Hopes for a reconciliation between the Vatican and Catholic traditionalists appear to be growing dim. Following the decision by a group of Roman Catholic traditionalists in the Diocese of Campos, Brazil, to submit to Rome a year ago, there had been increased expectations that the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) might finally take the same road.
Those expectations were reinforced by the fact that there had been repeated contacts between representatives of the Holy See and Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX. However, In a letter written in early January 2003 to the friends and benefactors of the SSPX, Bishop Fellay concedes that, from the perspective of Rome, the developments in Campos had been meant as a prelude to the “regularization” of the SSSPX. But following a careful observation of what happened over the past year, “our fears roused by the Campos agreement have proved to be well-founded.”
What the SSPX would have expected in order to be convinced would have been a “fundamental rethinking” of what the Vatican II Council had set in motion. This is obviously not taking place, according to Bishop Fellay. He claims that the attitude of the Society’s former friends in Brazil has changed and that they are “moving further and further away from ourselves.”
The letter ends with reports about the activity of the SSPX in “missionary countries.” This has been a little-noticed fact, but over the past two decades, the Society has slowly taken root in places of the world where it had not been active before. The letter mentions the establishment of a beachhead in Lithuania in order to “better organize our apostolate in Russia and Belarus.” In those three countries, there are small groups of faithful gathering around priests sent by the SSPX for traditional Masses.
Groups in Kenya (including 16 nuns who are reported to have had to leave their convents because they refused Vatican II reforms) have come under the SSPX. In previous months and years, there have also been reports on activities at unexpected places such as India or Scandinavia as well as other Asian or African countries. While this does not come to very significant numbers, it is an interesting indication of a globalization of the SSPX.
(Website of the SSPX: http://www.sspx.org/)
— By Jean-François Mayer