is difficult to elucidate. Perhaps it is, once again, not what he says so much as what he fails to say (one does not always immediately notice when something is missing). For example, he goes so far as to say that Religious Liberty is bad. All very well and good, but in itself that is not enough, and he tellingly fails to offer any real reason as to why it is bad. There is no real discussion of the root of the problem. It is as though he simply says that it is bad as a way of 'proving' that he is still 'on our side', so to speak. To better see what is pointedly missing, let us recall what Bishop Tissier de Mallerais has said on the subject, in his Rivarol interview of last June:

Jerome Bourbon: Can you clarify this issue of faith that you want to see solved first?

Bishop Tissier: Certainly. This is, as Archbishop Lefebvre said, the attempt of Vatican II to reconcile the Church with the revolution, to reconcile the doctrine of faith with liberal errors. It is Benedict XVI himself who said it in his interview with Vittorio Messori in November 1984 when saying: "the problem of the 1960s (hence that of the Council) was the acquisition of the most developed values of the two centuries of liberal culture. These are values which, although born outside of the Church, could find their place, once purified and corrected, in his worldview. And this is what was done. "This is the work of the Council: an impossible reconciliation. "What fellowship hath light with darkness?” says the Apostle, “ And what concord hath Christ with Belial?” (2 Cor 6:15). The emblematic manifestation of this reconciliation is the Declaration on Religious Freedom. In place of the truth of Christ and the Social Kingship of Christ over all the nations, the Council places the human person, his conscience and his liberty. This is the famous "paradigm shift" that Cardinal Colombo confessed in the 1980s. The cult of the man who makes himself God in the place of the worship of God who became man (cf. Paul VI, Address at the close of the council, December 7, 1965). They made a new religion that is not the Catholic religion. We want no compromise with this religion, no risk of corruption, not even any appearance of reconciliation, and it is this appearance that we would give with our so called "regularization". May the Heart of Mary, immaculate in her faith, keep us in the Catholic faith.

If we consider what a certain other Bishop (lately of the SSPX) would say about the crisis, then once again in contrast to it we might begin to notice, at least in part, what is missing. There is no mention from Bishop Fellay of “fiftiesism”, the 'comfort of the system' into which rut Catholics had fallen by the beginning of the 1960s; no mention of how the lukewarmness of Catholics in a time of outward prosperity can lead to a massive falling away a generation or two later, and absolutely no concept whatsoever that the same could ever possibly be true of today's SSPX; no mention of the way in which Almighty God chastises and purifies when he sees material success, outward numbers, etc. accompanied by lack of zeal and true devotion to him. No suggestion that the absolute starting point for the restoration of the Church is personal faithfulness and holiness, or as Solzhenitsyn puts it, that the line between good and evil runs down the centre of every human heart.

The crisis in the Church is not spoken of in terms of God and His power to help with His grace to end this situation. On the contrary, it is spoken of in decidedly human terms, almost as though Rome and SSPX were two political parties for negotiating for an alliance via diplomatic means.

Furthermore, it has been said before that Bishop Fellay (like Fr. Schmidberger and Fr. Pfluger) is under a misapprehension about the size and strength of the SSPX. A certain other Bishop has been on public record for many years as concerned for the faithfulness of the SSPX, and its ability to remain untainted by the modernist plague which has swept Christendom. In common with many of us, this episcopal arch-nemesis of Bishop Fellay has always had at least the humility to recognise that the SSPX, in which he once held an exalted position, is really comparatively small and fragile, a desperate holding operation, held together with string, sellotape and chewing-gum. The view of Menzingen, it has been said, is that the SSPX is God's anointed, which will 'enter the Church' and 'restore it from within.' (as opposed to being like a mosquito entering a barrel of tar!) and this talk appears to bear that out. It has also been said that talk of chastisement, any mention of the end times or any speech sounding remotely apocalyptic is anathema to the ears of Menzingen. Based on this talk it cannot be proven whether that is true, but once again it would appear to bear that out also.

The End is in Sight!

It is perhaps because of this simplistic view of the crisis that we have one final worrying point which will be here discussed. Is the crisis in the Church coming to an end? Is it getting better? Worse? Well, according to the Superior General:

At a certain moment, towards the end of winter, you see on the trees new buds, they just come out. It’s a little thing there. When you see that, you know, spring will come. But you start to say, spring is there, people will tell you, hey, come on. It’s winter! It’s freezing! It’s snowing! It’s icy! It’s windy! Don’t say it’s spring! It’s not true! It’s winter! And we say, “Both are right. It’s still winter.” And then I say, if you look at the situation in the Church, it’s still winter. But we start to see the little signs that start to say that spring is coming.”

In effect what he says is that although the crisis in the Church isn't coming to an end, yet at the same time it is. So both views are correct. We take great issue with this analogy. Firstly, the view which we “prophets of doom” hold is here misrepresented (albeit perhaps not intentionally). It is not merely that we are in the depths of winter, but that the crisis in the Church continues to worsen with the passing of the years and that things can still grow a good deal worse. Which being the case, it is difficult to see how easily our view can be reconciled with the “optimist” view. Buds might appear in winter, but they don't appear at the start of winter! What's more, what little signs the Bishop takes to be “buds” (the younger, 'more conservative' generation of clergy) is a more complex question than he gives it credit for. As discussed above, we are not talking about political parties, and after all there is another way of interpreting these 'signs' such as conservative younger clergy. Let us recall that Archbishop Lefebvre used often to refer to Vatican II as "the French Revolution inside the Church". What we are witnessing now in this Conciliar French Revolution may well be the one step back which follows the two steps forward. Following the initial brutal and violent success of the Revolution, Benedict XVI (in the role of Napoleon) must now consolidate the Revolution's hold and for this purpose must appear somewhat more conservative or at least more tolerant than his predecessors, in order to bring all the recalcitrants back under the revolutionary umbrella.

At any rate, the crisis in the church was not caused ultimately by politics, but by a balance of sin and grace, vice and virtue, faithfulness and infidelity, and with the cause lies the solution. Thinking that the end of the crisis is in sight because some younger priests are somehow a bit more conservative than their immediate forebears, appears to us to be a very narrow view of a complex problem, but it relates back once again to his understanding of what the crisis is, and what is causing it. Bishop Fellay, in our humble estimation, does not properly understand the crisis. He would do well to learn at the feet of his brother Bishops whom he is now persecuting, in particular Bishop Tissier de Mallerais and Bishop Williamson.

So: the final word on whether we can still expect a deal – will the SSPX be sold-out to the enemy or has Bishop Fellay learned his lesson? Well, as one might well expect, Bishop Fellay does not say explicitly, definitely yes or no. He says that he does not think it possible: but that belies any confidence which the optimist might be tempted to find. It is quite clear that he would still like a deal, if only the Modernists in Rome were prepared to be as flexible and diplomatic as he. But as things are, everything is blocked. Therefore, if there is no deal so far, it is only because Rome is preventing it, and not through any lack of effort on the part of the Superior General. The fact that he consistently fails to rule-out in principle any dealing with unconverted Modernist Rome, as did Archbishop Lefevbre, is reason enough for us to be very concerned and to continue to watch and pray. It will happen if Bishop Fellay gets his way. And even if it does not, it hardly matters any more: the very way in which the leadership of the SSPX thinks and speaks about the crisis in the Church, about Modernist Rome and about the purpose and raison d'etre of the SSPX has well and truly changed. Perhaps that is the most terrifying of all: the slide is happening, with or without an agreement. And the only person who can act decisively to end the situation does not appear to properly understand the mess he has helped to create. The SSPX is in perhaps the most precarious position ever in its history. God have mercy on us!