SSPX-Vatican Discussions: Some Thoughts
In case someone should not have enough already of this interminable ping-pong, I would like to add some considerations to explain how – at least in my limited understanding – thing are going as I write.
I would say the negotiations are not dead. They are, very probably, still going on as we speak. The SSPX text is very clear in that it does not close any door, let alone slam it. The Vatican answer reinforces the impression. I note here the latter mentions a separate document (the famous “road map”) they are awaiting, and it is not clear to me whether this document will be made public when it is released. Methinks, it might be already on Archbishop Di Noia’s desk.
As always, the SSPX expresses itself with wonderful clarity, and makes evident no single inch of orthodox Catholic territory will be given away. The fact that this statement comes from the General Chapter must persuade the most unrealistically minded people in the Vatican that their dream of “acceptance of V II” (meaning with this: of the errors and distortion of V II, and the entire mentality behind it) from the side of the SSPX is just-not-going-to-happen. The Vatican boys may like this or not, but that’s how it is; if they want to talk in a serious way, they must know this is how it is going to be.
The press release, whilst gentle in its tones, lays some very heavy charges (all of them, if you ask me, perfectly justified and proved by a mountain of daily growing evidence) at the Vatican’s door. They accuse the Vatican of being silent in the face of widespread apostasy and heresy; or not having been serious in their discussions up to now; and of having misused and disfigured Tradition with unacceptable novelties not in line with it, on whose acceptance they nevertheless insist. The consequence of this is also very clear: serious discussions will only be possible if this position of the SSPX is, if clearly not approved, at least accepted as a legitimate point of view. This is, in my eyes, the point around which the entire exercise revolves. The SSPX is not asking the Vatican to convert to their vision of Tradition in order to discuss or be regolarised. But there will be no agreement unless and until their position is seen as a legitimate one. This is, as I see it, a simple “yes or no” question, on which it is inconceivable that the Vatican might not have a well-defined position. If they accept the SSPX stance, they should negotiate about the details as long as they please. If they don’t, it might be wiser to stop wasting their time.
The SSPX gives a diplomatic, but rather stern answer to the matter of what happened in June. My personal opinion is that they do not even pretend to be so naive as to believe that Cardinal Levada would take it as a new hobby to change texts already approved by the Holy Father (in this case, it would have been very easy to accuse him in some diplomatic way). On the contrary, it seems clear to me they are well aware the Holy Father himself has either eaten his word because scared of the results of the agreement, or he has wilfully lied to them when he first indicated his agreement with the SSPX’s version of the preambolo. Their answer to this is rather laconic: “We do not make names here, but if you want to talk to us be serious and stop playing clever guys”.
I have read and re-read the SSPX statement and, as always, found myself in agreement with almost every word (the only exception being the rather whining implicit accusation that the Vatican is “persecuting” them; in my eyes a wild exaggeration). Most importantly, I find that the clarity of thought and speech of the SSPX puts to shame the doublespeak or outright heresy we hear from Vatican officials and prelates in good standing with now almost daily frequency, as the meltdown of the – weak at the best of times – Papal authority causes a renewed, massive attack on Tradition from wicked princes of the Church, mainly German or Austrian ones.
We will see in the coming months how all this evolves. In my eyes, following considerations must be made:
1. At this point, it is not so terribly important whether an agreement is reached. Pope Benedict will probably not live long, and his successor will be able to denounce or quietly dismount every agreement which might have been reached during this pontificate, or to reach an agreement with much better chances of, so to speak, consolidating its position on the ground. Much more important than this is that the SSPX hasn’t given away an inch of properly intended, traditional orthodoxy. God bless them.
2. As stated above, the Holy Father must – as in: must – make a decision whether he accepts that the SSPX will continue not to accept what they think wrong in V II, and continue to say so. If he does, ways will be found to allow the SSPX to work properly – but as… SSPX – from a position of full communion. If he doesn’t, he is just wasting his time, or more probably posturing as a Pope looking with a benevolent eye on Traditionalists, when in fact he only wants to destroy them.
It is my personal impression that the Holy Father wanted to be too clever by half, firstly letting the SSPX smell the blood of reconciliation and then taking away the bait at the last moment, in the hope they would either lacerate internally over this, or perhaps even be moved to extraordinary concessions for the sake of this “reconciliation” now being dangled in front of their eyes. In case you would think the Pope would not do that, please reflect this is exactly what he tried to do, as cardinal, with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, an institution clearly meant to become the trojan horse inside the SSPX citadel, and a strategy which failed already.
The strategy of division failed a first time in 1988, and a second time in 2012. It is time to see reality for what it is and realise that the SSPX doesn’t care two straws for a reconciliation which asks them to sacrifice what they stand for, though they are always ready for a reconciliation allowing them to fight for true orthodoxy from a position of full communion, and with guarantees of not being regaled with the next trojan horse as a result.
God bless the SSPX.