UPDATED: Making Sense of Bishop Fellay’s Signature to the “Filial Correction”

UPDATED: Making Sense of Bishop Fellay’s Signature to the “Filial Correction”

Making Sense of Bishop Fellay’s Signature to the “Filial Correction”


Sean Johnson


I. Introduction:

On 9/23, the Rorate Coeli blog published a document titled “Correctio Filialis de Haeresibus Propagatis” [“Filial Correction for the Propagation of Heresies”], which accuses Pope Francis of promulgating seven distinct heresies contained within the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.  The document was delivered to the Pope on August 11, and among the initial batch of 62 signatories (symbolic number?) was that of Bishop Bernard Fellay.

The presence of Bishop Fellay’s signature has elicited at least as much discussion as the merits of the letter itself, or its implicit goal (which seems to be either the inducement of a papal retraction of the heresies indicated in the document, or failing this, the incitement of the cardinals to begin the process of papal deposition), which is at first glance as surprising as it is incongruent:

How is it that the same Bishop Fellay who precludes his priests from speaking on SSPX-Roman relations (unless those same priests are arguing in favor of a practical accord with unconverted Rome); who himself is too timid to condemn even the third ecumenical congress at Assisi, until he is overstepped by an indignant former District Superior in that regard; who has overseen a very successful branding campaign which muzzles any substantial criticism of the Roman modernists; who has sanctioned his own priests who dared to oppose his process of ralliement; who has colluded with modernist Rome (Archbishop di Noia) in requesting (i.e., ordering) his priests not to preach against the errors of Vatican II from the pulpit; how is it that such a man should nevertheless place his signature upon a document which basically declares the Pope a heretic?

The purpose of this article will be to offer one possible explanation.

II. The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same:

We have explained in previous articles (See Here and Here) that Bishop Fellay is a creature of habit, and if you are attentive to his modus operandi in the past, you can form a more accurate forecast of where he is heading in the future. Along these lines, we recalled that in late 2011, Bishop Fellay called a meeting of major superiors of the SSPX to meet in Albano, Italy to gauge sentiment regarding the acceptance of a secret doctrinal preamble in advance of the 2012 General Chapter several months later, which would have the Society come to a practical accord with unconverted Rome.  And we observed that last month, Bishop Fellay seemed to repeat that process by convoking another meeting of major superiors several months in advance of the 2018 General Chapter at the recent Fatima Pilgrimage.

A similar observation was made with regard to Bishop Fellay’s 2012 and 2017 ordination day sermon and statement that SSPX-Roman relations were “back to square one” (despite the deluge of compromises and contradictions which followed the 2012 statement; we are still waiting for the other shoe to drop following that of 2017).

We will stick with this theme in exploring the possible reasons for Bishop Fellay’s signature to the Filial Correction, but with this additional observation: Bishop Fellay is intelligent, and he learns from his mistakes:

In 2011, he only considered the sentiments of his clergy, but roundly ignored those of the faithful.  The SSPX’s official attitude toward the faithful was summed up neatly in an article a year later:

“Ultimately from this modern spirit of an unbalanced desire for information and an insistence on a “right to know”, souls will be led away from Christ’s peace…non-SSPX members [e.g., the laity] do not have a strict right to be kept informed about the internal affairs of the SSPX, which is a religious congregation.”

That was a strategic mistake, since the faithful were well aware that Archbishop Lefebvre said nearly exactly the opposite in his 1988 Open Letter to Cardinal Gantin:

“They have indeed a strict right to know that the priests who serve them are not in communion with a counterfeit church, promoting evolution, pentecostalism and syncretism.”

Consequently, this time around, Bishop Fellay may have resolved to consider the laity in his preparations for the June/2018 General Chapter.

How might such preparations manifest themselves?

For one, pretend that all negotiations with modernist Rome are off (as was done in 2012 and 2017), per the “back to square one” strategy (all the while retaining the Roman concessions and incremental steps toward canonical regularization which had been “won” by compromise and the Society’s new branded approach to the apostolate).

And more to the point, sign a study comprised of conciliarists declaring the Pope a heretic.

The natural reaction among most of the faithful in the pews will be: “Bishop Fellay has declared the negotiations are over, and more than this, he has even declared the Pope is a heretic.  How can you resisters claim he is still trying for a deal with Rome, or that Bishop Fellay is himself compromised?”

Answer: We notice that Bishop Fellay only pauses before continuing his march forward.  He does not retreat, or give back the conciliar cookies he has been given (e.g., ordinary jurisdiction to hear confessions; Roman permission for priestly ordinations; being declared “Catholic” in Argentina; jurisdiction to witness marriages; jurisdiction to try his own priests…according to the 1983 Code of Canon Law; etc.).


III. Collusion With Rome:

“But if you are correct that Bishop Fellay’s signature is just a tactic to win back support from the clergy and faithful in advance of the 2018 General Chapter, then clearly he would have to be in collusion with Rome (i.e., otherwise Rome would not understand his signature was just a tactic, and the ralliement Bishop Fellay has worked for 20 years to secure would be imperiled).”

Response: Is it really so hard to believe?  Do we not have ample proof of collusion between Bishop Fellay and Rome in other aspects of the ralliement process?

  • The 2012 letter of Archbishop di Noia to all SSPX priests in the Cor Unum, exhorting them to cease preaching about the errors of Vatican II, as has already been mentioned;
  • The “discreet but not secret” GREC meetings, which privately worked toward the achievement of a practical accord with unconverted Rome (via JPII’s 1978 “hermeneutic of continuity”), all the while publicly telling his faithful why we should not reach an agreement with unconverted Rome;
  • The expulsion of Bishop Williamson, which Fr. Andreas Steiner (Austrian District spokesman) declared would make negotiations with Rome much easier;
  • The signing of the April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration;
  • The branding campaign generally;
  • The agreement between Rome and Menzingen to proceed towards an agreement in stages, as was so ably documented by Fr. Olivier Rioult in the book “The Impossible Reconciliation.”

Many more such examples of collusion with the Roman modernists could be cited, but these several are sufficient to make the point: Bishop Fellay is not above collusion or dissembling in his pursuit of an accord with the modernists.

In fact, has not the entire ralliement process since at least 1997 been one long process of collusion?


IV. Bishop Fellay is not the Only Creature of Habit:

If we have noticed certain patterns in Bishop Fellay’s behavior, we have also noticed them in Rome.

For example, when in 2012 Rome rejected Bishop Fellay’s signature to the April 15 Doctrinal Declaration, it presented him with an 11th hour counter-offer it knew he must reject.  Why?  To save the embattled bishop’s authority and honor within the SSPX, so as to allow him to survive the then-forthcoming General Chapter, by creating the illusory appearance that it was Bishop Fellay holding the line.

Could Rome be giving Bishop Fellay help again?

Consider that if Rome could allow Bishop Fellay to sign the Filial Correction, it would again be offering him a very great assistance, serving to cover much of the water which has passed under the bridge these last five years, and depicting him as the “neo-Athanasius”: The only bishop allegedly with the courage and conviction to sign the study! [Apparently one emeritus has since also signed on].

Note in passing that Bishop Fellay made no comments with his signature; no statement of reasons for signing.  Just a bare signature.

But Cui bono? (Who benefits?).

In this scenario, what Rome has to gain is a bigger slice of the traditional pie:  Rome is not ignorant of the great mistrust and unease swirling around the leadership of Bishop Fellay.  Consequently, many may hesitate at the moment of truth, and refuse to follow him into the Roman trap.  Therefore, Rome would work to build trust in Bishop Fellay.  Allow (even order?) him to sign the Filial Correction, thereby ostensibly portraying him as the great defender of Tradition, who certainly is not working for a practical accord at any cost (else how could he call the Pope a heretic, which would -seemingly- trash the ralliement of the SSPX?).

Many gullible people are making that observation, and are in need of some conciliar Romanitas.  

They simply can’t bring themselves to believe that Masonic Rome could take such a course of action, as though the honorable qualities of eternal Rome were still present in conciliar Rome.  As the author of the Protocols of Zion observed, such cunning just seems to be “too much” for the gentile mind, and that is how we are outflanked.

Neither will Rome be oblivious to the fact that in signing this Filial Correction, Bishop Fellay is once again collaborating with and participating in conciliar initiatives, with conciliarist priests and laity.  Surely this brings a smile to Rome’s face: “Yes, yes, your excellency, you must call me a heretic.  You just keep collaborating with your conciliar brothers, and soon you will not mind it so much.”


V. Conclusion:

We have offered one possible explanation for Bishop Fellay’s signature to the Filial Correction of Pope Francis.  We do not declare our hypothesis a fact.  We are simply unable to reconcile Bishop Fellay’s silence in the face of Roman errors, and the 20 year ralliement of the Society, with the face value of his signature ostensibly calling Francis a heretic.

Accepting his signature at face value, we would be forced to acknowledge Bishop Fellay has converted to Tradition, yet there is no other evidence to support such a conversion.

As Fr. Francois Pivert is reported to have observed here:

“With his remonstrances to the Pope, has Mgr Fellay converted?

Every revolution requires its conservatives. After going away, you have to be reassured. This text does not call into question the modernist revolution, but only one of its most visible consequences. And then the signatories will continue to confess under the authority of this pope whom they accuse of favoring heresy, to marry under the authority of the bishops his accomplices. How can one honestly denounce the destruction of the family by the modernists and at the same time subject all the marriages of Tradition to the modernist authorities and, therefore, to the rules that are theirs? Bishop Fellay denounces the Bishops of Buenos Aires; has he given the order not to submit to them the marriages of Tradition?

And also, Bishop Fellay will continue to inscribe in Rome all the new priests (and possibly even all new deacons).

He would continue to condemn the “Resistance” who had dared to send him a fraternal correction, and to condemn the Abbe Pivert, who had dared to publish the teachings of Archbishop Lefebvre on the subject of relations with Rome.”

Meanwhile, Bishop Fellay has given his reasons for signing to FSSPX.News.

While still absorbing the contents of His Excellency’s response, another on the French Resistance forum offers this preliminary assessment:

“Bishop Fellay took a running train, that of the healthy reaction of some Conservatives internal to the Conciliar Church. At the same time, he does not want to lose what he has already acquired on the road to the prelature.

Hence: He participates in a reaction (which does not attack VII) to reassure his right wing and at the same time, he relativizes this participation to reassure the left wing … And the turn is played!”

Time will tell, but what remains clear is this:

That Francis would grant canonical approval to an uncompromised, virile and vigorous enemy (i.e., the SSPX of old) is manifestly irrational and illogical.  Therefore, if the SSPX has gained privileges, concessions, and incremental regularization and partial jurisdiction, it is the clearest sign that the SSPX is not the same animal it once was.

Conversely, if Bishop Fellay has gone to such extreme measures as those mentioned above to ensure he (or his priests and bishops) do not offend modernist Rome, his explanation remains an enigma:

Why does Bishop Fellay perceive a duty to proclaim the truth in this matter of Amoris Laetitia, yet say in the CNS interview that religious liberty was very limited (and therefore implicitly acceptable); that Vatican II belongs to the tradition of the Church; that 95% of Vatican II is acceptable; or shrink from condemning an offense against the First Commandment at Assisi?

We return to the tongue-in-cheek rhetorical question of Fr. Pivert: Has Bishop Fellay converted?

There is no corroborating evidence to suggest it, and much to oppose such a conclusion.