SSPX: Reconciliation Is Nothing Without Control.
The news that a Personal Prelature in Opus Dei style would have been offered, and the Vatican's demand that the V II documents be considered intrinsically “dogmatic”, or in any way binding, to all Catholics in all their aspects now set aside, clearly show that the controversy – at least the official one – is not about doctrine anymore.
Here is a big Vatican spider, inviting the fly to take place in the inclusive, very merciful net prepared for it, and perhaps expecting the fly to make itself at home in the net in the name of, I don't know, “unity” or “reconciliation”, or however you want to call the fly's assured destruction.
Not going to happen, says the SSPX. We are going to talk to the spider, and all; we are going to even hover near the spider if the spider has this desire. But we are not going to fly in any net, thank you very much.
This is, put in rather blunt terms, the reason why the SSPX is now apparently working on the “clarification” of some points. Points which – you can bet your last shirt on it – pivot around who controls the order and its assets, and in which way.
As they (almost) say, reconciliation is nothing without control. No amount of pretended “autonomy” is worth anything, if this autonomy can be taken away at a moment's notice. No “guarantees” are worth anything, if the Pope retains the factual ability to renege on them. No terms of reconciliation can be accepted, which leave the SSPX in any way, shape or form unable to protect itself from, well, the spider.
The SSPX must keep control of its own hierarchy and of its own assets. It must keep self-regulation independently from a Pope's ukase. Most importantly, it must keep control of its assets in a way unassailable by the Vatican hierarchy.
If these conditions are met, of course the SSPX will obey the Pope. They already do, actually. They are already subject to the Pope in everything that does not undermine Catholicism or their own proper function. Therefore, if the SSPX would become “institutionally” subject to the Pope without losing control of their assets and chain of command, it would be impossible for Francis or any of his successors to subvert the organisation by, say, deposing their leaders, changing their statutes, and taking control of their assets.
Most people forget that the SSPX was, in fact, recognised and in perfect standing for several years, and became “rebellious” only when they were ordered to close their (at that time, only) seminary and – having control of their assets – plainly refused. This episode is far more enlightening than the more famous episode of “disobedience” with the appointment of the bishops, because it shows that if you have control over your chain of command and assets you have nothing to fear from the spider: you can walk away, intact, anytime.
This has happened once, and can happen again. Let the SSPX be formally subject to the Pope, and let them have the factual and legal ability to disobey if the Pope gives wrong orders; for example rescinding their organisational autonomy, ordering them to hand assets to the Vatican, deposing their leaders and so on.
Vatican saves face. SSPX saves autonomy and safety from the spider's net. Everyone is happy.
Or at least, they should be.