Father Davide Pagliarani, Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, gave an exclusive interview to the Austrian daily newspaper the Salzburger Nachrichten, published on Saturday 15thDecember 2018. He explains what every Catholic expects from the Pope: the faithful transmission of the Deposit of Faith, which is the adherence of the intelligence to Divine Revelation and not an individual subjective experience. Unfortunately, recent Roman documents, such as the Exhortation Amoris lætitia, favour a subjectivism that no longer recognises a universally valid truth, which causes great confusion, and shatters the Church’s missionary thrust towards other religions.
The founder of the Society of Saint Pius X, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, was excommunicated in 1988 because he had ordained four bishops without permission. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI lifted these excommunications. What does that signify for you?
For us, this did not change anything, because we always considered these excommunications as baseless. However, it encouraged certain people to join us, who until then had not dared. It has also facilitated our relations with some bishops and a section of the clergy, especially with young priests.
Francis has also made concessions. What more are you waiting for?
We are waiting for what every Catholic asks of the Church at baptism: Faith. Divine Revelation has now ended and it is the duty of the Pope to transmit faithfully the Deposit of Faith. The Pope must therefore put an end to the terrible crisis that has shaken the Church for the last 50 years. This crisis was triggered by a new conception of the faith, centred on the subjective experience of each individual: it is thought that each individual is solely responsible for his faith and can freely opt for any religion, without distinction between error and truth. But this contradicts objective divine law.
To what extent can the Society of Saint Pius X in turn show itself conciliatory towards the Pope?
The Priestly Society of Saint Pius X is deeply attached to the Successor of Peter, even when it opposes the errors of the Second Vatican Council. However, we are deeply distraught by a fundamental characteristic of the current pontificate: a completely new application of the concept of mercy. It is reduced to a panacea for all sins, without pushing for a true conversion, the transformation of the soul by grace, mortification and prayer. In his post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris lætitia, the Pope gives all Christians, the possibility to decide case by case, according to their personal conscience, the questions of morality in marriage. This totally contradicts the necessary and clear orientation given by God’s law.
We see here an echo of Luther’s spirituality: a Christianity without the need for moral renewal, a subjectivism that no longer recognises any universally valid truth. This has caused deep confusion among the faithful and the clergy. Every man is in search of truth. But for this he needs the direction of the priest, just as a pupil needs the direction of a teacher.
What did the Luther Year 2017 produce in this regard?
Since the sixteenth century, the Catholic Church has addressed Protestants to convert them and to bring them back to the true Church. The Luther Year did not serve this primary purpose of the return of the Protestants. Quite the opposite, they have been confirmed in their error. The reason is, since the Second Vatican Council, the Church thinks that every man can find God in his religion. It is a premise that reduces the faith to a personal and inner experience, since it is no longer the adherence of the intelligence to Divine Revelation.
There are also many people in other religions who live morally well, in their heart and conscience. Will God recognise their merits?
The Church is essentially missionary. Our Lord Jesus Christ said: “I am the way, the truth and the life”. It is only through him that mankind will be saved. He founded only one Church, which is the Roman Catholic Church. This theological truth must be proclaimed, as well as the rectitude of morality and the splendour of the Traditional Mass in the Tridentine Rite.
The sincere search for truth in other religions is not sufficient to yield truth. We must therefore help these souls save themselves. If a soul can be saved outside the Catholic Church, it is despite the error in which it finds itself, and not thanks to it, and in any case, it is saved by Jesus Christ alone.
Your predecessor, Bernard Fellay, labelled the Jews, Freemasons and Modernists as enemies of the Church. Do the Jews also have to convert to the Catholic Church, as you say for Protestants?
Modernism is one of the most dangerous errors. Until the Second Vatican Council, the Church asked all priests to take the anti-modernist oath, which I have also taken.
As for Judaism, it would be an unforgivable sin to exclude the Jewish people from the assets and the treasures of the Catholic Church. The salvific mission of the Church is universal, and she cannot leave out any people.
You reject the essential documents of the Second Vatican Council, such as those on religious liberty and ecumenism. Is it just a different interpretation, or do you completely reject these texts of the Council?
The Second Vatican Council declared itself as a purely pastoral Council. However, major dogmatic decisions, like those you mentioned, were made. This led to a complete transformation of the faith.
Pope Benedict XVI considered that the differences between Rome and the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X were a problem of interpretation of the texts of the Council. It was enough to reflect upon these texts for an agreement to be possible. However, that is not our position. The Society of Saint Pius X rejects, from the Second Vatican Council, all that is not in agreement with Catholic Tradition.
The Pope should declare the decree on religious liberty erroneous and correct it accordingly. We are convinced that one day a Pope will do just that, and return to the pure doctrine that was the reference before this Council. The questions of religious liberty, ecumenism and the divine constitution of the Church were all dealt with by Popes prior to the Second Vatican Council. It suffices to revive their teachings.
It is inconceivable that the Church was mistaken for two millennia and that she found the truth about these questions only during the years of the Council, between 1962 and 1965.
Is it a weight on your conscience that, from Rome’s point of view, you are in a state of schism with the Church?
In reality, Rome does not consider us schismatics, but rather as “irregular”. In any case, if I did not have the certitude of working in the Roman Catholic Church and working for it, I would leave the Society immediately.