New SSPX leadership has surprising similarities to Pope Francis but won’t compromise on faith
ECÔNE, Switzerland, July 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) - The Society of Saint Pius X has elected their new superior and--surprise!--he’s Italian, fluent in Spanish, and has strong ties to Argentina. What’s more, his two assistants are also very familiar with Pope Francis’ home nation.
The new SSPX superior, Don Davide Pagliarani, 47, was first ordained by the irregular order of traditionalist Catholic priests in 1996. A former District Superior for the SSPX in Italy, he has served as the superior of the SSPX seminary in La Reja, Argentina since 2012.
Long considered the most likely candidate to succeed Bishop Fellay, Pagliarani was elected yesterday during the SSPX’s general chapter in in Ecône, Switzerland by the 41 members present with voting rights. He will be General Superior for 12 years.
According to the SSPX, after accepting his election, Pagliarani made a profession of faith and took the “Oath against Modernism”. Those present sang a “Te Deum” after pledging respect for, and obedience to, their new superior.
Today the assistants of the new superior were elected. They are Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta Genua, who supported Pagliarani’s candidacy, and Don Christian Bouchacourt, who is currently the District Superior of the SSPX in France. Like their new General Superior, both men are fluent in Spanish.
Bishop De Galarreta, who was born in Spain, was raised in Argentina and attended the La Plata seminary in Buenos Aires before moving to the SSPX seminary in Ecône in 1978.
De Galarreta was one of the bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre, the founder of the Society, in 1988 against the will of Pope John Paul II. In response, John Paul II excommunicated De Galarreta, Lefebvre and the other ordinands. (These excommunications were lifted by Benedict XVI in 2009.) After his consecration, De Galarreta was appointed rector of the SSPX seminary in La Reja, Argentina.
From 2003 until 2014, Don Christian Bouchacourt served as the superior of the Society’s Latin American chapter of the SSPX. Its headquarters are in Argentina, and there Bouchacourt struck up a friendly relationship with Cardinal Bergoglio, then the archbishop of Buenos Aires.
Bouchacourt’s relationship with Pope Francis has continued to be positive. On May 12, 2017, he cracked down on French SSPX priests hostile to Francis’ recognition that Catholic marriages witnessed by SSPX priests are valid.
Francis had previously permitted Catholics to “validly and licitly receive sacramental absolution of their sins” from their SSPX priests, first during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and then afterwards.
Pope Benedict XVI hoped that the Society may be fully reconciled to the Vatican during his pontificate.
The Society of Saint Pius X was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre with a small group of seminarians in 1970 in response to the doctrinal confusion assailing Roman Catholic seminaries in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. The SSPX is opposed to all modernist trends of thought in the Catholic Church, including the Second Vatican Council’s understanding of freedom of religion.
Pagliarani is considered a conservative in the Society. In a 2011 interview, he made it clear that the SSPX was not prepared to compromise on what it sees as its mission in order to achieve regularization by Rome.
“The canonical situation in which the Society presently finds itself is the result of its resistance to the errors that infest the Church,” he said, “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,” Pagliarani continued, “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.”
SSPX-watchers caution against seeing the election as a rejection of the conciliatory attitude of Bishop Fellay towards Rome. Fellay made it known that he did not seek reelection.
The Society of Saint Pius X maintains a presence in 62 countries, with seminaries in the USA, Germany, France, Australia as well as in Switzerland and Argentina. The SSPX has three bishops, 590 priests, 187 seminarians, 103 brothers, 170 sisters, and 78 oblate sisters. Approximately 600,000 Catholic lay people around the world support the SSPX.