SSPX-Vatican Talks: Two Words About The Cake

Vatican II in an image.

In September, when the hopes of a reconciliation between SSPX and Vatican started to take  momentum, I wrote a blog post about the SSPX, the Mamma and the Cake inspired by an excellent post on Messa In Latino.

After the failures of the talk, I felt it natural to go back to those optimistic days and try to understand – as far as we can do it from the outside – what went wrong.

In September, the beautiful comparison was made in the Italian blog between the idea that the Vatican bakes poisoned cakes (which, I agree, should not be accepted by the Vatican in the first place, and seems to me in contrast with the very concept of indefectibility of the Church) and the much more moderate idea the Vatican bakes cakes, some of which aren’t a success.

I remind you what made everyone very optimistic in September is the fact the preambolo was announced with a joint press release, whose tones led one to hope the second reading (the Church bakes bad cakes at times, and it is perfectly legitimate for an obedient son to say so, and to say he won’t have any part of the cake which tastes badly) is the one that would apply.

What happened later, no one really knows. I can, at this late night hour, only think of two hypotheses:

1) Fellay and his strictest collaborators thought the compromise was viable and would save the doctrinal integrity of the SSPX, allowing her to continue her work of vigorous – but loyal – criticism of V II; but when Fellay met with the other SSPX grandees in Albano the latter gave a different reading of the matter; then it was decided to write a counter preambolo saying “are we sure we will be able to continue to criticise V II as we are doing now?”, and the rest is history.

2) The Vatican gave the SSPX the medicine in small doses. First she released the preambolo and the joint press release indicating the way for an agreement, and in the following weeks – more discreetly perhaps, and by way of hints – gave the SSPX to understand what would be required of them if an agreement took place; not out of bad faith perhaps, but of a different concept of what loyalty requires from the SSPX. The SSPX began to smell the rat and in Albano decided to ask for an explicit consent to freedom of movement (that is: open criticism of the wrongs of V II). The rest is, again, well known.

And in fact, it seems to me in the later utterances of Fellay – a person who cannot be accused of the rigidity of a Williamson – this point came out again and again: the fear to be silenced, and to have to shut up as a price for the reconciliation. My personal impression was the problem is not so much a doctrinal one anymore, but one of practical behaviour after the reconciliation.

I have in this blog very often compared the Vatican to a drunken father and the SSPX to an obedient, but loving son; a son whose love and devotion for his father does not, cannot arrive to the point of abetting his drunkenness, and in whose refusal to agree to his father’s drinking habit I see not rebellion but love, and loyal, loving, truly filial submission to a father’s role rather than to parental antics.

As I see it, the Church is still drunk of Vatican II. Not besotted as she once was, for sure, but still not entirely sober.  Continuing with the simile, it seems to me we are at the point where the father is almost sober and begins to see he has done a lot of mischief in the past, but still insists to say – as he used to say in his drunken days – his son was wrong in not obeying to him whilst drunk, and by the bye he was not really drunk, merely curiously excited nd perhaps a bit too exuberant; but really, nothing to be ashamed about.

If, dear reader, you think the Church has not – or could not – go through such phases, I suggest you delve a bit into Church history; methinks, you’ll find examples of erratic behaviour which can compete with V II every day of the week; the Arian heresy was a terrible disgrace for the Church hierarchy not less than for Christianity at large; the Avignon period can be only remembered with shame, like the end of the Templars which took place just before those terrible years; the corruption – moral, if not theological – of the XV and XVI century has been abundantly exploited by popular press and media;  heresies like, again, Arianism swept away a good part of the Catholic bishops, and in more recent times Jansenism became not less dangerous, if in the end less devastating. To say nothing about modernism, of which V II is a less virulent, if in the end more dangerous version (and in fact, V II has already unquestionably caused far more damage than Modernism ever did).

In all this, what I understand is that the survival of the Church in the midst of phases of more or less spectacular corruption and/or  incompetence is the bets proof the Holy Ghost supports Her. If Coca Cola and Apple were run with the same professionalism of the Church they would go belly up in a matter of years. But you see, they don’t have the Holy Ghost to back them.


Posted on March 17, 2012, in Catholicism, FSSPX and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. The Templar debacle was a prelude to the Avignon captivity. I think the upshot was that once the Templars were out of the way, the French King could impose his will on a defenseless Church.

    I think this whole thing is liable to distortions and crestfallen dispositions. The decision has yet to be made and last I heard that wasn’t taking place till summer.

    Suppositions by one French journalist at Rorate that this has left a doctrinal and entered an ecclesial phase seem baseless to me.

    • Thanks Tancred.

      I have read the french article and didn’t like it much.
      Still, my impression (from interviews given from Fellay in the past months, and the fact the press release seemed to actually leave much scope for hope) is that the theological differences can be overcome (I mean: the Vatican would allow the SSPX not to “agree” with what they don’t like of V II), but the practical differences can’t (meaning: the SSPX is expected to be thankful, and shut up).

      As to the further talking, I think one needs a huge dose of optimism to think they will lead to anything meaningful. I prefer being surprised – which I don;t think I will – rather than continue to nurture hopes I see, at this point, not realistic.


  2. I think this is a done deal, but that doesn’t mean that individuals and groups like and Tornielli aren’t going to put in their 2 cents and try to discredit the whole thing.

    They got in trouble overreaching when they said this was quashed two months ago.

    Obviously, reports of the hopes of reconciliation’s demise are greatly exaggerated by Liberals of all stripes. At that point, it’s fun to ask them, “I didn’t know you had jurisdiction in this matter. Are you charged by the Holy See in some kind of legitimate decision making position?”

    It’s like Damian invoking the Magisterium of Journalism and Public Opinion in regard to journalism on behalf of the homosexual agenda just now…

    • You mean you think the deal is there?

      I envy you. Seriously. We’ll see how it develops, but frankly I wouldn’t bet my pint on this.


      P.s. Thompson writing about homos is always disquieting. Have you seen the photo he has chosen?

  3. Mundabor, it cheers me up to see you revisit topics.

    This is a very interesting post. The things that line up with my understanding at its present poor condition I’ll be thinking about today. There are two things that don’t. One is this:

    “My personal impression was the problem is not so much a doctrinal one anymore, but one of practical behaviour after the reconciliation.” No. It is the ruined doctrine that is leading to the practical behaviors, or to no behavior, as it were. To inaction and passivity in the face of our affliction. It is the doctrine caught in the wheels.

    Just for example. The New Evangelization–have you read over the documents? They are voluminous but if you can sift and sift and get down to the heart, which ought to answer the single question of an alert and obedient Church, ‘What are we to do, boss?’ there is nothing. All the paragraphs that might lead to some action end with words to the effect of, ‘Naturally this might lead to sectarianism, so some consideration must be given to that aspect.’ That’s a dead end. It’s the same dead end as in another document, I forget which, that tucked this poison into the text: don’t say anything that might cause any discomfort to another. I am paraphrasing, you can tell. But that was the gist. I want to read over the New Evangelization papers more carefully, but I can’t get them all. One which is available is the kick off of the initiative–time flies–by John XXIII. That document makes very little sense. It may be the translation. Some sentences just trail off unfinished.

    Now, evangelization is our ‘practical behavior.’ If we don’t, we are going to die. Maybe God wants that. Our default has to be that He does, but probably not now. We can’t NOT evangelize, or stop abortion, or clean up the liturgy, or indeed restore the kingdom of Christ in all of its splendor (another possibility VII denied us, giving us those crumbs instead!). But can’t you see that it depends on the doctrine.

    All of it is not about SSPX at all. SSPX is a group of human folks as lazy and frightened as you and I are and whether they are ‘in’ or ‘out’ is not the question. The question is the ruined doctrine. Without fixing it, all is lost, no matter what SSPX does. Now maybe it can be fixed from inside–but your post argues that they will be silenced, of necessity, if they come in, and you are right as far as I can tell. How can you have one group consistently fighting the words and actions of their immediate superior? They will have to go about their ‘work’ quietly.

    And what work is that? One of the superiors, I forget who, summed it up the other day, their parishes, their schools, and their retreat houses. They could ‘do’ that without speaking up much. They do now! But those aren’t the only things that are needed! Those are the works they have come to in order to survive their strange position, as Fellay described in the Candlemas sermon, continually knocking on the door, never coming in. Those are the quietest works. We need more outreach than services to the very Catholic. There are those lost sheep. At least that’s how it seems to me. And there’s a big big wolf between us and them. A real killer. Fangs.

    I do not think SSPX is capable of rescinding its position doctrinally, simply because it is too fully and publically stated. But I do think SSPX is capable of shutting up. That’s why I praying that we all get the point: the point is the ruined doctrine, not any one group. It is our GPS! If they ‘go in’ early, then what shall we do? They will not be running the Church. The doctrine really is running the Church.

    Well, this was a good post, Mundabor. Thanks a lot. Much to think and pray about.

    • We aren’t very far, thewhitelilyblog.

      As you rightly say, it is what I call the persistent state of partial drunkenness which makes the critics of the SPPX unavoidable and subsequently the reconciliation difficult. As to the dotrinal matters, I am sure many in the Vatican are prettu much aligned with the SSPX in the main things (religious freedom etc) and to accommodate two thousand years of catholicism shouldn’t really be a huge problem.

      If I thought that the Vatican is intrinsically wrong, and wrong beyond possibility of correction, I would be a sedevacantist.


  4. “As to the dotrinal matters, I am sure many in the Vatican are prettu much aligned with the SSPX in the main things (religious freedom etc) and to accommodate two thousand years of catholicism shouldn’t really be a huge problem.”

    But Mundabor–yes it is a really *huge* problem! Here’s why I say: you are aware of the huge shift of ownership since the banking/financial were unleashed by modernism? That is, that ownership has concentrated? And you are aware too as part of that shift, that living conditions for the ordinary working person has worsened, fallen, because modernism has successfully challenged the Christian notion that each person matters and should have fair wages and his rest and his grog and his dance and his sacraments? We come much cheaper now. (They are presently trying to remove meat from our diet. We’ll be cheaper to feed, and fatter, like corn-fed feedlot beef, should they need to eat us.) The stakes are so very high now on the side of the devil. And the pile of money is equaled by a pile of doomed souls of people who needed more help to get to heaven than they got in a secular society (perhaps God is merciful with us born into these times, but I can’t know and I think it’s more loving to assume otherwise and to try our best to get the society that as Cardinal Ottaviani wrote, quoting Pius XII, helps us get to heaven, which would be a religious society, with Christ at the center, practicing tolerance as indicated, of course).

    The two thousand years of Catholicism that you say should be easy enough to restore stood in their way before the Council officiated at the cave in. If She awakes, She’ll be in their face again. (There is a chance we could still reverse the direction. Even a strong chance!) Every weapon and tool they (they = [the loose, predatory organization of the guys with all the ownership now) have is trained on NOT accommodating two thousand years of Catholicism. They are paying not to accommodate it. They are killing not to accommodate it. The stakes are high, the financial stakes, what they stand to lose if the Church woke up. Just the repudiation of the heresy of religious liberty alone is like some kind of glowing, pulsing secret nuclear device against them, because if Christ were put back at the center of our societies (what religious liberty denies us), the financial rules would change–for the better for the ordinary guy. Catholicism is not afraid to regulate in favor of the widow and the orphan. That would kill the excessive profits of the forces against Her.

    So, Mundabor, I think it’s very high stakes. Did I convince you? I wish I *were* wrong.

    And do you really think many in the Vatican are pro-SSPX? Do you have some kind of data-driven score sheet? Because if I had to wager, I’d say the opposite. I’d be basing that on not much data, either, though.

    Well. Interesting times.

    • No you didn’t 😉

      I can’t see absolutely any link between the financial world and the Church rules, of the V II doctrines: in the XIX century Capitalism was far more savage than it is today, and Catholicism has the entire south of Europe firmly in its hands.

      If we want to make a link between economic phenomena and religion, I think we must look to socialist ideas, and we will find the germs of the secularism which has polluted everything, Church included.

      I also do not think there any any “They”, as a collective entity which would try to do something with us. Modern societies are very pluralistic, and millionaires (or billionaires) are as different among them as poor people are. It’s not “They” who want you not to eat meat, is the nanny-vegetarian-lobby. Against that there is the lobby of the meat producers, who would like you to eat more meat, or meat of a better quality; the same applies to everything else.

      As to the doctrinal differences, personally I think the Vatican would close one and a half eyes (they do it pretty much everyday, with pretty much everyone) if they could be sure the cannons of the SSPX would not be pointed at their mistakes. It is not that they have no friends, and it is not that there are no people who understands their concerns.


      P.s. your messages are a true investment in time and effort for one who is trying to write his own blog. Sometimes, less is more? 😉

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