FSSPX, Bishop Williamson, and The Greeks We Should Not Fear

Rome's possible Ordinariate offer seen from Bishop Williamson's perspective. Click to enlarge

Firstly, some background information for the readers. When you have your own blog you have the possibility of seeing, from a “background page” not available to the public, which other internet pages have linked to you causing readers to land on your internet site from the site who carried the link. Every now and then, one clicks to see what is going on and is then carried directly to the internet site that has posted a link to one’s own site.

It was thus that I landed, some days ago, on this site. As you can see, this is not a very liberal site and is actually far more on the conservative site than yours truly; it appears to be either very near, or a mouthpiece of the SSPX (or FSSPX, if you prefer the abbreviation of its Latin name) itself. In particular, on this same thread another post was placed, equating the possible “peace proposals” of the Vatican to the Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes (“I fear the Greeks, even when they are bearing gifts”) many of us will remember from our schooldays.

I found the comparison indelicate, as whilst I do not think that along the corridors of the Vatican everything is made in a spirit of disinterested saintliness I do believe that the attempt to reach a reconciliation with the FSPPX is a sincere one, and a great concern of the Holy Father. If memory serves, I saw this “Greeks fearing” comment (possibly also posted elsewhere) mentioned in Rorate Caeli, with reactions generally not far away from mine.

It turns out now from Messa in Latino that:

a) the Timeo Danaos comment is lifted from here and therefore clearly from Williamson himself.
b) that, coming from Williamson, this would be a clear indication that, however concrete or advanced, some form of proposal is really in preparation.

What Messa in Latino is thinking is that possibly on the 14 september we will not have the official announcement of an agreement with the FSSPX, but the presentation of a proposal, that would be examined by the SSPX in all tranquility, particularly in view of the unfortunate Assisi-III gathering still scheduled for October.

Messa in Latino finds the events momentous enough to justify the title “Rome-FSSPX: decisive moments ahead”. I am obviously pleased, but cannot avoid noticing that if no agreement is being finalised, the (mere) proposal of a structure similar to an Ordinariate for the SSPX and other traditionalists would not be anywhere near the historical moment perhaps hoped by many within the SSPX (and dreaded by the liberal troops), but rather the beginning of a painful – if hopefully salutary – phase of conflict within the SSPX itself, with the likes of Williamson refusing a priori every kind of contamination with Rome’s “Greeks” whatever the gifts, and the coming Assisi “event” not contributing at all to the serenity of the discussion.

Please also note that, in an unprecedented move, a religious sister from New Zealand has been authorised to be transferred to a convent dependent from the FSSPX. I can’t imagine such a decision unless if dictated from the persuasion that a reconciliation is not so very far away. The news relating to the sister has been published and then taken offline, but it is still available in cached version, with the link on the Messa in Latino site. Whilst I understand Messa in Latino’s reasons to publish it I prefer not to do it for obvious reasons, but take it from me.. ;).

From the outside, we can’t do anything else than pray of course. Still, one can’t avoid thinking that if such a proposal is on the table, it would have been perhaps wiser to wait until after the Assisi-III gathering – provided that such an event must really take place – and start the discussion, say, before Christmas or around Easter, in a different and less controversial environment.

I find some positions within the SSPX frankly difficult to digest, and the entire Danaos-attitude not helpful. But from what I have read around – on the internet, and from the leaflets-booklets I have picked from them on several occasions – the desire for reconciliation is very vivid among the majority of the members and supporters of the organisation, and the idea that Rome should be “converted to Catholicism” (rather than, say, persuaded to rephrase and reformulate questionable statements and attitudes of the past) rather in the minority.

Let us hope and pray for the best. Even if on the 14 September nothing should happen, this might be a good sign as it might – just might – indicate that a proposal for reconciliation is ready, but its official presentation wisely postponed to a less controversial time.


Posted on August 26, 2011, in Catholicism, FSSPX and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I agree (almost) entirely. This issue should be in our prayers.
    One thought regarding the timing of the “offer” (if there is one) and the gathering in Assisi: If I recall correctly, traditionalists were appalled at the thought of Assisi III not just because it seemed like a throwback to the darkest times of ecumenism, but even more because it came from this Pope, who had not been in favor of the previous Assisi-meetings. The question was even asked: Why did he commemorate this gathering at all – why not let it slip down the memory hole? Now my point: If the SSPX does not dismiss the possible offer before Assisi III, this means they are very serious about reconciliation. If they do, then Rome also knows something very important.
    There are forces within the SSPX, as you rightly observe, that do not desire a “reunion” but want to convert the Catholic Church to Catholicism – which is absurd. Those forces will try to derail any agreement. If they don’t succeed before Assisi III, at their strongest moment, in the midst of a serious controversy about ecumenism and all the problems that are involved thereby, then they will never succeed, and reconciliation will happen soon.
    If the offer were postponed until after Assisi III, and Assisi III turned out to be a mostly harmless gathering without any ecumenist excesses – as is fully possible or even probable with Pope Benedict – then the apparent vicoty over the “Williamsonists” might be easier to achieve, but would be less lasting, because someday someone within the Vatican will certainly do something stupid or heretical, and then the whole thing would be inflamed anew.
    If under the adverse conditions of the impending gathering at Assisi an acceptable agreement can be reached, it would be much more robust as it would have been, figuratively speaking, “baptised by fire”…
    Of course, we cannot know anything reliable until the time of the meeting in September has come and gone. This is all idle speculation. So, let us pray…

    • Catocon,
      in my eyes, there are two “souls” within the SSPX; the first one would accept a sensible offer even before Assisi III, the second wouldn’t accept it at any time. Still, I do not think September would be a good time, and I do not think that the SSPX should be “tested” in this way.

      In my eyes, the main issue will be whether the reconciliation will go together with freedom to continue to fight for a revue and adjustment of V II, or whether the acceptance of V II as it was is supposed to be part of the deal. In the first case, I’d say most of the SSPX members will gladly accept the offer; in the second, I think they’ll be perfectly right in refusing it.

      As to Assisi III, my perception is that it is a marketing operation, consented to by the Pope to throw a bone to the “John Paul the Great”-crowd.
      I’d say many people in the SSPX see things not very differently: they are not fearing a return to the worst ecumenism; but they do sense that this is a setback in the march toward sanity.

      I wholeheartedly agree.



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