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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

CFN Interview with Father Arnaud Rostand, SSPX

This is an interesting Q and A....

On the Doctrinal Discussions Between Rome and the Society of St. Pius X
Note: This is the first in a series of interviews conducted by John Vennari, Editor of Catholic Family News with Father Arnaud Rostand, District Superior of the Society of St. Pius X in the United States.
J Vennari: Our readers are most interested in the Doctrinal Discussions now going on between the Society of St. Pius X and Rome. I understand these discussions are taking place in a kind of secrecy. Why is this?

Father Rostand

Father Rostand: From the beginning of the Doctrinal Discussions between Rome and the Society of Saint Pius X, it was clearly stated that these discussions would remain private. It was the wish of Rome and of the Society. Firstly, it is important to remember the circumstances in which these discussions started – At the same time that the Pope lifted the invalid excommunications of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, a media campaign attacked the Pope himself and the Society of Saint Pius X, putting heavy pressure on all concerned.
It is not always easy to understand the power that the media has on people’s minds, especially here in the United States; but as a matter of fact, the pressure was intense. Rome wants to avoid this type of strain and tension, particularly during these crucial discussions.
More decisively, it is a normal and common practice of the Church to maintain privacy, even secrecy, over these types of questions or affairs. An example would be the election of the Pope, which is done in absolute secrecy with no contact with the world in order to avoid any outside influence. Many questions are discussed by the Pope and cardinals in a similar manner. There is nothing disturbing or alarming about this custom; it is actually normal procedure. I would even add that it is also a question of respect for the Pope, because there we are talking with the Bishop of Rome, the highest authority in the world, the successor of Saint Peter, the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The pressure, however, is not solely from the world, from outside the Church; it comes also from within. There is an implacable fight going on within the Church. Most “modernists” do not want any discussions with the Society of Saint Pius X, they do not want any discussions about Vatican II, for no one may question Vatican II. They have long since switched from the “pastoral council” they originally pushed for in order to obtain their objectives, to a “doctrinal” one, a council that must be accepted as  doctrinal, one which in fact has become even more important that all the former councils.
Nonetheless, today Rome has agreed to listen to our objections and protestations regarding Vatican II and what has happened to the Church over the past several decades; this in itself is a miracle. Bishop Fellay, in a conference he gave in Paris on January 9th, 2011, expressed how astonishing these discussions are! It is remarkable that Rome, the Supreme Magisterium of the Catholic Church, accepts to discuss Her own doctrine. Still, that is exactly what is going on in Rome with these discussions. It is very unusual.
On this question, it might be necessary to point out that although privacy is kept while these discussions are going on, it most likely will not be the case when they are over. Everything that is said is recorded, both audio and video, and everything is transcribed, with these documents being given to the Pope and to Bishop Fellay.
JV: Given the confidentiality of the discussions, what are you at liberty to say about the present state of them?
FR: The confidentiality of these discussions pertains essentially to the matter that is being examined. However, certain aspects of these discussions were made public. Bishop de Galarreta, the President of the Society of Saint Pius X’s commission, explained from the very beginning that these talks are on a doctrinal level and bear exclusively on the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium. Rome accepted also the Magisterium of the Church prior to Vatican II as the reference. It was for us a condition sine qua non for these discussions. So, we expose how the teaching of Vatican II is contradictory to what the Popes and Councils have expounded in the past, while they attempt to demonstrate that there is continuity.
Although everyone keeps the necessary confidentiality of these discussions, the positions of both parties are well known, and have even been publicly re-stated recently.
The Society of Saint Pius X continues faithfully to condemn the errors of Vatican II. Let me quote Bishop de Galarreta as an example among many: “We do clearly know what we are not disposed to accept. If we do not know perfectly how things may evolve, on the other hand, we do know clearly what we have no intention of doing under any circumstances: firstly, to yield on matters of doctrine, and secondly, to make a purely practical agreement.” (December, 19 2009) We stick to this course of action.
On the other hand, Msgr. Pozzo, the head of the Pontifical Commission, also publicly stated his position : holding on to Vatican II and defending the views of the Pope, Benedict XVI. Thus far, neither side has changed their point of view.
Despite that, we can already see some good fruits from these discussions: The first example I would give is the interest that is shown today in Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Last year, four books about the Archbishop were published in Europe, two in Italy, two in France! These studies, these publications, were not made by Society of Saint Pius X priests or faithful – they were written by what we may refer to as “outsiders” and most of them are in favor of, and defending the work of the Archbishop. This consideration is new and is an indirect result of these talks.

“If we do not know perfectly how things may evolve … we do know clearly what we have no intention of doing under any circumstances: firstly, to yield on matters of doctrine, and secondly, to make a purely practical agreement.” – Bishop Alphonse de Galarreta, SSPX.

Another example is the influence of the Society of Saint Pius X on more and more diocesan priests. For example, Bishop Fellay, in the conference referred to above, revealed that a quite large group of priests in Italy are regularly communicating with the Society. In the last meeting he attended, there were about thirty diocesan priests. What these priests expect from the Society of Saint Pius X is even more interesting. They beg us to give them doctrine; they entreat us to teach them the Catholic Doctrine. They realize they were not fed with sound and solid doctrine. This is very important. It is not just a question of the Latin Mass as the Ecclesia Dei Commission and the different fraternities under the Commission claim; it is really a question of doctrine. Diocesan priests realize that they were not taught the true doctrine and they have a thirst for it!
Two years ago, for the first time, a voice in Rome rose up to question the Second Vatican Council; Monsignor Gherardini wrote several articles and a book criticizing the Council. He demonstrates that the Second Vatican Council is not in continuity with the previous doctrine of the Church. On December 17, 2010 a bishop, Mgr. Schneider asked for a new Syllabus. In a conference in Rome, he denounced the wrong interpretations of Vatican II and proposed a list of propositions (a Syllabus) condemning “the errors of interpretation of Vatican II”. So, the solution he recommends to correct the actual situation of the Church is the use of the extraordinary Magisterium of the Pope, a solemn infallible declaration of the Pope to clear up the Council. This evolution is very interesting and it will go farther, because if the infallible Magisterium is necessary to clarify the Council, it means that, to say the least, it is ambiguous and therefore leads to errors regarding the Faith! This shift of the debate toward the doctrinal level is clearly happening, albeit at a slow pace. I believe that this is another effect of these doctrinal discussions.
The simple fact that we are able to discuss doctrine with Rome, even though it remains private, has resulted in some very important unforeseen effects. For us, it is just a question of firmness and patience.
JV: The Society of St. Pius X rightly insists that the crisis in the Church is caused from the problems with the Second Vatican Council itself. Pope Benedict holds that the problem is not with the Council, but with a bad interpretation of the Council. It appears that those in Rome with whom you are having these doctrinal discussions are following this line and are not yet willing to admit that the Council is the real cause of the problem. Do you find they are still trying to "save" Vatican II?
FR: As mentioned above, the Society of Saint Pius X insists that the main cause of the internal crisis of the Church is Vatican II. We do not say that it is the only cause of the de-Christianization of the world today; the roots of the crisis started well before Vatican II, and Saint Pius X clearly saw the dangers many decades before the Council. Other factors cannot be excluded, such as the political actions of secularization, the separation of the Church and State, the immoral laws spread throughout the world and so on.
However, we have always maintained that the Council was 1789 in the Church, this expression – referring to the French Revolution – was first used by modernist Cardinal Suenens. It is a revolution that has undermined and destroyed sound doctrine, the true Liturgy, and morals, and has led to the perdition of millions, if not billions of souls.
On the other hand, the Pope holds that only the interpretation of the Council went wrong. He affirms that there is no rupture between the teaching of the Church before and after Vatican II. There is continuity because there must be continuity!
So, is the Rome commission trying to “save” Vatican II? I would say no, they are not trying to save Vatican II; they are really convinced of Vatican II.
I base my opinion on this matter only on their public declaration and not on the discussions themselves. These statements show that they do not yet admit that Vatican II is the real cause.
The line that Rome is following is that we must come back to the true interpretation of the Council, avoid the extremes, come back to the true spirit of the Council. They try to correct the excesses, the translation of “pro multis” for instance, or the “subsistit”, the communion in the hand or girls as altar servers… but there is no questioning of the principles behind these. So at the same time you still have actions that are far more serious and devastating for the Church, like the visit to the Synagogue, preaching in a protestant temple, the ecumenical “Week of Unity” and lately the announcement of Assisi III.
However, we can see an evolution in the analysis of the situation of the Church. The first step is to accept that there is a crisis in the Church, then to accept discussion about the Council, something impossible not long ago. The next step for them may be an attempt to “save” the Council and the last one, hopefully, will be to recognize that this crisis comes from the Council and therefore to correct the errors of the Council.
Behind the question of denouncing and rectifying the Council lies the question of the infallibility of the Pope. One of the major obstacles to questioning the Council is the problem of the Magisterium of the Church. They cannot accept that the Popes and the Council were wrong. How is it possible that the Church could be led astray in such a nearly universal way? The question is not new for us since it was raised from the beginning of the crisis, but the question seems to be new to them.
Before the First Vatican Council, Cardinal Newman expressed his apprehension about the declaration of the Pontifical infallibility. He did not doubt the truth of the dogma, that the Pope is the Shepherd and Teacher of all Christians, he had no doubt that the Pope is infallible in certain conditions, but was concerned of the consequences if it was misunderstood. Today, could we say that he was a prophet? The infallibility of the Pope is not correctly understood and is used as a tool to obtain full compliance and submission on matters that do not fall under the conditions of the Church’s infallibility. The Second Vatican Council was a pastoral one, and not a dogmatic one. The Popes themselves made it clear that they did not have the intention to teach doctrine. There is no doubt that Vatican II was not an infallible teaching of the Church. It was made, however, a “super dogma”, a law that overruled all the past teaching.
Ultimately, we remain in front of a mystery, the mystery of the Catholic Church, which is indefectible and yet constituted of imperfect and fallible people. The Society of Saint Pius X has been reflecting on this matter for years. Thanks to the leadership and clarity of vision of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre we have clear answers to this problem. It is not the case for those with whom we are dealing in Rome. That will obviously be part of the discussions.
JV; Could you give some instances of how the Council itself is the problem?
FR: Vatican II has brought into the Church a new teaching, a new “spirit.” The major errors can be listed as the following: errors concerning the Holy Mass and the Sacred Liturgy; errors about Religious Liberty and its consequence – Ecumenism; errors about the relations between Church and State; errors regarding collegiality and the power of the Pope and of bishops – but also, errors about the priesthood, about marriage and so on - the list is long.
For the sake of clarity and brevity, I will illustrate just a few examples:
One of the easiest errors of Vatican II to grasp, is the new definition of the Mass. We just need to compare the definition given by the Catechism of St. Pius X, and the new definition given by the Council. St. Pius X defines the Holy Mass as “the Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ which, under the species of bread and wine, are offered by the priest to God on the altar in memory and renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross.” One can admire the clarity and precision of this definition. What does Vatican II say? “The Eucharistic celebration is the center of the assembly of the faithful over which the priest presides. Hence, priests teach the faithful to offer the divine victim to God the Father in the sacrifice of the Mass and with the victim to make an offering of their whole life.” (Presbyterorum Ordinis - § 5 )   
You will notice that the function of the priest is reduced to “presiding” and “teaching”. The idea of a con-celebration of the priest and the people is manifested here; an idea expressly condemned by pre-conciliar magisterium.
Today, Rome encourages turning the altar back to its proper place, with the priest facing the East and toward the tabernacle. However, they refuse to see that if the priest simply presides and teaches, why would he not be facing the faithful? The reason they originally turned the altar, the table, is because Vatican II gives a new definition of the priest. The roots of the reform are to be found in the text itself. The altar is being turned back but the doctrine is not being corrected!
Today, Rome tries to fight abuses in the Liturgy, reminding, for instance, that the ordinary way to receive communion is kneeling, and on the tongue, not standing and in the hands. Well, it is Vatican II that gave to the bishops conferences for the first time an unheard of and extraordinary authority in liturgical matters, with a broad faculty to experiment with new forms of worship. Rome tries to put out the fire, the source of which is the Council itself. (Sacrosanctum Concilium - § 22, 39, 40)
The Second Vatican Council plays with a deficient definition of “priest”. Priests are defined, above all, in terms of their being the bishops’ “cooperators” (PO §4). “Because it is joined with the episcopal order the office of priests shares in the authority by which Christ himself builds up and sanctifies and rules his Body” (PO §2; see also LG §28). Vatican II seems to have wanted, so to speak, to compress the figure of the priest into the “People of God,” by erasing, to the extent possible, his difference from the faithful, and on the other hand, above all, by picturing his main quality as that of being the bishop’s subordinate “cooperator.”

As Archbishop Lefebvre used to say, the two victims of the Council are the Pope and the priest. The first one lost his power because of the collegiality of the bishops and the second one by merely becoming a “president of the assembly”. This is obvious today with the Tridentine Mass. Besides the rules of Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio, the Bishops demand abusive authorization and many priests do not dare saying it because of the assembly or only if they feel supported by a group of faithful!
These examples are not the most revolutionary novelties of Vatican II, but they can be easily understood and we can see their effects in the life of the Church today.
As Archbishop Lefebvre often explained, what can be seen in the Church today are not only abuses, but consequences of principles, of ideas already set forth in the Council. They are not merely misinterpretations. The same bishops who first brought these ideas to the Council, introduced them in their dioceses afterwards. Obviously the results have come from the Council itself because one acts as he thinks.
JV: In a speech you gave in
Ridgefield CT
this past July, you mentioned that the Society’s Bishop de Galarreta has said he thinks these Doctrinal Discussions should not go on too long. Would you care to comment on this?
FR: Bishop de Galarreta expressed, indeed, that he does not think that these discussions should go on too long. The Society of Saint Pius X wants to expose the discrepancy of Vatican II, reaffirm the Traditional teaching of the Church, document everything we state, and respond to the objections. We want to “be a witness to the Faith”. The Society does not want, however, to discuss for the sake of discussing. That, I believe, is what Bishop de Galarreta meant.

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