Superior General's letter to Bishop Fellay on his 40th Anniversary of Ordination

"Your Excellency,

Almost twenty-six years ago, when you ordained me a priest in the meadow of Econe, I did not think that it would fall to me to address you today, one of our Bishops, and what is more, the former Superior General, on this 40th anniversary of your priestly ordination! But I can assure you that it is a real honor for me, and a great joy. I have only one regret, that of not being able to be near you on this beautiful day.

Please allow me to make this short speech - which is read in my name - in two parts. First, I will address you in the name of the Society of St. Pius X, in an official way, and then in a more personal way, as far as this can be done in public.

Forty years ago you received from the hands of our Founder himself the sacrament that made you priest of Our Lord Jesus Christ. As soon as you were ordained, you were called to hold the office of General Bursar of the Society, a task that is not much in demand among priests and not very rewarding: you responded to this call and gave yourself fully to your work. In 1988 His Grace Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre made you one of his successors in the Episcopate. Six years later you were elected Superior General, and you held the helm of the great ship of the Society for twenty-four years, which says a lot about the trust placed in you by the members who elected you twice.

I still remember very well the day of your first election as Superior General. I was a seminarian and I had to stay at the seminary during the summer vacation because of the General Chapter. It was lunchtime and all the members of the Chapter were late. We were waiting for them in the refectory, wearing our aprons, with an anxiety mixed with curiosity that increased with every minute. All of a sudden, you opened the door of the refectory and entered first. No one had told us that you were the new Superior General, but we understood it simply by your look and especially by your smile, which immediately pacified us, and we breathed a sigh of relief.

You exercised this double mandate of Superior General with fidelity and firmness, but also with such a meekness and patience to which all of us can bear witness, and for which our Society wants to thank you. Indeed, you had to manage very difficult situations, sometimes very painful and almost inextricable, as our Founder had to go through first. It is in such situations that one recognizes the true superiors, and for having been this superior we all ask Our Lord to bless you in return. Having been in this position myself for almost four years, I can realize all the better that you showed fortitude and serenity in assuming this position for twenty-four years.

I would like to thank you sincerely, Your Excellency, for all that you have done in the past forty years, especially for all the priests that you have both ordained and guided. Many would like to be here today to express their deep appreciation and gratitude. I am sure that they do so through their prayers, and that they wholeheartedly associate themselves with your thanksgiving.

I will now move on to the more personal part. These are things that I have already said to you during our long conversations at the General House, but I want to say them to you again, and for others to hear them this time.

The Society today is in a very special and unique situation in its history. Its first years were marked by the initial impulse, by the desire to restore Tradition, by an ardor of combat to resist all the attacks that tried to destroy the Church by all means. Then, the Society became more stable, more visible to the world, thanks to its expansion and the number of its vocations. Then came internal crises that shook the edifice from within, but the house stood firm, thanks to Providence that always watched over it.

At the present time, the struggle has not stopped, of course, and the difficulties still exist, but we are witnessing a unique phenomenon. Those who thought they would find a good solution by joining other institutes, apparently in a better position, felt often betrayed and rejected by the very people who had welcomed them. Others who left the Society, deeming that it was going to betray its mission, hurt each other more and more. Apparently, divine Providence did not bless them.

On a different level, throughout the world the number of perplexed Catholics has continued to grow, especially in recent years. Naturally, they have sought and continue to seek that which they realize they have been deprived of. Consciously or not, they are looking for Tradition and they are looking for the Society that is able to offer it to them. Eventually they find both, for the two are inseparable.

Thus, despite all the attacks it has undergone, the departures, the failures, in one word despite men, the Society now stands more than ever as a rampart, as a refuge in the middle of the increasing storm. All over the world our chapels have become often too small because of the great number of faithful who have discovered Tradition during these last years. What a joy it is for our hearts as priests to see the flock grow, to see the work of grace and Providence! The harvest seems more and more abundant every day.

But now I am getting to the point: if we harvest now, we cannot forget that others have sown before us. I am firmly convinced, and I am sure that many others share this conviction, that if the Society is so prosperous today, if it has reached such a development, it is a response to and a reward for what you have done, and most of all for what you have suffered. Following faithfully in the footsteps of our Founder, you too have "passed on what you have received": inevitably, this is the result of self-denial and fidelity in the midst of trials of all kinds.

Your Excellency, and I will end with this, you have been, and still are for all of us, an example that encourages us to be faithful to our vocation, to stand firm in spite of the upheavals; to remain serene souls, trusting in God, humble, and detached from their own views; to be, finally and above all, souls of prayer profoundly united to Our Lord, so as always to make the right decisions.

Be assured of our sincere and deep gratitude and of our prayers for you. And please give your blessing to the one who, although he is the new Superior General, still considers himself your son!"


Fr. Davide Pagliarani