Bishop Fellay’s Interview
with Deutsche Welle’s “Conflict Zone”
“Pope Francis is in charge of governing the Church. So he is in charge of having this Church doing its job. And the duty of the Church is to save souls … and to remind the world of God’s commandments. And when he [Pope Francis] does that - and he does that a lot, a lot of times - I am happy.”
This video interview appeared at the start of March 2016, and is so cringe worthy one almost cannot watch. Poor Bishop Fellay. The interviewer is brutal, and despite Bishop Fellay’s valiant attempts to be nice - and credit where it is due, he does not lose his cool at any point - manages virtually to tie him into proverbial knots and make him look bad, in the eyes of the world at least (for all the right reasons!). Perhaps the most excruciating moment is the final question: “Bishop Fellay, what are your sins?” The word ‘sin’ in the mouth of a secular media interviewer, of course, could mean just about anything. But instead of refusing to be drawn, or replying “I confess my sins to God in confession, not to you and not to the world which rejects God!” or something similar, Bishop Fellay treats the question seriously and informs the world that he thinks he talks too much. An agonising silence follows, which last ten full seconds (which feels like an eternity!), and then, on further prompting, Bishop Fellay, says that, yes, he says too much and is too sure of himself. Poor man. I doubt if he will ever live it down. Nevertheless, no matter how embarrassing that moment was, it is not what should be of primary interest to us.
The interview itself is interesting inasmuch as it gives us one more window into the workings of the top of the SSPX. What is going on in Menzingen? Well, if this is anything to go by, Bishop Fellay and those around him are desperate to be accepted by the world.
Several questions, and several attempts by the interviewer to twist things are allowed to pass. And by always trying his hardest to be nice and sympathetic-looking, Bishop Fellay in our opinion, on more than one occasion concedes far more than he ought. Here are a few choice extracts:
Bishop Fellay concedes the validity of the 1988 “excommunications”:
Interviewer: You were excommunicated.
Bp. Fellay: Yes. Four Bishops.
Interviewer: The excommunication was lifted
Bp. Fellay: Yes.
[. . .]
Interviewer: You were warned that if you went ahead with the consecration you would be excommunicated. You still went and did it and set yourself against the Church.
Bp. Fellay: Yes.
Interviewer: And you don’t repent of having done this?
Bp. Fellay: No, I don’t think so.
Bishop Fellay appears to concede a lack of any link between clerical abuse and homosexuality, and that homosexuality is a “sexual orientation”:
Interviewer: You said in 2010: “The Church’s problem is not celibacy but homosexuality. If you want to prevent abuse you have to keep homosexuals out of the priesthood.”
Bp. Fellay: And I still…
Interviewer: You confuse two things though, because abuse is what is done by paedophiles, which is a crime; homosexuality is a sexual orientation. They’re different things, aren’t they?
Bp. Fellay: Let’s say I agree, that we need to distinguish there, and many times, unfortunately, this distinction is not made, between, let’s say, as I say -
Interviewer: But you didn’t make the distinction, did you?
Bp. Fellay: Well, I may say, with the time going, we become more precise. There was a time when we said, when somebody someone would say “a homosexual” he would mean the acts, and not just these tendencies in yourself, which have to be distinguished. When I say “homosexual acts”, when I say “paedophile acts”, of course I distinguish both, OK, granted, I distinguish both.
[. . .]
Interviewer: But it [clerical abuse] went on for years.
Bp. Fellay: That means that some people did not apply the law of the Church, they were not faithful to the law they were bound to follow.
Interviewer: Are you ashamed of that?
Bp. Fellay: Yes, I am very not happy of that, yes. Yes.
Interviewer: Do you hang your head in shame?
Bp. Fellay: Oh yes. Yes.
Bishop Fellay gives a very confusing response concerning “equality” and leaves the interviewer with the impression that he would not stand by the words of St. Pius X concerning the inequality of men and women:
Interviewer: What about equality, Bishop Fellay?
Bp. Fellay: What do you mean with “equality”?
Interviewer: Equality, between men and women, for instance? Pius X had his own views about equality, didn’t he, between men and women? He didn’t think there was any, did he?
Bp. Fellay: Wrong. Wrong.
Interviewer: “Woman can never be man’s equal,” he said, “and cannot therefore enjoy equal rights. Few women would ever desire to legislate and those who did would only be classed as eccentrics.”
Bp. Fellay: You have to distinguish things, when you speak of “rights”…
Interviewer: But you go along with that?
Bp. Fellay: I just make again distinctions. I think many things can be cleared if you distinguish things. And here, on that question let’s say of women and men, it is clear that, let’s say, a man is not a woman and a woman is not a man. So, you…
Interviewer: But that’s not the point he was making.
Bp. Fellay: …each one has, so to say, abilities or qualities which make them fit or better for doing some works, some not only works, but operations or actions…
Interviewer: So you stand by what he said, all those years ago, a century ago? You stand by what he said?
Bp. Fellay: I’m explaining what it means.
Interviewer: Yes but he says: “Few women would ever desire to legislate.” Parliaments around the world are full of women who legislate.
Bp. Fellay: Today they are full, yes.
Interviewer: Yes, so you can’t stand by that statement, can you? You can’t continue to… It’s out of date, isn’t it? It’s out of date?
Bp. Fellay: It’s the understanding, let’s say, what did he mean? That’s, let’s say… he made an application for that time. But the fundamental meaning of this distinction between men and women: as human beings they are absolutely equal. And I maintain that. And Pius X would have said that too. As human beings...
Interviewer: But he didn’t, as it happens. He didn’t say it.
Bp. Fellay: ...as human beings, they have exactly the same rights.
Bishop Fellay concedes that “some of” the “statements and attitudes which [Traditionalists] cling to need updating” and that modernism and anti-modernism “has nothing to do with the modern world”:
Interviewer: My point is that these statements and these attitudes which you cling to as part of Traditionalism need updating don’t they?
Bp. Fellay: To certain points, yes. Of course.
Interviewer: But you’re anti-modernist! You said: “We will write our creed in blood and sign the anti-modernist oath.” This is what you said!
Bp. Fellay: Sure. Yes, but what is anti-modernism? It is aiming at an error…
Interviewer: It’s you picking and choosing what you want, isn’t it?
Bp. Fellay: ...it is a religious, a religious error, modernism. It has nothing to do with the modern world. We take the plane, we use the computers and so on, we have the smartphones. And if that’s modernism, it’s fine, you see.
Interviewer: And modernism is also talking to other faiths, which you don’t like either…
Bp. Fellay: Sure. And we do, and we do that all the time. Yeah we do! But discreetly.
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