SSPX-Vatican Reconciliation: Some Details

He certainly did not insist in not being reconciled: Archbishop Lefebvre


Important and reassuring message from Father Pflueger, Bishop Fellay’s First Assistant.

Speaking in Germany (as always, Rorate Caeli has the story), Father Pfluger made clear as follows:

1) Initially, the position of the SSPX was that there would be no agreement without a full theological reconciliation. Whilst this position may appear a bit too much Williamson-style, one must understand the possibility of a reconciliation without settling the doctrinal disagreements did not really seem in the card.

2) When it was clear – as it had to be clear from the start – such an agreement would not be reached, the possibility was sounded for the SSPX to be reconciled without the differences being settled. This is, I think, the general element emerged from the now famous joint press release in September. What other price was to be paid, we do not know.

3) The SSPX has complained on several occasions – and I have written about it – that there was the fear of being silenced, or being more or less tacitly expected to stick to the Vatican line after the reconciliation. This has, says Fr Pfluger, also gone away from the table. Personally, I think we are here rather in February/March, when it was clear Benedict was facing the very real prospect of going to meet His maker without any reconciliation with the SSPX, and wisely decided to yield.

4) At this point a rather strange situation was created: the Vatican offers the SSPX full reconciliation without the latter having to change a iota of what they believe, or having to be afraid for their autonomy of action: why should they refuse such a concession? Why would Archbishop Lefebvre have ever refused such an offer, had it been made in his own time? It is perfectly logical to say that to refuse reconciliation at these conditions would be tantamount as to consider the entire Church edifice as evil. This is, as Fr Pfluger very rightly points out, not traditionalism anymore, but outright sedevacantism, and seen in this perspective it does make sense the Pope should prospect a new excommunication if no agreement is reached. Not, mind, because there would be no agreement, but because there would be the refusal to have anything to do with Rome in the first place.

This, if I understand correctly, is the situation the SSPX found itself in when Mid-March came, with the reconciliation a fruit the SSPX only has to stretch its hand to pluck; unless, of course, it thinks the tree itself is poisoned.

This makes sense of a couple of things: the vague rumours of “excommunication if you do not agree”, which put in that way seemed the most childish threat ever made; the back-and-forth of an agreement discussed, then prospected, then refused when offered at the price of factual acquiescence,  then offered again without strings attached; and lastly, the fact to this day Bishop Williamson has been to my knowledge admirably silent on the matter, hopefully recognising at this point resistance to the reconciliation would be tantamount to  sedevacantism.

The last background on the talks comes from a person who was active part of the negotiations and is therefore highly credible. It is also, I believe, part of that concerted effort to prepare the SSPX troops to the reconciliation, reconciliation which to some of them must appear a bit like Italy’s 8 September 1943.

I can’t say Fr Pfluger words make for a bad reading. Actually, I found his arguments highly enjoyable, and the reasoning highly practical. More surprisingly, I found the other side highly practical and very wise too, though I would personally attribute this more to a personal decision of a Pontiff knowing his time might be rather limited, than to a substantial and determined pro-SSPX fraction in the corridors of the Vatican.

We shall see; but I think we’ll very much like what we see.


Posted on May 5, 2012, in Catholicism. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. novusordoughboy

    I think the main concern is more of what might happen down the line, i.e. another Protocol 1411 or the silliness going on with the IBP right now. They’re afraid that getting too close to the Novus Ordo apparatus will gradually water themselves down over time. Not denying their membership in the Church, but recognizing that there’s still a serious infection there that could spill over onto them. Again, I doubt it would happen, but I can see how some could at least wonder. So far the vague rumored outlines we’ve heard sound good in principle though.

    I’ve noticed the process happening on the Indult side; the movement gets comfortable with the situation and slacks off and starts to take the edge off their traditionalism. The bishop is nice to them, Ewtn says nice things, etc, so they get kinda mushy. I am still very disturbed at the relative lack of outrage by some Indult/SP people about the Good Friday debacle, ‘papal masterstroke’ and such. Changing/ discarding prayers to try (unsuccessfully in this case) to be Mr Nice Religion to non-Catholic sects is the same thing Arbp. Bug’s Concilium did, just in a smaller scale this time.

    We’re also getting a lot of neo-cattish types who like the traditional Mass, (oops, ‘Extraordinary Form) for aesthetic or spiritual reasons (fair enough) but don’t care about or reject -in part or whole- the theological arguments against the New Mass, VII, goofy things JPII, Benedict and Paul did and so on. It’s watering things down in certain segments, and I wish they could be taught otherwise. They come a little in our direction, but we slip further towards them. The Society really needs to brace themselves if they accept, as the temptation to get soft may arise, and they’ll be getting a lot of these new sorta-trads that need education on the deeper issues. I’d go along with it if I were a priest, but then again, I’m only one person and have control over what I think and do.

    • I hear you, Novusordoughboy,
      but on the other hand we are talking here of mere fears and possibilities. If there is a reconciliation, they might get cosy, and might start to slack, and might march towards the NO crowds (I am personally not opposed to the death to the NO; I would merely want to see it discontinued).

      Everyone must consider how probable it is that these things happen. If you ask me, there is no organisation in the entire Catholic universe giving so much guarantee of continued strict orthodoxy than the SSPX. As you yourself rightly point out, we live in times when even Popes are no strangers to very questionable statements (or worse, see The Abbe’de Nantes’ criticism of the JP II catechism).


  2. novusordoughboy

    Yeah, I figure they have the infrastructure and leverage (to put it in crude political terms) to back out if things go sour anyway. Something no other ‘legal’ group has except for the now-depressing Campos Apos Admin.

    • Yes, I think twenty-four years of excommunication have made the SSPX simply more resilient to modernist infiltration than any other religious order you care to mention.

      The ways of the Lord, you could say…


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