SSPX-Vatican Talks: Two Words About The Cake
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.