From the very long – and very fitting – letter #80 of Bishop Fellay to Friends and Benefactors: (emphases mine)
We beg Heaven and the authorities of the Church, in particular the new Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis, Vicar of Christ, Successor of Peter, not to allow souls to perish because they no longer learn sound doctrine, the revealed deposit of the faith, without which no one can be saved, no one can please God.
What good is it to devote oneself to serving people if one hides from them what is essential, the purpose and the meaning of their life, and the seriousness of sin that turns them away from it? Works of charity done for the poor, the needy, the infirm, and the sick have always been a true concern for the Church, and we must not excuse ourselves from it, but if it becomes merely man-centered philanthropy, then the Church is no longer carrying out her mission, she is no longer leading souls to God, which can really be done only by supernatural means: faith, hope, charity and grace. And therefore by denouncing anything that is opposed to them: errors against faith and morality. Because if people sin, for want of that denunciation, they are damned for eternity. The Church’s reason for being is to save them and to help them avoid the misfortune of their eternal perdition.
“Mundabor”, the teacher would have said at school, “what does the author want to say”?
I am not at school anymore, but I think I know what I would answer: the author wants to say that there has been enough talk of simplicity, black shoes, iron crosses, and Argentinian newsagents, whilst the real issues continue to be happily ignored.
One month on, the silence of the new Pope concerning the new, exploding phenomenon of pro-homosexual legislation is deafening; but Heavens, we know everything about how he doesn’t like Papal Apartments, red shoes, mozzettas, or Roman cobblers.
The SSPX has certainly been prudent for a while, waiting to see how they can picture this Pontiff before speaking publicly.
Their decision to move to an open appeal clearly means they consider his silence as scandalous. Please read Bishop Fellay’s words again. They are clear enough.
Pope Francis has not justified the worst fears (up to now, at least), and has moved rather well on a couple of occasions (the LCWR comes to mind; actually nothing else of consequence comes to mind… one good homily here, one good idea there, things like that); but he has also lived dramatic weeks for world Christianity whilst doing basically nothing, or whilst letting us know how sensitive he is to his newsagent down in Buenos Aires.
God knows how much the French Catholics would have appreciated strong words of the Pontiff concerning the abomination of sodomy; it would have given – and would still give – the movement great strenght for the years of fight in front of them.
Instead, we haven’t heard one word. Not one.
I am sick and tired already to try to see Francis through Benedict. I see that Benedict was indecisive enough, and Francis can talk rather refreshingly if he wants, but he avoids to do it when it means grating the masses whose approval he is so sedulously seeking. Whilst the French members of parliament send the country’s soul to hell, he entertains us with the evil of gossiping.
Mozzetta or no Mozzetta, this is not good enough; this is no longer carrying on the Church’s mission, and allowing souls to perish.
It is a paradox that we had a Pope who saw the necessity of war but didn’t have the nerve to lead us into it; and we now have a Pope who probably has the strenght of character to lead us into any war he chooses, but seems not to think the unprecedented disintegration of the Christian fabric of the West is worth a war in the first place.
But hey, we know all about his cobbler.
I have written only yesterday about what would have happened if the SSPX had been foolish enough to accept the Preambolo dottrinale in its latest version, which included the poisonous pills about the silent acceptance of Vatican II.
It is, perhaps, fitting to take stand on where – I think – the SSPX stays today, and why they should in my eyes congratulate themselves for having done the right thing back then.
I think the time will soon come when many who thought they could afford the luxury to criticise the Society will realise they can't afford this extravagance anymore. If this Papacy drifts towards the easy rhetoric and the avoidance of the difficult issues we are certainly authorised to fear, many will be those who understand the Church needs more than easy slogans, and it is time to show some charitable, but proper Catholic teeth. None does this better than the SSPX.
This is the more important because up to now I have noticed in Pope Francis' utterances a marked reluctance to frontally assault controversial themes. Please note that when the Pope wants to speak in defence of the poor – which he does, well, every time – he has no qualms in specifically and openly addressing the issue; whilst themes like abortion and sexual perversion are deemed to have been touched by some commenters, but have in fact been avoided up to now.
For example, the Pope intervened to defend Creation, and half an army of commenters was willing to remark that hey, Creation includes babies in the womb, so the Pope is speaking against abortion! No, he isn't: one speak against abortion by clearly saying that abortion is the legalised murder of an innocent life, not with convenient words about the very popular and utterly uncontroversial environment. Again, the SSPX does the clear talking admirably.
Then there is the matter of liturgy. Not only has the SSPX avoided a probable self-destruction by refusing to accept V II, but the FSSP and the other traditionalist organisations must be now overjoyed they did. If we look at the situation as it is, the continued existence of a dissenting SSPX is the only reason why the Vatican steamroller might not crush FSSP & Co., forcing the Novus Ordo down their loyal throats. Without the SSPX vigilant and ready to cry foul game – and to welcome, perhaps, the refugees – it is fair to say the moderate Traditionalists would very probably be all, liturgically speaking, on the death row by now.
Then there is the pure doctrinal matter. The SSPX have already publicly criticised the Pontiff pointing out to his V II, “dialogue” mentality, and will continue to do so. They are respectful, but pertinent. They cannot be dismissed as a motley crew of lunatics, and more and more people will understand in the coming years where real Catholic orthodoxy lives. They will be the wise cricket talking to… The Vatican Pinocchios about their mistakes, and will continue to rally and inspire admiration in sincere, orthodox Catholics. Once again, I cannot imagine a more powerful brake to the antics of the wreckovation supporters in the style of Cantalamessa then a strong and vigilant SSPX.
By deciding to stay put, the SSPX has been of excellent service to Traditionalism, to conservative minded Catholics and even to the common faithful in the pews. Many will continue to criticise them, whilst continuing to profit of their very existence. Many others will at some point understand what treasure of orthodoxy we have in them.
I think they are the biggest consolation sent from Heaven to help us overcome this difficult age. Long may it last.
I am not one of those people happy to have problems come to them before they deal with it. I always want to know how to cross the bridge before coming to it. As a result, I cannot avoid thinking what will happen in the troubled relationship between the Vatican (make no mistake, they are the ones who are troubled) and the SSPX.
You only need to look at the then Cardinal Bergoglio’s “Pinocchio Mass” (provided it was a validly celebrated Mass, about which I have my doubts) to understand that an almost sidereal distance separates, at least as per yesterday afternoon, the Society from the new Pope. At the same time, the Pinocchio Mass very well explains why the SSPX will never renounce to speak out loud against such liturgical abominations, and could never be persuaded – much less threatened – to an arrangement which in the end would mean to abandon and betray the very mission of the Society. It can, therefore, be excluded the SSPX will “approve” or “renounce to disapprove” of such irreverent, impious antics.
A different matter altogether is, as I see it, the posture the Vatican will take towards the Society. As per today I think it might be one of the following:
1. Business as usual.
The Society remains in what the Vatican calls “imperfect communion”. No rapprochement, no open conflict, things remain as they are waiting for better times or, rather, better Popes.
2. Nuclear Conflict
In this scenario, the Pope will let the Society know that unless they like his Pinocchio Mass – or renounce to state they don’t – terrible things will happen to them, like for example 2000 years of Christian liturgical tradition being declared “schismatic”. Should such an unthinkable event take place, Pope Francis will take the place of honour near Pope Liberius amidst heretical Popes, the SSPX will happily ignore his diktat and carry on as usual, and their prestige as beacons of orthodox Catholicism will be immensely increased.
3. Guerrilla warfare
In this case, the Vatican would try to weaken the Society according to the Ratzinger/Mueller schema already observed in 1988 and 2012: stick and carrot, with no open war but insisted criticism of the Society’s position, perhaps a re-excommunication, and a prolonged attempt to divide them luring away some of their elements with the promise of a kind of “FSSP status”, perhaps with some privileges added. Predictably, this strategy wouldn’t work more now than it did in 1988 and 2012. Every SSPX priest is aware he could defect to the FSSP, if he so wished, anytime, so if they stay it is for well pondered reasons. Therefore, in this case I see another “business as usual” scenario, though rather more heated at times.
In all cases, I confess myself unable to see what damage the new Pope could do – if he wanted, which we don’t know and I don’t think – to the Society. Besides having a liturgical credibility slightly below zero, the new Pope is certainly smart enough to understand every attack on the SSPX would be nothing else than further justification for the Society’s existence.
The SSPX exists for one reason only: because the Vatican is drunk with Neo-Modernism. The idea they should be wiped out if the Vatican becomes even more Neo-Modernist is totally unrealistic, completely illogical and fails to recognise the society’s very raison d’être, their way of thinking, their motivation, their loyalty to Christ.
I think it’s fair to say scenario 2 is improbable, and we will rather have a mixture of 1 and 3.
But even if it should be open war, I can’t see why the SSPX should be scared.
Around midnight now, and still trying to digest the new Pope.
Whilst I do so, I’d like to share some reflections with you, on which I might expand in the next days.
1) Many have asked the SSPX to accept the “preambolo” no matter how bad. It is now evident this would have been a very bad move not only in itself, but in light of a Pope clearly hostile (at least up to now) to the Traditional Mass. Also, an agreement that might have been changed or recused only months later isn’t the smart thing to do in any case. The SSPX has decided to do things only when they can be done properly, and this is very good. Let them wait for any hostile initiative of the new Pope, if he dares. More prestige, publicity, and followers for them.
2) Too many conservative Catholics play “loyal Catholic” at the expense of the SSPX. It will be interesting to see where they stand if Francis starts to demolish Summorum Pontificum, and force the likes of the FSSP to celebrate the New Mass, perhaps the new Mass exclusively. I expect from them that they all obey without a moment’s hesitation; it would serve them right, too…
3) The same applies to the Pontiff Emeritus, who might well pay a terrible price for his indecisiveness. He initiated a reform (Summorum Pontificum) he never had the guts to enforce. He might now see how the only notable achievement of his pontificate is demolished under his very eyes. It would serve him right, too: if he had demanded that Summorum Pontificum (and himself) are taken seriously, and had appointed more conservative cardinals (both liturgically and otherwise), we might have lived a very different day. Live by Vatican II, die by Vatican II.
I wish everyone a good night. Though the dreams might not be so sweet.
Beautiful initiative of the Society, who have on the site of their communication agency the Novena for the election of the Sovereign Pontiff.
Unfortunately I could not post this yesterday as per original plan; but though late, I hope this is not too late.
The collect (a part of the Novena) is as follows:
O Lord, with suppliant humility, we entreat Thee, that in Thy boundless mercy Thou wouldst grant the most holy Roman Church a pontiff, who by his zeal for us, may be pleasing to Thee, and by his good government may ever be honoured by Thy people for the glory of Thy name. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Beautiful and very fitting.
The entire exercise takes just a couple of minutes.
The site has the texts also in Latin.
If you needed an additional confirmation that the SSPX has realised Pope Benedict’s resignation equates to a big card reshuffle, you can click on this link.
Besides the obvious fact that Pope Benedict will, in all probability, not make any parting gift to the Society – it is not logical that he should do so; he has been planning his departure for some months, and if he had wanted to act he would have done it before lest he gives the impression he acts at the last minute to avoid the criticism to his decision – what is interesting in this interview is Fellay’s suggested roadmap for a reconciliation.
The good bishop is very clear in saying that whilst he does not expect from the next Pope that he proceeds to an open, outright condemnation of Vatican II, the new Pope can accomplish a lot smartly and quietly, proceeding to a series of adjustments apt to eliminate a good part of the problems. To quote (emphasis mine):
As far as Vatican II is concerned, just like for the Mass, we believe that it is necessary to clarify and correct a certain number of points that are either erroneous or lead to error. That being said, we do not expect Rome to condemn Vatican II any time soon. She can recall the Truth and discretely correct the errors, while preserving her authority.
The message is very clear. It would be more than enough if the Vatican were willing to work toward the repair of the edifice without any admission that, so to speak, the architect was on drugs and the building company straight out of Greece. Quiet and discreet action – starting with immediate action on the very worst – can accomplish a lot.
Note that in this interview there is no trace whatsoever of an alleged fear of the Society that some terrible punishment may be inflicted on them by the next Pope. There isn’t, because there is no terrible punishment the Vatican can even try to inflict on them without – besides not reaching their scope – inflicting a much bigger damage on themselves.The Vatican can, simply, not credibly strike at orthodox Catholicism, and spotless obedience.
No, the only way the Vatican can try to neutralise the Society is by trying to blandish, seduce and divide them, dangling the carrot of “reconciliation” in front of their eyes whilst waiting for the division and strife this would cause; a game, this, already tried in a massive and open way both in 1988 and in 2012; on both occasions clearly engineered by the current Pontiff; and parlously failed twice.
The SSPX awaits the outcome of the Conclave from a position of unprecedented strenght and prestige. The progressive – if too slow – rapprochement of the Vatican to the positions held before V II in so many matters is a vindication of Archbishop Lefebvre’s brave fight. As the ideology of Vatican II continues to slowly wither, Traditionalism will grow in prestige and authority; if you say Traditionalism properly intended (that is: not mere liturgical preference, but defence of the entire patrimony of Tradition), you say first and foremost SSPX.
Archbishop Mueller really can’t stay away from journalists. Not only does he like them, but they like him. They sense the man is always good for something politically incorrect, or controversial, or simply short-tempered. He always delivers, and they know it.
This time, Archbishop Mueller has given an interview to the German so-called prestigious German weekly Die Zeit, reported in English by Vatican Insider. As Vatican Insider is part of La Stampa, a highly professional Italian daily newspaper, I will not check that the English rendition faithfully corresponds to the main points of the German text.
Yours truly, who likes Yogurt inordinately (though he prefers Weihenstephan to Mueller) would like here to make some comments himself. The points of the interview I’d like to say two words about are the following ones:
1. Systematic media attacks on the Catholic church.
The Archbishop doesn;t mince words (he never does, anyway) and compares the anti-Catholic atmosphere created in many Western countries to anti-Jewish pogroms. Now this is Germany, and in germany when you compare yourself to the persecution of the Jews it means you are really angry and people have to pay attention to what you say, because of the all-present Vergangenheit, the past. This Vergangenheit is a bit of a joker you can employ on pretty much everything: illiberal laws, the persecution of Kreuz.Net, and the creeping Nazi attitude of German homosexualists and their friends.
The Cardinal points it out in general, but does not say what in wrong in particular. In a country whose biggest Catholic site has been more or less forced to silence by the Nazi attitude of politicians, media and homosexualists, this is not good enough. Alas, it seems the Archbishop wants to play victim without mentioning the bigger victims, because he happens not to like them.
2. No to so-called same-sex unions.
Same yogurt here. Read to the translation of the Archbishop’s words:
“It is impossible for the Catholic Church to accept a relationship between people of the same sex, as such relations cannot in any way be considered equivalent to marriage,”
Notice he doesn’t say such “relationships” are evil, perverted, satanic. He says they are (and I quote) “not equivalent”. This is exactly like saying that the Church does not accept pears being called apples, because pears aren’t apples. Then Church officials complain they are attacked. But it is so surprising they are attacked as backwards and bigots, if they even renounce to say why they are so opposed to perversion? If I were to tell you all day that you simply should not eat pears, would that be enough?
I also notice the Church in Germany has kept, in practice, shtum when the German Government legislated against marriage with the civil partnerships, and that the Archbishop himself never openly attacks those colleagues of him, like the infamous Cardinal Woelki, who express themselves in favour of such abominations. One gets the impression Mueller is rather willing to bully the SSPX, but not so aggressive when his own colleagues and countrymen are involved; and that in this he fully reflects the attitude of the German clergy.
3. Priest celibacy.
For what it’s worth, I give full notes to the Archbishop here. He points out not only to the role of the priest and why celibacy is important, but also makes a very counter-cultural statement, that sexual activity (outside of marriage) is not a natural necessity. Bravo.
4. Criticism of the “dialogue” between lay people and priests in Germany
This is one of those things people who live outside of German can not even easily grasp. Germany is a country where the laity think they must “dialogue” with the clergy about issues like (you got it) so-called priestesses, and the clergy think they must engage in the “dialogue” with the laity and discuss those issues again and again. Come on, this is not even Catholicism anymore.
The Archbishop points out to this, and adds he thinks this must stop. Again, kudos to him.
5. (Umpteenth) Warning to the SSPX
This is another (predictable) serving of yogurt turned sour. It truly seems the Archbishop can’t open his mouth without expressing his anger at the SSPX, an anger which has personal besides Church-political reasons. It also seems to contradict what the Archbishop had said previously, then if memory serves (and it serves) it was Archbishop Mueller himself who declared the talks failed and the door closed, whilst Archbishop Di Noia insists in saying the door is still open (if you drink the poison of V II, that is). Now Mueller takes Di Noia’s position, “we are still waiting for your answer”, but his attitude is diametrically opposite to Di Noia’s one.
I frankly this the Archbishop needs a reality checks if he thinks this kind of message will have any effect whatsoever on the SSPX. More probably, he knows it won’t, but he says it anyway. It might have been wiser to say that there is a man specifically appointed to the task (Archbishop Di Noia) and he would therefore prefer not to touch on the subject. This would have been, methinks, the more diplomatic and intelligent answer, and the Archbishop would have looked much better without giving away an inch. But again, he is short-tempered.
There is a truly beautiful post on Father Z’s blog about the validity of confession from an SSPX priest. You already know yours truly is a great fan of the organisation, and considers them better Catholics than your average Cardinal (let alone bishop) by a mile. Still, I try not to descend into Sedevacantism only because of the obscenely bad quality of the clergy in good standing I (more than) sometimes see around me, and one of the reasons I go around and regularly “try” different churches is to hammer into my head that even the bad Mass is a valid Mass and even the stupid priest has valid orders; then if I were to start questioning the validity of the Mass according to the quality of the priest, Sedevacantism would not be far away.
The same reasoning, and the same praxis, I apply to confession. I “shop around” to take the temperature of the local Church: are people there queuing? Is the priest timely? )(Ha!) Is the confessional a traditional one? Does the priest encourage me to repentance or – as many do – to complacency? & Co., & Co.
Many of the priests who have confessed me in the last five years have left me with a strange feeling to say the least. Like eating artificial food, or drinking Diet Coke. Still, as long as the priest says the absolution formula and I can see he is doing what the Church says he should be doing I never doubted (though at times it didn’t come natural, see below) that the confession and the absolution were validly given; even in those cases in which I thought the priest was a waste of space, a robbery of Church bread, and arms stolen to agricultural work.
For the exact same reason, I never went to confession at a SSPX chapel. It’s not that I do think the priest confessing there is a bad priest (I think his chances of heaven are, in fact, extremely high, and I seriously can’t say the same of a couple of confessors I have experienced), but rather that whilst this priest has a granitic conviction he must do it, I know and cannot pretend not to know he is not authorised to hear confessions. This is unfortunate, then I do have more than a mild curiosity to experience the difference with your average V II priest, not knowing whether a torrential rain of fire and brimstone would fall unto me or whether, as it is traditionally said, the priest who is a lion from the pulpit is also a lamb in the confessional.
One thing is clear to me: even if I had doubts about the validity of the confession of many priests of the V II church, I would still go to confession to a priest of the V II, because even the V II church is my church, and the only one there is.
As I have said, this doesn’t come natural to me. A couple of times, I must admit, I was tempted to think: “this was not a confession, this was a joke; I’d better repeat it somewhere else as soon as I can”, but then I immediately reflected about the gravity of my thought, and started to realise the devil uses bad priests to lead us to doubt the institutions and the sacraments of the Church; then again, if I start to think I can decide whether a confession was valid – even if the usual and expected elements of the confession were there – Sedevacantism can’t be very far away.
This does not mean that the SSPX priest is a bad priest, as he believes the state of necessity does extend to confession. But I simply cannot agree with him on that, and whilst I am rather sure he’ll rank far higher than me in Paradise (if I make it there) I do not think going to confession to him would help me one iota in this respect.
Reading on the Internet here and there one gets the impression the SSPX depends on the Vatican’s goodwill to survive. The reasoning goes along the lines of “the SSPX should take what is offered now, because the Holy Father’s patience is now rapidly depleting, and he is the last chance for them to reach an agreement, after which they will be crushed/declared schismatic/ordered to disband”.
It seems to me this kind of comment is made in ignorance of what the SSPX is all about. Let me explain.
The idea at the basis of the SSPX is that the fidelity to the teaching of the Church comes before the fidelity to the Pope. Whilst generally the two coincide, and obedience to the Pope is due every time fidelity to the Church is not in question, when the Pope insists in wanting something that is against the teaching, then the faithful find themselves in the necessity to refuse that obedience they continue to be ready to pay in all other circumstances.
This is not a Sedevacantist position, as the authority of the Pope and his legitimacy in being Pope is not put into question.
It would be very erroneous to think a Pope can never be wrong in doctrinal matters, because the Holy Ghost would strike him dead if he tried. Popes have been vocally and utterly wrong in doctrinal matters in the past (think of John XXII), and the protection of the Holy Ghost only kicks in in that the Holy Ghost will (predictably) strike the Pope dead before he imposes his error as a dogma of the Church. This has never happened up to now (not even with John XXII), and therefore the Holy Ghost clearly had no reason to strike any of the Vatican II Popes dead.
Another famous episode is the way Paul defended received truth (occasionally also against Peter). Paul doesn’t mince words:
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. (Galatians 1:8)
Paul was an obedient follower of the Pope, but not a silent one, nor was his obedience unconditional, in a kind of blind Fuehrerprinzip. In Galatians we read, referring to the incident in Antioch
But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. (Galatians 2:11)
Paul opposed Peter every time he thought it necessary, full knowing the latter’s position. He did so publicly when necessary. It’s not that Peter should have been struck dead by the Holy Ghost. Peter simply happened to be wrong on a couple of issues, and not even angels would have persuaded Paul that hey, he is the Pope so that’s what it’s going to be.
A third episode is the painful story of Athanasius, about which I have written already.
The obvious consequence of this is that the SSPX will give obedience to the Pope in everything possible, but refuse obedience whenever necessary. Not one, or one hundred, excommunications are going to stop them. Not any declaration the Vatican could make that the SSPX are Schismatics, or Muslims, or Buddhists, or cats, or dogs; not any order to disband; not even an angel coming down from Heaven and telling them to, pretty please, accept the Vatican II concept of, say, religious liberty. It’s just not going to happen.
Now, I fully agree that if the SSPX had been an organisation of people merely fantasizing themselves the defenders of orthodoxy, the old excommunication would have wiped them out in just a few years. But the fact is, they truly are the defenders of the orthodoxy! Many people see it, and see that far from being rebellious to the Pope, they are obedient to the Pope in everything, except in those things which not even an Angel could persuade them to do, because it would mean to be disobedient to the very Truth from which the Pope’s authority derives. This is why the SSPX grow and prosper, whilst the V II clergy shrink and become old.
Yes, of course the Vatican is wrong, and the SSPX is right. Peter was wrong, and Paul was right! The Vatican was wrong, and Athanasius was right! It has happened in the past, it will happen in the future. It does not mean we do not owe obedience to the Church and to the Pope, it simply means we must recognise we live in one of those periods in history in which a state of necessity may apply in certain circumstances; but again, it is a state of necessity due to obedience, not rebellion.
Bishop Williamson’s letter in answer to his exclusion from the SSPX has been published. I have read a German translation, and I must respectfully say that I am not impressed. Please note Williamson has many friends within Kreuz.net, and I think the translation accurately reflects his own thinking.
The way I read the document, there are two main themes and the same time explanations for his “rebellious” behaviour: past obstacles put to his work, which forced him to become active with his blog irrespective of the consequences and, more importantly, a progressive deterioration in the attitude of the SSPX under the leadership of Bishop Fellay.
The first argument is of a very personal nature, and it is impossible from the outside to see who is the real cause of which behaviour, and who is responsible for which reaction; I will, therefore, not get into the matter of who has abused whose patience more, or first.
The second argument simply does not stand. Bishop Williamson accuses the SSPX of having started to “melt” in front of Vatican cajoling since the year 2000, and to have officially left the line of the Founder (may he rest in peace, and santo subito….) at the latest in 2008. As evidence, he brings a couple of short sentences without any context, and which really demonstrate absolutely nothing.
The simple fact is that in Bishop Williamson’s view of things, every talk and every attempt to reason with the Vatican is wrong, to the point that even invitations to dinner from a Cardinal – invitation accepted from “three of the four” bishops – might constitute an inappropriate propinquity. It is clear the Bishop sees Rome as a place infected and therefore to be avoided in principle, rather than the centre of Catholicism; and the Pope, wrong as he may be in this or that matter, your ultimate boss and someone with whom you simply do not refuse to reason.
Some time ago, I wrote an explanation of the different positions within the SSPX based on the very imaginatively Italian comparison of the poisoned cake . Whilst, alas, the Vatican cook was proved a bad one, the different approaches to the cake remained and are, apparently, the main cause of this fracture.
Williamson’s position is made even more untenable by the clear refusal of the SSPX to consent to any agreement which might compromise their integrity; this for the good Bishop rather embarrassing circumstance is dismissed as a kind of fortunate last-minute effort thankfully heading in the right direction; a flawed thinking which ignores the simple reality on the ground: the SSPX has remained completely orthodox and faithful to Catholicism because this is what they are, full stop.
There is in Bishop Williamson’s reasoning also another Leitmotiv: that Archbishop Lefebvre would not have wanted any reconciliation until Rome’s full “conversion”. This simply flies in the face of reality, as the saintly Archbishop obviously sought – and obtained – official recognition for his newly created order, remained in full communion for several years and would have happily gone on that way if his wish for at least one bishop had been heard.
The reality of the last days is, I am afraid, a bit different and somewhat more cruel: a passionate but rather un-diplomatic, rather difficult, and rather grumpy old man finds himself increasingly more detached from a truly orthodox, but still intelligently diplomatic leadership and can digest with more and more difficulty the isolation and loss of influence this unavoidably means.
The reality on the ground is that the SSPX is, as I write, every bit as orthodox as Bishop Williamson.
The only difference – but a highly meaningful one – is that the SSPX will always take every opportunity to explore whether a reconciliation made in the proper way and not implying doctrinal concessions is possible, whilst Bishop Williamson considers every contact with Rome as a defilement and a danger for the organisation itself.
You see the – in my eyes – flawed reasoning also in the reproach made to Bishop Fellay to have made a mistake in trusting the Vatican to be willing to dialogue in good faith. Good Lord, if this is the worst reproach that can be moved to Bishop Fellay I hope he stays in charge for a very long time. To pick up again the “Italian” imagery, you talk with the mamma even if you have the strongest suspicion that the cake baked by her will contain poison. You do that, because she is the mamma and di mamme ce n’e una sola (“mothers, one has only one”). Of course, if the mamma orders you to eat the cake, you don’t; but the SSPX didn’t do it, either.
Up to now, I have not known of any official announcement of the creation of a separate group; but if you google around, you will find at least one internet pages created to – supposedly – “save the SSPX”, and I have not heard any confirmation that no secession is going to happen.
We shall see. As I said, I can’t say I am impressed.
It has been (as Sir Humphrey would have said) “officially unofficial” since yesterday: V-II ecumenism has gone.
In a radio interview to be broadcast today Archbishop Mueller (the short-tempered, Liberation Theology sympathiser, and theologically challenged Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) has finally said very clearly what conservative Catholics all over the world wanted to hear: the Catholic Faith is non-negotiable.
Therefore, there will now be an end to the endless ecu-maniacal dialogues. As it has been pointed out already, this means the end for the International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, for the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews, for the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, for the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with Muslims, for the U.S. Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue, and for all the countless institutions, both local and Vatican, ”negotiating” about the faith.
It cannot be anymore. Speaking of the Catholic faith, the Archbishop says “there will be no compromises here”.
An astonishing U-Turn, nicht wahr? Who would have thought that a man in more than odour of heresy would finally decide to defend the Catholic Faith after so much ravaging?
Still, this is what he said!
But wait: has he?
We must pray for this very confused man.
I have often written on this blog – with disbelief, sorrow and some amusement – about the rather numerous cohort of those for whom the Pope is always the one responsible when he does something they like, and the hapless victim of cruel, ice-cold, shameless corridor plotters when he does something they don’t.
It can’t work, you see. Either one has the shop under control (and then he is responsible), or he hasn’t (and then he is responsible too, incidentally…).
This strange disease by which the Pope is either the man in charge or the victim of the famous “wolves” (people he has chosen to stay or remain near him, without exception; this too is elegantly overlooked) according to whether we like what comes out of the Vatican reached frankly amusing proportions in the last months. On this occasion, the famous preambolo – of which it was clear that it had been approved by the Pope, then otherwise the SSPX would have never dared to run to the wall by saying it was - was given back to the SSPX with mysterious last-minute changes, which were and remain clearly unacceptable not only for the SSPX, but for everyone who love their work and the preservation of Tradition they so beautifully defend.
Ah, how the pious cohorts of Pope Benedict went to defend him! The wolves have betrayed him! They have profited when he was taking a nap and have changed the text of the preambolo! Perhaps they changed some key words whilst he was eating his Leberkäse ! And all under his nose! Shock! Horror!
It now turns out that rather smartly, the SSPX – in my eyes tired to be used and abused by the Holy Father, though certainly far too diplomatic to say so openly – have addressed a more or less direct request to the Holy Father asking him who was the responsible for the, erm, voltafaccia.
At this point, you can be as much the Pope as you like, but you are in a bit of a spot. If you do not answer, they will make it public that you have refused to answer, which will let you look extremely bad; if you say that it was someone else’s fault you have to find and agree the version with the poor scapegoat first – which knowing the Vatican means the entire planet will know about it it in a matter of weeks – and then you will have to go back to the text and change it again, losing face twice in one go; no, the only way to limit the damage is to tell the SSPX the truth and hope they sweep it under the carpet in the hope this nicety will spare them the “worse” (say, a renewed excommunication).
Unluckily for the Holy Father, the SSPX does not make this kind of calculation, does not appear to value his word much and wants the planet to know it, and has – I can find no other words – exposed the Pope by saying in a very diplomatic and gentle way, but still klipp und klar, that the Pope has confirmed the person responsible for the changes is – surprise, surprise – he himself.
Kreuz.net reports the interview with Father Schmidberger, the head of the German province of the SSPX. The interview is on Pius.info, and if you understand German you can listen from 3:25 to dispel every doubt as to who is responsible for what. As Father Schmidberger is a rather authoritative and prestigious source, I do not think there can be any doubt whatsoever – even for the “wolves party” of the conspiracy theorists – about how things went.
Alas, now the time to face reality has come, and all those who have accused those around of the Pope of being “wolves” must ask themselves why the Pope should, now that the truth has emerged, by considered by them any more gently than how they were considering those around him.
Like everyone else, I would so much like to believe that the Pope is on the side of a sensible restoration of traditional Catholicism and that he works, prudently but steadily, toward that goal. There was a time – in particular after Summorum Pontificum – when I have thought that this was more or less the case, at least that this was partially the case, in preparation of the successor who would then set the foot on the accelerator. My, was I wrong.
Not only is this Pope fully committed to the errors of Vatican II bar the worst modernist heresies; not only does he consider Vatican II as a whole so much above criticism that he will not allow the SSPX to work in peace whilst he allows wannabe Catholic Bishops and Cardinals all over the planet – particularly in Germany and neighbouring countries – to set forth their work of destruction undisturbed; but he will not even refrain from wilful deception to damage the SSPX, eating his own word in the hope to divide them in the process.
The game is now up, the SSPX has managed the crisis in a rather admirable way – they might lose Williamson and his “wing”, but will not be substantially weakened by internal strife; more a pruning than a falling – and Father Schmidberger’s claim that they are now more united make perfect sense in light of both the Papal behaviour and the clear absence of strife – apart from the Williamsonites, who aren’t very quiet at the best of times – within the Fraternity.
Kudos to the SSPX for having said – charitably but openly – what was clear enough but too many refused to see. This might well bring them a renewed excommunication – which might have come anyway, after letting them believe it won’t if they behave… – but frankly I do not think they are in the least afraid of it.
To say the truth, I think they don’t think much of the Pope, and want the world to know where they stand, and to know why; I cannot otherwise find a reason for their decision to tell urbi et orbi that the Pope has eaten his word at the last second; a statement as damning in his hard reality as it was gently expressed (see the interview again, and if you speak German enjoy the crystal clear subtext of the interview). Once again, the Holy Father was too clever by half.
Next time you complain about the collapse of the talks, please don’t take it out on Cardinal Bertone, or on Cardinal Levada. Rather, think how the Holy Father allowed them to be in the centre of the scandalised Catholic criticism for months, and whether the Holy Father would have ever told the truth if he had not been put in a rather tight corner by the Fraternity. Perhaps a prayer for them both (and for the Holy Father, who needs it most) is in order.
There is little doubt that personalities of Cardinal Martini’s caliber have been a thorn in the side of the Church for many decades, and have promoted the agenda of the revolutionaries who wish to marry the Church with the world, and do away with the Ten Commandments. While we should pray for God’s mercy on his soul, the permissiveness and license he received from the supreme authority is another sure sign of the auto-demolition that has occurred within the Church… a mother’s tragic betrayal by her own sons.
These very wise words come from the “Pastor’s Corner” of the US Site of the SSPX, where every week a priest of the SSPX offers his own thoughts.
I fully agree with the statement: Martini’s work was meant at nothing else than the demolition of Christianity (and the Church) as we know it. I am still incensed at the honours that have been tributed to him after his dead, even from the highest place. Whilst I do understand an elementary sense of diplomacy should refrain a Pope from saying “heavens, what a mistake we made on that one”, the eulogy of such a scandalous man is in itself a scandal.
The author of the blog post also says
It seems that the time for such rebels is over and – today – no young version of Martini would be made a bishop or cardinal.
This is probably true if taken literally, but I wonder whether there is such difference in not allowing anymore nutcases like Martini to become bishops, and allowing countless other nutcases similarly oriented, and who are already bishops or cardinals, to go on pretty much undisturbed.
At this pace, the extreme wing of the “everything goes” fraction will retire circa 2030, after another around 20 years of wreckage of everything Catholic. If things go on at the present pace, in 20 years time Catholicism will be nothing one than one of many cultural factors in many European countries, and one seen with mistrust and perhaps – here and there – possibly persecuted at that.
The idea of leaving a rotten bunch of heathens calling themselves Bishops and Cardinals free to cause an almost unprecedented damage in Germany, Austria and Switzerland – and considerable damage everywhere else; all in the name of the beautiful “renewal” of Vatican II – is more than what a man who loves Catholicism can bear without losing his countenance. The continuing spectacle of not only inaction in front of heresy, but even praise of the likes of Martini (and of himself as dearly departed) is one that should fill with rage the heart of every sincere Catholic.
I know the Church is indefectible, but being indefectible does not mean that it might not be wiped out by large parts of the Western world due to the cowardice and inaction of the Church hierarchies – up to the very top – in these last several decades.
We need a Pope with guts, fast, or we must prepare ourselves for a world where real Christianity is considered an unpleasant extravagance at best and a weed to be exterminated at worst, whilst a parallel politically correct “church” tells us how much (or how highly) we must think of Catholics who live in a situation of permanent scandalous adultery. If you think this is fantasy Catholicism, please reflect a large number of Catholic Bishops are making just that in Germany. They will not, of course, officially challenge Church teaching; they will only take care that their (paying) public knows the dear bishops are really on their side, though they cannot say so openly.
A shadow church barely disguised within the official one, and daring to openly challenge Church teaching.
The Holy Father knows all this, and does nothing.
This appeared some days ago on the generally well-informed (and said to have very good contacts within the SSPX) Kreuz.net.
The news matches rather neatly with another one, always from the same sources, concerning the Bishop having celebrated some confirmations in Brasil without authorisation from the SSPX.
It is now irrelevant to decide whether Bp. Williamson will (would; might) be excluded because of his Brasil confirmations, or whether he decided to fly to Brasil because he had decided to secede in the first place. What I think is relevant is that the news comes from a generally very informed source, and as far as I know has not been denied by the SSPX yet.
Those of us who think that the Holy Father started the entire exercise to try to see whether he could provoke divisions within the SSPX (I am among them) might think that with this development the Holy Father has reached his objective, but I am not persuaded the action will be of any use to the Pope either during the rest of his pontificate or afterwards.
Williamson will – if the exclusion/secession really happens – carry with him a part of the SSPX, but not a very big one. We know this, because we have seen Bishop Fellay carrying with him the vast majority of the Fraternity in the past months and we know that his leadership was not challenged in any significant way. It is reasonable to assume enough supporters and – importantly – wealthy donors will remain with the SSPX to allow it to continue its work undisturbed, with the added advantage of getting rid of the at times embarrassing presence of Bishop Williamson.
At the same time, it is difficult for me to believe Bishop Williamson would have decided to (or encouraged the) split without being assured he will have an organisation at his command with enough supporters and enough means to be of some permanence. I might be wrong, but if this secession is going to happen I think the newly created organisation is going to stay with us for a long time, and to be a voice heard within the Catholic world.
If, therefore, the split was the objective of the Holy Father, what has he obtained? Has he managed to weaken the SSPX, or to undermine its authority and prestige among sanely thinking Catholics? By no means. Has he then at least managed to defuse Bishop Williamson? Improbable.
Of course, the Holy Father might now proceed to excommunicate (again) both Williamson and the SSPX bishops after the clear failure of the negotiations (which I am now persuaded were meant to fail from day one from the Vatican, it being rather illogical that a Pope who placidly tolerates schismatic movements or currents in Austria, Switzerland and Germany would see himself unable to allow the SSPX to continue their perfectly orthodox work), thus striking them when they are, allegedly, weak; but again, I doubt this would lead to any meaningful results, as the SSPX fare best when the Post-conciliar Vatican is against them, as the past decades have abundantly shown.
Therefore, as a result of what I think were rather Machiavellian machinations from the Holy Father, the Vatican will – if the secession happens – be now confronted with not one SSPX but, so to speak, two; of which one rather as strong as ever, and the other possibly destined to become rather strong, too.
I have often thought, and become more and more persuaded, that this Pope is too clever by half, and his policy of deception is not bearing any of the desired fruits.
Pope Benedict gave conservative Catholics Summorum Pontificum to make them believe he was on their side and would (slowly and prudently, but steadily) steer the Church in their direction. In reality, though, he was only giving some food to the pigeons whilst he continued the Vatican-II policy of appointment of modernist bishops, and toleration of almost every form of dissent (not the orthodox one of the SSPX, of course; perish the thought…). As a result, conservative Catholics are now more and more aware of the deception and will (particularly after he has died; alas, many Catholics can just not conceive a reigning Pope might be wrong) soon realise the “hermeneutic of continuity” is nothing more than an attempt to perpetuate the Neo-modernist horrors by getting rid of the Modernist tones.
Concerning the SSPX, the same politics was observed: the lifting of the excommunications – a fact which might have been embarrassing for the Vatican, but was certainly not decisive for the SSPX – was the prelude of “talks” meant to divide them in the middle, and possibly strike them separately afterwards. It seems clear to me this policy will fail, too, and the traditionalists will now grow stronger rather than getting weaker.
Make no mistake: Williamson will do fine, and so will the SSPX. The only one who will be disappointed is the one who wanted to beat or destroy them, and whose machinations are now all too clear to see. Just reflect how free the neo-modernist forces are to operate, and how inflexible the Vatican is with the SSPX, to realise on which side this Pope stands.
Again: too clever by half.
Archbishop Mueller has a couple of problems: the first one is that he cannot avoid giving more or less arrogant interviews (well, ok: more); the second is that he has been invited from the SSPX to say how he reconciles his strange idea of a non-virginity which is a virginity, but hasn’t done it; instead, he thinks he can put the controversies over his own embarrassing ignorance of the basics of Catholicism (or worse) by just saying “I believe in that in which I am supposed to believe, therefore you must be wrong”.
On the first problem, it is clear the Archbishop should go back to school with very rigid SSPX teachers; that he knows it very well; and that it hurts. Once again, he reacted angrily to the (perfectly legitimate, and still unanswered) questions openly posed to him from the SSPX by saying that those who disagree with him either aren’t very intelligent, or haven’t read him, or couldn’t understand him. Congratulations, with such arguments he would have great success with a group of drunken friends at the pub.
Simply put, either the SSPX is populated by cretins, or Archbishop Mueller is a 1a cretin himself. Reach your own conclusions.
On the second problem, I notice that the Archbishop still hasn’t answered (at least as far as the Blessed Virgin is concerned; on other matters things seems clearer) to the criticism levelled against him. To say “I am orthodox” is rather easy; to say whether you think you were wrong in what you stated and why is quite another.
I could tell you whatever crap gets through my mind, and then react to every criticism saying “yours are provocations, and not even intelligent ones at that. I am right and orthodox, you just don’t read or can’t understand me”. Would you let it pass? Thought not…
Why, then, is the Archbishop allowed to (factually) deny the Perpetual Virginity of Mary and get away with it by just saying “I believe in the dogma?” I could tell you – if I were a theologian burning to say something new and revolutionary to further my career – that the dogma really means, say, that the Blessed Virgin liked baby blue in preference to sage green. When I, then, say that I believe in the dogma I do not do anything else than to repeat that I believe in what I have already stated I believe. Similarly, Mueller has already said that to him “virginity” does not really mean… virginity. Therefore, when he says that he believes in Mary Ever Virgin he has retracted absolutely nothing, because he must first persuade us that he got what virginity is.
The rest of the interview is the usual rather embarrassing blabla: I really didn’t want to become de facto Number Three; I mean, not really really, but the Holy Father told me I could not refuse (the Pope allowed Monsignor Wagner to refuse, though. I wonder why?); I will talk with the mad nuns because the only ones I consider cretins unable to read are the SSPX priests; I do believe in my heresies concerning Protestants and I will not back pedal about them; but I really, really have to back pedal about transubstantiation, otherwise I am in serious trouble; and so on.
The man is a walking embarrassment for the Church: a man dangerously prone to choler (he can’t avoid insulting the SSPX even in his interviews; just imagine what he must be in private), theologically shamed by every properly instructed ten years old boy circa 1910, and so much in love with himself he reminds one of Usain Bolt, without the achievements or the talent.
May God forgive the man who put him in such an important place because he has edited his own books.
From yesterday’s SSPX communique’
“doctrinal mutism is not the answer to this “silent apostasy”, which even John Paul II denounced already in 2003.”
amidst a Church in crisis and a world which distances itself farther from God and His law with each passing day.
…waiting for the day when an open and serious debate will be possible which may allow the return to Tradition of the ecclesiastical authorities
If I understand correctly, the chap in white with the long hair is a Catholic priest, and this horror was set in scene in a real Catholic Cathedral.
In other words, this is not a movie, or a joke. This is supposed to be the real thing.
Welcome to the Church of Paul VII.
In case you want more, here is another video about the same exercise. Note how after (or during?) the “concert” what is supposed to be Holy Communion is distributed among the “faithful”, leaving one in no doubt that this is not a joke or a videomontage, but a bona fide Vatican II mass. The priest is (cela va sans dire) in full communion, and no doubt he has the bishop’s blessing.
After this beautiful “outpouring of the Spirit” (both videos from Catholic Church Conservation) , excuse me if I terrify you with the shocking images of the schismatic Mass of a splinter group of disobedient priests, who have the unspeakable arrogance to doubt all the wonderful things the Spirit is doing for the Church.
Thankfully, the bishop clearly approved the mass (or attempt of it) of the first two videos, and I am glad to inform you the splinter group is not in full communion, and the Holy Father is allegedly very cross with them. They are disobedient, you see.
Perhaps they should buy an electric guitar and start staging such “masses”?
This would mean they are obedient to the Pope, surely?
Forgive my stupidity, I had failed to understand that the SSPX is the real problem afflicting the Church today. The only words I can say to my defence are:
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
And so it came to pass – and to be leaked – that the exclusion of bishop Williamson from the General Chapter of the SSPX was approved by an overwhelming majority of the capitularies now gathering in Écône.
Some say this does not mean much, because Williamson is certainly not as dangerous to Fellay’s leadership than the other two I do not say rebel, but at least critical bishops.
Allow me to say why I disagree:
1. Without attributing to certainly very honest men less than honest qualities, it must be evident that if Tissier de Mallerais and Alfonso de Galarreta had intended to openly challenge bishop Fellay’s leadership, they would not have started by asking their supporters to go against Williamson. Not for reasons of duplicity, but simply for reasons of ordinary prudence and political common sense. If, on the other hand, the two bishops do want to mount a challenge but cannot have their men rallying in Williamson’s defence, then they are clearly not nearly strong enough to challenge Fellay’s leadership.
2. It seems to me that, with some exceptions, most f the SSPX members have seen – if I may say so; I think I may – through the Vatican’s game of dividing them trying to cause separations within them and the creation of “splinter” groups; a game already played, most notably in 1988 through the FSSP; a move which seems to me to have been certainly approved – if not altogether engineered – by a Cardinal… Ratzinger.
3. By all disagreements, the cold shower from the Vatican has certainly showed bishop Fellay is not willing to be strong-armed by the Vatican (cow)boys, and no vague threats of (what exactly? Declaration of 2000 years of Catholicism as “schismatic”, perhaps?) “retaliation” will move him to do any concession. Bishop Fellay is, in fact, amply outsmarting the Vatican, being able to present himself as a safe custodian of Catholic orthodoxy – as, make no mistake, I am sure he is; though I have been known to be very wrong in the past, most notably concerning Popes… – whilst the Holy Father shoots himself in the foot by appointing a mediocre, irascible, apparently even interview-addicted pal of his to the main chair in this controversy (three interviews already in just a few days, if memory serves; and not coming well at all out of any of them).
Obviously, during the weekend I might prove to be spectacularly wrong, and I will make a suitable act of contrition if it were to be so; but I do not think bishop Fellay is one of those types preferring the womanly option and saying “if there is dissent against me I prefer to go, so that everyone can see how badly hurt I am”. I think we can safely say the Lord carved the man out of different wood than that.
Therefore, this morning’s
announc leak persuaded me all is – considering the circumstances – rather well within the SSPX. There will be no splits, nor ferocious lamentations; there will be some expression of dissent, largely expected but not threatening the SSPX’ stability; and there will be a show of unity having with special addressee the Vatican. Hic sumus, et hic manebimus optime.
In the end, Fellay must well know his position is much more solid than Archbishop Mueller’s. If he only wants, Fellay will be at his place – Deo volente, of course – for the next six years at the very, very least; Archbishop Mueller can’t even know whether (as the Italian saying goes) he will eat his panettone as the head of the CDF. It may be cynical to say so, but it is the reality on the ground, and it doesn’t really make sense to ignore it.
Recent developments by the Institut Du Bon Pasteur/Institut des Guten Hirten throw a rather sinister light on what kind of pressure would be put on the SSPX if the reconciliation – if such a reconciliation should happen – is not made in the proper way.
It would appear from Kreuz.net (a very aggressive German Catholic site, but from what i can see a rather accurate and well-informed one ) that the Institute is now the object of a visitation and relative suggestion for their improvement.
You can take the background from Wikipedia (German, alas…), which describe the institute as a group formed from former SSPX priests, celebrating only in the traditional form and maintaining an attitude of open criticism to V II, whilst being in good standing and full communion. The supervision of the institute is shared between the Holy See and the relative dioceses.
Such a structure would appear to be, at first sight, something similar to what might be – certainly with modifications – proposed for the SSPX. My impression is that the member of the Institute were put under ecclesia dei, with the assurance their traditionalist outlook would be respected
It transpires now this might now – at least if the Vatican gets its way – change: the Institute would have now been requested to drop the “exclusivity” of the Traditional Mass.
I do not need to tell you what are the implications of this request – if confirmed, of course – for the SSPX, and how not-so-intelligent the former SSPX priests who have decided to trust the Vatican look. If what is reported is true, then a politics of mortal embrace would be the aim of the “reconciliation”, with the SSPX allowed to keep its Latin Mass without discussions in the beginning, and after a number of years – perhaps, when signs of weakness are spotted – asked to simply drop the “exclusivity” criterium.
The same source also reports the Institute has been advised to tone down the criticism to V II. Again, this appears perfectly in line with a strategy of assimilation and V II-isation made in instalments, and profiting from the belief of the original members that they would be allowed to go on with their own criticism of V II and their staunch defence of the Traditional Mass – including the refusal to celebrate the Bugnini mass – would be respected.
I wonder, then, what is the value of the assurances of those who, from inside the Vatican, tell us a doctrinal agreement is not a condition precedent to a full communion and canonical recognition. That this could be so, there can be no doubt. That this is what the Vatican is planning to do, is a different matter altogether.
On the contrary, it seems to me the facts of the last weeks and months point to the opposite direction. The consequence of this is, in my eyes, twofold:
a. The concerns of those within the SSPX who do not trust the Vatican seem to be more than reasonable, and solidly grounded on facts.
b. The reconciliation is certainly something to be desired and discussed with the Vatican if they so wished, but the SSPX should pay attention that “trust” plays no role in the decisions about the future structure of the SSPX. If you ask me, nothing but the strongest canonical guarantees of the SSPX being able to continue their work exactly as now should be considered sufficient.
This would make it impossible for liberal elements of the Vatican – Pope included – to infiltrate them, or to neutralise them using the instruments the agreement between the SSPX and the Vatican have given to them and – in this constellation – accepted by the SSPX because they “trust” the Vatican will not abuse of such instruments.
We will see how this controversy with the Institut du Bon Pasteur – provided the information is correct – pans out.
If you ask me it might, perhaps, at this point be wise for the SSPX to wait for the next pontificate: if someone in the mould of Mueller becomes Pope – do not laugh; the appointment of one like Mueller at the head of the CDF seemed absurd enough – every agreement reached now, irrespective of how intelligent or well prepared, will be for the dog anyway. If the new Pope has a sincere desire to allow the SSPX to operate – as SSPX, not as the lapdog of Ecclesia Dei – then whatever is feasible will be done just as well. What is, in my eyes, important is that the SSPX does not assume the “I do not play with you anymore”-attitude and remains open to every agreement allowing them to operate as they have done up to now.
From the Canadian Site of the SSPX ( I wonder how long until they will be outlawed in Canada, for “hate crime”).
Padre Pio and the Novus Ordo Missae
He was a model of respect and submission towards his religious and ecclesiastical superiors, especially during the time when he was persecuted. Nonetheless, he could not remain silent over a deviation that was baneful to the Church. Even before the end of the Council, in February 1965, someone announced to him that soon he would have to celebrate the Mass according to a new rite, ad experimentum, in the vernacular, which had been devised by a conciliar liturgical commission in order to respond to the aspirations of modern man. Immediately, even before seeing the text, he wrote to Paul VI to ask him to be dispensed from the liturgical experiment, and to be able to continue to celebrate the Mass of Saint Pius V. When Cardinal Bacci came to see him in order to bring the authorization, Padre Pio let a complaint escape in the presence of the Pope’s messenger: “For pity sake, end the Council quickly.”
The same year, during the conciliar euphoria that was promising a new springtime to the Church, he confided to one of his spiritual sons: ”In this time of darkness, let us pray. Let us do penance for the elect”; and especially for the one who has to be their shepherd here below: All his life, he immolated himself for the reigning pope, whose photograph was among the rare images that decorated his cell.
Renewal of Religious Life?
There are other scenes from his life that are full of meaning, for example, his reactions to theaggiornamento of the religious orders concocted in the wake of Vatican II. (The citations here are taken from a book bearing an imprimatur):
In 1966, the Father General [of the Franciscans] came to Rome prior to the special Chapter on the Constitutions in order to ask Padre Pio for his prayers and benedictions. He met Padre Pio in the cloister. “Padre, I came to recommend to your prayers the special chapter for the new Constitutions…” He had scarcely gotten the words “special Chapter”…”new Constitutions” out of his mouth when Padre Pio made a violent gesture and cried out: “That is all nothing but destructive nonsense.” “But Padre, after all, there is the younger generation to take into account…the youth evolve after their own fashion… there are new demands…” “The only thing missing is mind and heart, that’s all, understanding and love.” Then he proceeded to his cell, did a half-turn, and pointed his finger, saying: “We must not denature ourselves, we must not denature ourselves! At the Lord’s judgment, Saint Francis will not recognize us as his sons!”
A year later, the same scene was repeated for the aggiornamento of the Capuchins:
One day, some confreres were discussing with the Father Definiteur General [The counselor or adviser to the general or provincial of a religious order -Ed.] the problems in the Order, when Padre Pio, taking a shocked attitude, cried out, with a distant look in his eye: “What in the world are you up to in Rome? What are you scheming? You even want to change the Rule of Saint Francis!”The Definiteur replied: ”Padre, changes are being proposed because the youth don’t want to have anything to do with the tonsure, the habit, bare feet….”
“Chase them out! Chase them out! What can you be saying? Is it they who are doing Saint Francis a favor by taking the habit and following his way of life, or rather, isn’t it Saint Francis who is offering them a great gift?”
If we consider that Padre Pio was a veritable alter Christus, that his entire person, body and soul, was as perfectly conformed as possible to that of Jesus Christ, his stark refusal to accept the Novus Ordo and the aggiornamento should be for us a lesson to learn. It is also noteworthy that the good Lord desired to recall His faithful servant just before they were implacably imposed on the Church and the Capuchin Order. Noteworthy, too, is the fact that Katarina Tangari, one of Padre Pio’s most privileged spiritual daughters, so admirably supported the priests [of the Society of Saint Pius X] of Ecône until her death, one year after the episcopal consecrations of 1988.
Those who have read other books about this greatest of saints will recognise without difficulties the traits who make Padre Pio not only so saintly, but so lovable: the emotional outbursts, the extremely strong language, the hate for every compromise with what “people want” rather than what they ought to do. “Chase them out! Chase them out!”.
If you have ever seen an Italian accalorarsi about a controversial issue, you will have a picture in front of you as true as life.
I remember reading that he prayed the Lord – and said so openly – to be allowed to die before he had to celebrate the new Mass. The exemption, by the way, was not conceded so automatically as the text might imply, but was given to him as to all the old priests who asked to be exempted because too old to learn the new, complex missal. Padre Pio was also exempted and the Lord allowed him, after a life of suffering, to be spared this last crushing sacrifice. But he died a very worried man, greatly fearing the damage the new madness would inflict to the Church and to countless souls.
In these dark days, it should be a consolation for us to reflect that such a great saint shared our suffering – nay, he certainly felt it much more keenly – and, for those of Italian inclinations among you, our anger.
San Padre Pio, pray for us!
The latest events have persuaded me that an important attempt could be made to promote understanding between the Vatican and the SSPX: that is, to promote… understanding.
What if it was decided that Archbishop Mueller is sent to Zaitzkofen on an extended holiday (what a luck! In his very old diocese!) to, erm, deepen his understanding of Catholic doctrine?
During a stay of, say, six months (which could be extended to twelve if the need should arise) he could be properly instructed in a German-speaking, idyllic, understanding, error-free environment, where every enormity he says will be lovingly corrected and met with an understanding smile – he was a pupil of Lehmann, poor man – and a pat on the back.
After the six months, he could come back to his duties and resume his office – and the negotiations with the SSPX – starting from a new footing, made of real understanding.
What do you think?
I am not a friend of the “SSPX will be eaten alive after the reconciliation”-argument. I am not, because it seems to me that what one might call “corporate identity” of the SSPX – based not only on strictest Catholicism, but on the conviction that this should prevail against sabotages made from bishops or Popes – is strong enough to resist any attempt at, so to speak, domestication by the V II crowd.
Still, episodes like the one reported here help us to better understand where the skeptics within the SSPX come from. A French Bishop travels to Germany to celebrate the ordination of six deacons of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (the “reconciled” traditionalists, mind) and the local press shoots at him like it’s grouse shooting season. You see here the usual vocabulary: “some” in the diocese are “hurt” (how sensitive these manipulative bitches, including males, are will never cease to amaze me) because the Fraternity is “perceived” as a bunch of “fundamentalists”. Translated: dear bishop, please do not do anything which I might “perceive” to be in some way (I do not hate to explain) “wrong” because I would be “hurt”, and please let me decide who is a “fundamentalist” because I am oh so good. Classic.
Still, I can easily imagine what the skeptical elements among the SSPX will think in reading such news: if a bishop can be criticised because the Fraternity – which has been in good standing every day of its existence – is seen as a group of “fundamentalist”, what will happen to the SSPX, a group which will continue to be far more vocal than the FSSP even after the reconciliation?
One can understand reasonable persons may disagree on this. Still, my take is that:
a) those who have resisted being called “schismatics” for so many years will certainly not care much if someone is “hurt” by whatever they do;
b) Once the SSPX is reconciled, there will be a number of bishop ready to travel to visit them, fully uncaring of the “hurt” of the easily hurt violets.
c) It is not that anyone expected this to be a walk: polemics and accusations were to be expected anyway.
d) Once the SSPX is reconciled, the traditionalist argument will receive much more weight; it will, so to speak, be able to punch much harder. The shrinking violets know this, and their attempt to silence every sympathy for the traditionalist cause is a clear indication they know the punches are coming.
Bishop Castet has been brave. Many others will follow him. I do not see any reason to be worried, provided one is conscious the reconciliation will not be the end of the controversies, merely the start of new ones.
This blog post from Queen Of Martyrs Press is now everywhere, but I think the excitement is very probably undeserved.
I do not read the letter that you can see by clicking on the link as saying that Mass attendance at an SSPX chapel is now not in order anymore.
If you read the letter attentively, you will see the question is very short and very dangerous:
[...] would a Catholic fulfill his Mass obligation by assisting at Holy Mass by attending this “Friends of the Society of St. Pius X” chapel called __________ Roman Catholic Church in _______,_______?
Mind: a “chapel” of “friends” of the SSPX. Now by definition a friend of the SSPX is not a member of the SSPX. If a priest is a member he is a member, not a “friend of”.
Who are, then, these “friends” of the SSPX? For what we – and the CDF – know, it can be any sedevacantist group on earth, as I assume many of those – and many of those attending by them, possibly in perfect good faith – would define themselves without any great difficulty as “friends” of the SSPX. Are they enemies of the SSPX? Certainly not. Do they think they would refuse an invitation to lunch from an SSPX priest? I don’t think so. Granted, you will find Sedevacantists saying they are not friends of the SSPX because they support a usurper etc., but in real life I think it far more probable even the majority of Sedevacantists would express their disagreement with the SSPX, but still consider them “friends”. This is in my eyes confirmed by the well-known episode of Archbishop Lefebvre adopting the Missal of 1962 to avoid having the SSPX chapels invaded by Sedevacantists, a clear sign the SSPX’s acceptance of the Pope as the head of the Church would not have stopped the Sedevacantist “friends” of the SSPX from filling their pews!
Now put yourselves in the shoes of the members of the CDF who had to answer the question as it was posed: if they had answered yes, a simple open claim of friendship with the SSPX would have been enough to consider the attendance at such masses fulfilment of the Sunday mass obligation.
Is it so surprising the CDF answered the question in the negative?
EDIT: from Rorate, the confirmation from the US District of the SSPX the chapel in question (deleted in the letter, but known to them and clearly to the CDF) is not among their “friends”. Therefore, they simply call themselves – or were called by the writer of the letter – in that way. Which is, understandably, not enough. Even if they had been, I would still say there is a difference for a faithful Catholic whether he attends to a SSPX chapel or to a chapel of friends, but not part of the order.
Cardinal Piacenza has suggested some days ago the VII documents should be read on one’s knees, because V II is “en event of the Holy Spirit”. All 141,000 words of them, I think he meant.
I have been trying for a while to give some sense to this rather extraordinary declaration. I could not find any other possible explanation than the following ones:
1. The Cardinal is a fun-loving person, always ready for a joke. Well said, Your Grace!
2. The Cardinal loves physical exercise, and thinks it should extend to one’s knees. I am not sure about the appropriateness of this particular suggestion, but I commend the concern for our physical health.
3. The Cardinal is very fond of penance, and well aware of the redeeming virtue of sufferance. Therefore, he wants to add to our spiritual penance (the self-infliction of the V II documents in their entirety, so that we may say “never again!” with renewed conviction) a strong element of physical pain. I for myself would suggest such a penance only to the strongest souls, but again one understands where the Cardinal is headed.
On a slightly more joyous and therefore less suffering note, the Cardinal might be aware that the Society of St Pius X is on the brink of being fully reconciled to Rome; an event which, no doubt, goes to the great credit of the latter.
It would be interesting to know:
a) whether the cardinal thinks this is an “event of the Holy Spirit”, and
b) whether the Holy Father has demanded the SSPX bishops perform the above mentioned penance, seen that the V II documents were an event of the Holy Spirit…
But no, really, I think His Grace wanted to be funny.
I have said many times by all his human shortcomings Bishop Williamson easily puts into shade (and into shame) every English bishop, bar none, for clarity of message and purpose, let alone orthodoxy and sincere love for the Church and the flock.
In the last days, there have been in the Catholic blogosphere some disturbing discussions about homosexuality.
Well, thinks I, let us see whether at the SSPX someone has some clear exposition on the matter, avoiding yours truly to spend an entire night with the adrenaline over the roof and the persistent suspicion of living in a world so blinded by stupidity not even the worst abominations can be seen anymore.
I have, therefore, looked and have found a letter of said Bishop Williamson which, like many other articles I have read of him (when he talks about Catholicism, that is), is simply exemplary.
The comment section will be closed, because life’s too short.
The letter is here reproduced in its entirety, with emphases and the odd comment mine. The original is here.
Regarding: “Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children”
October 8, 1997
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
The Catholic bishops of the U.S.A., more precisely their Committee on Marriage and Family, have just come out with a “Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children”, which is a lamentable piece of work. Since this Pastoral Message is liable to make people, already confused, even more confused, let us re-state some Catholic principles, because the question bears directly on Faith and Morals, and on people getting to heaven or falling into hell.
Homosexuality means the misuse between man and man or between woman and woman of those functions and parts of the human body which God designed for use exclusively between a man and a woman within a lawful marriage, for the primary purpose of the reproduction of the human race. The Law of God governing use of the reproductive functions can be broken in a variety of ways even between man and woman, but these sins, e.g. fornication or adultery, are at least natural to the extent that they observe the basic duality of man and woman. On the contrary sins of homosexuality violate even this basic natural structure of the reproductive function, rendering it necessarily and utterly sterile, void of its intrinsic purpose. That is why homosexuality is sometimes called “the sin against nature”.
In fact the sin is so unnatural that Mother Church ranks it alongside murder, defrauding the worker of his just wage, and oppression of the widow or orphan, as one of the four sins “crying to Heaven for vengeance”. However, God did not wait for the founding of the Catholic Church to instill in men the horror of this sin, but he implanted in the human nature of all of us, unless or until we corrupt it, an instinct of violent repugnance for this particular sin, comparable to our instinctive repugnance for other misuses of our human frame, such as coprophagy.
That is why St. Paul in the famous passage on homosexuality in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, verses 24 to 27, lambastes the Gentiles for practising this sin even though they had no revealed religion, and he does so in terms chosen to re-awaken that natural repugnance, e.g. verse 27: “And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error”.
Therefore to speak of homosexuality as an “alternate life-style” is as perverse as equating the violation of nature with its observance. It is as foully corrupt as to make no difference between recognizing God the author of nature, and defying Him.
Therefore what is “innate”, or in-born, in human nature concerning homosexuality is a violent repugnance. Therefore to speak of homosexuality, or even just an inclination to it, as being “innate” in certain human beings, of course to excuse them, is to accuse God at least of contradiction, if not also of planting in men the cause of sin, which is implicit if not explicit blasphemy.
The very most that can be innate in a man of, for instance, homosexuality, is the raw material for his temperament which may be sensitive in one man, rough in another, but whether that sensitivity or roughness is molded into the compassion of a saint or the vice of a homosexual depends on a series of good or evil choices made by each individual. Homosexuality is a vice, or sinful habit, created by nothing other than a series of sinful acts, for each of which the individual was responsible. Homosexuality is a moral problem, which is why, fascinatingly, St. Paul in the same passage derives it from idolatry! (No space to quote, look it up!)
“Oh, but Our Lord had chawity, (unlike thumwun we know who wath tho nathty to Pwintheth Di!). Our Lord loved thinnerth, and faggotth, and tho thould we!!” So runs the objection! [this is fantastic!!]
Yes indeed Our Lord loved sinners, but not in their sirs, rather despite their sin, which he hated. When Our Lord protected the unrighteous Mary Magdalene against the righteous Pharisees in a way which can bring tears to our eyes each time we read Luke, Chapter 7, he was protecting not her sin but her repentance. God will, as He has told us in the Gospel, go to almost any lengths to help the sinner who is trying to get out of his sin, but He abominates the sinner who wallows in it, and upon these modern cities that flaunt their perversity in annual homosexual parades, He is preparing such fire and brimstone as may make what fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah look like a fall of dew, because at least those cities never knew the Gospel (cf. Mt. XI, 20-24).
Woe then to the sinner who instead of casting away his sin, hugs it to his bosom, as do a mass of today’s homosexuals, and as the Bishops’ Pastoral virtually encourages them to do. God’s patience is long, but if the sinner insists upon welding his sin to his soul, then one day God’s patience runs out, and He hates sinners with sin, crying out to both, “Depart from me, ye accursed, into everlasting fire”(Mt.XXV,41). Therefore real charity, which wishes everlasting salvation to homosexuals, will, with all due prudence, not put a cushion under their sin, but paint it to them in its true colours to help them to get out of it.
But what does our American Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family do? They dangerously down-grade the sin and dangerously up-grade the sinner, putting in effect a cushion beneath the sin.
As for the sin, they do still – to their credit – say that homosexual activity is intrinsically wrong. However, in at least two ways they diminish the wrongness. Firstly, they suggest homosexuality can be innate when they quote a Newchurch document from Rome to the effect that some homosexuals are “definitely such because of some kind of innate instinct”, and when they say that “Generally, homosexual orientation is experienced as a given, not as something freely chosen”, because “a common opinion of experts is that there are multiple factors – genetic, hormonal, psychological – that may give rise to homosexuality”. Of course whatever is innate is not sinful.
Secondly, they make a true but in this respect dangerous distinction between the habit (“orientation”) of homosexuality and the act (“activity”), saying there is nothing wrong with the orientation as long as it does not turn into activity. True, only the act and not the habit is a sin, but since when did habits (especially in this domain) not incline to acts? There may be even much virtue in resisting a bad habit, but am I helped to resist it by being told the habit is not bad? If the orientation is not so bad, why should the activity be so bad?
As for up-grading the sinner, watch how close the Committee come to saying that God loves the sinner with his sin (which is blasphemy). I quote: “… God loves every person as a unique individual. Sexual indentity helps to define the unique persons we are. One component of our sexual indentity is sexual orientation ….Human beings see the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart (I Sam XVI,7).” How is this quotation to be interpreted other than as saying that God loves the homosexual in and with his orientation to homosexuality?
And if God loves the sinner with his sins how must men love him! From start to finish the Pastoral Message drips with honeyed words to prescribe how we must behave towards homosexuals. Let me reconstruct the general idea: (my own words in the quotation marks)
“With supportive love we must accept the homosexual persons challenged by the hurtful humour and offensive discrimination directed against their kind. We must reach out with honesty and commitment to help in the overcoming of their painful tensions. We must not be exclusive or judgmental but by significant communication as caring persons we must enable them to take a fresh and healing look at their dignity as human persons so they can learn to cope with their feelings. Sensitive to their authentic needs, and unconditionally supportive of their tender self-awareness, we must reach out and embrace them in intimate community” – oops! – it’s dangerous to get in the honeyed groove!
And this stuff goes on for eight pages uninterruptedly! What other purpose or effect can such words have than to dismantle the individual’s and society’s instinctive defence mechanism against a sin stinking to high Heaven that wrecks them both? And all this in the name of the Catholic Church??
Such a false love blurring sin and sinner has nothing to do with Catholicism! As St. Paul traced homosexuality back to idolatry, i. e. the breaking of the First Commandment, so the true remedy of the sin is for those practising it to return to the true worship and love of the true God. But what chance do they have of being led back to it by churchmen who virtually promote such corruption as in this Pastoral Message? Almost none.
“Pray”, said Padre Pio, who died in 1968, “there is nothing else left”. But prayer, said the Cure of Ars, “is the powerlessness of the All-powerful, the all-powerfulness of the powerless”.
November will be the month to enlist the prayerful aid of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. A card is enclosed for you to return if you wish by November 1st to the Seminary, where it will go on the altar once a month for a sung Requiem Mass for all souls inscribed. But please send any stipends for Masses separately from the cards.
And please be supportive and compassionate towards the sensitive feelings of the Seminary’s cash-box, presently hurt by a painful sense of rejection and emptiness, always in need of fulfillment! So do let yourselves be challenged to nurture it and fill it full with a healing flow of greenbacks, and it will not stop thanking you for your co-operation.
Dear readers, forgive me, the Bishops’ Committee’s language is getting to me! On the contrary, may the Lord God sustain every one of us in the real religion!
Most sincerely yours in the month of the Holy Rosary,