“Messa In Latino” on the Vatican-SSPX Talks

After the end of my pressing engagements 😉 , I notice that the usually very well informed Messa in Latino informs us of the following:

1) The SSPX has been given ample time to answer. This is very good as it prevents the SSPX internal debate occurring in the middle of the predictably torrid weeks leading to and – hopefully not – perhaps following the Assisi-III initiative.

2) It would seem that a personal prelature in Opus Dei-style is being considered instead of an Ordinariate; but Messa in Latino points out that it would have to be an organisation sui generis to avoid the SSPX pastoral activities being controlled by the local bishops, a solution which not only will never be accepted, but is very probably not desired by the Vatican, either.

I cannot avoid a certain sense of euphoria, I admit. It’s not the evening whiskey, either. It seems to me very clear that the Vatican would not have released such an invitation, and handed such a document, without an agreement with the top echelons of the SSPX having been reached beforehand.

Of course, it will now be the SSPX’s job to persuade their ranks; but again, if I am right and they have already deemed the document acceptable this is a clear sign that they already know that they will have a clear majority of the SSPX with them, and no one seriously doubts that a minority of professional grumpy men would have never been satisfied anyway.

Better days ahead.


Posted on September 14, 2011, in Catholicism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I had no whiskey, and I’m still euphoric, but also worried, because of one statement of Bishop Fellay. I quote: “Today, for the sake of objectivity, I must acknowledge that in the doctrinal preamble there is no clear-cut distinction between the inviolable dogmatic sphere and the pastoral sphere that is subject to discussion.” (http://www.dici.org/en/news/interview-with-bishop-bernard-fellay-after-his-meeting-with-cardinal-william-levada/)

    The SSPX will never sign, if it is required to affirm the entirety of Vatican II. Without a clear distinction between dogmatic truth and pastoral concerns, I don’t see how such an affirmation can be avoided. According to Fellay himself, there is no such distinction in the document. Therefore, I fear, there will be no reconciliation under the current conditions. Even a sliver of doubt as to the right to continued criticism of the spirit as well as the texts of the “pastoral council” would make an agreement impossible.

    Also, Vatican spokesman Lombardi said today, that the most probable canonical structure for the SSPX were a personal prelature. But as this would put them under the authority of the Schönborns, Zollitschs and Nichols of the world, the SSPX could never accept such a solution.

    Furthermore, there needs to be an advocatus diaboli, so I’m playing that role, for now.

    The most important thing we can do now is to pray for the success, and to hope for the best.

    • Catocon, I have written about the personal prelature in the meantime and I agree with Messa in latino that the Vatican would never propose a solution that they know the SSPX will not accept. If it is going to be a personal prelature, I think it is fair to say that it will be made Nichols- and Schoenborn-proof.

      As to Fellay’s statement, I do not think that he expected a 100% victory. He wanted enough to be able to accept full reconciliation, and I think – without knowing the text – that this is what he got.

      I read his words you quoted in the sense that the preamble does not say that the V II documents can be seen as totally detached from traditional Catholic thinking; which is, if you ask me – and if the V II documents are read with the due effort of right interpretation – fair enough.

      Those SSPX members who were asking for Rome’s conversion will be disappointed, but they were always going to be disappointed, weren’t they now….

      Once again: I can’t imagine the text not having been approved in advance by at least Fellay and his closest circle. I also remember an oldish post of mine about a very nervous Williamson.

      Now we know why he was nervous.


  2. This would be bad, very bad for any kind of agreement, if I read it correctly:


    Especially the following point on the nature of the doctrinal preamble: “It is a short and mediated document, which follows the “Professio fidei” published in 1989 by the former Holy Office and that states three different degrees of assent that the faithful must meet. In essence, a Catholic strives to believe “with firm faith” all that is “within the Word of God” and that the Church defines as “divinely revealed”. Secondly, a Catholic agrees to accept all dogmas stated as such to this day.

    Finally, and this is the difficult point for Lefebvrians, a Catholic is required to comply “with religious submission of will and intellect” to the teachings that the Pope and College of Bishops “set when they exercise their authentic Magisterium”, even when they are not stated in a dogmatic fashion, that is final. This is the most significant role of the magisterium, to which, for example, the encyclicals belong.”

    This last point appears to me utterly unacceptable for the SSPX, as it would require “religious submission of will and intellect” to all documents of Vatican II (non-dogmatic reformable teaching as per the third point), including all the disputed points on ecumenism, religious liberty and so on. They could interpret it within the bounds of Pope Benedict’s “hermeneutic of reform in continuity”, but they would still have to accept every single teaching of the texts of Vatican II, some of which are by their opinion irreconcilable with Tradition. Your argument that the text is approved at least by “Fellay and his closest circle” appeared to me initially strong. But the more I think about it, I fear that it could be that talks between the SSPX and the Vatican are more or less deliberately obstructed, and in a fashion that aims to embarass the SSPX and ensure that no agreement will be forthcoming. Certainly there are forces within the Vatican that desire exactly this kind of outcome. (Although I find it hard to believe that the Pope would be among them. But I hadn’t expected Assisi III either.)

    If, and that is of course a big if, Torniellis rumours prove to be correct, than any agreement on these terms would be impossible. Neither Fellay nor Williamson nor any SSPXer could by any stretch of the imagination promise “religious submission of will and intellect” to teachings that are from their perspective clearly contrary to preconciliar Magisterium.

    Note that I’m still playing advocatus diaboli to your, shall we say, triumphalistic optimism. Maybe the situation isn’t quite as bad as I describe. I hope and pray that I’m wrong.

    • I must disagree on this, Catocon.

      As I read it, there is only one authentic Magisterium, and it can’t be in contradiction with itself.

      As a result, the SSPX must (as it certainly does) accept what the Church says “when she exercises her authentic Magisterium”, that is: when she expresses the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium of the Church.

      The freedom explicitly left to the SSPX to criticise those documents, and even the Magisterium that sprang from them, means in my eyes that the SSPX is free to say that this or that part, this or that interpretation, this or that reading does not reflect the universal and ordinary Magisterium and, as such, cannot be accepted. What they will not be able to say – and most of them don’t say anyway – is that V II was deprived of catholic content, or that the V II documents do not reflect Catholic content instead of being a here and there wrong rendition of the same. Fair enough, I’d say if I were Fellay, and tell me where I have to sign…..

      I do not know the SSPX as being in opposition to the Magisterium. Not one day, and not one minute. What they oppose, is what isn’t, and forcibly will never be able to be, part of the Magisterium.

      As none of the V II documents has ever be defined as expressing the extraordinary Magisterium of the Church (in which case you would, I think, be right), they can only express the ordinary and universal Magisterium and can, therefore, never modify it.

      I therefore cannot give any other interpretation to the words mentioned by you than the one above.


  3. Mundabor, in order to clarify things, let us take a certain example:
    Would, under your understanding of the above language, the SSPX have the right to reject the teaching of Vatican II on religious liberty on the grounds that it conflicts with preconciliar Magisterium?
    If they would still have that right even under the agreement, what does the phrase “religious submission of will and intellect” applied to this specific teaching of Vatican II mean – if not an obligation to assent to the teaching in question, or at least refrain from criticism?
    If they would not have that right under this agreement, why should they sign?
    Now, don’t misunderstand me. I would sign the agreement as described above, no question about it I just have my doubts that the SSPX – even Fellay – would sign away the right to publicly and decidedly reject a teaching like Vatican II-style religious liberty.

    • Catocon,

      in my eyes, yes of course it would.

      The religious submission of will and intellect is a general requirement of Catholics confronted with church documents expressing the Magisterium. I can’t see any “Vatican Ii submission” different from the standard one. Besides, submission doesn’t mean that one refrains from criticism, but that one accepts the Magisterium.

      In my understanding, if there is a new encyclical about religious freedom and I criticise the way it is formulated, I am being submissive to the Magisterium, but I am criticising the bad wording. This has always happened in the past and I can’t see anything strange in it.

      If I think that my Catholicism is better than what the Church has always believed, then I am not being submissive. Kueng & Co are not submissive, the NCR is not submissive, etc.

      Once again, my reading is that once the SSPX are clear with themselves that they accept the Petrine authority and the Magisterium, they can’t criticise at their heart’s content. Again, nothing new.

      The Magisterium can’t be changed by any V II. Everything else follows from that, I think.

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