Bishop Fellay answers some questions about the international priestly society and comments on some important activities in the United States District.
We are pleased to offer this extract of an interview with the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, who has served the priestly society in this capacity since 1994.
The apostolate of the SSPX
As the Superior General of the SSPX, you regularly visit our six seminaries and different countries around the world for confirmations. Is the Society, with its priests, seminaries, priories, and missions, in good health?
Bishop Fellay: We go through all the normal problems of life, of course. Right now, I would say that the Society is healthy, growing everywhere. We have passed the torch on to the next generation. We have existed for more than 40 years, so we are no longer that young. It is gratifying to see that Tradition has been handed down. Tradition continues and is being transmitted in the Catholic Faith and life.
This year, God willing, for the first time we will have more than 600 priests. That being said, we still need many more! We must ask the Good Lord for more vocations; there are several countries that we cannot serve as we should. Even some countries like France need more priests. We are serving almost 70 countries and are established in almost 35.
Could you give us an update on the new seminary construction project in America?
Bishop Fellay: Well, it's underway. It's an enormous project, truly colossal. It's the biggest construction project in the history of the Society.
I've been quite moved by the action of St. Joseph and of Divine Providence. The generosity of the faithful has been very impressive. Nevertheless, we have not yet finished. The roof is the next step, followed by the interior. We are not yet sure, but we hope to move into the seminary next year.
In your last “Letter to Friends and Benefactors”, you lament the attacks on the family. Could you tell us a little more about this?
Bishop Fellay: Well, that topic alone could be the subject of a whole interview! The family is the natural, elementary cell of human society. We live in very perverted times in which the enemies of the Church, the enemies of human nature, are at work to demolish and corrupt this cell. And they do it on several levels.
They do it at the level of the union of a man and a woman, which is a question of human nature. And they also attack the stability of marriage and the fruits of this union, the children. The spread of contraception separates pleasure from the responsibilities with regard to children. Then there are the sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance, such as abortion, the killing of innocents in their mother’s womb. It is unspeakable.
Then there are other abominations like so-called “same-sex unions” and also theories about gender and the possibility of “changing” one’s sex. Finally there are the usual temptations against purity and all the virtues; this is nothing new or special in our time. But all of this corrupts the very depths of the human heart. Of course, there have always been perversions. But now we find such things supported by the State, enshrined in law! It is the direct suicide of human society, which has rebelled against God.
In view of these attacks, you mentioned in particular in your letter two things the Society offers to help families: our schools and retreats. How important are the Catholic schools?
Bishop Fellay: Obviously, the father and mother of a child have the first responsibility. Yet there is another authority, which is also a father and mother: the Church. Once a soul is baptized, the Church has the duty and the right to care for the correct formation and education of her children, who are children of God.
This is the perspective from which we must look at the school. The school is a form of assistance given to the parents, who have the first rights and duties. Generally speaking, parents are not able to fulfill this duty by themselves. This is why human society intervenes to provide the possibility of education and, in the case of the Church, education on the supernatural level.
Of course, if the Church is doing her job correctly, she fulfills both the natural and the supernatural obligations of education, making public schools unnecessary. This is true, provided the work is done correctly! But for 50 years or more, the whole Catholic education system has been demolished. That the Church herself brought this about is almost unthinkable; it came from the enemies of the Church. They used the internal system of the Church to carry out part of this work.
Here we see concretely the lessening of the Church's influence on natural human life. It is a sign of the crisis, and what a frightening sign! From this perspective, we do not understand why some ecclesiastical authorities no longer want Christian civil authorities to subject education to the laws of Our Lord. You get the impression that they have simply capitulated to the present situation.
Are the Society’s schools then an essential part of its apostolate?
Bishop Fellay: They are, yes, even though they are not our first priority. The first priority is the formation of priests. But how will we have priests if we have not educated children capable of being admitted to the priesthood?
How important are the Society’s efforts in education?
Bishop Fellay: We have schools everywhere, and we know that schools require enormous amounts of energy, human resources, and money. We understand that large families, because of the present situation, have difficulty providing the resources needed to run schools. But the schools are one of the Society’s major efforts, and I can tell you that more than half of our resources are devoted to them.
What about the retreats preached by our priests? How do they help families to remain Catholic?
Bishop Fellay: Retreats confront the faithful with their obligations in God’s sight. Consequently, when done correctly, everything falls into its proper place. Thank God these Spiritual Exercises dispense the graces needed to gain this understanding and vision.
What would be your message today for families?
Bishop Fellay: Courage! You have the necessary grace to do your duty. God is present. He will give you the grace. The Cross is heavy, but it comes with the grace you need to carry it.
Do you often see edifying examples of Catholic families during your travels?
Bishop Fellay: Everywhere! These beautiful Catholic families are our crowning glory. It is very encouraging, and it is one of the best concrete proofs that Catholic life is possible today.
This year’s annual meeting of the priests of the United States District is dedicated to the topic of marriage. What would you recommend to those who intend to marry?
Bishop Fellay: Make use of the virtue of prudence and do not follow the blindness of passionate love. Consider all the acts of the virtue of prudence: seeking advice, testing one another, in particular with regard to fidelity and purity. This question of chastity was understood and taught by the saints as the guarantee of fidelity in marriage. Preserving chastity before marriage is one of the best guarantees, but this is often forgotten. There is a special blessing from God for those who keep it.
In order to keep up the spirit of past Rosary Crusades, a pilgrim statue is going to travel throughout the U.S. District beginning on March 25, 2015. Do you encourage and bless this project?
Bishop Fellay: Of course, with all my heart! Go to the Blessed Virgin Mary; she is our Mother. Having her closer to us can only do much good.
Which part of the message of Fatima would you especially recommend today?
Bishop Fellay: Devotion to Her Immaculate Heart. That is the key to the message of Fatima. God wants the faithful to enter fully into devotion to the Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart of Mary. So let us do it!
Any final words, Your Excellency?
Bishop Fellay: Blessed be God! Let us thank God for the marvelous works that He accomplishes!