SSPX: Decision Before Summer?
It would appear the moment of truth (better: of not having the nerve to say the Truth) is rapidly approaching for the Society of Saint Pius X, with the Vatican expected to end the matter before the end of June.
Those who have followed the discussions up to here will know that very probably, at this point not much is going to happen, at least for this round of discussions. The SSPX have been offered golden bridges if they accept to compromise on the role and reach of Vatican II, and implicitly accept the muzzle in the matters related to the Council. They have gently but clearly answered this is not going to happen, but have presented a document asking the Vatican to clarify some of the statements therein contained, for the case a common position which does not compromise the SSPX could be found.
But with the progress of the talks, it seems to me the issue looming in the background was less and less the doctrinal differences – which would probably be rapidly worked out with the more conservative elements of the Curia – and more and more the matter of the new role which would be expected from the SSPX in case of full communion. I do not doubt that, if this is wished from both side, an agreement can be found. What I doubt is the SSPX will be able to renounce to the full freedom in criticising the ruptures with the past represented by Vatican II, and the ability of the Vatican to accept they do not want to silence their criticism.
What I think is easily neglected, is that the reigning Pope is – though certainly from a conservative point of view – through and through a VII man. Whilst he has the best intention towards the SSPX, it appears to me less than probable he will allow them to continue to drive the hardline position that VII be – together with its orthodox parts, which are in harmony with the Magisterium and therefore not the work of VII itself – at times not better than a homily in the Sixties, and a very bad one at that.
In my eyes, I think we enter here the inscrutable workings of our deep nature, with men in perfect good faith able to disagree on such momentous matters because of their past history and cultural heritage. It shouldn’t happen, though. Goes to tell you what damageVII still continues to inflict on the body of the Church.
I am, as always, a long-term optimist. It seemed to me this things might have had a happy end, but I am now much more cautious on the matter (remember the text itself was never published, so the room of manoeuvre was never to be fully gauged) as it seems to me the unread preambolo was worded in a way which made the agreement not really acceptable for the SSPX. A pity, because the initial joint communique’ about the preambolo itself was certainly encouraging.
It seems to me this matter will approach solution only when the VII generation has, literally, died.The fact people like Vincent Nichols continue to be called in good standing whilst Bishop Fellay is not in full communion really demonstrates the size of the problem.