SSPX: The Stick And The Carrot
From the wonder of the Catholic blogosphere, Rorate Caeli, we are now informed of some details of the latest exchange between the Vatican and the Society.
The first piece of information is that the letter was sent on the 8 January. This is more than one month before the surprise announcement of the Holy Father’s abdication. Clearly, at that time no one had any idea of what was about to happen. Already this makes the document almost as useful as a broken fork.
The second is that the letter seems to have offered the immediate erection of a Personal Prelature in case of SSPX’s agreement.
We also knew already that the letter contained a big “… or else” in case the SSPX rejects the proposal.
What, I think, we can infer from all this is that the CDF addressed all members of the SSPX saying ” if the Society as such does not accept our proposal, those of you who defect individually can have their own Personal Prelature on the spot, on the very 22 February”. This is not explicitly said, but the offer of a Personal Prelature together with an address to every individual priest makes it clear enough to these eyes what the Vatican intention is.
Truly, they don’t get it.
Why on earth SSPX priests should now decide to leave en masse is beyond me. It is as if the Vatican believed they were all sleeping and now, magically awakening in 2013, would discover with terror that they might be excommunicated, and find the thought unbearable.
Certainly, the one of other will always leave every now and then; it is in the logic of human nature. But it is the idea that suddenly a big number of SSPX would say “let’s do what Archbishop Mueller says, he is so good to us and so orthodox!…” that I find hilarious.
The men at the Vatican do not get a simple concept: every member of the SSPX is there for a reason, the fruit of very careful deliberation. They aren’t children ready to change their mind because uncle Müller offers them a candy.
The second piece of information is a bit more intriguing.
The reasons why Father Barthe goes to the point of imagining the creation of an Ordinariate on the very 22 February are not clear to me, but it does not seem probable a unilateral offer of the Holy Father (I mean here, without asking for any concession) is in the cards, or would even be wise.
We must reflect that every last-minute concession of the Pope would be seen as a further sign of weakness, as if he had waited for the last days in order to dodge the massive flak that would have followed an earlier announcement. In addition, we must consider the problems caused by the reconciliation would transfer to his successor in its entirety, again making him look like someone ready and willing to throw a hot potato in his successor’ hands; with the possible result that his successor, not entirely pleased at he proceedings, decides to revoke every concession made. Moreover, the SSPX is so organised that every proposal of reconciliation must be approved by the majority of their own members. It isn’t going to happen in six days, and the matter would therefore only have a sense if it is a unilateral recognition without any condition. Not very realistic, I would say.
There will be, therefore, no reconciliation on the 22nd and whilst I would be overjoyed at the news I do not think this kind of reverie leads to anything.
The SSPX is in a strong position, and can wait the conclave with confidence that the next Pope will be smart enough to understand the SSPX is not only the past but, emphatically, the future of the Church.
We shall see.
Oh Lord, please give us a strong Pope.