SSPX-Vatican Talks: Keep Calm And Carry On.

Not entirely encouraging news are transpiring from several sources (as always, see Rorate Caeli). We do not know much at this stage, so the only thing one can do is to reason calmly as to what is happening and avoid both unwarranted enthusiasm and conspiracy theories.

It appears Bishop Fellay came back from Rome not simply, as it has been widely believed, with a straight answer to the preambolo dottrinale – which would have been a yes, clearly – but with ” a heavier Roman dossier”. This dossier now requires a new meeting of the General Chapter. If memory serves, the General Chapter met in Albano in September of last year, and decided to decline to accept the first version of the preambolo. The new meeting is scheduled for the 7-14 July. Methinks, Fellay would have decided to proceed with the meeting anyway, but seven days it’s a lot of talking.

What is now happening might, if you ask me, only be one of the following:

1) Bishop Fellay went with a straight “yes” to the preambolo, and with more or less detailed proposals as to the way the Personal prelature would work. He has been required to accept, or refuse, en bloc. Therefore, he wants the General Council to discuss the organisational matters, make sure they are satisfied with it, and go on with the complete package.

2) The preambolo was changed. I beg you to consider that it can be held as certain Bishop Fellay would not have given to the Pope the latest version of the preambolo without assurances the Pope was in agreement with it, and to think otherwise is in my eyes every bit as naive as to think some evil cardinal drives the hands of the Holy Father over the papers he signs (or modifies).  A man is as good as his word, and as this most certainly applies to a Pope I beg you to not even consider this.

If we go back a few days and read from the SSPX communique, the situation was described as follows:

On Wednesday, June 13, 2012, Bp. Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, joined by the First Assistant General, Father Niklaus Pfluger, was received by Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who delivered to him the evaluation of his dicastery of the Doctrinal declaration presented by the Fraternity on April 15, 2012, in response to the Doctrinal Preamble submitted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on September 14, 2011.
In the course of this meeting, Bp. Fellay listened to the explanations and details presented by Cardinal Levada, to whom he presented the situation of the Society of Saint Pius X and exposed the doctrinal difficulties posed by the Second Vatican Council and the Novus Ordo Missae. The desire for supplementary clarifications could lead to a new phase of discussions. [Emphasis added]

At the end of this long audience of over 2 hours, Bp. Fellay received a project of a document proposing a Personal Prelature, in the case of an eventual canonical recognition of the Society of Saint Pius X. In the course of the meeting, the matter of the situation of the three other bishops of the Society was not discussed.

As you can see, there is no way to exclude the one or other of the hypotheses, and what speaks against the second is merely the fact it is not reasonable to think the Holy Father is not a man of his word, or that he surrounds himself with men of such falseness and duplicity as to not be able to escape from responsibility himself. I cannot, and will not think this until crushing evidence is given. 

Please also consider this initiative started from the Holy Father, and I cannot imagine he started the entire circus with a view to trying to be smarter than the SSPX, tricking them at the last moment into an agreement they would never have accepted at the beginning of the discussions. This would really be too clever by half, and I am sure the Holy Father is smarter than that.

Of course, the talks could still fail because of the inability to find a practical way to implement the reconciliation in a way which satisfies both parties; but I think this is more a secondary battleground: if there is a will to an agreement and reconciliation, ways will be found to find a solution acceptable to both parties.

Logically, therefore, I will think – then I want to sleep at night myself – consider the matter of the preambolo as resolved, and the discussions now related to what happens in practice after the reconciliation.

As the Germans say, abwarten und Tee trinken.

With a prayer added.


Posted on June 17, 2012, in Catholicism, FSSPX and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. ” if there is a will to an agreement and reconciliation…”

    I suspect it’s gravely lacking in perhaps at least half of the SSPX-supporting laity, if not also among the clergy; probably more than half, in the Anglo-Saxon world. How things have changed. I have served the Mass of every British District Superior but the very first (the “original” Fr. Morgan), and the climate has changed completely in the years since the consecrations. In 1988, if the Archbishop had signed, I think he would have carried everyone with him but the handful of crypto-sedes. Most of us would have rejoiced. I remember Fr Black assuaging disappointment by telling us modestly that even though he himself had been in favour, we had perhaps given too little consideration to the practical implications of a “deal”. Of course, a dead Archbishop is everybody’s prisoner…

    I don’t know if you’re in the habit of visiting the main British-district SSPX-line forum? You’ll find very little for your comfort. There is overwhelming contempt for the discussions, extending, by association, to the person of poor Bishop Fellay and his assistants. By contrast, the cult of personality surrounding Bishops Williamson, and Tissier de Mallerais as he becomes more vocal in his opposition (or gets more frequently translated into English) appears to have entered the bloodstream of the UK and US contingents.

    • Ben,

      I am not really interested in what the laity thinks because as I see it the SSPX first and foremost an order created to form and send into the world the right priests, not to convert the Catholics to a sort of SSPX-ism.

      I am also never been very optimistic about the laity and this is one reason why I never attended at one of their chapels. It is unavoidable that the SSPX will attract the extremists elements who do not find any other place where to attend Mass. This reconciliation would actually be a very good way to get rid of them.

      Mind, I do not doubt the SSPX will greatly expand after the reconciliation, in money and vocations. I trust them to be smart enough to avoid contaminations, but also avoiding to become the hostages of the angry sedevacantists their chapels. They will be disappointed too, because I do not see – yet – any of the three bishops seceding, and if they do they will live a life at the fringe of the fringe until their organisation dies.

      Alas, we might also have no reconciliation at all…


%d bloggers like this: