Clerical Rumors: Who is Ahead in the Final Stretch of the Race for SSPX Superior General. Some Surprises, Indeed.

Fr. David Pagliarani: Long-time Frontrunner
Fr. Jurgen Wegner
Dark Horse: Quickly Moving Up to Front Ranks
Fr. Yves le Roux
Considered a "Centrist"
Fr. Niklaus Pfluger
"Power behind the throne"
                                                             Bishop Bernard Fellay
                                                             Not seeking Re-Election
Dr. Chojnowski: Of course I cannot reveal my sources for any of this discussion as to the frontrunners for the position of Superior General of the SSPX, so take this with a "grain of salt."
With regard to the leading candidates being mentioned with only 2 1/2 weeks until the General Chapter on July 11th, here is the information I have heard about the situation:

Leading Candidates:

1st: Fr. David Pagliarani: Has been the leading candidate for at least 6 months. Is favored by the more  "conservative" of the SSPX priests. Was District Superior of Italy and is now Superior of the SSPX seminary in La Reja, Argentina. I will post an interview with Fr. Pagliarani below.

2nd: Fr. Jurgen Wegner: Former District Superior of Canada and current District Superior of the United States. I have not heard his name mentioned for this position in the past, his name has just emerged strongly recently. I would say he is the dark horse moving quickly up to the front.

3rd: Fr. Yves le Roux: Priest who replaced Bishop Williamson in the American Seminary in 2003. Has molded the whole life of the seminary for the past 15 years. Is considered a possible compromise candidate and a "centrist."

4th: Fr. Niklaus Pfluger: 1st Assistant and the one in charge of transfers for a number of years now. Has been called "the power behind the throne." Recently, he said publicly that come July he "would not be in a leadership position in the SSPX." Treat that statement as you will.

5th: Bishop Bernard Fellay: Superior General for an entire generation. Has stated that he does not want to be considered again for the position of Superior General. His re-re-elction is not likely, but who knows.

I post below the 3 parts of an interview in 2011 with Fr. David Pagliarani, the frontrunner. This interview comes from the SSPX's website,

Interview with Fr. Davide Pagliarani:
of the outcome of the talks with Rome and of some agitation in the traditionalist world

Fr. Davide Pagliarani
during a recent visit to Asia
Part I
This interview of Fr. Davide Pagliarani (SSPX District Superior of Italy) was hosted by Marco Bongi at Albano Laziale (near Rome) on July 26, 2011. The USA District thanks the Italian District for kindly allowing us to publish this important text.
Interview granted to Marco Bongi by the SSPX’s District Superior of Italy concerning the Society’s theological discussions with Rome, the present cultural state of the world of Catholic Tradition, and also a concise commentary on the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae.

Marco Bongi: The theological talks between the SSPX and the Roman authorities are coming to a close. Even though no official communiqué has been issued yet, there is no shortage of commentators who, based on leaks, are convinced that they have failed. Can you say something more about the subject?
Fr. Davide Pagliarani: I think that to consider the talks unsuccessful is an error based on prejudice. This conclusion is drawn perhaps by those who expected from the talks some result foreign to the purposes of the talks themselves.
The aim of the talks never was to arrive at a concrete agreement, but rather to compile a clear and complete dossier that would document the respective doctrinal positions of the two sides and to submit it to the Pope and the Superior General of the Society. Since the two commissions worked patiently, touching on essentially all the topics on the agenda, I do not see why anyone would have to regard the talks as unsuccessful.
The talks would have failed—this is a reductio ad absurdum argument, now—if the representatives of the Society had composed reports that did not correspond exactly to what the Society upholds, for example if they had said that collegiality or religious freedom are adaptations to the modern world that are perfectly consistent with Tradition after all. Although a certain discretion was maintained, I think that I can say that there was no risk of arriving at that unsuccessful outcome.
Anyone who does not adequately grasp the importance of such testimony on the part of the Society and of what is at stake, for the good of the Church and of Tradition, will inevitably formulate judgments that fit into other perspectives.
In your opinion, what perspectives could be misleading?
In my humble opinion there is one somewhat heterogeneous Traditionalist sector which, for various reasons, expects something like a canonical regularization of the Society’s situation.
1) Of course there are those who hope for positive repercussions for the Universal Church; I would tell these friends, however, whom I consider sincere, not to have any illusions; the Society has neither the mission nor the charism to change the Church in a day. The Society simply intends to cooperate so that the Church can reclaim her Tradition in its entirety, and it will be able to keep working slowly for the good of the Church only if it continues to be, like any work of the Church, a stumbling block and a sign of contradiction: with or without a canonical regularization, which will come about only when Providence judges that the time is ripe. Besides, I do not think that a hypothetical regularization—at the present moment—would abolish the state of necessity which continues to exist in the Church and which until now has justified the action of the Society itself.
2) On another, diametrically opposite side there are groups that I would describe as conservative, in a somewhat bourgeois sense of the word, who are anxious to say that the talks have failed while lumping them together with an attempt to arrive at an agreement: the ill-concealed intention is to prove as quickly as possible that Tradition, as the Society embodies it, will never be able to have the right of citizenship within the Church. This haste is prompted not so much by a disinterested love for the future of the Church and for the purity of her doctrine, but rather by a real fear of the impact that Tradition properly speaking might have, given the flimsiness of the conservative or neo-conservative positions. In reality this reaction reveals a slowly growing awareness—which is not acknowledged, however—of the inconsistency and the intrinsic weakness of those positions.
3) Above all, however, it seems to me that this shows the existence of groups and positions that expect some benefit from a canonical regularization of the Society, without however being willing to make Society’s battle their own or to assume the burdens and the consequences of it.
There are in fact in the diversified Traditionalist archipelago a number of “commentators” who, while expressing their essential disagreement with the Society’s line of thinking, watch with the greatest interest current developments in our cause, hoping for some positive repercussions on the institutes with which they identify or on the local situations in which they are involved. I am impressed by the palpitations experienced by these commentators every time the slightest rumor about the future of the Society crops up.
I think however that the phenomenon can be explained easily.
We are talking about a category of believers or priests who are basically disappointed and rightly feel a certain sense of instability about their future situation.
They realize that most of the promises in which they believed are scarcely being maintained and implemented.
They hoped that with Summorum Pontificum first, and then with Universae Ecclesiae, full rights of citizenship and freedom had been granted to the Tridentine rite and effectively safeguarded, but they realize that this is not going to happen peacefully, especially in relation to the bishops.
Consequently—and unfortunately—these groups are interested in the outcome of the Society’s story not so much for the sake of the doctrinal principles that support it and for the bearing it could have on the Church herself, but rather from a utilitarian perspective: the Society is seen as a breakthrough battalion of priests who now have nothing to lose but, if they obtain something significant for their congregation, will create a canonical precedent to which others will be able to appeal, too.
This attitude is morally debatable and perhaps a bit selfish, yet it has two advantages:
First of all, it paradoxically demonstrates that the Society’s position is the only credible one from which something interesting could result, and that there are many who end up referring to it in spite of themselves.
The second advantage is that it proves that if priority is not given to the doctrinal path, so as to allow the Church to recover her Tradition, one necessarily slips into a diplomatic perspective made up of uncertain calculations and unstable results, and one runs the risk of tragic disappointments.
Assuming that [if] the Vatican offered to the Society the opportunity to be structured as an Ordinariate directly subject to the Holy See, how might that proposal be received?
It would be taken calmly into consideration on the basis of the principles and priorities and above all the supernatural prudence from which the superiors of the Society have always drawn their inspiration.
Couldn’t you tell us something more?
I can only repeat what was explained clearly by my superiors from the start: the canonical situation in which the Society presently finds itself is the result of its resistance to the errors that infest the Church; consequently the possibility of the Society arriving at a regular canonical situation does not depend on us but on the hierarchy’s acceptance of the contribution that Tradition can make to the restoration of the Church.
If we do not arrive at some canonical regularization, that simply means that the hierarchy is not yet sufficiently convinced of the urgent need for that contribution. In that case we will have to wait a few more years, hoping for an increase in that awareness, which could occur along with and parallel to the acceleration in the process of the Church’s self-destruction.
part II 
Part II
The little good that we can do in Rome is probably more important than the great good that we can do elsewhere.” This very important statement, made by Bishop de Galarreta at the priestly ordinations in Econe, is a direct summons to our District [of Italy]. Of course it referred mainly to the theological talks, but there is no doubt that the image of the Society in Italy, because of its proximity to Rome, also takes on a very special relevance. You are the Superior of the Italian District: how did this important statement strike you?
What the bishop said in Econe is consistent with a deep conviction of the Society, and the statement seems to me to be informed by a genuinely Catholic spirit: I find nothing surprising in it.
I think that Bishop de Galarreta’s remark sums up perfectly the Roman spirit with which the Society wants to serve the Roman Church: to do whatever is possible so that the Church can reclaim Her Tradition, starting with Rome itself.
The history of the Church teaches us that no universal, effective and lasting reform is possible unless Rome makes that reform its own and it starts from Rome.
Concerning these points many outside observers maintain that there is an internal division within the SSPX between one so-called “Roman” wing that is more inclined to dialogue with the authorities, and another “Gallican” wing that is hostile to any sort of approach to the Pope. Aside from the oversimplification, and within the limits in which you can comment, do you think that this idea is well-founded?
As in any human association, so too in the Society there are different nuances and sensibilities among the various members. To think that it can be otherwise would be a bit childish.
Nevertheless I think that one easily falls into the oversimplifications that you just mentioned if calm good judgment is lost or one speaks on the basis of preconceived prejudices: one ends up creating parties and unthinkingly siding with some rather than others.
To the members of the Society it is clear that the identity of their own congregation is structured around a definite, precise axis that is called Tradition; upon this principle, which is universally shared within the Society, the unity of the Society itself is built, and I think that objectively it is impossible to find a stronger principle of identity and cohesion: precisely this basic cohesion on the essentials is what allows the individuals to have variously nuanced views on any matters of opinion.
I think that the impression of a certain lack of homogeneity has been given by the considerable differences in tone that Society members use in their different settings, in their different predicaments, in their different countries, and above all when confronted by the extremely diverse and contradictory positions that the representatives of the official hierarchy formulate with regard to us and about anything that smacks of Tradition. Sometimes there is a diminished perception of these facts among those who evaluate the individual statements out of context online, and reduce them to the same level in front of their computer screens.
Certainly it is a question of considerations that are not immediately evident to the outside observer.
On May 13 the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae was published, the purpose of which is to regulate specifically how the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum is applied. How is this important document being evaluated by the SSPX?
We are talking about a summary document that on the one hand expresses the clear intention to implement the directives of the Motu Proprio and, on the other hand, takes into account many explicit and implicit objections which the episcopates have raised against Summorum Pontificum; it is no secret that they are fundamentally hostile to the restoration of the Tridentine rite.
First of all the document states precisely that the restoration of the 1962 liturgy is a universal law for the Church; in the second place the Instruction clearly makes an effort to defend, primarily in a strictly juridical context, the priests who have been prevented from using the Tridentine Missal by their ordinaries.
With a certain finesse it reminds the bishops that it is up to them specifically to guarantee those rights… in order to safeguard them it is possible to appeal decisions made by the ordinaries themselves.
These, I think, are the most positive points, drastically summarized.
Nevertheless article 19 of the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae declares that the faithful who do not recognize the validity and legitimacy of the reformed missal of Paul VI are not allowed to request the Holy Mass of All Time. What do you think about that restriction?
To be completely candid, I cannot pass judgment on it because I find it incomprehensible.
I have always maintained that the most holy rite of the Mass had an intrinsic value, above all in relation to its distinctive purpose of rendering latria, adoration and worship to God.
Apart from any other consideration, there is no way to understand what canonical or theological basis there is for saying that the value of a centuries-old rite that now has been declared “never abrogated” and the possibility of celebrating it are determined by the subjective disposition of someone who attends it or requests it.
This sets up a foolish, impracticable perspective. For example, what would a priest be obliged to do if he found that out of ten lay faithful who requested the celebration of the Mass, five had objections to the Mass of Paul VI? What would a priest be obliged to do if he himself had very serious reservations about the new rite, since the restriction pertains only to the lay faithful?1
If the two rites are considered to be two equivalent forms of the same Roman Rite, there is no reason why the Tridentine Rite should be so dangerous as to require some sort of examination before allowing it.
Finally, if one honestly accepts this premise [of equivalence], there is no reason why priests and bishops who publicly reject the Tridentine Rite should not be asked to refrain from celebrating the New Mass until they let go of their stubborn resolution.
I think that article 19 of the Instruction, although on the one hand it is the expression of a typical diplomatic attitude, on the other hand can unfortunately become part of a sort of ill-concealed moral blackmail. It reveals an awareness on the part of the bishops that the Tridentine Mass inevitably conveys an ecclesiology that is incompatible with that of the Council and the Novus Ordo. Consequently the Tridentine Mass can be allowed only while exercising direct control over the consciences of the faithful. To me that seems rather alarming.

Part III and final
Are there, in your opinion, other points in the document [Universae Ecclesiae] where the intention to exercise this type of control emerges?
In my humble opinion there is one in particular. Whereas the Motu Propriorestored the free use of all the liturgical books in addition to the missal, the Instruction forbids such use in a very specific case: that of priestly ordinations, with an exception being made for the religious institutes that are subject to the authority of the Ecclesia Dei Commission or that already use the Tridentine Rite. (cf. article 31).
This matter is rather surprising, especially in the case of diocesan ordinations, considering that modern ecclesiology insists so much on regarding the diocesan bishop as the moderator of the liturgy and the true liturgist, since he is a successor of the Apostles; the explanation seems rather obvious, however, if we look at classic, typically Curial compromises.
It is obvious that whereas an Ecclesia Dei institute is directly controlled by the competent Vatican organ, with a constitution that has been signed and countersigned (I will provide an example in a moment), a bishop who used the 1962 liturgical books could not be controlled on those same terms.
Consequently the formal, peremptory request to proceed to ordinations according to the new rite is the external sign that is deemed sufficient to prove that the ordinands (and the bishop himself) fully accept article 19 of the Instruction; by adopting the new rite for the event that is undoubtedly the most important and significant one in their lives and in the life of the diocese.
Finally, this request has a force similar to the almost universal practice involved in the application of the 1984 Indult: in the various dioceses in which the indult had been granted, it was asked that the traditional rite not be celebrated at Christmas and Easter, so as to allow the faithful to manifest their own tie to the parish and hence their acceptance of the rite of Paul VI.
Quite significant, along this same line, was the injunction imposed in 2000 on the Fraternity of St. Peter to agree that their own members could freely celebrate according to the new rite, combined with a warm invitation to concelebrate with the diocesan bishops at least on Holy Thursday, so as to express their own communion with the local ordinary and hence their public and wholehearted acceptance of the Novus Ordo Missae; note that although the Fraternity of St. Peter is an Ecclesia Dei institute, this measure proved necessary just at the moment when some refractory members within the congregation were voicing in louder tones their opposition to the rite of Paul VI. In that same difficult situation the Superior General at the time was deposed directly by the Ecclesia DeiCommission and replaced with a priest who was not selected by the chapter but rather imposed by Ecclesia Dei itself.
The Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship then was Cardinal Medina Estevez, whereas Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos had recently been appointed President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission.
That being the case, the injunction of the Instruction, together with the above-cited article 19, seems to be inspired more by the indult of John Paul II than by the Motu Proprio of Benedict XVI.
Now, however, it has been declared by Benedict XVI himself that the 1984 Indult claimed to grant generously, in some cases and on certain precise conditions, the use of a missal which in reality had never been abrogated: Universae Ecclesiaeseems to fall back into that canonical and moral absurdity, which is comprehensible only within a context of disdain and fear—I would rather not say hatred—with regard to anything remotely Tridentine.
Dulcis in fundo [Last but not least], since everyone knows that the Society will never accept either article 31 nor article 19, all the malcontents at the one end of the spectrum are now criticizing it for its “disobedience”, thus seeking to show off their own “legality”, while at the other end they watch it, hoping that its intransigence will indirectly obtain something positive for them too.
And so we see again the mechanism of “sequebatur a longe ut videret finem”[“following at a distance so as to see the outcome”] and of utilitarian hope placed in the Society that we referred to earlier.
The twentieth anniversary of the death of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre occurred in 2011. At a distance of two decades this figure continues to spark debate, and it even seems that with the passage of time he arouses more and more interest in ecclesial and cultural circles. To what do we owe, in your opinion, this “second youth” of a prelate whom many had dismissed as old and anachronistic?
Archbishop Lefebvre embodied something imperishable: the Tradition of the Church, and if there was a bishop in whom Tradition never ceased to be “living” (if I may use the expression), it was certainly the “rebel” bishop. For example, the one prelate who never stopped celebrating publicly in the traditional rite, which was then mistakenly considered abrogated and banned, was the founder of the Society of St. Pius X: he did not merely hand on to new generations a printed, dusty missal, but preserved and transmitted a real, living treasure which is present every day on the altar, with which he was totally and personally involved.
If someone truly begins to realize that the crisis in the Church is rooted and manifested above all in a crisis of the priesthood and of the liturgy, it is inevitable that one will refer to the man who spent all his energies to save both.
Therefore it is inevitable that if one speaks about the Tridentine Mass or Tradition, even the most reluctant critic will be forced to speak about him, if only to distance himself from him and thus to certify his own political correctness.
But anyone who speaks about him, for good or for ill, cannot do so without speaking about a Tradition which, far from being “Lefebvrite”, is simply and forever Catholic.

1 In reality the simple priest is obliged to recognize the full legitimacy of the new rite at least on the day of his own ordination, as the following lines clarify.—Editor’s note.


  1. When Ratzinger resigned didn't Bishop Fellay assure him that he would see the deal through?
    That means he will seek re-election does it not?


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