SSPX: Let’s Play “Peace”!
I have recently stated that I do not believe in the “peace” between SSPX and the Vatican. However, as I have – on rare occasions… – been known to be wrong in the past, I would like to play some scenario as to what the SSPX will insist in having for any “peace” to be signed.
In my eyes, the SSPX should insist (and I do believe they will obtain) all of what would be, if things were in my hands, my three (let’s say two and a half) necessary conditions:
- Maintain the property of the shop. I mean, by that, the direct legal ownership of everything: the deeds of the seminaries, the churches and other property; the sole ownership of the bank accounts, the investment accounts, etc. Keep everything in your hand, dear SSPX priests, and do not allow the Vatican’s paws to get anywhere near them. You can’t trust V II Popes. Not now, not in ten years, not in one hundred.
- Maintain autonomy from the local bishops. The reason the SSPX exists is to provide an oasis of sane Catholicism in the middle of V II insanity. The idea that the insane should tell the sane where to be active, or could move them from here to there, or could hamper them in one thousand little ways isn’t really appealing, and runs counter to all the SSPX represents.
- (This is, actually, the corollary of two) Maintain the ability to expand at pleasure, in locations of their own choosing, as long as they pay themselves for the relevant expenses (church and ancillary structures, and trust fund for the upkeep of the churches and the priests). “My money, my church, my expansion plans”. Obviously, a formal approval of the Pope might be necessary, but no more than that. This is, again, the other face of 2: if the SSPX takes her mission seriously, she will be interested not only in avoiding retaliation, suffocation and persecution in the dioceses in which they are already active, but they will also be concerned about expanding their activity in places where they aren’t. If you ask me, the one can’t go without the other. To admit any other solution would be to admit the possibility of either a “freeze” of their vigorous expansion activity, or to limit this to those conservative dioceses that have, in fact, the least need for a SSPX presence.
This is, I think, where you tell me: “But Mundabor: if they need papal approval for every new chapel, they will be put in the freezer instantly!”.
Not really. As long as they keep their money and their churches, no dirty tricks will be allowed to either Francis or his (hopefully, better) successors. Please remember that the SSPX was, in fact, fully in communion with Rome for several years before the laceration that happened in the Seventies. They weren’t fooled then, they wouldn’t be fooled now. As long as the Pope plays by the rules they keep – how shall I call it – wonderfully obedient. If the Pope tries to pull some trick, they do exactly what Archbishop Lefebvre did: refuse to obey to wrong orders and, in general, keep doing their Catholic things on their own, as they have done so successfully in the last decades. The owners of their churches, and the owners of their seminaries, they would go on with their work without the Vatican being able to do more than launching those attacks so wonderfully useless in the past.
The key is, I think, who owns what: firstly, because it would be fairly expensive to rebuild hundred of chapels and some big seminaries; secondly, because it is very questionable whether the necessary money would be given to people so dumb to lose everything the first time in the first place; thirdly – and obviously – because direct ownership and ability to get one’s own way is the best, if unspoken, deterrent from the playing of dirty tricks from the Vatican side.
The canonical way how this is done is, provided the result is achieved, irrelevant. Call it Personal Prelature. Call it Ordinariate. Make of it a hybrid of the two. Make something entirely new. It does not matter. The possibilities of a bespoke solution are vast anyway because in the same way as the first Prelature was a new solution, so this one could be another new, never seen before arrangement, of whatever canonical flavour the two parties may choose.
The problem isn’t how the legal frame is called. The real key is whether Francis can put his socialist hands on the vast patrimony of the SSPX and rob them, oppress them, or both.
I trust the good men at the SSPX are acutely aware of all this. But I wanted to have a go at it anyway, just in case…