The SSPX And Pope Francis:What Now?
I am not one of those people happy to have problems come to them before they deal with it. I always want to know how to cross the bridge before coming to it. As a result, I cannot avoid thinking what will happen in the troubled relationship between the Vatican (make no mistake, they are the ones who are troubled) and the SSPX.
You only need to look at the then Cardinal Bergoglio’s “Pinocchio Mass” (provided it was a validly celebrated Mass, about which I have my doubts) to understand that an almost sidereal distance separates, at least as per yesterday afternoon, the Society from the new Pope. At the same time, the Pinocchio Mass very well explains why the SSPX will never renounce to speak out loud against such liturgical abominations, and could never be persuaded – much less threatened – to an arrangement which in the end would mean to abandon and betray the very mission of the Society. It can, therefore, be excluded the SSPX will “approve” or “renounce to disapprove” of such irreverent, impious antics.
A different matter altogether is, as I see it, the posture the Vatican will take towards the Society. As per today I think it might be one of the following:
1. Business as usual.
The Society remains in what the Vatican calls “imperfect communion”. No rapprochement, no open conflict, things remain as they are waiting for better times or, rather, better Popes.
2. Nuclear Conflict
In this scenario, the Pope will let the Society know that unless they like his Pinocchio Mass – or renounce to state they don’t – terrible things will happen to them, like for example 2000 years of Christian liturgical tradition being declared “schismatic”. Should such an unthinkable event take place, Pope Francis will take the place of honour near Pope Liberius amidst heretical Popes, the SSPX will happily ignore his diktat and carry on as usual, and their prestige as beacons of orthodox Catholicism will be immensely increased.
3. Guerrilla warfare
In this case, the Vatican would try to weaken the Society according to the Ratzinger/Mueller schema already observed in 1988 and 2012: stick and carrot, with no open war but insisted criticism of the Society’s position, perhaps a re-excommunication, and a prolonged attempt to divide them luring away some of their elements with the promise of a kind of “FSSP status”, perhaps with some privileges added. Predictably, this strategy wouldn’t work more now than it did in 1988 and 2012. Every SSPX priest is aware he could defect to the FSSP, if he so wished, anytime, so if they stay it is for well pondered reasons. Therefore, in this case I see another “business as usual” scenario, though rather more heated at times.
In all cases, I confess myself unable to see what damage the new Pope could do – if he wanted, which we don’t know and I don’t think – to the Society. Besides having a liturgical credibility slightly below zero, the new Pope is certainly smart enough to understand every attack on the SSPX would be nothing else than further justification for the Society’s existence.
The SSPX exists for one reason only: because the Vatican is drunk with Neo-Modernism. The idea they should be wiped out if the Vatican becomes even more Neo-Modernist is totally unrealistic, completely illogical and fails to recognise the society’s very raison d’être, their way of thinking, their motivation, their loyalty to Christ.
I think it’s fair to say scenario 2 is improbable, and we will rather have a mixture of 1 and 3.
But even if it should be open war, I can’t see why the SSPX should be scared.