November 2014 - Superior General's Letter #83

Bishop Fellay writes about Pope Benedict's "disastrous vision" for the Church, while offering certain remedies the SSPX provides to counteract present-day dangers.

As the state of the Church gets worse and worse, Bishop Fellay reminds us of the almost prophetical vision that the future Pope Benedict XVI had 17 years ago about the future of the Church.

In the midst of this disaster, the SSPX continues to expand and work for the sanctification of souls, with a particular attention to the Catholic family, schools, and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius; and above all to the formation and sanctification of priests.

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

Seventeen years ago now, the future Benedict XVI presented his vision of the future of the Church; at the time it seemed very pessimistic. He foresaw that the Mystical Body would be so fragmented that it would be reduced to a collection of small groups that were still lively, though surrounded by general decadence:


Perhaps the time has come to say farewell to the idea of traditionally Catholic cultures. Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the Church’s history, where Christianity will again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intensive struggle against evil and bring the good into the world...." [1 ]


The Church... will be less identified with the great societies, more a minority Church; she will live in small, vital circles of really convinced believers who live their faith. But precisely in this way she will, biblically speaking, become the salt of the earth again." [2 ]

Disastrous vision of the Church’s future

Is this vision the product of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s personal wisdom, or is it inspired by some other source, such as the Secret of Fatima? He alone can tell us. Whatever the case may be, gradually and especially since the Council we have been witnessing the slow disappearance of the Church as she appeared for at least 1,500 years, in other words, as a society that had profoundly permeated all of human life, the entire social organism, striving to shape a deeply harmonious whole with the temporal realm, even if the secular authorities often tried to encroach on the spiritual authority of the Church.

Since the French Revolution we have observed not only the separation of these two powers, but also an unceasing determination to combat and reduce the Church’s beneficent influence on human society. Since the post-conciliar period, with the bewildering reduction in the number of priestly vocations, with the loss of hundreds of thousands of men and women religious who had given their lives for God and neighbor, the Church’s presence in schools, in hospitals, and in social and political life has almost disappeared. No serious measure has been taken to check this catastrophic disappearance of the Church from society. By now she has practically been relegated to the sacristy. What is worse, in countries where the Church had lavished her good deeds, in the countries that once were called Christian, even the churches and sacristies are empty.... We are no longer very far from the almost prophetic vision of Cardinal Ratzinger.

But these external phenomena are accompanied by others belonging to the internal life of the Church; they are signs of weakness in the face of an enemy who is no longer outside, but now inside. The unity of the Faith and unity of the government of Holy Church are more and more thoroughly dissolving; and liturgical unity, with the “creative” options offered by the New Mass, particularly with the multiplication of Eucharistic Prayers, was long ago shattered. As for morality, the last Synod on the Family tragically demonstrated the proliferation of contradictory opinions that prevail in that area, which the authorities no longer seem capable of stemming, when they are not actively promoting it....

In the midst of this disaster, which has been noted by many observers, no doubt our modest Society seems like “[a] small, seemingly insignificant group that nonetheless lives an intensive struggle against evil and brings the good into the world....” If on the one hand the sight of the disfigured Church deeply grieves us, on the other hand we sing every day the Magnificat for the marvels that the Almighty still enables us to accomplish.

The Catholic family

In these few lines we would like to give you an insight into the current development of the Society, which, despite the hits that it has received on all sides, ceaselessly spreads the Good Lord’s grace and fortifies souls on their difficult, perilous pilgrimage to Heaven. For a long time we have realized that very special attention must be paid to the Christian family, the sacred hearth where children are born who are destined not only for life on this earth but for the life of Heaven. There is something terrifying and diabolical in the refined cruelty that is used to strike at this sanctuary, starting with the life of the unborn child in his mother’s womb.

Considering the number of large families who serenely cultivate virtue and seek the glory of God, without neglecting their duties toward their neighbors and society─quite the contrary!─we can only bless Our Lord and marvel at such mighty workings of grace! Yes, dear families, although Christian life has its demands, God’s help, and grace are unfailing, whatever the circumstances may be that often require of you a certain heroism. By the mere fact of your Christian life and your efforts, you give proof that this life is still possible today, and that those who abandon God’s commandments to seek other ways that cater to the modern world are defeatists who have lost the spirit of faith that ought to animate every Christian.

The Catholic school

This life of faith needs to be protected, and in order to develop, it needs the Catholic school. This has always been a major concern of the Church, so much so that she makes it a serious obligation for parents to watch over the Catholic education of their children, and even today threatens with a sanction those who fail in their duty! [3 ]

This is a serious, very specific concern: where nowadays are we to find authentically Catholic schools where the teaching of the Faith truly imbues all the subjects that are taught? Where do we find institutions that prepare future fathers and mothers for the battles that must be fought in this world in order to conquer Heaven?

This is why one of our major efforts concerns schools. Throughout the world we dedicate to them most of our resources, both human and material. And in fact a hundred or so schools of different sizes are forming thousand of staunch Christians for tomorrow.

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius

Although family and school provide indispensable protection for young people who are being educated, what can be done to support those who leave their parents’ home and go out into the world? We are greatly concerned about the perseverance of these young adults on the path of good and virtue, keeping their souls in a state of grace in the midst of such a perverted world. And so we can find no stronger antidote than the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, which we most assuredly consider as one of the greatest treasures and means of sanctification that has been placed in our hands─just after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Holy Rosary. The Exercises were truly made for our times and are capable of providing the courage, strength and heroism necessary today for all souls of good will. This is why we insistently invite you not to neglect this means that has been placed at your disposal. Without a doubt, we consider the Spiritual Exercises as one of the spearheads of the Society, and the cause of that genuine miracle of grace which Christian life is today.

The priest and the Mass

But the supernatural life would not be possible without the priest, the privileged instrument who is willed and chosen by God to spread that life in the Mystical Body, particularly through the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The close bond that should unite the priest and the Mass is the testament that Archbishop Lefebvre left us. For the Mass is the source of all sanctification, and the priest, before all others, must drink deeply from that source so as then to make the souls entrusted to him benefit from it: “For them do I sanctify myself,” Our Lord said, “that they also may be sanctified in truth.” (Jn 17:19)

This mystery is at the heart of our seminaries. We jealously watch over it, and we carefully provide everything that can serve to beautify the liturgical ceremonies. The beauty of external signs reflects the sublimity of the mysteries by which our Redemption is wrought. Thus these ceremonies, which are grandiose and intimate at the same time, are like a prelude to Heaven.

The Mass is the joy and daily privilege of our approximately 200 seminarians, as well as the 40 or so pre-seminarians in our six seminaries on four continents. In the United States their growing number obliges us to build a new seminary, in Virginia. It should have a roof over it by next spring.

Moreover many churches are being built almost everywhere in the world, which shows the dynamism of the Faith. Yes, indeed, faith can move mountains! I firmly believe that only faith can explain this phenomenon, which surpasses human abilities. Thanks to God, your constant generosity and your ardent zeal make such achievements possible. Please accept our deepest thanks. Be assured of the grateful prayers of the seminarians, the priests, the brothers and sisters religious who each day ask God to reward your good works a hundredfold.

May Our Lady keep you in charity and peace, my dear friends, and may her Immaculate Heart lead you all to eternal happiness.

On the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lady,

November 21, 2014

+Bernard Fellay

  • 1Le Sel de la Terre, Flammarion 1997, p. 16.
  • 2Ibid. p. 214.
  • 3Cf. Code de 1917, canon 2319, § 2-4 ; Code de 1983, canon 1366.