Dialogika

Themes in Today's Dialogue

Open Letter to Members of the Swiss Bishops' Conference

 

Dear Bishop Koch,
Dear bishops and abbots of the Swiss Bishops' Conference

In your communiqué of 24 January 2009 "On the lifting of the excommunication for four bishops" you commented on the lifting of excommunication of the bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Gallareta, who were ordained in 1988 through an unauthorized act by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. You expressed your hope that by this lifting of the excommunication "full communion on the basis of the common faith will find its visible expression."

The signatories below, mainly theologians and/or members of pastoral staffs, would like to express in this open letter their concerns about this latest development in the Vatican.

The Society of Saint Pius X, whose members include the above-mentioned bishops, is a community whose foundations run contrary to the major achievements and beliefs of the Second Vatican II. Even today, the Society does not accept fully1 the Council, as can be read also in the communiqué.

As is widely known, the Society of Saint Pius X opposes Ecumenism2, religious freedom, and the active participation of the laity in line with the liturgical reform set forth in the Constitution on the Liturgy, SC 14. Furthermore, it rejects the renewed rite of the Mass. The Society represents a tendency3 in the Church of sealing out the world, which was clearly rejected by Pope John XXIII through his "aggiornamento".

We also find it extremely scandalous and problematic for Jewish-Christian relations if a Shoah denier, in the person of Bishop Richard Williamson, is given a public platform because of the lifting of his excommunication. We share the incomprehension and the disgust of Jewish communities around the world, and we endorse the opinion of Mr. Giuseppe Laras, president of the Italian rabbinate, that this step of the Vatican was unnecessary. The statement by Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, who stressed that this act of the Vatican was aimed at re-integrating the followers of the Society of Saint Pius X, does not change at all this irritation and endangerment of the Jewish-Christian dialogue. 

With satisfaction, we have noted that in your Communiqué of January 27, 2009 you emphasize that the Catholic Church can never accept the denial of the Holocaust. We also thank you for your clear words about your expectation that, during the conversations which are necessary before the establishment of full communion with the four bishops, the credible and complete support of the Second Vatican Council by these bishops is required.

However, recent trends in the Vatican give the signatories reason for concern.

The lifting of the excommunication of the four bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X is in line with other decisions of Pope Benedict XVI, which seem highly regressive. We think here of the approval of the so-called "Tridentine Mass" as the extraordinary form of the Catholic rite through the Motu proprio "Summorum Pontificium" of July 2007, and related to it the re-introduction of the Good Friday prayer for the Jews, and the beatification - promoted by him - of Pope Pius XII even though the archives of this period are still not open and thus the role of Pius XII during the National Socialist era has not been not fully clarified.

Pope Benedict XVI also maintains his hard line against some theologians (for example, alongside the now departed Jacques Dupuis, SJ, also Roger Haight, SJ and Jon Sobrino, SJ). They were and are theologians who search for paths and expressions of the Christian faith that remain relevant for the 21st Century. We ask ourselves why the "hand of reconciliation" will not also be extended to them by Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict XVI has announced the lifting of the excommunication of the four bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X exactly 50 years after the announcement of the Second Vatican Council on 25 January 1959, at which the end of the Tridentine rite and the opening up of the Church [to the world] were decided. The fact that precisely on this anniversary a step toward openness has not been made, but instead one to intolerance and to pre-Conciliar conditions, saddens us.

Notes

1. "The same [liberal] spirit appeared clearly in the post-Conciliar reforms and guidelines which partially exceeded still more the texts of the Council. Hence, the Priestly Society refuses to accept the Council and its reforms because they are marked by that liberal spirit which is not the spirit of the church"(on the website of the St. Pius X Society in Germany: http://www.fsspx.info).

2. "My dear friends, we are no ‘Antis', only to be ‘Antis'. We are ‘anti' because the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is ‘anti': anti-liberal, anti-ecumenical, anti-communistic" (Sermon of Marcel Lefebvre of December 8, 1987 in Econe; source: website of the St. Pius X Society in Switzerland: www.piusx.ch).

3. "Don't seek the solution somewhere else! The difficulties which we have with the church - not with the church of all times, but with the hierarchy of today - arise because the hierarchy of today makes a pact with the world, gets involved in compromises with the world, and would like to drag us into these compromises, and we want to be loyal to Jesus Christ, we want to be loyal to our belief. This is the whole problem" (Sermon of Marcel Lefebvre of February, 1987 in Zaitzkofen; source: website of the St. Pius X Society in Switzerland: www.piusx.ch).



The Signatories:

(approximately 210 individuals have signed the letter)
Nina Huwiler MTh
Benjamin Ruch BTh
Andrea Meier
Sarah Biotti
Davide Pesenti
Christa Grünenfelder
Felix Hunger
Stefan Haener
Sibylle Ackermann
René Schurte
Stephan Müller MTh
Patrick Huser dipl. theol.
Urs Weber
Monika Egger MTh
Gabriela Hanke
Urs Kälin
Regula Sarbach
Peter Lötscher
Mirjam Stocker BTh
Veronika Bachmann
Gabriela Lischer MTh
Lukas Dober lic. theol.
Sibylle Spichiger MTh
Andrea Gisler BTh
Rahel Berli
Séverine Decaillet
Andreas Hugentobler dipl. Ass.
Gabriel Bühler
Irene Neubauer
Beat Schalk
Gregor V.P. Tolusso
Gallus Weidele
Manfred Ruch
Urs Stierli-Fürst
François Emmenegger
Roland Caamaño
Gaby Bachmann
Simone Kleeb
Rolf Friedli
Jessica Mauchle BTh
Pia Keller
Antoinette Kost
Franz Koller
Dr. Ueli Windlinger
Mirjam Koch Pizza
Sandra Ruppli
Priska Leimgruber BTh
Sarah Schmidt
Eugénie Lang Ruf
Ruedy Sigrist
Clemens Carl
Sabina Brüniger BTh
Marlies Gisler
Simone Müller-Haefele
Thomas Lang
Markus Friedli
Karin Schneider Breu BTh
Giuseppe Corbino
Livia Meier MTh
Daniel Monn
Hella Sodies
Yvonne Maurer
Helene Ambühl
Marco Baumgartner
Fritz Reinhard-Niederberger
Anna-Maria Buchegger
Flavia Schmidt-Rianda
Stephan Lauper
Peter Mahler
Heidi Gränicher Jeannerat
Paul Jeannerat-Gränicher
Prof. em. Dr. Hans Halter
Josef Wirth
Josef Wäckerle
Gregor Sodies
Franz-Xaver Hiestand SJ
Rita Gerber
Hansruedi Gerber
Othmar Wyss-Fent
Urs Büeler
Paula Pfeifer
Monika Büeler
Karl Graf
Alfred Sutter
Justin Rechsteiner
Andrea Meyer
Detlef Hecking
Toni Häfliger
Barbara Korl-Kaeser
Benjamin Ledergerber
Ruth Bisang
Tita Meier
Büttler David
Stefan Mattig
Bruno Fluder
Anna Chudozilov
Christoph Fux
Stephan Wyss
Olivier Dinichert
Iva Boutellier
Maria Regli
Beat Zosso
Alois Hartmann
Rafaela Eulberg
Annina Schneider
Ciril Berther
Elisabeth Wunderli
Paula und Franz Buholzer
Thomas Markus Meier
Niklaus Oberholzer
Dr. Irène Studer-Rohr
Peter Anderhalden
Thomas Philipp
Lotti Brun-Bissegger
Monika Hungerbühler
Christine Vollmer
Heinz Brun
Michel Dängeli
Br. Walter Ludin
Thomas Staubli
Markus Breuer
P. Christian Meyer OSB
Markus Limacher
Jean-Marc Chanton
Stefan Küttel
Prof. Dr. Edmund Arens
Urs Winter
Jürg Meienberg
Dorli Wey
Bernd Kopp
Dr. theol. Felix Senn
Michael Weisshar
Edith Weisshar
Anni Engel
Urban Saier-Suppiger
Markus Arnold
Roger Seuert
Ingrid Bruderhofer
Caroline Meier-Machen
Ludwig Spirig-Huber
Matthias Hirt
Lioba Zodrow
Therese Käppeli
Martina Fäh
Christoph Albrecht SJ
Martin Tanner
Irène Bento
Thomas Portmann
Ines Raiber
David Meineberg
Marlies Frischknecht
Martin Berchtold
José Amrein-Murer
Esther Seiler-Amrein
Bernhard Marchand
Pius Süess
Anne-Marie Straub-Brasseur
Marcus Andreas Sartorius
Madeleine Amstutz-Graf
Tatjana Disteli
Astrid Knipping
Anke Jucker
Anni Engel
Ildiko Moreh
Italo Cherubini
Peter Halter
Dora Sägesser
Tamara Huber
Angelo Lottaz
Heidi Wilhelm
Thomas Studer
Urs Wettstein
Barbara Kückelmann
Toni Hodel
Franz Rosenberg
Josef Kuhn
Peter Sladkovic
Hansruedi Kleiber SJ
Hans-Rudolf Häusermann
Beat Jung
Alois Metz
Cornel Baumgartner
Franz Zemp
Georg Vogel
Olivia Portmann
Jürgen Rotner
Max Hofer
Walter Kirchschläger
Inigo Dietrich
Petra Zeier
Burghard Förster
Nicola Neider
Beatrix Trottmann
René Kiser
Bernhard Häseli
Beata Pedrazzini
Stefan Ludin
Philipp Federer
Mark Steffen
Astrid Rotner-Sigrist
Sepp Riedener
Fridolin Wyss
Simone Steffen-Brändle
Brigitta Loosli
Jonas Hochstrasser
Thomas Boutellier
Claudia Jaun
Florian Flohr
Wolf Südbeck-Baur, dipl. theol