SSPX And Criticism

Rorate Caeli has, as always, useful insights about the latest in the matter of the Society: the ultra liberal priest claiming he knows of impending ordinations, and the alleged new bridge built towards the Vatican.

As to the first piece of news, I agree with everyone else the idea that the progressive priest may have first-hand information about top secret SSPX matters is beyond stupid; but as the very concept of progressive priest is beyond stupid, I am not surprised.

Allow me to reflect, though, that if Archbishop Mueller thinks he can play the tough guy with them and sends messages of total closure, it might be actually very good if one or two of these ordinations would, in fact, take place. The SSPX have recently lost one of their bishops and the other three aren't getting younger, either, whilst the organisation expands like the Wehrmacht in 1941. If the likes of Mueller suffer under the delusion that they can play the old waiting game again, the appointment of one or two (or three) of the best forty-something the SSPX can offer would cure them immediately. Nor is it clear to me what the Vatican would do that could work as a real deterrent: they refuse to consider the SSPX “in good standing” anyway, and the excommunications would not be a cause for concern for anyone.

On the other matter, I am personally unable to see the element of novelty. The SSPX had already made clear they are happy to be reconciled if they are allowed to criticise and can protect their own ways – keeping their own seminaries, say, and keeping them free of Neo-Modernist infiltration – . I do not remember any harsh internal criticism to this position than from the very small Williamson troops, whilst the other two bishops did criticise, but toed the line in the end. If the Vatican were to offer reconciliation without strings attached, I for myself am unable to see what would be wrong with that; unless, of course, one considers the Vatican a satanical den of iniquity able to pollute the best by mere association; at which point one would have to recognise he has become a Sedevacantist in all but name.

What must in my eyes always be kept in mind is that this situation is a means to an end, not a badge of orthodoxy. The SSPX existed for several years without excommunicated priests and without anyone talking of “imperfect communion” (a term which did not even exist). Therefore, if the reconciliation without string attached were to be offered, I find it rather obvious the SSPX would accept it; as well they should.


Posted on July 12, 2013, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, FSSPX, Traditional Catholicism. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. The reconciliation without strings would be wonderful – ideal, but wonderful. It is much needed as well. The scare tactics have unfortunately kept far too many younger Catholics from realizing how beautiful their religion can be; and thus realizing all that has been denied to them.

  2. “What must in my eyes always be kept in mind is that this situation is a means to an end, not a badge of orthodoxy.”
    Very well put, Mundabor. It’s always important we don’t lose the bigger picture.

  3. I received an e-mail yesterday with an article by a sedevacantist who was putting forth his “logical” argument for his conlusion that Pope John Paul II (whom he called simply Karol Wojtyla) was not a real pope. After isolating the premises and noting the lack of any attempt to define the terms used, it struck me that sedevacantist logic is as flawed as that of most liberals. The first premise was “Karol Wojytla was a public heretic,” though the author made no attempt to define “public heretic”–to clearly describe what makes one a public heretic. The second premise was “A public heretic cannot in any circumstances be a true pope,” and again, without a clear idea of what “public heretic” means (and whether or not the author accepts the latest Catholic Encyclopedia entry on “heresy”), we have no way to prove whether this premise is true. He concludes, though, on the basis of these two premises that, therefore, “Karol Wojtyla cannot be a true pope.”
    A third premise is suggested after this conclusion: that the Holy Ghost protects a true pope from doing what Karol Wojtyla did. The author never offer so much as an illustrative example to back this up. His reasoning suggests that he thinks a true pope would never do or say anything publicly that is incompatible with Catholic teaching, which leads me to seriously question the author’s grasp of Church history.
    The sedevacantists of course reject the SSPX’s teaching–which is the Church’s teaching–on the limits of papal infallibility.

    • I think the list of heretical Popes is actually not short at all.

      I have tried to find the sources of a part of what the Pope used to say until the half of the XVIII, promising not to behave like… heretical Popes of the past. This is not the oath you find on wikipedia, much older and of dubious authenticity, this was customarily used until the XVIII century.

      I notice not only among sedevacantist this mentality of using circular arguments. The argument of V II as the basis of the… infallibility of V II is such one.


    • I’ve read of heretical popes, but as far as I know, that in itself didn’t make them non-popes. I’ve read also of anti-popes, who were not true popes, but am I right to say that the latter were anti-popes regardless of whether or not they were heretics?

      I have very limited knowledge of Church history, too, and I’m learning as I go. I agree that sedevacantists aren’t the only ones that use circular logic (For example: “Pope Paul VI couldn’t have been a real pope because he promulgated the Novus Ordo, and the Novus Ordo can’t be a valid Mass because it promulgated by an anti-pope”), but it struck me as I was reading the article that the author’s description of the ordinary Magisterium and how papal infallibility protects it from error was as ambiguous as any Vatican II document. It read as though the author sincerely believed that every papal encyclical–by every true pope–before Vatican II was completely infallible, and that any papal document that happened to contain errors or that was in any way detrimental to souls must be proof that the man in the Chair of Peter must not be a true pope. The author made no attempt to define his terms clearly. Unlike the writers of the most problematic parts of Vatican II documents, though, I don’t believe the sedevacantist was being deliberately ambiguous. I think he really wants to believe his conclusion and therefore resists examining his premises too closely–or clearly defining his terms for the benefit of his reader.

      Also, while we’ve had popes who were heretics, the ones who ultimately accused those popes of heresy were their successors. I’m not saying we have no right to be scandalized by a pope’s words or actions unless they are formally defined as heretics by one of their successors. I’m only suggesting–in response to the article–that before we call a man–including a pope–a heretic, we should at least give him a chance to explain why he did what he did–whether he did so out of defiance of Church teaching or whether he honestly thought that what he was doing was consonant with Divine Revelation and therefore “Catholic.” This is more difficult when the offender is dead, though I don’t doubt that popes who have denounced previous popes as heretics had the requisite proof (written or otherwise). The author of the article I read offers nothing of the kind.

    • Anti-popes were never Popes, heretical Popes were.
      History and God will judge bad Popes. For a Catholic, it is very easy, though, to recognise an heretical act, like kissing a Koran.


    • Easy enough to spot “material heresy,” but not so much “formal heresy,” which involves the will. The material heretic (according to the Catholic Encyclopedia I found, which was published during the reign of Pope St. Pius X) is one who is mistaken but acts in good faith. The formal heretic is the one who openly makes it known that he believes he is right and the Catholic Church is wrong (about at least one infallible teaching).

      So, yes, spotting material heresy is easy for anyone who knows what the Catholic Church teaches; proving that someone is a “formal heretic” is another thing. Does anyone have proof that Pope John Paul II knew that what he did was incompatible with Catholic Church teaching (say, when he kissed the Koran), or did he honestly believe that what he did was consonant with Catholic Tradition–perfectly in-line with Divine Revelation as interpreted by the Church’s Magisterium? In the latter case, he’s mistaken but his heresy is material and not formal. If I read the CE’s post on heresy correctly, only formal heresy puts one outside the Church.

    • You are perfectly right, but in the case of Pope I think formal heresy would be extremely rare. What I mean with “heretical act” is also that someone (like JP II) does something extremely stupid, but without an ideological intent to sabotage Catholicism.

      Bishop Francis might be a new challenge, because he seems to be so ignorant of Catholicism that he does not even know what he has to believe.


    • True enough. Even if we can’t prove that a pope is a formal heretic, he can do plenty of damage as a material one–probably even more than as a formal one, since a pope who was a formal heretic would be (hopefully) exposed as such by a successor and his heretical words and actions would be seen in that light.

  4. ” or when she explicitly acknowledges our right to profess integrally the Faith and to reject the errors which oppose it, with the right and the duty for us to oppose publicly the errors and the proponents of these errors, whoever they may be – which would allow the beginning of a re-establishing of order’

    It would be impossible for the Church to seriously concede these demands mentioned in paragraph 11 especially considering the proceeding paragraphs rejecting the Second Vatican Council, not only saying the problem is ‘ misreading’ of the texts but the problem is in the texts themselves. Also their criticismo of the New Rite of Mass as promulgated by Pope Paul VI. The sspx are in reality asking to take on the role of the CDF and this very thought would be unacceptable or unthinkable in the Church coming from such a grouping!

  5. Well I am afraid it is not quite that simple. The powers that be, namely, the Prefect of the CDF recently said after the sspx bishops issued their declaration, as reported in a reliable German Magazine “That’s it!” (“Jetzt reicht’s!”, i.e., “enough!”). The CDF although not infallible has powers given to it by the Supreme Pontiff by the Decree, ‘Bom Pastor’, so it acts not only on His behave but also represents Him as well. Clearly, Archbishop Muller has spoken and no doubt consulted the Holy Father before hand. I think that links will now be completely broken with the sspx. After all they represent only a small percentage of ‘trads’ of a kind. They have no canonical or legitimate mission within the Church even though their excommunications may have been lifted, for the time being, by Benedict XVI they still are subject to the penality of meaning that they cannot celebrate the sacraments licitly and legally. The exact legal nature of their society is not based on Canon Law, although they were initially given the temporary status of a ‘pious society’ by the then Bishop of Sion in who’s diocese the sspx seminary of Econe is located but this status which is indeed temporary was later revoked by the Bishop concerned meaning that they have nor ever had strict legal status within the Roman Catholic Church. As the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen said “You can’t be Catholic if you pick and choose.” and the same may be said about the sspx. Archbishop Muller in an interview with ‘the Vatican Insider’ said that the sspx bishops are not even catholic for they refuse to accept the complete Magisterium of the Church.
    Remember that they were not only consecrated without an apostolic mandate BUT specifically contrary to the express wishes of Blessed Pope John Paul II! It is NOT their function to ‘protect’ or ‘defend’ the Church from ‘heresy’ or ‘schism’ LOL’s ,BUT solely the function and competence of the CDF!

    • Well I am afraid you think rather simply.
      The Holy Ghost has never promised a heretic would not lead the CDF. Actually, it could be said this is exactly what is happening now.
      The probl;em that you have – and many other with you – is that you think that the CDF (or the Pope, or anyone else) decide what is Truth. Wrong. 2000 years of Church tradition decide what is Truth, and no CDF or Pope, not even an angel coming down from heaven, can change a iota in that.

      As to the “LOL”, you should laugh less. It is written nowhere that the CDF must not be protected from heresy. In fact, the CDF has probably never been so much at risk of heresy than now, led by a short-tempered mediocre priest who denies (or belittles, if you are inordinately “charitable”) dogmas of the Church, but think he can decide how Catholic the SSPX is.


    • Oh, I fully agree with the SSPX on this.

      The bishops’ visit to Lampedusa made me fume so much I did not write about it, because of what I would have written.

      I am glad you and the SSPX expressed the same concept in a less emotional way.


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