CFN Interview with
Father Arnaud Rostand, SSPX
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
J Vennari: Our
readers are most interested in the Doctrinal Discussions now going on between
the Society of St. Pius X and
Father Rostand: From the beginning of the Doctrinal Discussions between
It is not always easy to
understand the power that the media has on people’s minds, especially here in
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.
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?
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
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
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
Two years ago, for the
first time, a voice in
The simple fact that we
are able to discuss doctrine with
JV: The Society of St. Pius X rightly insists
that the crisis in the Church is caused from the problems with the Second
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
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
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
JV; Could you give some instances of how the Council itself is the problem?
For the sake of clarity and brevity, I will illustrate just a few examples:
of the easiest errors of Vatican II to grasp, is the new definition of the
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.
Second Vatican Council plays with a deficient definition of “priest”. Priests
are defined, above all, in terms of their being the bishops’ “cooperators” (
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
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.
Next month: A Discussion on the upcoming
Feb. 4, 2011 • From Feb. 2011 CFN
Note: the Feb. edition went out late, only mailed on Feb. 3.
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