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Bishop Fellay Makes His Statement on Amoris Laetitia


Many traditionally-minded Catholics have wondered lately if the Vatican’s recent overtures regarding regularization of Society of Saint Pius X might have muted their likely criticism of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia. Some have even speculated that the timing of this outreach — which appears to have some real chance of ending the decades-old standoff between Écône and Rome — was specifically calculated to push the Society into a position of careful diplomacy just as its usual theological candor would be most valuable to those trying to grapple with the document’s implications.

To some extent, these concerns were allayed when the strong statements of several SSPX priests were published on the various official websites of the Society. The analysis of these priests was summed up in the title of one of the critiques, which declared Amoris Laetitia “a Victory of Subjectivism.” Still, with no official statement from Bishop Bernard Fellay, the Superior General of the Society, these statements seemed somewhat provincial, lacking the force of a unified position as outlined by the group’s leader.

Until today. Today, Bishop Fellay has made his own assessment, which is clear and concise.

Before I share his thoughts with you, there’s something I want to take a moment to address. Some of our readers have recently asked why we reference these analyses from the Society when they are in a canonically irregular status (they are not in schism, as many erroneously claim) and as such, have no jurisdiction or authority within the institutional Church. Some have wondered about my own personal affiliation with the SSPX. I want to make clear to those asking these questions that I, too, have expressed my concerns about the SSPX over the years. I will not rehash them here, but suffice to say that I am in no way directly affiliated with the Society, nor do I attend their chapels. I have kept my distance and, I hope, my objectivity about their situation.

I have made clear in the past what our position as a publication is on the SSPX; I have also expressed my concern that their status is kept intentionally confusing by certain powers in Rome. I have asked that we take our concerns with the Society no further than did Pope Benedict XVI, who expressed paternal affection for them and their love for Christ.  As a publication, we have even taken the time to fact-check some common claims about the Society in the interest of greater clarity.

All of this is a matter of justice. What makes the Society of such value to the Church is their maintenance of traditional Catholic teaching and praxis, and the way in which they stand as a mirror to reflect the perennial Catholicism of the ages in contrast to a Church occupied by Modernist forces. This is why we publish their statements and analyses of our present moment. Though they lack canonical status, they also lack the institutional bias that so often clouds our thinking as we try to approach obvious novelties through a (often imaginary) “hermeneutic of continuity.” What matters in such things is not so much the provenance of a claim, but its veracity.

And so, I would like to share with you the last four points in Bishop Fellay’s seven-point statement. These in particular cut to the heart of the matter as regards the exhortation. They are written with clarity, concision, and charity. There is no hyperbole, no bombast, just a crystalline understanding of where the exhortation falls short, and what must be done about it:

  1. In a papal document one expects to find a clear presentation of the Church’s magisterial teaching and the Christian manner of living. Now, as others have correctly noted, Amoris Laetitia is rather “a treatise on psychology, pedagogy, moral and pastoral theology and spirituality”. The Church has the mission of proclaiming the teaching of Jesus Christ in season and out of season and of drawing from it the necessary conclusions, all for the good of souls. It is incumbent upon her to remind men of God’s Law and not to minimize it or explain how it might not apply in some cases. The Church has the obligation of stating principles, the concrete application of which she leaves to pastors of souls, to confessors, and also to the conscience that has been enlightened by faith, the proximate rule of human action.
  1. Because of its search for a pastoral practice based on mercy, the document is in some places marred by subjectivism and moral relativism. Objective rules are replaced, in Protestant fashion, by the individual’s conscience. This poison is in part attributable to personalism, which, in the matter of pastoral care of families, no longer places the gift of life and the good of the family first and foremost, but rather the personal fulfillment and spiritual development of the spouses. On this subject we can only deplore once again the inversion of the ends of marriage sketched out in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes of the Second Vatican Council, an inversion that is found again in Amoris Laetitia. The so-called “law of gradualness” turns Catholic morality upside down.
  1. The consequences of Amoris Laetitia are already making themselves felt in the Church: one parish priest, in keeping with his duty, refuses the Body of Christ to public sinners, while another invites everyone to Holy Communion. The President of the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has declared that Amoris Laetitia will be put into practice immediately in his country and that consequently, in certain cases, divorced-and-“remarried” persons will receive Communion.[2] A deep division is forming within the episcopate and the Sacred College of Cardinals. The faithful are bewildered; the whole Church is suffering from this rift. Calling into question the obligation to observe in all cases God’s commandments, particularly the commandment of marital fidelity, means surrendering to the dictates of current practice and the spirit of the age. In many countries—Germany for example—what is required by divine law has already been trampled underfoot for a long time. Instead of raising what is to the level of what ought to be, they are lowering what ought to be to what is; that is, to the permissive morality of modernists and progressives. Catholics whose marriages have failed but who, given the situation, have very virtuously and sometimes heroically remained faithful to the promise they made before the altar, feel betrayed. It is enough to make one weep.
  1. We humbly but firmly implore the Holy Father to revise the exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and most especially chapter 8. As with the documents of Vatican II, what is ambiguous must be interpreted in a clear manner, and what contradicts the constant doctrine and practice of the Church must be retracted, for the glory of God, for the good of the whole Church, and for the salvation of souls, especially those in danger of being deceived by the guise of a false mercy.

You may read Bishop Fellay’s full statement here. I encourage you to do so.

17 thoughts on “Bishop Fellay Makes His Statement on Amoris Laetitia”

    • Our friend above, in an inarticulate way questioned the appeal to authority of a man who leads a small group at odds with the church, by calling them fleas, he has been impolite,

      Your comment, calls into question many changes that have occurred in the Church in the past 50 years. On some points, we agree, but your tone is no better than his, calling the Pope and apostate is no better than calling men fleas, and I would suspect you would be deeply insulted yourself if someone called you one.

      • I believe that PF has shown his apostasy in many ways:
        1. Does not uphold the Apostles Creed. All religions are the same – no Catholic God, no need for baptism, Atheists can get to Heaven by good deeds.
        2. Disrespects the Blessed Sacrament – places football & jersey on altar beside the tabernacle, doesn’t genuflect at act of consecration.
        3. Accepts communist crucifix.
        4. Tells a divorced & remarried woman in Argentine by ‘phone she can receive Holy Communion.
        5. Archbishop Forte’s remarks on AL are evidence of admitting divorced & remarried & cohabiting couples (heterosexual & homosexual) to Holy Communion without repentance while continuing in their “irregular” lifestyles.
        6. Stages a Light Show at the Vatican while countless Christians are being slaughtered for the faith in the ME.
        7.Wants Europe to open borders to allow tremendous influx of Muslims who are actively against Western civilisation, feel entitled to many wives, maltreat their womenfolk & make them wear face hiding burqas (even schoolchildren), don’t recognise civil law of host country, insist on Sharia Law, feel free to rape non-mulsim women & girls.
        8. Doesn’t mention the name of Jesus while addressing UN, EU & Congress. Doesn’t call for an immediate halt to SSM, Abortion, Euthanasia etc. Doesn’t speak out in defence of Catholic schools, universities, hospitals, which have been stalworth in providing these services in the past prior to any government subsidies appearing on the scene.
        9. Has done nothing about defrocking deviant priests, Bishops & Cardinals who brought about the worst catastrophe in the CC in living memory. Not only that, he invites them to take part in the Synod on the Family.

        I could go on and on but will stop here as I think you must by now know why I feel quite comfortable in calling PF an apostate and hope & pray for his resignation forthwith.

        • Withe respect to your first point, what Pope Francis has said in this regard is consistent with the Catechism, though you may not like it.
          He also has spoken out frequently about abortion, euthanasia and marriage and always comments on these results of a throw away society. Many have made comment on AL and its meaning for the Eucharist and marriage, I will leave that debate open…
          I agree that he could do more about the child abuse and middle eastern genocide, but I don’t know enough of the internals to know what that would be exactly.
          As for the rest, they don’t constitute apostasy either and you may not like his style, but you slander him to call it apostacy and I would rather be called a flea, as we are all fleas in terms of our significance;

          “When I see your heavens and the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, he son of man, that you care for him?”

          We are all fleas, but God cares for us all, so we should be respectful of all that God cares for as well.

          • The CC has always taught the need for baptism and that outside the CC there is no redemption. Jesus said John 3:5 “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water & of the spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven”. Pope Francis, on the other hand, teaches that Atheists, Pagans etc. can gain Heaven by good deeds, putting their lack of faith on the same level as Christ’s followers. As they do not believe in “the sky fairy” they put themselves beyond the redemption that was won for them by the Son of God & Second Person of the Holy Trinity. His claim that the devil does not distinguish “Christians” by their Church affiliation contradicts defined dogma – Nulla Salus Extra Ecclesiam.

            He did not speak against Abortion, Euthanasia or SSM in his addresses to the EU, UN, Congress when he should have and has not only made Catholic divorce easier but has certainly opened the door to allow divorced & remarried & cohabiting couples of all hues receive Holy Communion whilst NOT in a state of grace. He even ‘phoned a woman in Argentine to tell her she could receive Holy Communion while living in an “irregular” state.

            Apostasy means desertion from one’s religion, principles etc and even embracing another set of religious principles which I contend that PF (& others in his coterie) definitely have done. He has surrounded himself with pagan & non-Catholics friends whose influence can be clearly seen. Next October he will go to Lund to commemorate the Protestant Revolt and maybe even lift their excommunication. Did you ever think you’d witness a Pope commemorating schism?

            When we say the Apostles Creed we declare our belief in the One, Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Church. Jesus only founded one church on St. Peter & the First Apostles and the CC is the only one that holds intact the apostolic succession. It is also the only one whose members have received visitations from Our Blessed Lady.

            He consistently calls Traditional Catholics (those who adhere to the faith of our fathers of nigh 2,000 years) as hard of heart fundamentalists, Pharaohs, Pharisees, etc. He wants to dismiss the sixth & ninth commandments and we don’t. He wants Diversity, we want Tradition. The two are opposites. He wants to bring the CC into the modern world with Modernist ideas, we want to keep the Deposit of Faith & Magisterium intact. The Vatican II Church has already ditched catechesis, confession, confirmation (except for the elderly), last rites generally within Europe and now he opens his arms to Muslims who at best don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God 6 Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Neither do they accept the Virgin Birth. At worst, they torture & kill with the blessing of the Qu’ran all who refuse to convert to Islam. They certainly do not believe in the Christian God but Allah and have consistently stated this.

            Finally, a quote from Michael Davis 1977.
            “No-one whatever his rank, can compel us to accept an interpretation of moral or doctrinal teaching in a conciliar document which conflicts with the previous teaching of the Church.”

          • You throw a barrage of things all at once, I will address only part;
            CCC 847
            “Those who through no fault of their own, do not know the gospel of Christ or his church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and moved by grace, try in their actions, to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience- those too may achieve eternal salvation”.

            This is a quoted from LG, as stated in a footnote.
            Pope Francis has made statements consistent with this, I have read them. This is not apostacy. You may reject this from LG, but it is church teaching, and from my experience, there a lot of people, some even raised as Catholics, who do not KNOW the gospel or the church, only a poor caricature of it. These are many who we need, as a church, to reach. We cannot preach the Gospel and make disciples of all nations if we do not first befriend them give them the benefit of the doubt, and show these people a true understanding. Many of the divorced and remarried find themselves in this category, having gone into their marriages with poor or no understanding of church teaching, awash in a culture and due to poor catechesis. This may well be their fault, but the church also is at fault for not better preparing and instructing them. Now what are we to do with them?
            As for a state of Grace, I have no idea what goes on in their marriage, behind closed doors, do you? It is not for me to determine if they are committing adultery, or seeking a decree of nullity. But neither can we ignore them and push them aside. Francis may not approach these with the eloquence of JPII or the academic language of Benedict, but he does challenge us to deal with the real people involved and look to help them.

            I will agree that he has called many traditional Catholics Pharisees and hard of heart, because they are Pharisees and hard of heart!
            We all are Pharisees and hard of heart, and if we do not know this and are offended by being told so, then we are worse than he says, because we claim to be seeking God and following Christ, which requires that we see who we really are. Jesus reserved his harshest words for those who claimed to be seeking God and following his word…today, that is us, and we deserve his harshest examination.

            “If we say “we have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us”

            You want tradition, but which tradition, there are many within the Catholic Church.
            And the Orthodox, though they reject Papal authority, maintain apostolic succession. When previous popes lifted the excommunication of the Orthodox, was this celebrating schism, or seeking what Jesus prayed, “that they all be one”?

          • The CC wilfully neglected catechesis in order to pursue ecumenism which has been a dreadful mistake. They took the decision to bring Christ’s Church on earth down to the level of schismatics and pagans. Only the Catholic Church has existed since the time of Christ despite constant opposition & some of its leaders being corrupt & prone to heresy – every other Christian Church is an offshoot. The Eastern Orthodox broke away in 1054 & Protestants in 1517. Neither could accept papal infallibility & Luther tried to interpret the Scriptures privately without the authority of the Church which resulted in over 30,000 denominations, sects, congregations & churches. Scripture cannot be separated from the Church and you cannot accept what the Bible says if you don’t accept the authority that wrote, preserved, authenticated, copied & brought it to the entire world. They broke with Tradition and have therefore lost Apostolic Succession.

            Despite bad catechesis, there is little excuse for people of good will to be totally ignorant of Jesus Christ, why He became Man born of the Virgin Mary, His teachings, instituting the Holy Mass (Last Supper), His Crucifixion & Death on the Cross, Resurrection etc. as this all can be accessed on the internet and advice given as to how to further one’s reading on many Traditional Catholic websites. If born into a Catholic family one has the duty to do so, especially if contemplating getting married – even more so to a non -Catholic or unbaptised person. We must take responsibility for our own action s, but I agree with you that the CC has been dreadfully remiss in its duties to families and broken marriages on a wide scale is the result. However, the rules are the same for everyone and if your break them (through “mercy”) for one set of people then others will demand the same “mercy” irrespective of their situation. Christ gave us the Ten Commandments for all time. It’s getting to look as if that time will soon run out

  1. You know, you’re right.
    I cannot think of any English-speaking bishop in the U.S. who is simultaneously misogynistic, a Holocaust denier and who goes about performing episcopal actions in the dioceses of other bishops without invitation.

    • Please fill me in where being an holocaust denier is contrary to faith in the one holy Cathoiic Church. Misogynistic? Have you read St Paul? And his episcopal actions then rule out all the actions of the SSPX since its foundation. They attacked Archbishop Lefebre for doing the same. So no you are right, there is not one bishop in the USA who can hold a candle to this good bishop.

    • Look, my dears- this is a prime example of why it is so difficult for us to work together: the unwillingness and/or inability of SSPX supporters to weather any criticism whatsoever of the Narrative.

  2. Just wondering, would it be possible for Bishop Fellay to become the next Pope? Or are only Cardinals allowed to be popes? His clarity would certainly offset the confusion enkindled and set aflame by this papacy.

    • Technically, any male Catholic can become pope but it is highly unlikely since the cardinals only elect from their own group. If they wanted to, they could elect a bishop from any part of the church but they don’t do it. Just because something is possible, doesn’t mean it would actually be done.

    • Bishop Fellay becoming pope? Not on this side of the Chastisement my friend. Wait until after 2017 though, then maybe.

  3. Don’t worry Folks! This pope is going so far trying to please everybody that his authority will fall out off the edge and the church will become an umbrella system for anything goes, Then the traditionalists can go right on with their own bishops and sympathizers building the church the way it should be and all the other guys can dance down the isles with their bowls of incense and leotard ladies, wow, some church! I can hardly wait,,,


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