Father Lombard informed everyone today there are going to be no news in the matter of the SSPX, and the file will be transmitted to his successor.
It makes sense and in fact, a last – minute agreement wouldn’t have been smart. The SSPX priests who would have had to approve might have felt they are put under pressure (“accept this now, now! Or face tough action from the next Pope”), and the Pope himself would have exposed himself to the right remark that he acts now to escape from the unavoidable polemics following such an act.
Perhaps it is now the time to say that this almost messianic expectation of an agreement isn’t healthy. On the contrary, it creates a climate by which an agreement is seen more and more as indispensable, irrespective of its content. Besides, an agreement now might as short-lived as the rest of this papacy.
In my eyes, those who love the Society should train themselves to the exact contrary: resignation that they will die before an agreement is reached, and tranquil confidence an agreement will come when both the time and the content are right.
Fellay & Co. know what they are doing. They will not endanger the organisational autonomy of the Society or its doctrinal integrity, but will work an pray for the end of this unsavoury situation as soon as possible.
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.
This is a difficult post: a blog post about what a French site says the Vatican has written to every SSPX priest, which has already been proved wrong because they wrote it to Menzingen ( SSPX headquarter) and they apparently copied and sent to every priest (boy, their photocopier must be good…).
You find the English translation of what the content might be at the usual Rorate Caeli.
My comment to the text are as follows:
1. Once again, Archbishop Di Noia writes over Archbishop Mueller’s head. Apparently (but see below) no fear of being drowned in yogurt there. Good!
2. Archbishop Di Noia appears to have posed, amidst the lines of a very long letter, the following conditions:
a) no discussion of V II in the media
I wonder what the Archbishop thinks, or if he just loves to write. The very aim of the SSPX is to fight against the distortions of V II. It is not a private exercise. The role the SSPX requires from her priests, which is the reason itself why the SSPX exists, is to say things as they are. This reminds me of Mussolini, who allowed dissident books to be published provided the run was limited to 1,000 copies. This is not going to work, full stop.
b) the SSPX does not establish itself as a parallel Magisterium.
This is not very intelligently formulated and I hope it does not come directly from Archbishop Di Noia’s pen. If the Archbishop thinks the SSPX want to establish their parallel Magisterium, he has a lot of studying to do. More probably, he means the SSPX must accept every cretinous statement of the V II church (religious liberty, and so on) as infallible Magisterium.
c) presents the objections in a positive and constructive manner
I have never read a criticism of the SSPX to V II that wasn’t constructive (though they were negative, as the matter deserves). Actually, I am still waiting for the minutes of the meetings with the Vatican to see who was more constructive. I think Archbishop Di Noia owes every conservative Catholic out there, because in my book a man is only as good as his word and the minutes of the meetings have been vocally announced. Let’s take the time to read it all and see who has the better argument and logic.
d) bases all analysis on a deep and wide theological basis.
This is offensive. It implies the SSPX has up to now not based her analyses on a deep and wide theological basis. From what I could read up to now, the SSPX shames every Vatican theologian you can care to mention, obviously starting from the Pope. But again, I am waiting for the announced minutes of the meeting to see who has the “deep and wide theological basis”. I bet three pints it isn’t the Vatican.
Personally, I’d say this new “smile offensive” from the Vatican can only be one of two:
1) Di Noia wants to make himself independent from Mueller (good!), and he is trying to establish his own negotiating credentials whilst, at the beginning, trying not to anger Mueller too much, lest he be drowned in yogurt. Therefore, unacceptable demands are posed, which in the meantime establish Di Noia as the interlocutor of the SSPX within the Vatican.
2) This is a remote-controlled Mueller initiative to, again, try to drown the SSPX in yogurt: “you will have your recognition”, they say, “and you will be able to criticise VII. Provided, of course, you shut up.”
Er, well, no.
This is not the SSPX everyone of us knows, and the SSPX will not accept any “compromise” which silences them, even if they are able to do their own thing and criticise Vatican II in a very hushed way in the bargain. This is pretty much what is already allowed to the FSSP, and the SSPX priests know why they do not join the FSSP.
I wish within the beautiful palaces of the Vatican they would start to accept that the decomposition of Catholicism in the West is the result of erroneous teachings, practices, and ways of thinking introduced during – and spread or magnified after and through – Vatican II. That, and only that, will be the beginning of the healing, whilst every Catholic insistence that V II be not wrong (a statement more ridiculous with every new day) is going to crash against the wall of orthodox Catholicism built by the SSPX, a wall that will certainly not be taken down against a promise of a reconciliation. Athanasius was never lured to compromise his position by promises of reconciliation.
Besides, Di Noia’s position appears contradictory in itself: “look what damaged goods we are”, he seems to say, “please damage yourselves with us and agree with our corruption, so that we can heal together”.
Again, more than a proposal this seems a provocation dipped in … yogurt. Still, this could be an erroneous rendition of those who made the synopsis.
For this 2013 I would like to formulate a very special but I think equally legitimate wish: the announced publication of the minutes of the meetings between the Vatican and the SSPX.
Again, besides having been announced (and therefore, in a way, promised) I am unable to see why this should be problematic for the Vatican: if the erroneous nature of the Society’s position is evident, the publication of the minutes will lead to the gradual isolation and withering of the organisation, and Vatican orthodoxy will in time triumph without the need for shocking measures that would never work anyway. If, on the other hand, the SSPX does have a case, it is only fitting that this case be heard back to back with the Vatican position.
What better occasion for millions of interested Catholics to properly instruct themselves!
OK then; I am waiting…
Very strange contribution some days ago on Rorate Caeli, with Archbishop Gullickson writing about the controversy and saying that he is a friend of the SSPX, but clearly implying they are in his opinion behaving in a rather stubborn way, refusing to consider that not everything can be perfect in life and that one should be able to accept the one or other little inconvenience and injustice for the sake of a greater good.
Archbishop Gullickson is, from what I can read around, a good Archbishop and a friend of true Catholicism; but frankly, one cannot but be unpleasantly surprised at the mentality his message betrays. The idea – coming from one who described himself as their friend – that the Society would now be doing, in the end, not much less than throwing toys out of the pram for a laudable, but misguided desire of perfect justice is so out of touch with the reality of the last 40 years, that one must despair this generation of VII churchmen will be able to even get what is going on.
What the Archbishop seems unwilling to understand is that the SSPX is fighting against a very grave, fundamental corruption of the entire way the Church thinks and acts. Their opposition to the New Mass, for example, is not the result of the fact that they consider it sub-optimal, or a questionable way to celebrate the liturgy. Their opposition to the Mass is due to it being the result of a radically wrong thinking, which engendered a dumbing-down, a Protestantisation and a general loss of sacredness of which the Novus Ordo is but the most dramatic and most tragically wrong expression. Their refusal of the Novus Ordo is the result of the refusal of the entire poisonous mentality behind it. It’s not a matter pf wanting to be right in everything, or to have everything set up to perfection. It is a battle for the fundamental way in which the Church thinks and acts; or, to use an imagery I often employ, a battle waged to help the Only Church to regain soberness after the drunkenness of populism, bad or outright heretical theology and utterly manifest desire to please the world rather than convert it that we have witnessed in the last fifty years; starting with Paul VI, soon to be beatified in order than V II be beatified, and continuing (albeit in a generally less drunken way) in our own age, with Neocatechumenal Masses, Assisi III rubbish, and the like.
When, therefore, the Archbishop invites his “friends” of the Society to be a bit flexible and stop being a fuss already, he clearly misses both the nature of the problem and the concern it represents for orthodox Catholics like the brave priests of the SSPX.
For a “friend” of the Society, the Archbishop shows a rather alarming disregard of why the SSPX exists in the first place, and why the “solution” ventilated by him is utterly impracticable.
Friend or no friend, after 40 years of existence one would expect those prelates who write about the SSPX to at least have an in-depth knowledge about what the SSPX is about, instead of assuming they are making a fuss over, in the end, secondary matters.
And this is the knowledge of a friend of the SSPX, and I do not doubt a rather sincere one.
Imagine the enemies!
Now that the talks between the SSPX and the Vatican have ended, what stays in the way of the publication of the minutes of the meetings? Have they not – unless I am mistaken, which at this time of the day I often am – been more or less promised for a future time? Why not shorten this span now that t is clear there will be no talks? And if the publication of the minutes has not been promised, why hasn’t it?
In my humble opinion, the publication of the minutes would be a great help to Catholics all over the world: it would help them to get into the heart of the controversy, enlarge and deepen their theological horizon, and experience first hand the differences between the Vatican and the SSPX.
They would, perhaps, even help the one or the other to compare the degree of preparedness of the representatives of both sides.
Surely, the Vatican can only profit from publishing what has been said? Surely, their argument must be seen, after careful consideration and attentive study, as the better one?
Oh well, I am afraid we’ll have to wait…
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.
In case someone should not have enough already of this interminable ping-pong, I would like to add some considerations to explain how – at least in my limited understanding – thing are going as I write.
I would say the negotiations are not dead. They are, very probably, still going on as we speak. The SSPX text is very clear in that it does not close any door, let alone slam it. The Vatican answer reinforces the impression. I note here the latter mentions a separate document (the famous “road map”) they are awaiting, and it is not clear to me whether this document will be made public when it is released. Methinks, it might be already on Archbishop Di Noia’s desk.
As always, the SSPX expresses itself with wonderful clarity, and makes evident no single inch of orthodox Catholic territory will be given away. The fact that this statement comes from the General Chapter must persuade the most unrealistically minded people in the Vatican that their dream of “acceptance of V II” (meaning with this: of the errors and distortion of V II, and the entire mentality behind it) from the side of the SSPX is just-not-going-to-happen. The Vatican boys may like this or not, but that’s how it is; if they want to talk in a serious way, they must know this is how it is going to be.
The press release, whilst gentle in its tones, lays some very heavy charges (all of them, if you ask me, perfectly justified and proved by a mountain of daily growing evidence) at the Vatican’s door. They accuse the Vatican of being silent in the face of widespread apostasy and heresy; or not having been serious in their discussions up to now; and of having misused and disfigured Tradition with unacceptable novelties not in line with it, on whose acceptance they nevertheless insist. The consequence of this is also very clear: serious discussions will only be possible if this position of the SSPX is, if clearly not approved, at least accepted as a legitimate point of view. This is, in my eyes, the point around which the entire exercise revolves. The SSPX is not asking the Vatican to convert to their vision of Tradition in order to discuss or be regolarised. But there will be no agreement unless and until their position is seen as a legitimate one. This is, as I see it, a simple “yes or no” question, on which it is inconceivable that the Vatican might not have a well-defined position. If they accept the SSPX stance, they should negotiate about the details as long as they please. If they don’t, it might be wiser to stop wasting their time.
The SSPX gives a diplomatic, but rather stern answer to the matter of what happened in June. My personal opinion is that they do not even pretend to be so naive as to believe that Cardinal Levada would take it as a new hobby to change texts already approved by the Holy Father (in this case, it would have been very easy to accuse him in some diplomatic way). On the contrary, it seems clear to me they are well aware the Holy Father himself has either eaten his word because scared of the results of the agreement, or he has wilfully lied to them when he first indicated his agreement with the SSPX’s version of the preambolo. Their answer to this is rather laconic: “We do not make names here, but if you want to talk to us be serious and stop playing clever guys”.
I have read and re-read the SSPX statement and, as always, found myself in agreement with almost every word (the only exception being the rather whining implicit accusation that the Vatican is “persecuting” them; in my eyes a wild exaggeration). Most importantly, I find that the clarity of thought and speech of the SSPX puts to shame the doublespeak or outright heresy we hear from Vatican officials and prelates in good standing with now almost daily frequency, as the meltdown of the – weak at the best of times – Papal authority causes a renewed, massive attack on Tradition from wicked princes of the Church, mainly German or Austrian ones.
We will see in the coming months how all this evolves. In my eyes, following considerations must be made:
1. At this point, it is not so terribly important whether an agreement is reached. Pope Benedict will probably not live long, and his successor will be able to denounce or quietly dismount every agreement which might have been reached during this pontificate, or to reach an agreement with much better chances of, so to speak, consolidating its position on the ground. Much more important than this is that the SSPX hasn’t given away an inch of properly intended, traditional orthodoxy. God bless them.
2. As stated above, the Holy Father must – as in: must – make a decision whether he accepts that the SSPX will continue not to accept what they think wrong in V II, and continue to say so. If he does, ways will be found to allow the SSPX to work properly – but as… SSPX – from a position of full communion. If he doesn’t, he is just wasting his time, or more probably posturing as a Pope looking with a benevolent eye on Traditionalists, when in fact he only wants to destroy them.
It is my personal impression that the Holy Father wanted to be too clever by half, firstly letting the SSPX smell the blood of reconciliation and then taking away the bait at the last moment, in the hope they would either lacerate internally over this, or perhaps even be moved to extraordinary concessions for the sake of this “reconciliation” now being dangled in front of their eyes. In case you would think the Pope would not do that, please reflect this is exactly what he tried to do, as cardinal, with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, an institution clearly meant to become the trojan horse inside the SSPX citadel, and a strategy which failed already.
The strategy of division failed a first time in 1988, and a second time in 2012. It is time to see reality for what it is and realise that the SSPX doesn’t care two straws for a reconciliation which asks them to sacrifice what they stand for, though they are always ready for a reconciliation allowing them to fight for true orthodoxy from a position of full communion, and with guarantees of not being regaled with the next trojan horse as a result.
God bless the SSPX.
From the DICI website, an interview with Bishop Fellay about what is happening.
As always, this SSPX interview is a joy to read. One compares them with the inane blabber coming from the Vatican, and is ashamed.
Comments and Emphases mine.
“DICI : How did the General Chapter go? How was the mood of the meeting?
Bishop Fellay : It took place in a rather hot atmosphere, since July is a particularly hot month in the Valais! [ nice joke, this one...] But in a very busy schedule, where the members of the Chapter were able to freely exchange ideas, as it befits such a working meeting.
DICI : Were you able to discuss the relations with Rome? Were there any forbidden questions? The dissensions manifested within the SSPX these last moths, have they calm down?
Bishop Fellay : That makes for quite a few questions! Regarding Rome, we went to the very heart of the issues, and all the capitularies were able to study the complete file. Nothing was left aside and there were no taboos among us. It was my duty to exhibit with detail all the documentation exchanged with the Vatican, something which was rendered difficult by the obnoxious climate of recent months. This made it possible for us to conduct direct discussions which have cleared out the doubts and dissipated any misunderstandings, resulting in peace and unity of hearts, which of course is something to rejoice about.
DICI : How do you foresee the relations with Rome after this Chapter?
Bishop Fellay : All ambiguity has now been resolved among us. Very soon we will convey to Rome the position of the Chapter, which has been the occasion to specify our road map insisting upon the conservation of our identity, the only efficacious means to help the Church to restore Christendom. [= there will be no swallowing of the SSPX]. As I told you recently, “if we want to make fruitful the treasure of Tradition for the benefit of souls, we must both speak and act” (cf. interview of 8 June 2012, DICI #256). We cannot keep silent when facing the rampant loss of faith, the staggering fall of the number of vocations, and the decrease of religious practice. [ what rampant loss of faith? Wasn't V II the masterpiece of the Holy Spirit? Tsk, tsk...]. We cannot refrain from speaking when confronted with the “silent apostasy” and its causes. Doctrinal mutism is not the answer to this “silent apostasy” which even John Paul II denounced already in 2003. [ this is another fine piece of humour...]
Our approach is inspired not only by the doctrinal firmness of Archbishop Lefebvre but also by his pastoral charity. The Church has always considered that the best testimony to the truth is to be found in the early Christians’ unity built in prayer and charity. They had “but one heart and one soul,” as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. Acts 4, 32). Such a common ideal is also our watchword, Cor Unum being the name of the internal bulletin of the SSPX. Hence we distance ourselves resolutely from all those who have tried to take advantage of the situation in order to drive a wedge turning Society members against each other [this is one for Williamson and one for the Vatican, I think...]. Such a spirit does not come from God.
DICI : What are your thoughts on the appointment of Archbishop Mueller as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?
Bishop Fellay : It is nobody’s secret that the former bishop of Regensburg, where our seminary of Zaitzkofen is located, does not like us. After the courageous action of Benedict XVI on our behalf, in 2009, he refused to cooperate and treated us like if we were lepers! He is the one who stated that our seminary should be closed and that our students should go to the seminaries of their dioceses of origin, adding bluntly that “the four bishops of the SSPX should resign”! (cf. interview with Zeit Online, 8 May 2009). [yours truly reported...]
For us what is more important and more alarming is his leading role at the head of the Congregation for the Faith, which must defend the Faith with the proper mission of fighting doctrinal errors and heresy. Numerous writings of Bishop Mueller on the real transubstantiation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, on the dogma of Our Lady’s virginity, on the need of conversion of non-Catholics to the Catholic Church… are questionable, to say the least! There is no doubt that these texts would have been in the past the object of an intervention of the Holy Office, which now is the very Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith presided by him. [game, set and match Fellay...].
DICI : How do you see the future of the SSPX? In the midst of its fight for the Church’s Tradition, will the SSPX keep to the same knife’s edge?
Bishop Fellay : More than ever we must maintain the knife’s edge traced by our venerated founder. It is not easy to keep, yet absolutely vital for the Church and the treasure of its Tradition. We are Catholic, we recognise the pope and the bishops, but above all else we must keep intact the Faith, source of God’s grace. Therefore we must avoid all that may endanger the Faith, without trying to become a replacement for the Church, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman. Far from us the idea of establishing a parallel Church, of exercising a parallel magisterium!
This was well explained by Archbishop Lefebvre more than thirty years ago: he did not wish to hand down anything else but what he himself had received from the Church of two millennia. This is what we want also, following his lead, so that we may effectively help “to restore all things in Christ.” It is not us who will break with Rome, the Eternal Rome, mistress of wisdom and truth. Nevertheless, it would be unrealistic to deny that there is a modernist and liberal influence in the Church since the Second Vatican Council and its subsequent reforms. In a word, we maintain the faith in the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and in the Church founded upon Peter, but we refuse all which contributes to the “self-demolition of the Church” acknowledged by Paul VI himself since 1968. May Our Lady, Mother of the Church, hasten the day of its authentic restoration!”
I do not know what you think about this, but in my eyes the SSPX has come out of the machinations of the Vatican more unite and stronger than it used to be. There is now a clear line of reconciliation if such an event is honestly pursued by the Pontiff, and refusal to be swallowed whole with the excuse of the “dying Pope who would oh so much want a reconciliation” (provided it leads to the death of the Society) if it isn’t.
Once again, it is not difficult to imagine the Society will keep the door of honest talk open. They know the Vatican is corrupted by strong strains of neo-modernism (or of modernism tout-court), but they also know Peter is the one they will continue to look to; hoping he will, one day, restore the Church to sobriety.
I’d love to be a fly in the meeting room of the SSPX General Chapter, now underway.
From what I understand, the main arguments will be three:
1. A decision concerning the latest Vatican version of the preambolo dottrinale.
2. A discussion about the opportunity of going into this last phase of negotiation with the Vatican, and
3. Perhaps, a more or less open personal criticism of Bishop Fellay and his leadership style.
As to 1., it seems clear to me the SSPX will reject the text proposed by the Vatican. Whilst we do not know the wording, we know that: a) the last version presented by the SSPX, which had the unofficial blessing of the Holy Father, has been changed again, and b) Bishop Fellay has already said the latest version is not acceptable.
Beside the discussion about the wording of the preambolo, the matter of the concrete way of working of the SSPX will certainly play a role. After the latest weeks, not even Laurel and Hardy would believe in the sincere intention of the Pope or the Vatican apparatus to reconcile themselves with the SSPX because they understand the SSPX is as Catholic as any of them (and I am being generous…).
Therefore, any agreement will have to be waterproofed not only concerning the SSPX relationship with the mistakes of V II and the following years, but also against any attempt to assimilate the SSPX and pollute it with a V II ideology. That will be an interesting discussion indeed, and I can easily forecast the utter rejection – though perhaps not officially stated for obvious reasons – of every agreement subjecting the local structures of the SSPX to any influence whatsoever from the local bishop, let alone from a talking ass like the Archbishop Mueller.
As to 2. I can see a charge of the hard-line brigade, accusing Fellay of having leaned too much out of the window, and having been conned into believing an agreement on the text was reached before the Vatican back pedaled again. In my eyes, the Bishop has the excellent defence than one tends to believe that the Pope’s word has some value until the contrary is proved, and that one should not be blamed for honestly trying to see whether a reconciliation is possible, however untrustworthy the people on the other side should prove afterwards. But this should make for a highly entertaining discussion, too.
Thirdly, it appears some – a minority – of the SSPX priests will push their criticism to the point of asking Bishop Fellay to go. I doubt the latter will comply with their wishes, and it would appear he has – besides being elected for further six years – around two thirds of the Society firmly on his side. It will be interesting, though, to see how this pans out, because if a strong minority harshly criticises Fellay this might have as a result a certain “hardening” of his line toward the Vatican.
Lastly, I do not think there will be any meaningful defection in any way, and now many weeks after the leak of the internal “three bishops’ letter” I have not read a single threat, overt or covert, of secession.
The Vatican is clearly playing the old divide et impera game, alternating phases in which the agreement is made to believe to be imminent and others of more rigid attitude, thus maximising the potential for conflict and recrimination within the Society.
Unfortunately for the Pope, the SSPX appears to be a bit more solid – both politically, and morally – than the corrupt and miserably led bunch he has chosen to trigger the tragic meltdown of his pontificate. His trick of trying to divide the SSPX under the disguise of the “dying Pope who would oh so much want to see the SSPX reconciled before he dies” will, I am afraid, not impress many in Econe. The Pope has already abundantly showed how much he wants to see the SSPX reconciled (to heterodoxy perhaps; certainly not to Catholicism, which the Society already is), and what kind of Church he is preparing for his successor.
Let us support the SSPX members with our prayer, that they may avoid the snares of the Vatican and agree to a solution allowing them to continue their wonderful work without restraints, or to no solution at all.
Still, don’t worry: the SSPX will be around, rich and strong, long after the Pope’s departure.
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.
What would you think of a, say, Prime Minister who first indicates a draft of agreement is fine, and then eats his words and decides on second thought it is better to back pedal?
What would you think of a Prime Minister who surrounds himself with people of such falseness as to – in case; this is the milder hypothesis for the Prime Minister – lie to negotiation counterparts concerning the PM’s agreement with the draft document?
If the Prime Minister were surrounded by people without scruples, duplicitous and scheming, would you not consider the Prime Minister responsible for the people he selects to be near him?
If the Prime Minister surrounds himself with people of evidently manipulative character – Alastair Campbell comes to mind – would you not think that said Mr Campbell is there because he is exactly the kind of person the Prime Minister wants in that position?
When Blair decided to wage war in Iraq, how many of those critical with this decision blamed Gordon Brown for it? How many of those in favour praised the same Brown for it?
When a man promises to a woman to marry her, and then eats his word because he didn’t like the reaction of some relatives of his – perhaps important, no doubt; but none of them the bridegroom – what do decent people think of such a man? Do they think that bad “wolves” made him change his mind? Or do they think that a man is only as good as his word, and a man who does not keep his word is not a decent man?
Here the matter is very simple:
a) The Holy Father ate his word; or
b) The Holy Father surrounds himself – willingly, mind; and full knowing what he does – with people who do not hesitate to lie and to spend his own name and personal integrity to reach some objective of theirs: for example, in order to achieve a general mobilisation of the German clergy so as to scare the – in himself not truly difficult to scare – Pope.
Unless of course you persuade me that Pope Benedict can work with the likes of Bertone, Levada & Co. for decades without knowing them, in which – absurd – case you are telling me that he should not have been made parish priest, let alone Pope.
The falseness and duplicity of what has happened in the Vatican in the last weeks is beyond contempt, because here something much worse was done than simply saying “no” to the SSPX. In this case, the SSPX was simply used – either by the Holy Father, or by the likes of Gaenswein under the supervision and responsibility of the Holy Father – to proceed to the mobilisation of the V II crowd. The saddened words of Bishop Fellay about the SSPX being used like a ping-pong ball seem to me to clearly refer to this.
Let me tell you this once again, because I get slightly nervous when I read that suddenly Cardinal Levada should be the culprit and the Pontiff, who obviously lives on Mars, should be whither than snow: Levada is not the Pope. Benedict XVI is the Pope. The Pope is in charge. He is answerable for what he does and for what his people do. If Gaenswein has lied, he is responsible for having Gaenswein in his role. If Levada was duplicitous, he is responsible for having Levada in his role. If “wolves” are roaming around, he is responsible for everyone of them, because they are there on his decision and under his responsibility.
Make no mistake, this blunder is 100% Pope Benedict’s responsibility, and casts a huge shadow on his personal integrity in the worst of cases, and on his leadership and ability to work as a Pope in the best one.
In case, then, you should think a Pope would, oh, never ever do such things, think again: the leak is still very fresh of how Pope Benedict authorised the scandalous neo-catechumenal liturgy and simply let Cardinal Burke in the dark. Just like that. This is not only poor leadership, this justifies doubts about one’s personal integrity, and it might be useful to open one’s eyes and see reality as it is instead of chasing imaginary “wolves” accurately selected by the Pontiff across several decades to do exactly…. the contrary of what he wants.
Then the “Levada did it ” argument is preposterous, because by wanting to discharge him it simply indicts the Pontiff in the most brutal of ways. If you surround yourself with wolves all your life, can you say you are better than them? Did the Pontiff think these dogs would have no fleas? For an entire lifetime? Please.
Once again: Cardinal Levada is not in charge. The Pope is. Levada can only propose, but he cannot decide. If the Pope has come to the point that his Cardinals do whatever they please without his having the force to react, he should resign at once for the good of the Church and of his own soul. But we all know that this is simply not the case; and that frail as he is, he is certainly not an old man in his dotage.
The problem I see with the Pontiff is, very bluntly stated, one of lack of integrity. He lacks integrity if he lies (let’s hope not; but let us not be Pollyanna here); if not, he lacks integrity because he chooses collaborators who evidently lack integrity; and he certainly lacks integrity if he does not have the basic decency of sticking to his own word, as can be expected by every man who think his word has value.
“Let your yea be yea and your nay, nay” seem words unheard of in nowadays’ Vatican, from the Pope down. Instead, playing with the SSPX in this shameful way – in order to divide them, or to provoke a reaction from the other side – seems to be perfectly legitimate. For shame.
Then we are told the Pope is “saddened” that there are leaks, and plots, and subterranean schemes. Of course there are, if this is the mentality he promotes and selects! Of curse there are, if this is the forma mentis he wants in the people surrounding him! The Pontiff made this bed in its entirety, but now he is saddened he has to lie in it! This is about the same as Obama complaining his team is made of money-squandering, incompetent, atheist nincompoops; with the difference that Obama has far less liberty in choosing his people than the Pope.
We all have seen in the past how the one or other Pope disgraced his Office and the Church. In recent times, Pope John Paul II – who managed to tamper with the Crusades, be scolded live by “rock stars” and “nuns”, and kiss the Koran – comes to mind; but the old Pope was, at least on some of these occasions, probably not really there with his head anymore, and one wonders to what extent he can be blamed.
I don’t think the same can be said of the present Pontiff. Whatever has happened here, it has happened during many weeks of careful plotting. Whatever deception was staged here, it was made in cold blood and with utter disregard for the feelings of thousands of devoted Catholics, and with the arrogance of those who think to them everything is allowed.
Let us pray for the Pope, recruiter of wolves; that he may see the error of his ways and make a better use of the time left to him.
A shocking leak from the SSPX shows the extent of the chaos in which the Vatican is sinking. I know, it is very bad that the letter has been leaked, but this post is not about that so let us leave that aside for the time being.
The letter is not explicit, but very clear in saying what has happened: someone at the Vatican lied, or was duplicitous, or ate his words.
Logically excluding Bishop Fellay himself might have lied about his proposal of preambolo being acceptable to the Holy Father, and espousing the generally accepted opinion – and the only one compatible with common sense and basic diplomacy – that Monsignor Gaenswein informed Fellay the Holy Father had no objections to the revised version of the Preambolo, only one of the two could have happened:
1. Gaenswein lied to Fellay in order to induce him to present a document which would then be refused, fomenting discord and strife within the SSPX.
2. The Holy Father either wilfully lied to reach the same objective or – far more probably if you ask me – just did not have the gut, until today at least, to follow through on what he had said.
Alas, tertium non datur. In both cases, the Holy Father goes out of this story severely damaged, and justifying serious doubts about his ability to adequately fulfil the job description. Whether Gaenswein – the man the Pontiff is supposed to trust the most – lied in order to let the SSPX run through the test of the reconciliation whilst the German bishops were mobilised, of the Pope himself decided to eat his words, the Pontiff – of whom I cannot believe that he himself was the architect of this deception, if for no other reason because no doctor ever prescribed that he starts the reconciliation process in the first place - is rapidly resembling King Theoden before Gandalf’s visit. Alas, I can see no Gandalf around the Vatican.
Let us say this once again: there can be no reasonable doubt Fellay was informed the Pontiff was in agreement with his last draft of the document. This makes the content of the leaked letter so explosive, because it reveals a shocking breach of trust.
I only hope the usual litany of the “wolves” will now cease. The responsibility for bad – or very bad, or awful, or outright stupid – governance does not lie somewhere in the clouds, but in the one who is responsible for it.
Where I grew up a man was only as good as his word, and clearly someone very highly placed in the Vatican isn’t very good at all. Besides, he is too clever by half, because to indulge in such cheap tricks thinking that they will not come out in the open isn’t very smart in the end. Lies have short legs, and nowadays leakers have extremely long ones.
I never thought I’d see the day, that’s all.
The problem of the Vatican isn’t a problem of wolves, but rather of sheep. The Italian saying comes to mind: chi agnello si fa, il lupo se lo mangia. If one makes himself a lamb, the wolf will eat him. He then has, I am afraid, no right to complain.
Cardinal Burke gives a nice interview, in the course of which he says “this reconciliation can take place”, just the latest signal the reconciliation is, in fact, already in the bag.
If I wanted to be cynical, I would say that the way Cardinal Burke has been kept out of the loop (not by wolves, or by trolls; but by the Pope) in the disgraceful affair of the neocatechumenal liturgy hardly makes of him the person to go for the latest news.
Still, if I were cynical I would also say that the Pope tells to his collaborators what they want to hear; therefore, he has certainly already informed the Cardinal the reconciliation is decided, because he knows Burke will give no trouble on this.
I can’t imagine this is not going to happen now. Actually I did not imagine this even before; but now the preparations for the event are assuming Olympic Games size.
Rather disquieting interview from bishop Tissier de Mallerais on the usual Rorate Caeli. The bishop’s utterances are more than surprising because they repeat in public what had been privately ventilated in the infamously leaked letter in May. Please note this interview was given on the 1 Juni, and this interview does not mean in the least the bishop would secede in case of agreement. Still, I find his reasoning alarming to say the least.
The bishop’s problems with the reconciliation seem to be, as I see it, mainly three:
1. The practical agreement should not have come before the doctrinal one.
2. Rome is so far away from true Catholicism, that anything other than open war against her risks to contaminate the SSPX.
3. Even from the practical point of view, the reconciliation would effectively castrate the SSPX, reduce it to obedience, put insurmountable obstacles to its growth. This because
3.1 the SSPX would be forced to acknowledge V II , and
3.2 the bishops would be in a position to even close existing structures.
To 1, the Bishop says (emphases always mine):
We refuse a purely practical agreement because the doctrinal question is fundamental. Faith comes before legality. We cannot accept a legalization without the problem of the faith being solved. To submit ourselves now unconditionally to the higher authority imbibed with Modernism would be to expose ourselves to have to disobey. And what is the good in that? Abp. Lefebvre said since 1984: “one does not place oneself under an authority when that authority has all the powers to demolish us.”
The idea is that practical agreements should not even be sought – not even if offered without doctrinal quid pro quo- because Rome is so bad this can only end up in tears. I cannot see any concrete difference between this mentality and considering the Vatican, from the Pope down, a bunch of heretics in the hands of Satan. It is unclear to me how one can have such a position and not call himself sedevacantist. It is also unclear how the Bishop can even think a personal prelature would be a way to “destroy” the SSPX, and an agreement without doctrinal concessions would be to “submit unconditionally”. One has the impression the SSPX be a fold of timid sheep only waiting to be eaten by an evil wolf in Rome. Please.
This position becomes even clearer when we examine point 2.
The irregularity is not ours. It is that of Rome. A Modernist Rome. A Liberal Rome that has renounced Christ the King. A Rome that had been condemned in advance by all Popes up until the eve of the [Second Vatican] Council. [...] But Pope Benedict XVI, while he is Pope, remains Modernist. [...] [...] we are currently in a state of war in the Church. It would be a contradiction to wish to “regularize the war”.
Please read this again. Rome is not seen as ill, or going through a phase of corruption. She is seen as simply heretical. Rome is not seen as polluted by heretical tendencies, but as heretic tout court. The consequence of this is that nothing less than outright war is an acceptable option.
One thinks he is reading Luther, or Calvin. Shocking.
Where the bishop might, in case, have some good cards is in the third problem. As to 3.1, I think the argument stays and falls with the confidence one has the SSPX has a mission, and a spine. I cannot imagine the cadres of the SSPX (not the Fellays, let alone the Tissiers) to submit to the V II mantra. They have not done it decades ago and one cannot see why on earth they should do it now. As to 3.2, this is the first time I hear the SSPX could be forced (more to the point: requested in vain) to close existing structures. Still: if this were to be true, it would be in my eyes the first solid argument against a reconciliation. As to the necessity of the local bishop giving his authorisation for new structures, I think this could really be a good ground for some amusing confrontation, but personally if I were Fellay I would not make the reconciliation depend on the SSPX obtaining total satisfaction on this. Considering at least 10% of the bishops as orthodox and/or sympathisers, there would be abundant scope for growth anyway.
Still, we do not know: we do not know what concrete form this personal prelature would take, and what measures would be adopted to address the SSPX legitimate objections. Also, it seems to me – but I might be wrong - the acceptance of the reconciliation does not imply the acceptance of the personal prelature. I think it is rather so, that the reconciliation would be the starting point for discussions concerning the organisation of the reconciled SSPX; discussions of which I cannot imagine – and I am not an admirer of this Pope – that they would be conducted with a view to damage the SSPX.
In the end, though, what really is disappointing is to see that highly placed members of the SSPX are – I think it is fair to say it – alarmingly similar to closet sedevacantists; with no desire whatsoever to any sort of peace with the Vatican, because they consider the Vatican so thoroughly heretic that nothing but outright war will do. Frankly, by this attitude I am not at all surprised the CDF wants to examine the position of the three bishops more closely.
Seriously: what kind of Catholicism is this?