SSPX: Please Let Us Not Kid Ourselves

The discussions as seen by the Pontiff Emeritus.

The discussions as seen by the Pontiff Emeritus.


If you scour this blog for the posts of June of last here, you will find the news about the impending agreement, when it seemed that the reconciliation had been achieved and only the right moment to make a public announcement  was being waited for. Then, the initial reaction of surprise at the news that the widely anticipated reconciliation might not take place. When it became clear that the obvious informal agreement had been changed at the last minute (or misrepresented by people very near to the Pope) your humble correspondent, who doesn’t like to switch his brains off whenever a Pope is in play, dared to write that someone at the Vatican had lied, or had been duplicitorus, or had eaten his words.

When it subsequently became clear that the deal wasn’t going to happen, yours truly pointed out once again to the obvious: the Vatican had changed the cards on the table at the last minute, obviously after green informal green light for an agreement that seemed a done deal.

How the situation had probably evolved originally, I examined here.

Still, after the porcelain was broken I wrote this blog post, with the following observation:

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”.

As an aside, I also made some proposal to improve the “dialogue”; proposals which, as I understand, were not followed.

Bishop Fellay, though, gave Mueller a lesson or two in Catholicism anyway, among other things pointing out that in the past Mueller would have ended in the sight of the same Holy Office he now leads. I heartily agree, by the way.

Who the real responsible of the entire mess was (make no mistake: Pope Benedict) I wrote here.

In the same tone, I pointed out how the appointment of Archbishop’s DiNoia to formally lead the “dialogue” would lead no nothing, if there is no intention to ever reconcile with Traditionalism.

The news making the round in the last hours are, therefore, interesting in themselves, but not entirely new to the readers of this forum: an agreement was certainly signaled to Bishop Fellay as done, prompting the formal offer of the SSPX which was then only waiting for the formal acceptance. At that point, someone ate his word, and if memory serves Bishop Fellay received confirmation in the following months that the one who ate his word was the Pontiff himself.

At the cost of being unpopular, I repeat once again that it is inconceivable that the sudden change in the Vatican attitude was not approved by the Pontiff, who therefore is the one bearing the responsibility for it.

Still, Pope Benedict is too intelligent to think that after two or three years of discussions, the SSPX would have suddenly abandoned the fight that is the very reason of its existence. Rather more probable is that the Pontiff Emeritus thought he could divide the SSPX dangling in front of the moderate elements the carrot of a reconciliation, retracting it at the last moment to see what effect it has. As I have already written i the past, this was too clever by half. 

Where we are now, is that in the Vatican there is no interest in even pretending to be interested to a reconciliation. They prefer to reconcile with the Lutherans, and waffle about the “success” of the Reform. 

Please let us not kid ourselves: Benedict never wanted an agreement. What is wanted, is either lead the SSPX to accept V II (a scenario improbable to the point of absurdity), or try to divide them in the process. Look at whom he appointed as head of the former Holy Office, and this will show you everything there is to know.

If Pope Francis ignores the SSPX I will still consider the attitude more honest than the disingenuous, frankly unethical ping-pong and carrot dangling we have lived in the past years.







Posted on July 8, 2013, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, FSSPX, Traditional Catholicism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. I have a hard time reconciling your constant questioning of Pope Benedict’s motives with regard to the SSPX ( always seeming to attribute the worst of intentions to him ) with your support and attendance of the Novus Ordo Mass. It would seem that if you are so “moderate” in your traditionalist stance as to attend the Novus Ordo because you accept it
    as a valid and licit rite of the Roman Church, you could cut some slack to the Pontiff who
    also accepted and celebrated that same Mass, but, at least, appreciated the Tridentine Mass and, at great personal cost, liberated that Mass for Catholics worldwide.

    • Well, try harder and you might have less of a hard time.

      Firstly, you haven’t explained why my attendance at NO Masses should be in any contrast with the fact I think Pope Benedict was disingenuous in his “negotiations” with the SSPX, and I await your explanations.

      Secondly, I cut some slack to the Pontiff every time I think this is the proper thing to do – for example, defending his decision to abdicate, or comparing his knowledge and quality of writing to his successor’s -, but this does not mean I have to become blind on demand.

      As to the “great personal cost”, allow me to disagree once again: SP is by far the best thing devised by any V II Pope, and if Pope Benedict manages to avoid a harsh judgment from posterity of his work as Pope will be just because of it.

      He never had the guts to impose SP’s observance to the bishops, though, thus showing very clearly the price he was ready to pay was limited.


  2. I had hoped it was a matter of Pope Benedict XVI caving under pressure from those in the Vatican who DO NOT WANT a reconciliation with the SSPX–ever. Yet, he’s never wavered (not that we’ve heard anyway) from his position that Vatican II must always be interpreted according to a hermeneutic of continuity, so it makes sense that he would insist on the SSPX accepting it. His seeming readiness to allow the SSPX to reconcile without changing their views on Vatican II looks like the only time he was inconsistent about that–at least until the last minute.

    • Ah, but was it, then, a momentary lapse of reason gone on for three years, or he knew he would retract the carrot in the end?
      The preliminary declaration in September 2011 hinted at the fact the Vatican would remain by their interpretation of V II, but allow the SSPX to disagree. This would have been compatible with BXVI’s stance. Still, he had to know he would never persuade the SSPX to accept the VII novelties.
      He had to know this. He absolutely had to. Every other hypothesis is not realistic.


    • Also, I cringe at the idea of a Pope caving in under pressure and doing what he knows it’s not right. This cannot be acceptable in a Pope.
      Again, I do not think he caved in at all. I don’t like the behaviour, but I still think it’s more honourable for him to be remembered as wrong, than as a King Theoden in the hand of the Grima Wormtongues.


  3. Thanks for your post on this issue. I always hoped that this reconciliation would come but Its obviously a hopeless cause for the foreseeable future given the situation now. While I did like Pope Benedict, like many others I found some of his appointments baffling, Achbp Mueller being an obvious example. I agree entirely with you on the question of Summorum Pontificum being the best thing devised by any VII Pope. I think in years to come, please God, it will be considered the lifeline that brought us back from the brink of liturgical madness and ecclesiological meltdown. Often in history seemingly small actions or events that appear to be of little significance have far-reaching effects beyond expectations – I see Summorum Pontificum as like an unvalued and under-rated medicine applied to a stricken patient on life-support which, through time, brings about the first flickers of consciousness and the memory of what had been and the raises the hope of what can be.

  4. I don’t have links at hand but isn’t this similar to the run-around that Archbishop Lefevbre got before he ordained the 4 bishops? And wasn’t then-Cardinal Ratzinger involved with the discussions to get him more bishops? I loved Pope Benedict and I will always be thankful for the motu proprio which freed the TLM but this negotiation doesn’t put him in a good light. It would appear that he negotiated in better faith with the Anglicans than he did with the SSPX.

    • Then Cardinal Ratzinger was involved, and as head of the CDF the main man behind “operation FSSP”, an obvious attempt to introduce a Trojan Horse into Traditionalist Troy.

      I have the impression we have seen the movie again last year.

      The Pope is in charge. It wasn’t the Locusts (John Belushi, “The Blues Brothers”).


  5. I agree that the image of a weak pope who allows himself to be manipulated by the liberals is unmanly and unsavory. I wonder, though, if someone who knows better but is cowardly is more likely to repent of his failures than someone who has been not only wrong but dishonest in his dealings with others–or if the reverse is more likely to be true. Maybe it isn’t that simple.

    It does seem more likely, though, as you say, that he knew he had no chance of “converting” the SSPX to his own thinking.
    Ultimately, whatever the cause of his failures as a pope, may God help him–and all of us.

    • Ah, but I am sure that he is in good faith. If he has been scheming – which I think he has – then not against something he considers right, but something he considers wrong.

      The problem with the SSPX, from a Vatican perspective, is that they are so orthodox and loyal it isn’t easy to find a weak spot.


  6. Mundabor,
    I do think it was someone below the Pope that closed the door on the SSPX. Benedict did want reconciliation, as he knows that the Society brings an important traditionalist element to the table.I blame Müller, Prefect of the CDF, as he has been in charge of the negotiations, and was essentially the one who closed the door on them. I guess that is what happens when you have a liberation theologian in the Holy Office…

    • You must blame the Pope, not Mueller.
      The Pope is in charge, not Mueller.
      Mueller isn’t Pope.


    • Pope Benedict XVI had to have known that the responsibility for stone-walling the SSPX at the last minute would be laid at his feet–as it should be. If he “wimped out” because Muller or someone else had a potent bargaining chip, that’s even more troubling (implying that what we don’t know about Pope BXVI’s behavior would be more scandalous than what we do).

      Maybe Pope Benedict yanked the carrot because he knew what was in store for the SSPX if there was a reconciliation at that particular moment. I don’t know. Prayers for all of us.

    • I think in the end he was not a strong Pope.

      Put in front of a wall of complaints, he would just cave in.

      I never forgot the episode in Austria, when a conservative bishop appointment was taken back and the poor chap made to resign after the opposition of the Austrian church.

      Benedict was a writer, not a leader.


  7. vermontcrank1

    Dear Mundabor. KUDOS.

    You wrote what was necessary to write. I NEVER bought the self-delusion of New Catholic and Rorate that some Curial Masons queered the deal but that IS the delusion they had to descend into to maintain their illusion that Pope Benedict was on their side.

    They studiously ignored Cardinal Ratzinger’s public warning about them as troublemakers who had to be watched. Ratzinger has always been a liberal (modernist) who, early on, made it clear that he would Pass on what was delivered to him rather than Pass On what was delivered to him.

    And that is a synthesis of the modern Church; Unlike 1st Corinth 15:3, these modernists and new theologians Pass (ignore or reject) on what was delivered to them whereas The SSPX Passes on what was delivered to them as did all the 260 Popes and innumerable Bishops did who preceded V2.

    Of course, one has to grow a pair to attain to this frightening sanity and stop lounging in the comforting delusion of acceptance.

    There has not been one – NOT ONE – Pope following the death of Pope John XXIII who can said to have been even sympathetic to Tradition, to say nothing about passing it on rather than passing on it.

  8. The Pope assigned Mueller to that role. He knew Mueller’s attitude towards the SSPX *before* he assigned him.

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