Search Results for fellay benedict
Georg Ratzinger, the so-to-speak Brother Emeritus, might be implicated in matters of physical and/or sexual violence against the (in Germany very famous) Regensburger Domspatzen, a bit the equivalent in the German popular imagination of the boys' choir of King's College in Cambridge.
One might think that the man was forced to resign, or decided to resign, against the promise that the scandal would not be made public; or else, when faced with open blackmail.
I don't buy it. Let me explain why.
Firstly, the Emeritus is smart enough to know that scandals like this do not remain uncovered forever. The truth will out. If this was the case he must have known that the shame would have been posthumous at best, and for both of them.
Secondly, the theory is extremely insulting to the Emeritus, depicted as such a puppy that he would resign for personal reasons (avoiding a scandal for his family and, by association, himself) rather than doing what every Pope with some fear of the Lord would have done (keep working as the Pope; heck, no one has ever said a Pope answers for his brother. Reagan's father was a not-too-functional alcoholic, either). There can be nothing noble in dereliction of duty, nor can it ever be said that the immense evil and damage to the Church of a Pope resigning whilst yielding to blackmail can ever be compensated by one or two very old men, and be one of them the Pope, not be besmirched. (Note to those allergic to History: Popes have been besmirched for many centuries; often with very valid reasons to do so).
Thirdly, two men in their Eighties will be more worried about their own final destination than about some discomfort here on earth for, predictably, not very long.
No, I am not a fan of the man, but I seriously struggle to believe that he would be able of such unspeakable, selfish cowardice. And such a stupid cowardice, too.
Therefore, my working option will remain, as always, the one nearest to the reality we can observe and furthest from conspiracy theories of all sorts: a man terrified of the parable he had seen in JP II, aware of the homo Mafia but not strong enough to deal with it, and deciding to resign in order to allow a new and stronger man to tackle the issues at hand. A man, I add, whom he though would be a “heretic light” like Scola, not an atheist madman like Bergoglio. Albeit I am pretty sure Ratzinger still prefers a Bergoglio as Pope to a Fellay.
The man is bad, I know.
But heavens: so bad? I cannot believe it.
If you needed an additional confirmation that the SSPX has realised Pope Benedict’s resignation equates to a big card reshuffle, you can click on this link.
Besides the obvious fact that Pope Benedict will, in all probability, not make any parting gift to the Society – it is not logical that he should do so; he has been planning his departure for some months, and if he had wanted to act he would have done it before lest he gives the impression he acts at the last minute to avoid the criticism to his decision – what is interesting in this interview is Fellay’s suggested roadmap for a reconciliation.
The good bishop is very clear in saying that whilst he does not expect from the next Pope that he proceeds to an open, outright condemnation of Vatican II, the new Pope can accomplish a lot smartly and quietly, proceeding to a series of adjustments apt to eliminate a good part of the problems. To quote (emphasis mine):
As far as Vatican II is concerned, just like for the Mass, we believe that it is necessary to clarify and correct a certain number of points that are either erroneous or lead to error. That being said, we do not expect Rome to condemn Vatican II any time soon. She can recall the Truth and discretely correct the errors, while preserving her authority.
The message is very clear. It would be more than enough if the Vatican were willing to work toward the repair of the edifice without any admission that, so to speak, the architect was on drugs and the building company straight out of Greece. Quiet and discreet action – starting with immediate action on the very worst – can accomplish a lot.
Note that in this interview there is no trace whatsoever of an alleged fear of the Society that some terrible punishment may be inflicted on them by the next Pope. There isn’t, because there is no terrible punishment the Vatican can even try to inflict on them without – besides not reaching their scope – inflicting a much bigger damage on themselves.The Vatican can, simply, not credibly strike at orthodox Catholicism, and spotless obedience.
No, the only way the Vatican can try to neutralise the Society is by trying to blandish, seduce and divide them, dangling the carrot of “reconciliation” in front of their eyes whilst waiting for the division and strife this would cause; a game, this, already tried in a massive and open way both in 1988 and in 2012; on both occasions clearly engineered by the current Pontiff; and parlously failed twice.
The SSPX awaits the outcome of the Conclave from a position of unprecedented strenght and prestige. The progressive – if too slow – rapprochement of the Vatican to the positions held before V II in so many matters is a vindication of Archbishop Lefebvre’s brave fight. As the ideology of Vatican II continues to slowly wither, Traditionalism will grow in prestige and authority; if you say Traditionalism properly intended (that is: not mere liturgical preference, but defence of the entire patrimony of Tradition), you say first and foremost SSPX.
Bishop Fellay spoke with a journalist of the Catholcs News Society, and what resulted is the article you read here. I am not overly fond of this kind of interview, because it seems to me that it can be easily adapted to let the interviewed say what the interviewer wanted him to say. If I want to give a certain “cut” to an interview, I will always be able to let my man talk and then pick and choose what best matches the idea I want to convey.
As a result, the idea which emerges from this interview is a Bishop much different from the Fellay we know (and love), rather resembling one of the many anodyne bishops the CNS interviews all the time. Again, I do not think he has been wilfully manipulated, but rather that the interview was made with a certain idea in mind, and the ready product ended up reflecting that idea.
The questionable part is, of course, the one regarding Vatican II. Please read this words:
Although he stopped short of endorsing Pope Benedict’s interpretation of Vatican II as essentially in continuity with the church’s tradition — a position which many in the society have vocally disputed — Bishop Fellay spoke about the idea in strikingly sympathetic terms.
“I would hope so,” he said, when asked if Vatican II itself belongs to Catholic tradition.
Now, the literal meaning of the words is that:
1) Bishop Fellay would hope V II is in continuity with Catholic tradition; but
2) alas, he does not think so, because he does not endorse the Pope’s interpretation of it being in continuity.
The facts of the SSPX position are still there, but they twisted and turned in such a way as to make Fellay much more doveish than he is.
One is tempted to think Bishop Fellay did not really mince words on this, because the author himself (I think it is fair to say so) must admit Bishop Fellay told him the SSPX will continue to say things as they are concerning Vatican II. Only, this becomes that he bishop “allows for the possibility”. Of course he does: if one asks the bishop “do you allow for the possibility that…” what is the poor chap supposed to answer: “I am certain the Pope will continue to deserve my criticism?”. Not even I would be so ungracious; not in my worst day. Therefore, Bishop Fellay clearly indicates the SSPX will continue to do its job, and the message is completely downplayed.
It goes on:
“The pope says that … the council must be put within the great tradition of the church, must be understood in accordance with it. These are statements we fully agree with, totally, absolutely,”
Of course we do. Of course every Catholic does. Who would ever expect an SSPX bishop say that the V II documents must be read in a progressive way? V II is purely wrong, it is not the Antichrist. Archbishop Lefebvre criticised the V II documents, but he did sign them. He never said the V II must be understood in a way not conform to Catholic tradition; the problem is exactly that when you do so, you discover how mediocre they are, willingly unclear, pandering to the fashion of the day, and in odour of heresy. But this does not mean they must not be understood in accordance with Tradition.
The next one is the most insidious paragraph:
“The problem might be in the application, that is: is what happens really in coherence or in harmony with tradition?”
Give me a break: the poor chap has just gone through the pain of making very clear his position is not the Vatican’s one, and he does not think there is continuity, and now it is suggested he would see the problem merely in the application? How does this square with what the Bishop has just said?
The entire interview is construed in this way: of course Bishop Fellay does not want to be “provocative”; when the SSPX speak, it is merely because they are provoked (Assisi III, say). They never were obnoxious for the sake of bickering, it is truly not their style. But you notice the tone, meant to convey an idea of a Bishop Fellay so near to Vatican II, the reader should not bother to really measure the distance.
I hope this interview does not cause (more) disharmony within the SSPX, and if it does I hope Bishop Fellay requests and publishes the entire text. There are enough problems within the SSPX to allow well-intentioned, but poorly executed propaganda work to add additional ones. This is delicate, and I do not think any one who tries to invent a SSPX made of “friend of Vatican II” is making any service to truth, to the cause of the reconciliation, or to the SSPX itself.
I have already written a blog post about Bishop Fellay’s intervention in favour of Summorum Pontificum.
In the same interview, he deals with Assisi III and this is probably worth of separate consideration.
Bishop Fellay points out to the following problems:
1) That Pope Benedict heavily criticises relativism in religious matters (and rightly so, of course) but indirectly promotes the same relativism by starting the Assisi 2011 initiative.
2) That Pope Benedict is now celebrating an initiative which he himself clearly boycotted in 1986.
3) That in his idea that it be impossible for Catholic and non-Catholics to pray together, but that it be possible for them to gather together as members of different religious affiliations he is “splitting hairs”.
I find his criticism perfectly right on all points and whilst we will have to wait to see how Pope Benedict organises and shapes this meeting (that is: how he limits the damage that he has already done, the bomb of “interreligious gathering” being one which always causes a powerful explosion however orthodox your intentions), it is interesting to note that Bishop Fellay makes a supreme effort of explicate the inexplicable and theorises a desire to counteract the recent spate of persecutions as the real motive of this initiative.
Personally, I cannot see this as a real motive. Christians have always been persecuted and they always will; to water down the Christian message and to try to appease the persecutors will in my eyes only have the effect of increasing their aggressiveness. You just don’t fight religious intolerance by watering down the Christian message.
If you ask me, I can only see one – or all – of these three motives:
1) Pope Benedict wants to re-make in the right way what Pope John Paul once made in the wrong way, thus erasing as far as possible the bad memory of Assisi I and II with a theologically impeccable Assisi III. This seems to me a bit like trying to make dung smell good but one can – with a stretch of the imagination – understand the logic.
2) Pope Benedict thinks that conservative Catholics are becoming too cocky (utter and complete dominance on the Internet; vast support among young clergy; resurgence of the popularity of old, once forgotten or ignored heroes like Pius XII and Fulton Sheen) and wants to help the “other side” a bit. The beatification of JP II before the beatification of Pius XII, the oh-so-liberal sounding convocation of Assisi III and, perhaps, a restrictive interpretation of the scope of Summorum Pontificum would all be parts of the same thinking.
3) Pope Benedict is simply trying (in the wrong way, if you ask me) to promote the JP II brand as he sees in it a powerful instrument of evangelisation. Again, one understands the logic. I just wonder why he would allow himself to be persuaded to pick the most controversial of JPII’s many controversial inititatives to do so. It seems to me a bit like promoting Bill Clinton’s presidency by remembering the Lewinsky affair.
We’ll have to wait and see how all this pans out. In the meantime, I allow myself the comment that Pope Pius XII would have never dreamt of an initiative like Assisi (whatever numeral you may put to it); that Fulton Sheen would have never dreamt of encouraging interreligious gatherings of any sort, but exclusively Catholic gatherings of every sort; and that Padre Pio would have never dreamt of the necessity of a Novus Ordo mass, however “reformed after the reform” it may be.
In recent months, Pope Benedict seems to have been skating on rather thin ice. More the reason to pray for him.
I have, in the meantime, accurately read the beautiful intervention of the Bishop.
Let me make a couple of preliminary observations:
- Bishop Athanasius does not explicitly call the document heretical, or blasphemous.
- Bishop Athanasius does not explicitly warn Francis about his heretical, blasphemous position.
If there was a criticism that could be moved to this letter, it would be related to the points above. However, I do not feel I should move this criticism myself. Whilst truth must be proclaimed in season and out of season, I feel no difficulty at all in attributing Bishop Schneider’s choice to a prudent judgment. Clearly, this is not a man afraid of persecution. Please give him your most sincere prayers.
You might not read, in your lifetime, another criticism of a papal document as strong as this one from an “official” bishop. I note here that, to my knowledge, not even the SSPX has officially called the document heretical and blasphemous. I am sure this is a prudential judgment, too; but if you ask me who runs the risk of being too prudent, I would say “the SSPX”.
Below is the text (first part). My emphases (and the segment titles) in bold. My comments in red.
The paradox of contradicting interpretations of «Amoris Laetitia»
The recently published Apostolic Exhortation « Amoris Laetitia » (hereafter abbreviated AL), which contains a great spiritual treasure for Christian life in matrimony and family for our age [heavens, why does everyone praise the cream in a poisoned cake? Bishop Fellay did the same. I think it’s churchspeak for “I am about to punch you in the face”], has unfortunately in short order provoked contradictory interpretations even among the episcopate [the Bishop announces the line of attack: the document is ambiguous. Actually, the document is openly heretical and blasphemous. See above, “prudence”].
There are bishops and priests who have publicly and openly declared that AL has furnished an manifest opening to Communion for the divorced who have remarried, without asking them to live in continence. Under this aspect of sacramental practice, which according to them would now be significantly changed, would truly consist the revolutionary character of « Amoris Laetitia ». Interpreting AL in reference to irregular couples, one President of an Episcopal Conference has declared in a text published on the very website of that Conference: « One treats of a measure of mercy, of an opening of heart, reason and spirit for which no law is necessary, nor is there need to wait for any directive or directions. One may and one ought to put it immediately into practice ».
Such a view was further confirmed by the recent declarations made by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S. J., who after the Synod of Bishops in 2015 had written that the Synod had laid down « a foundation » for the access to Communion by the divorced who have remarried, « by opening a door », which was left closed in the preceding Synod in 2014. Now, Father Spadaro in his own commentary on AL, says that his predication has been confirmed. The same Fr. Spadaro is said to have been a member of the group which redacted « Amoris Laetitia » [the Bishop does not say that 2+2=4 here, as in “if Spadaro says this and he has collaborated to the document, the man has obviously followed Francis’ istructions”. The bishops does not say it; but make no mistake: he wants you to draw the conclusion, or make the addition, yourself].–
A way open to abusive interpretations seems to have been indicated by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn himself, who, during the official presentation of « Amoris Laetitia » at Rome, had said in regard to the proposal of irregular unions: « The great joy that this document gives me rests in the fact that it overcomes in a concrete way the artificial clear external division of “regular” and “irregular”. » Such an affirmation suggest the idea that there is no clear difference between a valid and sacramental marriage and an irregular union, between venial sin and mortal sin [ again: both the Bishop and his readers are aware that Schoenborn’s press conference has been explicitly indicated by Francis as the best guidance to interpreting AL. He who has ears to hear, let him hear].
On the other hand, there are bishops who affirm that AL ought to be read in the light of the perennial Magisterium of the Church and that AL does not authorize Communion for the divorced who have remarried, not even in exceptional cases. In principle, such an affirmation is the correct one and the one worth of approval. In effect, every text of the Magisterium ought to be, as a general rule, coherent in its own content with the preceding Magisterium, without any rupture. [To state that a document must be read in light of truth is not wrong, but it is not remotely good enough].
Nevertheless, it is not secret that in diverse places divorced and remarried persons have been admitted to Holy Communion, without the obligation of living in continence. Some of the affirmations in « Amoris Laetitia » can realistically be utilized to legitimize the abuse already practiced for some time in various places in the life of the Church (sic). [some of the affirmations in AL are, realistically, blasphemous and heretical and meant to legitimise sacrilege. But as the Pope does not officially proclaim it, and prefers to introduce the heresy from the window, I will not expose myself to the accusation of slandering him].
Some affirmations of « Amoris Laetitia » are objectively open to a bad interpretation
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has invited all of us to offer our own contribution to the reflection and dialogue on the delicate questions concerning marriage and the family. « The reflection of pastors and of theologians, if faithful to the Church, honest and creative, will help us to reach a greater clarity » (AL, 2).
Analyzing some of the affirmations of AL with an honest understanding [stop kidding yourself, Cardinal Burke!], as they are in their own context, one finds that there is a difficulty in interpreting them according to the traditional doctrine of the Church. [this part is pivotal: it means that the context of the ambiguous affirmations is itself heretical; it creates a heretical climate, and the explosive blasphemies are correctly interpreted in this heretical context] This fact is explained by the absence of concrete and explicit affirmation of the constant doctrine and practice of the Church, [this is another one of the pivotal points: the Bishop states that if Francis had strongly and unambiguously stated that there is no change whatsoever from Familiaris Consortio, repeating the statements verbatim, this would have factually killed any ambiguous reading. Personally, I trust Francis to be, in fact, as duplicitous as to explicitly state the paragraph written here below and contradict it in the following statement. But undoubtedly, the heretical reading would have been made more difficult. Also, heresy is heresy no matter how many reaffirmations of catholci doctrine are contained in the same document.] which is founded upon the Word of God and was reiterated by Pope John Paul II, who said: « The Church, moreover, reaffirms Her own practice, founded upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion the divorced who have remarried. These are those who cannot be admitted, from the moment that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church, signified and actuated by the Eucharist. There is moreover another particular pastoral motive: if these persons would be admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be lead into error and confusion about the teaching of the Church on the indissolubility of matrimony. Reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance — which would open the way to the Sacrament of the Eucharist — can be accorded only to those who, having repented of violating the sign of the Covenant and their fidelity to Christ, have been sincerely disposed to a form of life which is no longer in contradiction with the indissolubility of marriage. That is, which implies, in the concrete, that when a man and wife, for serious motives — such as, for example, the education of their children — cannot satisfy the obligation of separation, « assume the obligation of living in full continence, that is of abstaining from the acts proper to married couples » (Familiaris Consortio, 84).
Pope Francis has not established « a new general norm in canonical form, applicable to all cases » (AL, n. 300). However, in footnote 336, he declares: « Not even as much as regards sacramental discipline, from the moment that discernment can recognize that in a particular situation there is no grave fault » [see above: fist Francis states, then he denies what he has just stated]. By referring himself evidently to the divorced who have remarried, the Pope affirms in AL, n. 305: « By reason of attenuating conditions or factors, it is possible that, within an objective situation of sin — which is not subjectively culpable or which is is not such in a full manner — one can live in the grace of God, one can love, and one can even grow in the life of grace and charity, receiving for such a purpose the help of the Church ». In footnote 351, the Pope clarifies his own affirmation, by saying that « in certain cases, there might even been the help of the Sacraments ».
In the same chapter 8 of « Amoris Laetitia », the Pope speaks of « the divorced who live a new union, … with new children, with proven fidelity, generous dedication, christian commitment, conscious of the irregularity of their own situation and of the great difficulty in turing around without feeling in their consciences that one would fall into a new fault. The Church recognizes situations in which « man and wife, for serious motives, — such as, for example, the education of their children — cannot satisfy the obligation of separation ». In footnote 329, the Pope cites the document, Gaudium et Spes in an unfortunately incorrect manner, because the Council refers in this case only to a valid Christian marriage. The application of this affirmation to the divorced can provoke the impression that a valid marriage can be assimilated, not in theory, but in practice, with the union of divorced persons. [note here: the Bishop always says “the Pope states”, “the Pope speaks”. He attributes the heresy directly to him. He chooses not to say something like “footnote such and such, certainly misinterpreting the will of the Holy Father, states”… . You are supposed to know who is the culprit.]
The admission to Holy Communion of the divorced who have remarried and its consequences
« Amoris Laetitia » is, unfortunately, deprived of textual citations of the principles of the Church’s moral teaching in the form in which they were enunciated in n. 84 of the Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, and in the Encyclical, Veritas Splendor, of Pope John Paul II, in particular in regard to the following themes of capital importance: « the fundamental option » (Veritatis Splendor, nn. 67-68), « mortal sin and venial sin » (ibid. nn. 69-70), « proportionalism, consequentialism » (ibid. n. 75), « martyrdom and the universal and immutable moral norms » (ibid. nn. 91 ff.). A verbal citation of Familiaris Consortio n. 84 and of the similar more salient affirmations of Veritatis Splendor would certainly make « Amoris Laetitia » unassailable on the part of heterodox interpretations. [ this is the Leitmotiv again: literal, repeated quotes explicitly stating what is what would have suffocated any attempt to give the document a heretical reading even if ambiguities are present] Some generic allusions to the moral principles and doctrine of the Church are certainly not sufficient in a controversial matter which is of delicate and capital importance. [This is an open indictment of Francis’ modus operandi: generic allusions on one side, concrete emergency exits from the straight and narrow on the other side. This is certainly not sufficient in a matter delicate and capital importance. “What kind of Pope are you?”,”What’s wrong with you?” is here the message].
Some representatives of the clergy and even of the episcopate do affirm that even now, according to the spirit of « Amoris Laetitia »’s chapter VIII it has not been excluded that in exceptional cases the divorced who have remarried can be admitted to Holy Communion without it being requested that they live in perfect continence.
By admitting a similar interpretation in the letter and spirit of « Amoris Laetitia », one would have to accept, with an honest understanding and on the basis of the principle of non-contradiction, the following logical conclusions:
[what follows is the most brutal condemnation of a papal document I have ever read from anyone, in any age. The Bishop veils it only very thinly by stating that this merely the reading of “some representative of the clergy”. However, he has already told you this is, honestly, the reading made possible in the document’s context. He who has ears, etc…].
The divine Sixth Commandment which prohibits every sexual act outside of a valid marriage, would no longer be universally valid if exceptions were to be admitted. In our case: the divorced would be able to practice the sexual act and they are even encouraged to it for the purpose of conserving reciprocal “fidelity”, cf. AL, 298. One would be able, therefore, to exchange “fidelity”, in a style of life directly contrary to the expressed will of God. Moreover, to encourage and legitimize acts which are in themselves (in se) and always contrary to the will of God, would be to contradict Divine Revelation.
The divine word of Christ: « That man not separate what God has untied » (Mt. 19:6), would, therefore no longer be always valid and for all married couples without exception.
It would be possible in a particular case to receive the Sacrament of Penance and Holy Communion with the intention of continuing to directly violate the Divine commandments: « Thou shalt not commit adultery » (Exodus 20:14) and « That man not separate what God has united » (Mt. 19:6; Genesis 2:24).
The observance of these commandments and of the Word of God would hold in these cases only in theory and not in practice, inducing thereby the divorced who have remarried « to fool themselves » (James 1:22). One would, therefore, be able to have faith in the divine character of the Sixth Commandment and in the indissolubility of Matrimony without, however, the corresponding works.
The Divine Word of Christ: « He who repudiates his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if a woman leaves her husband and marries another, she commits adultery » (Mk, 10:12) would, therefore, not longer have a universal validity but would admit exceptions.
The permanent, conscious and free violation of the Sixth Commandment of God and of the sacrality and indissolubility of ones own valid Matrimony (in the case of the divorced who have remarried) would, therefore, no longer be a grave sin, nor in direct opposition to the will of God.
There can (sic) be cases of grave, permanent, conscious and free violation of God’s other commandments (e.g., in the case of a style of life of financial corruption), in which there would be able to granted to a determinate person, on the basis of attenuating circumstances, access to the Sacraments without exacting a sincere resolution to avoid in the future the acts of sin and of scandal.
The perennial and infallible teaching of the Church would no longer be universally valid, in particular the teaching confirmed by Pope John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio, n. 84, and by Pope Benedict XVI, in Sacramentum caritatis, n. 29, according to which the condition of the divorced to receive the Sacraments is (the practice of) perfect continence.
The observance of the Sixth Commandment and of the indissolubility of marriage would not be an ideal realizable on the part of all, but in a certain manner only for an elite.
The intransigent words of Christ which intimate to men the observance of God’s commandments, always and in all circumstances, even when accepting some considerable suffering, or the Cross, for this purpose, would not longer be valid in their truth: « If you hand is an occasion of sin to you, cut it off and throw it away, because it is better for you that one member perish, than that thy whole body be cast into Gehenna » (Mt. 5:30).
To admit couples in an « irregular union » to Holy Communion, by permitting them to practice the acts reserved to married couples in a valid marriage, would be equivalent to the usurpation of a power, which, however, does not belong to any human authority to exercise, because one treats where with a pretense to correct the very Word of God.
[the parts I have evidenced all state the same: this document contains heresy and blasphemy; it spits in the face of Our Lord; it is the attempt to deny His Commandments, it is an insult to God. The Bishop does not say so explicitly. But the logical chain of argument, “if you read the document as it can honestly be read in its context, this is the conclusion you must draw”, does not leave any doubt in the intelligent reader as to what the bishop means].
(to be continued…)
With great surprise I read around that some bloggers are afraid that the SSPX may deliver themselves to their executioner in order to… Well I don't even know: to be allowed by Francis to listen to confessions, which they do anyway and ever did anyway?
Do not be afraid and sleep soundly. I know we live in times of widespread betrayal and mass flight of supposed faithful pastors, but it is utterly unrealistic to think that this would apply to the SSPX, too.
Let us see why.
1. These are people ready to be excommunicated the day of their consecration. Everyone of them. They don't look to me like the ones eager to get the approval of a lewd heretic. They look to me, actually, like pretty tough guys.
2. Fellay told some years ago (when there was the provisional agreement with Ecclesia Dei, reneged by Benedict at the eleventh hour) that any deal with the Vatican would have to be approved by the majority of the SSPX priests. Therefore, even if you do not trust Fellay (very wrongly, I add) you can sleep soundly.
3. The SSPX has enough financial support to finance a massive growth, and their seminaries attract enough candidates to fuel this growth. The Society goes on like clockwork. If they were in dire financial straits one might understand a degree of fear; but they are in rude health both spiritually and financially.
4. Every SSPX priest has certainly been told, and has present at all times, the duplicitous attempts to neutralised them perpetrated by JP II and Benedict. That they would trust, of all people, Francis is simply beyond belief. Within the SSPX there is a culture of deep mistrust in the Vatican hierarchy. You can't undo such a situation so easily if you are a saintly Pope who is a friend of truth and tradition, much less if you are a dirty old man with a satanical attraction for Judas' character.
5. The treatment or the FFI must have opened the eyes even of those, say, three Pollyannas within the SSPX ready to trust Francis. But three seems a big number to me.
6. Two words: Amoris Laetitia.
No. The SSPX simply delivering themselves to a V II pope's mercy is just not going to happen.
What can happen, however, is that the Vatican surrenders unconditionally to their requests, creating a situation of de facto “pacific convivence”. We are pretty much there, in fact, when you think that Francis has just decided – as largely expected – to extend sine die the faculties of the SSPX to listen to confessions. This certainly authorises to think that the SSPX will keep doing their thing and the Vatican will simply look the other way, with nothing more than a mild meow of disagreement for their refusal of V II.
Stay calm and trust the Society.
They aren't the guys to be conned by a simpleton like Francis, or by any V II pope come to that.
Rorate Caeli has interviewed Bishop Athanasius Schneider. The text is here.
What I will do is to report the text in its entirety, adding here and there my own comments. Rorate emphases have been kept, in black bold. My own emphases and observations in red. Some words of comment at the end.
POST-SYNOD CHURCH & UNBELIEVERS IN THE HIERARCHY
Rorate Caeli: In the recent Synod, we will not know the legal impact it will have on the Church for some time, as it’s up to Pope Francis to move next. Regardless of the eventual outcome, for all intent and purposes, is there already a schism in the Church? And, if so, what does it mean practically speaking? How will it manifest itself for typical Catholics in the pews?
H.E. Schneider: Schism means according to the definition of the Code of Canon Law, can. 751: The refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with those members of the Church who are submitted to the Supreme Pontiff. One has to distinguish the defect in belief or heresy from schism. The defect in belief or heresy is indeed a greater sin than schism, as Saint Thomas Aquinas said: “Unbelief is a sin committed against God Himself, according as He is Himself the First Truth, on which faith is founded; whereas schism is opposed to ecclesiastical unity, which is a lesser good than God Himself. Wherefore the sin of unbelief is generically more grievous than the sin of schism” (II-II, q. 39, a. 2 c).
The very crisis of the Church in our days consists in the ever growing phenomenon that those who don’t fully believe and profess the integrity of the Catholic faithfrequently occupy strategic positions in the life of the Church, such as professors of theology, educators in seminaries, religious superiors, parish priests and even bishops and cardinals.[Beautiful first salvo. You are left in no doubt the rot sits pretty high]. And these people with their defective faith profess themselves as being submitted to the Pope.
The height of confusion and absurdity manifests itself when such semi-heretical clerics accuse those who defend the purity and integrity of the Catholic faith as being against the Pope – as being according to their opinion in some way schismatics. For simple Catholics in the pews, such a situation of confusion is a real challenge of their faith, in the indestructibility of the Church. They have to keep strong the integrity of their faith according to the immutable Catholic truths, which were handed over by our fore-fathers, and which we find in in the Traditional catechisms and in the works of the Fathers and of the Doctors of the Church.
Rorate Caeli: Speaking of typical Catholics, what will the typical parish priest face now that he didn’t face before the Synod began? What pressures, such as the washing of women’s feet on Maundy Thursday after the example of Francis, will burden the parish priest even more than he is burdened today?
H.E. Schneider: A typical Catholic parish priest should know well the perennial sense of the Catholic faith, the perennial sense as well of the laws of the Catholic liturgy and, knowing this, he should have an interior sureness and firmness. He should always remember the Catholic principle of discernment: “Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus”, i.e. “What has been always, everywhere and from all” believed and practiced.
The categories “always, everywhere, all” are not to be understood in an arithmetical, but in a moral sense. A concrete criterion for discernment is this: “Does this change in a doctrinal affirmation, in a pastoral or in a liturgical practice constitute a rupture with the centuries-old, or even with the millennial past? And does this innovation really make the faith shine clearer and brighter? Does this liturgical innovation bring to us closer the sanctity of God, or manifest deeper and more beautiful the Divine mysteries? Does this disciplinary innovation really increase a greater zeal for the holiness of life?”
As concretely to the innovation of washing the feet of women during the Holy Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday: This Holy Mass celebrates the commemoration of the institution of the sacraments of the Eucharist and the Priesthood.Therefore, the foot washing of women along with the men not only distracts from the main focus on Eucharist and on Priesthood, but generates confusion regarding the historical symbolism of the “twelve” and of the apostles being of male sex [read here: Francis generates confusion regarding both the Eucharist and the male priesthood]. The universal tradition of the Church never allowed the foot washing during the Holy Mass, but instead outside of Mass, in a special ceremony.
By the way: the public washing and usually also kissing of the feet of women on the part of a man, in our case, of a priest or a bishop, is considered by every person of common sense in all cultures as being improper and even indecent [read here: only a lewd Pope could behave as Francis does]. Thanks be to God no priest or bishop is obliged to wash publicly the feet of women on Holy Thursday, for there is no binding norm for it, and the foot washing itself is only facultative.
PRIESTLY FRATERNITY OF ST. PIUS X (SSPX)
Rorate Caeli: A non-typical situation in the church is the Priestly Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Why does Your Excellency think that so many Catholics are afraid of the SSPX or anxious about any association with it? From what Your Excellency has seen, what gifts do you think the SSPX can bring to the mainstream Church?
H.E. Schneider: When someone or something is unimportant and weak, nobody has fear of it. Those who have fear of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X ultimately have fear of the perennial Catholic truths and of its demands in the moral and the liturgical domain.
When the SSPX tries to believe, to worship and to live morally the way our fore-fathers and the best-known Saints did during a millennial period, then one has to consider the life and the work of these Catholic priests and faithful of the SSPX as a gift for the Church in our days[yours truly says this a lot] – even as one of the several instruments which the Divine Providence uses to remedy the enormity of the current general crisis of the faith [ remember Francis’ claim in 2013 that “the Church never had it so good”, or the like?], of the morals and of the liturgy inside the Church.
In some sectors of the SSPX there are, however, as it is the case in every human society some eccentric personalities. They have a method and a mindset which lack justice and charity and consequently the true “sentire cum ecclesia,” and there is the danger of an ecclesial autocephaly and to be the last judicial instance in the Church. However, to my knowledge, the healthier part corresponds to the major part of the SSPX [ I have said this often] and I consider their General Superior, His Excellency Monsignor Bernard Fellay, as an exemplarily and true Catholic bishop. There is some hope for a canonical recognition of the SPPX.
THE SYNOD AND PAPALOTRY [PAPOLATRY?]
Rorate Caeli: Back on the Synod, while focusing on tradition, does Your Excellency believe that the changes in the Roman liturgy post-Vatican II contributed to the current crisis in the Church, the crisis of marriage, the family and societal morality in general??
H.E. Schneider: I wouldn’t affirm this in such a way [ alas, the Bishop does not take the bull by the horns]. Indeed the very source of the current crisis in the Church, the crisis of marriage, of the family and of the morality in general is not the liturgical reform, but the defects in faith, the doctrinal relativism, from which flows the moral and liturgical relativism [I disagree. Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. The rape of the liturgy is what allowed the rise of secular thinking within and without the Church in the first place] For, if I believe in a defective manner, I will live a defective moral life and I will worship in a defective, indifferent manner. It is necessary first to restore the clearness and firmness of the doctrine of faith and of morals in all levels and, from there, start to improve the liturgy [or you can allow the liturgy to help you in your work of reestablishment of orthodoxy]. The integrity and the beauty of the faith demands the integrity and the beauty of one’s moral life and this demands the integrity and the beauty of the public worship.
Rorate Caeli: Still on the Synod, it is clear to those with eyes to see that Pope Francis caused confusion instead of clarity in the Synod process, and encouraged a turn toward rupture by elevating the role of Cardinals Kaspar and Danneels, Archbishop Cupich, etc. What is the proper attitude a Catholic should have towards the pope in these troubled times? Are Catholics obliged to make their views known and “resist” as Cardinal Burke said in an interview last year with us, even when their views are critical of the pope?
H.E. Schneider: [Nota bene! The Bishop does not spend a word to counter the premise: that Pope Francis caused confusion and promoted a rupture!] For several past generations until our days there reigns in the life of the Church a kind of “pope-centrism” or a kind of “papolatria” which is undoubtedly excessive compared with the moderate and supernatural vision of the person of the Pope and his due veneration in the past times. Such an excessive attitude towards the person of the Pope generates in the practice an excessive and wrong theological meaning regarding the dogma of the Papal infallibility.
If the Pope would tell the entire church to do something, which would directly damage an unchangeable Divine truth or a Divine commandment, every Catholic would have the right to correct him in a due respectful form [“evil clown” and “evil ass” are certainly acceptable for Francis], moved out of reverence and love for the sacred office, and person of the Pope. The Church is not the private property of the Pope. The Pope can’t say “I am the Church,”[ Rumour has it Francis went very near to saying just this when he got the conniptions about the “13 Cardinals letter”] as it did the French king Louis XIV, who said: “L’État c’est moi.” The Pope is only the Vicar, not the successor of Christ.
The concerns about the purity of the faith is ultimately a matter of all members of the Church, which is one, and a unique living body. In the ancient times before entrusting to someone the office of a priest and of a bishop, the faithful were asked if they can guarantee that the candidate had the right faith, and a high moral conduct. The old Pontificale Romanum says: “The captain of a ship and its passengers alike have reason to feel safe or else in danger on a voyage, therefore they ought to be of one mind in their common interests.” It was the Second Vatican Council, which very much encouraged the lay faithful to contribute to the authentic good of the Church, in strengthening the faith.
I think in a time in which a great part of the holders of the office of the Magisterium are negligent in their sacred duty [woah!], the Holy Spirit calls today, namely the faithful, to step into the breach [woah, again! Faithful catholics against a great part fot the holders of the office of the Magisterium!] and defend courageously with an authentic “sentire cum ecclesia” the Catholic faith.
TRADITION AND ITS ENEMIES FROM WITHIN
Rorate Caeli: Is the pope the measure of tradition, or is he measured by tradition? And should faithful Catholics pray for a traditional pope to arrive soon?
H.E. Schneider: The Pope is surely not the measure of tradition, but on the contrary.[death blow to all those Patheos-style blogs constantly inviting us to shut up, because the Pope has spoken]. We must always bear in mind the following dogmatic teaching of the First Vatican Council: The office of the successors of Peter does not consist in making known some new doctrine, but in guarding and faithfully expounding the deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles (cf. Constitutio dogmatica Pastor aeternus, cap. 4).
In fulfilling one of his most important tasks, the Pope has to strive so that “the whole flock of Christ might be kept away from the poisonous food of error” (First Vatican Council, ibd.). The following expression which was in use since the first centuries of the Church, is one of the most striking definitions of the Papal office, and has to be in some sense a second nature of every Pope: “Faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith” (First Vatican Council, ibd.).
We must always pray that God provides His Church with traditional-minded Popes.[which, obviously, could not be the case] However, we have to believe in these words: “It is not for you to have knowledge of the time and the order of events which the Father has kept in his control” (Acts 1: 7).
Rorate Caeli: We know there are many bishops and cardinals – possibly the majority – who want to change the Church’s doctrinal language and long-standing discipline, under the excuses of “development of doctrine” and “pastoral compassion.” What is wrong with their argument?
H.E. Schneider:[Again! The Bishop does not oppose with one word the sadly true, but enormous statement that “there are many bishops and cardinals – possibly the majority – who want to change the Church’s doctrinal language and long-standing discipline”]. Expressions like “development of doctrine” and “pastoral compassion” are in fact usually a pretext to change the teaching of Christ, and against its perennial sense and integrity, as the Apostles had transmitted it to the whole Church, and it was faithfully preserved through the Fathers of the Church, the dogmatic teachings of the Ecumenical Councils and of the Popes.
Ultimately, those clerics want another Church, and even another religion: [so: what is the reader to do with the countless invitations of the Evil Clown to ditch the “old rules” and be guided by “the spirit”?]. A naturalistic religion, which is adapted to the spirit of the time. Such clerics are really wolves in sheep’s clothing, often flirting with the world. Not courageous shepherds – but rather cowardly rabbits [though, mind, they do not breed like them…].
ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH
Rorate Caeli: We hear a lot about the role of women in the Church today – the so-called “feminine genius.” Women obviously have played a critical role in the Church since the beginning, starting with the Blessed Virgin Mary. But liturgically, Christ made His position crystal clear, as have pre-Conciliar popes. Does Your Excellency believe that female involvement in the liturgy, whether it’s women taking part in the Novus Ordo Mass or girl altar boys, has played a positive or negative role in the Church the last four decades?
H.E. Schneider: There is no doubt about the fact that the female involvement in the liturgical services at the altar (reading the lecture, serving at the altar, distributing Holy Communion) represents a radical rupture with the entire and universal tradition of the Church. Therefore, such a practice is against the Apostolic tradition. [OK. Such a practice would not have been possible without the new Mass, either].
Such a practice gave to the liturgy of the Holy Mass a clear Protestant shape and a characteristic of an informal prayer meeting or of a catechetical event. This practice is surely contrary to the intentions of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council [not really: they all went back to their dioceses and looked in silence as the demolition went on in earnest]. and there is not in the least an indication for it in the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy [very true, but the Bishops tought it best not to say anything about it].
THE TRADITIONAL LATIN MASS
Rorate Caeli: Your Excellency is well known for celebrating the traditional Latin Mass in many places around the world. What does Your Excellency find to be the deepest lessons learned from saying the Latin Mass, as a priest and as a bishop, that other priests and bishops may hope to gain by saying the traditional Mass themselves?
H.E. Schneider: The deepest lessons I learned from celebrating the traditional form of the Mass is this: I am only a poor instrument of a supernatural and utmost sacred action, whose principal celebrant is Christ, the Eternal High Priest. I feel that during the celebration of the Mass I lost in some sense my individual freedom, for the words and the gesture are prescribed even in their smallest details, and I am not able to dispose of them. [note here: the same libtard who gets all excited when he speaks of exactly the same traits in the highly ritualised, Buddhism-influenced Japanese Tea Ceremony is horrified that the Church should do the same, but with an infinitely worthier purpose] I feel most deeply in my heart that I am only a servant and a minister who yet with free will, with faith and love, fulfill not my will, but the will of Another.
The traditional and more than millennial-old rite of the Holy Mass, which not even the Council of Trent changed, because the Ordo Missae before and after that Council was almost identical, proclaims and powerfully evangelizes the Incarnation and the Epiphany of the ineffably saintly and immense God, who in the liturgy as “God with us,” as “Emmanuel,” becomes so little and so close to us. The traditional rite of the Mass is a highly artfully and, at the same time, a powerful proclamation of the Gospel, realizing the work of our salvation.
Rorate Caeli: If Pope Benedict is correct in saying that the Roman Rite currently (if strangely) exists in two forms rather than one, why has it not yet happened that all seminarians are required to study and learn the traditional Latin Mass, as part of their seminary training? How can a parish priest of the Roman Church not know both forms of the one rite of his Church? And how can so many Catholics still be denied the traditional Mass and sacraments if it is an equal form?
H.E. Schneider: According to the intention of Pope Benedict XVI, and the clear norms of the Instruction “Universae Ecclesiae,” all Catholic seminarians have to know the traditional form of the Mass and be able to celebrate it. The same document says that this form of Mass is a treasure for the entire Church – thus it is for all of the faithful.
Pope John Paul II made an urgent appeal to all bishops to accommodate generously the wish of the faithful regarding the celebration of the traditional form of the Mass [ but he still kept the TLM hostage of every evil bishop]. When clerics and bishops obstruct or restrict the celebration of the traditional Mass, they don’t obey what the Holy Spirit says to the Church, and they are acting in a very anti-pastoral way. They behave as the possessors of the treasure of the liturgy, which does not belong to them, for they are only administrators.
In denying the celebration of the traditional Mass or in obstructing and discriminating against it, they behave like an unfaithful and capricious administrator[hey: who are you to judge?] who – contrary to the instructions of the house-father – keeps the pantry under lock or like a wicked stepmother who gives the children a meager fare. Perhaps such clerics have fear of the great power of the truth irradiating from the celebration of the traditional Mass. One can compare the traditional Mass with a lion: Let him free, and he will defend himself.
RUSSIA NOT YET EXPLICITLY CONSECRATED
Rorate Caeli: There are many Russian Orthodox where Your Excellency lives. Has Alexander of Astana or anyone else in the Moscow Patriarchate asked Your Excellency about the recent Synod or about what is happening to the Church under Francis? Do they even care at this point?
H.E. Schneider: Those Orthodox Prelates, with whom I have contact, generally are not well informed about the internal current disputes in the Catholic Church, or at least they had never spoken with me about such issues. Even though they don’t recognize the jurisdictional primacy of the Pope, they nevertheless look on the Pope as the first hierarchical office in the Church, from a point of view of the order of protocol.
Rorate Caeli: We are just a year away from the 100th anniversary of Fatima. Russia was arguably not consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and certainly not converted. The Church, while ever spotless, is in complete disarray – maybe worse than during the Arian Heresy. Will things get even worse before they get better and how should truly faithful Catholics prepare for what is coming?
H.E. Schneider: We have to believe firmly: The Church is not ours, nor the Pope’s. The Church is Christ’s and He alone holds and leads her indefectibly even through the darkest periods of crisis, as our current situation indeed is.
This is a demonstration of the Divine character of the Church. The Church is essentially a mystery, a supernatural mystery, and we cannot approach her as we approach a political party or a pure human society. At the same time, the Church is human and on her human level she is nowadays enduring a sorrowful passion, participating in the Passion of Christ.
One can think that the Church in our days is being flagellated as our Lord, is being denuded as was Our Lord, on the tenth Cross station. The Church, our mother, is being bound in cords not only by the enemies of Christ but also by some of their collaborators in the rank of the clergy, even sometimes of the high clergy [powerful statement].
All good children of Mother Church as courageous soldiers we have to try to free this mother – with the spiritual weapons of defending and proclaiming the truth, promoting the traditional liturgy, Eucharistic adoration, the crusade of the Holy Rosary, the battle against the sin in one’s private life and striving for holiness.
We have to pray that the Pope may soon consecrate explicitly Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, then She will win, as the Church prayed since the old times: “Rejoice O Virgin Mary, for thou alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world” (Gaude, Maria Virgo, cunctas haereses sola interemisti in universo mundo).
Summa Summarum, it seems to me that we can say this: the Bishop has given a wonderful witness of Catholic faith, and a clear message to confused Catholics. He has obviously gone so far as prudence would suggest him to go.
However, I miss two important elements that I would have very much liked to read: the mention of the “Syllabus of Errors” concerning V II, an original idea of this very Bishop, and a word of condemnation – polite perhaps, but clear – of light shows, communion given to protestants and blasphemous one wold religion videos. The Bishops seems to make the same mistake of most others: V II good, everythign that has happened from that very moment bad.
A bit like saying: Hiroshima Bomb good, devastation bad.
Still, it’s a good day when an interview like this is published.
We still have Catholic bishops. Let us pray they will have the prudence, and the courage, to fight the battles in front of them in the best of ways.
Concerning the matter in the title, I beg not to be counted among the optimists. I do not believe in the least that any sincere reconciliation effort will come from the Vatican. If any rapprochement were to be seen, it would probably only be aimed at dividing the SSPX, as already seen in 2011.
Still: it shall be allowed, I hope, to play a bit. Let us imagine, them, what would be reasonable and acceptable to the right side.
The principle that what the Church has always held stays, and that the SSPX has the right to refuse strange novelties, is too banal to merit discussion. The principle that in whatever V II documents have declared that is in harmony with Truth cannot be logically denied is also too banal to waste time on it. The fact that V II was a merely pastoral Council is also an undisputable fact for every sound Catholic.
The problem is, if you ask me, another: control. The Vatican might want to attract the SSPX in a mortal embrace, and they might even be ready to make concessions for this. But the SSPX will – I am sure of this – not accept any agreement that puts them at the mercy of the V II Church. Not with Benedict as Pope, much less with Francis.
Therefore, the issue, and the litmus test of the Vatican's honesty in any agreement, will be that of independence.
Own seminaries, own finances, complete freedom from episcopal interference, and – as unavoidable consequence – complete freedom to criticise Pope Francis and V II left, right and centre. Nothing else would be acceptable, nothing less should be accepted, and nothing else will.
Unacceptable for the Vatican? So be it. Profitable in the longer term, or just the Catholic thing to do? Welcome.
In theory, there would be an upside for Francis: the “mercy” rhetoric and the “inclusiveness” propaganda, and the personal satisfaction of having “succeeded” where Benedict failed. In practice, it will never happen: those who hate Catholicism, that is, Francis' audience and applauding public, would turn against him faster than you can say “Ricca”, and the myth of the revolutionary Pope would die a fast but horribly painful death, without making him more popular among true blue Catholics in the least. A heretic remains a heretic even if he embraces a saint.
Back to the issue of acceptable compromise, it is clear there can be no compromises on what is not negotiable (the issues of the Liturgy, of religious freedom, etc). It is also clear it would be suicide – an act Fellay or his would never commit – to deliver themselves to the mercy of V II Popes, who would – this, or the next, or the following one – subject the SSPX to the FFI treatment.
This, I think, is the inescapable frame of any serious discussion, or lack thereof.
Of course, the SSPX would not maintain that all of VII was evil. V II was a modernist mixture of truth and lie, and one can't deny the truth just because the Devil says it. Rather, the SSPX will maintain that everything that is not truth must be expunged from the teaching and the praxis of the Church; and that V II was, as a whole, the work of the devil in its mentality and inspiration, which both must be expunged from the Church, too.
Will, or should, the SSPX demand that the Vatican goes back to sanity before accepting reconciliation? Of course not. If the work of the SSPX can go on in exactly the same way, to refuse a freely offered reconciliation would be tantamount to elevating the SSPX to a parallel church, of which the Vatican is not worthy. It would be like refusing the blessing of a priest because one does not like the priest. One may despise the man, but one will still recognise the office.
This is, I think, the only possible frame of a reconciliation. At the same time, this is why the reconciliation will not work as long as The Most Astonishing Hypocrite In Church History (TMAHICH) is in power.
Even a “gratuitous” exercise of “mercy” would be too expensive for the Vatican.
They know perfectly well how mercilessly the same people would attack them, who are now the beneficiaries of the fake “mercy” they peddle around.
New data are now coming from Austria, where the number of Kirchenaustritte (actually possibly only the refusal to pay the absurd and simoniacal church tax, but a rather telling indicator of the situation on the ground) has increased compared to the last full Benedict year in 2012. You would think the euphoria, press coverage, and exceptionally favourable treatment from the press would have caused enthusiasm and a new wave of young, hip, enthusiastic supporters? Forget it.
Cartoon Catholics all over the planet are doing what their cartoon Pope – who does not even like to be called that way – is preaching: they are realising the utter uselessness and superfluity of the Church in a world in which God owes us everything – justice and joy in this world, and Paradise for everyone in the next – and we do not even owe I do not say our best effort as wretched sinners, but not even faith in His Son, or belief in His existence, much less of course fear.
Francis has degraded himself to “facilitator” of something that will come anyway to everyone – salvation – and simple participant in the extremely crowded arena of advocate for a “social justice” that is, in fact, whining socialism and enmity with the West. Those with a strong sense – no thanks to him – of what the Church is and why She is there will stay anyway; but the tepid, the Catholic by hearsay, the many rebels encouraged by 50 years of Bergoglio-style “pastoral attitude” are going to go away, now unable to see the difference between Bergoglio and Milliband (or Obama, or Merkel) beside the fact the latter have better cars. Other will move to the Evangelicals, or to other Christian (heretical) communities run by people who actually have fear of the Lord and respect for His rules: which both Francis lacks to an astonishing degree.
The real Francis effect is the acceleration of the deterioration of Catholicism all over the West, whilst the orthodox friars of the FFI are ruthlessly persecuted. If Bergoglio & Co. had been put in their places by the Castro family with the task of making the maximum damage in the shortest of times, I doubt the Castro could have been more pleased with the first ten months.
The “strategy” of self-destruction will continue – bar some extraordinary intervention from above – in the years to come, with a VII Church becoming more and more secular and justifying her progressive decay with the fact that the society becomes… wordlier. You don’t say? How ever could it happen?! A real mystery…
Others will, as they always do, blame the sexual abuse scandals for their own failures. An excuse grown now extremely old. What they fail to explain to you is how it can be, then, that the most conservative Orders grow like there’s no tomorrow, whilst the pastoral and caring ones – like, erm, the Jesuits – have reduced themselves to old nincompoops not taken seriously by anyone, not even their own red and/or perverted friends. What is it: the Catholics think the pervs came from the ranks of the Jesuits? Or are they looking for Catholicism instead of “gay rights” supporters?
In time, though, the likes of Bergoglio will become extinct, and the likes of Fellay will continue to grow. Give it two generations at most, and those who are still Catholic will be ready to start the work again. From the catacombs, perhaps; but they will.
This will be, then, the ultimate “Francis effect” of the next decades: the progressive dying of the suicidal “Presbyterian wing” of the Church, so that the real Catholics may emerge stronger in a Church now much smaller, but ready for battle.
Bishop Fellay had something to say about the Bishop of Rome on the 12th; and boy, he did not mince words.
I have already reported that the SSPX made an appeal to Francis imploring him not to allow countless souls to perish. This time, the tones are far harsher.
Fellay is on record with saying that Francis is making an already disastrous situation “10,000 time worse”, and his metaphor with Francis and the parachute is, actually, funny in a very tragic way. He is obviously right in his analysis that Francis is willingly throwing bombs at the Church, possibly thinking the poor will be able to find better shelter among the ruins.
I am frankly surprised at the extreme severity of Fellay's words, as I had rather thought the approach of the first intervention would have been followed in the years to come; what I think has happened is that Fellay & Co. feel the situation is so extreme than nothing less than extreme words will do.
Mind, I do not agree with his calling the Novus Ordo “evil”, either (I follow him up to “bad”, though); but then again I am not a member of the Order, so this is par for the course. We have already discussed this ad abundantiam, though, so I will leave it at that.
Coming back to Bishop Fellay, please note the obvious relief at the failure to reconcile in 2012. Though I do not doubt the SSPX would never have agreed to a reconciliation putting them at the mercy of future Popes, there is no denying a reconciliation followed shortly thereafter by accusations of heresy moved to the Pope would not have been a very lasting one. I cannot avoid seeing in that a sign of Providence, leaving the SSPX free to defend orthodoxy without being encumbered by the desire not to rock the boat of a very fresh agreement. I also remember the one or other suggesting the SSPX leaders come crawling at the presence of the Pope and ask for a reconciliation whatever, before it gets worse. It seems fair to say these good men of God will not only not crawl anywhere, but will stand and be ready for battle at all times.
Someway, I get the impression they don't really read Francis through Benedict.
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.
An interesting discussion has erupted concerning the way a conservative, or traditionalist Catholic, should behave concerning attendance to the Novus Ordo Mass. Catocon was so nice as to prepare a mini-research of sources in the comment box of this post.
There is no doubt that whilst some SSPX priest arrives at times to say not worse than that the NO “provides a deficient spiritual diet to the faithful” (something on which, I hope, we all agree), the general stance is in the end harder, oscillating between attending only in case of “social emergency” (and even then only if the Mass is very reverent) and at the other extreme the softer, original position of Archbishop Lefebvre, who said:
However, “it is an exaggeration to say that most of these Masses are invalid.” One should not hesitate to go a little further to have Mass according to the Roman Ordo; but “if one does not have the choice and if the priest celebrating Mass according to the Novus Ordo is faithful and worthy, one should not abstain from going to Mass.”
Also, there seem to be no doubt even among versed priests somewhat less friendly to the SSPX than I am that for the SSPX priests a properly celebrated NO Mass is valid.
In all cases, it appears most priests of the SSPX would demand from yours truly that he exclusively attends a Traditional Mass; actually, their own Traditional Mass, as the doubts or misgivings concerning the indult/SP masses are also clearly there.
This blog was always, as every reader knows who read it even occasionally, on a different position.
Firstly, allow me to copy and paste – out of sheer laziness – a comment I have written in answer to a description of the NO as “abomination”. The SSPX certainly do not go as far as that, but you get the drift.
I refuse to see the Novus Ordo as an abomination. I positively and squarely refuse to do so. If the NO is an abomination, the Church is a fraud. It cannot be that the Church of Christ has decided to offer an abomination worldwide, and it still is the Church of Christ. If I believed that, then I would be forced to believe that there is no Peter, that the Pope is an impostor and a masquerade. Again, I refuse to do so. In fact, as I have explained the only reason why I continue to attend the NO is that I do not want, one day, to think that the NO is an abomination. If a particular NO Mass is more than I can stomach, I can find another NO, or three. On no account would I ever think I am the one to decide that the Rite in itself is an abomination, and I am too good for what the Church offers me.
It’s good to eat hard bread in a while. It still is the bread of life, and it keeps one honest. Works for me, at least.
2. I never said I am afraid that the Society might become Sedevacantist. My point is rather that if I pamper myself with the TLM every Sunday, I might end up thinking the NO is … an abomination. Should life, then, keep me away from a TLM I would then, coherently, not attend anymore. The one at risk is myself, not them. Now, either the NO (I mean, as a Mass; in abstract; and properly celebrated) is valid or it isn’t. I truly do not think it is for me to say. I am a Catholic for a reason. Now, if I had serious reason to think some local NO is not sacramentally valid, I wouldn’t attend there. If one has a TLM, I will encourage him to go there; if one hasn’t there, I would encourage him to travel further to find one in reasonable distance. But if I heard him talking like you do, I would suggest that he attends a NO Mass every now and then, too.
3. Yes, the NO might bring less graces. It probably does. Particularly if one gets angry. But hey, I can’t have my cake and eat it. To people like me, there are dangers on both sides. Been there, done that. Let me say very frankly that I do not want to die thinking that the Mass the Church of Christ offers me is an abomination, and offends Christ. Probably 99% of the Masses offered in the Roman Rite are NO. Many of them are reverently celebrated – even in Germany I can find decent ones without trouble -. If we throw the NO qua NO out of the window, we are saying the Church is a fraud to 99%. Thanks, but no, thanks.
4. You vastly overstate my influence as a blogger; but yes, I could influence the one or the other. On no account, then, would I ever suggest to them that they stay away from a NO Mass if they cannot have the TLM; because truly, the very thought is scary. The TLM is better, but the NO is still good, because it still is the Mass.
Second choice, I agree. But whoa, pay attention what you say.
One day I might well decide to only attend the TLM. Actually, it would be the more pleasant option by far. To do so, I would have to feel very safe that no antics of our clergy will drive me to distraction. I wish I could give you this security, but unfortunately I can’t, or a part of me is afraid one day I could make such a mistake… You see, I could end up – and I say this without animosity, but with a certain apprehension – thinking like you, and I really do not want to.
I will cling to the acceptability of the NO as I cling to the Church. I do not live in Hippyland. Plenty of reverent masses around here. Actually, my “Mass tourism” also has the aim of seeing how things are, examining the lay of the land. Honestly, it could be much worse.
I belong to the Church. I love the Church even when she slaps me in the face. Already once I stopped attending because I thought I knew better, and was better. Already once I thought I do not need to go and listen to a stupid priest talking stupid waffle (obviously, no clue about the real reason why I went to Mass). Never again. If the Lord gives me less graces for that, so be it. I will accept the slap from him as I accept the love, and I will accept whatever slap I take for taking part to the Mass the Church of Christ gave me. Because, you see, the NO is still the standard Mass of the Only Church, and I can’t throw the one from the window without throwing the other.
5. Then let us think to the end. if the NO is an abomination, the priest who celebrates the NO mass is an accomplice in this abomination. Not only the Mass might well be invalid – you probably think it is – but the other sacraments are, probably, too. What then? Do 99% of Catholic priest not impart a valid absolution? How many babies are validly baptised? How many adults validly married? How many of them, actually, validly priests?
It’s a slippery slope.
P.S. To all my twelve readers. I believe the NO is okay. I truly do. Vastly inferior to the TLM, for sure; but seriously, it’s fine.
I hope it will die one day, of course; but as long as it doesn’t, it will deliver all right. It’s the Mass of the Church after all.
You would be better served and more inspired by the TLM; but probably not, if this leads you to think a properly celebrated NO stinks.
Secondly, I would like to make the further consideration that if the SSPX are right, the likes of the London Oratorians are utterly wrong in continuing to celebrate the Novus Ordo ad populum, and we should consider participating at their NO Mass only in case of, say, a marriage in the family. Their NO is clearly, if you listen to some of the voices, not reverent enough for daily attendance.
Even worse it becomes if we take literally the reservations of the SSPX about priests who celebrate exclusively the TLM, but of whom it can be assumed they would not refuse to celebrate the NO if so ordered. In this perspective, not even the FSSP is good enough that their (TL) Mass can be attended to without reservations and moral distinguos.
What is the ultimate consequence of this? As I have already stated, it is that according to this thinking the Church of Christ serves poison and evil fare, day in and day out, to more than 99% of the Roman Rite faithful; who are, once again, not exactly a fringe group, but rather around 90% of worldwide Catholics. In a word, the Church would be the most efficient tool of Satan on earth, bar none.
I don’t like Pope Francis. Actually, I do not even esteem him. I do not think he should have been allowed to become a priest, much less a Pope – the same as Pope Liberius, Pope Benedict IX, Pope Alexander VI or Pope Leo X by the way -. But, come on…
I refuse to espouse such an extreme position. I see a substantial difference between considering the NO like a hamburger compared to the TLM’s porterhouse steak, or Coca-Cola compared to the TLM’s Barolo, and considering it instead stale meat, or a poisonous drink. The difference is substantial in that the hamburger is still nourishment, and the Coca-cola still quenches the thirst.
I refuse to espouse a vision of the world that sees in the Church an almost complete evil-producing wasteland, as the only fully acceptable parts of it would then be the SSPX and their affiliates. I refuse to consider the London Oratorians not good enough for my lofty standards, and a Traditional Latin Mass with the FSSP something I should avoid if I can. With such a mentality, of course talking to the Vatican does not make sense. With such a mentality, of course it is infinitely better to have no agreement at all with the Vatican, not even if one is offered for free and without have to make any concession in return. If Rome is so evil, then they must be fought against, not dialogued with! When, and only when, one has this forma mentis, Williamson’s behaviour becomes not only understandable, but actually coherent.
Frankly, I don’t see it. I want the end of the NO mass as much as the next Traditionalist, but I refuse to consider poisonous or evil – much less “an abomination” – the spiritual nourishment the Church of Christ offers me and the other 99% of Roman Rite Catholics.
Some might say “but Mundabor, they say that the NO is evil, but they qualify by saying it that it is evil in the sense that it does not have a necessary good ” (or suck like). I answer to this that either the NO is evil in the sense that you and I understand when we hear the word evil, or the argument fails to persuade. If “evil” isn’t really “evil”, then the argument isn’t there in the first place.
I wonder how many within the SSPX truly share this view. They have supported Bishop Fellay like a man, and Bishop Williamson’s exclusion has caused not more than a dozen or so defection (less, if memory serves). It is clear they look at Rome in a way well different from the creator and distributor of millions of poisonous masses daily.
I have left the words of the Archbishop up as a quotation, so that at the end of this long post one may want to read it again. Of course the Archbishop might have expressed himself differently in different contexts, and one must take his words in the frame of his beautiful love for the Church. But exactly for this reason, it seems to me that his softer stance is more reasoned and more coherent, as he clearly gives every NO mass celebrated by a “faithful and worthy priest” dignity of – to remain by the culinary metaphor – nourishing, healthy, un-poisonous hamburger.
From the very long – and very fitting – letter #80 of Bishop Fellay to Friends and Benefactors: (emphases mine)
We beg Heaven and the authorities of the Church, in particular the new Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis, Vicar of Christ, Successor of Peter, not to allow souls to perish because they no longer learn sound doctrine, the revealed deposit of the faith, without which no one can be saved, no one can please God.
What good is it to devote oneself to serving people if one hides from them what is essential, the purpose and the meaning of their life, and the seriousness of sin that turns them away from it? Works of charity done for the poor, the needy, the infirm, and the sick have always been a true concern for the Church, and we must not excuse ourselves from it, but if it becomes merely man-centered philanthropy, then the Church is no longer carrying out her mission, she is no longer leading souls to God, which can really be done only by supernatural means: faith, hope, charity and grace. And therefore by denouncing anything that is opposed to them: errors against faith and morality. Because if people sin, for want of that denunciation, they are damned for eternity. The Church’s reason for being is to save them and to help them avoid the misfortune of their eternal perdition.
“Mundabor”, the teacher would have said at school, “what does the author want to say”?
I am not at school anymore, but I think I know what I would answer: the author wants to say that there has been enough talk of simplicity, black shoes, iron crosses, and Argentinian newsagents, whilst the real issues continue to be happily ignored.
One month on, the silence of the new Pope concerning the new, exploding phenomenon of pro-homosexual legislation is deafening; but Heavens, we know everything about how he doesn’t like Papal Apartments, red shoes, mozzettas, or Roman cobblers.
The SSPX has certainly been prudent for a while, waiting to see how they can picture this Pontiff before speaking publicly.
Their decision to move to an open appeal clearly means they consider his silence as scandalous. Please read Bishop Fellay’s words again. They are clear enough.
Pope Francis has not justified the worst fears (up to now, at least), and has moved rather well on a couple of occasions (the LCWR comes to mind; actually nothing else of consequence comes to mind… one good homily here, one good idea there, things like that); but he has also lived dramatic weeks for world Christianity whilst doing basically nothing, or whilst letting us know how sensitive he is to his newsagent down in Buenos Aires.
God knows how much the French Catholics would have appreciated strong words of the Pontiff concerning the abomination of sodomy; it would have given – and would still give – the movement great strenght for the years of fight in front of them.
Instead, we haven’t heard one word. Not one.
I am sick and tired already to try to see Francis through Benedict. I see that Benedict was indecisive enough, and Francis can talk rather refreshingly if he wants, but he avoids to do it when it means grating the masses whose approval he is so sedulously seeking. Whilst the French members of parliament send the country’s soul to hell, he entertains us with the evil of gossiping.
Mozzetta or no Mozzetta, this is not good enough; this is no longer carrying on the Church’s mission, and allowing souls to perish.
It is a paradox that we had a Pope who saw the necessity of war but didn’t have the nerve to lead us into it; and we now have a Pope who probably has the strenght of character to lead us into any war he chooses, but seems not to think the unprecedented disintegration of the Christian fabric of the West is worth a war in the first place.
But hey, we know all about his cobbler.
And so the SSPX should be, one is informed, scared of the new Pope crushing them, and should have accepted the poisoned bread offered to them by a, erm, rather scheming Pope.
Should they? Really? I am not persuaded at all. Let us see why.
Broadly speaking, the new Pope can only be one of three:
1) a modernist like Schoenborn.
2) a so-so, V-II nuChurch Pope like, well, all of them since Pope Roncalli.
3) A traditionalist Pope.
If 1) happens, you’ll see an explosion of sedevacantism, and as a result of the prestige and position of the SSPX who, whilst not being sedevacantists, are in clear opposition to the antics of nuChurch. Whatever this new Pope may order to them, the Society will certainly apply the blessed “first rule of the Italian army”: gli ordini sbagliati non si eseguono, “wrong orders are not carried out”.
I can, in fact, not imagine anything more promising for the growth of the Society than an utterly disgraceful Pope. Please reflect the likes of the FSSP would all be silenced in no time, and told they are lucky if they can keep the Tridentine Mass, and the Society would soon remain, to all intents and purposes, the only traditionalist shop in town.
The SSPX would then be seen as the last and only bastion of orthodoxy, and rightly so. They have the people, they have the money, they have the faith and the determination. Depend on that, they won’t take stupid orders by any stupid Schoenborn, Pope or no Pope. Amen.
2) So-so Popes can bark – with great effort – but they can’t bite. Therefore, your typical V II Pope would engage in endless “dialogue” without ever coming to any conclusion, which is why they engage in “dialogue” in the first place (besides trying to split the Society). There would be a gesture here and its contrary there, a Bux here and a Mueller there (well, not really; the man will hopefully be gone for good soon); but in the end, nothing would happen.
“You must accept V II”, the Vatican would say. “You must wake up and repent”, the SSPX would answer. Not the stuff of agreements, and it is probably good so as long as this situation persists.
3) If we are blessed by a traditionalist Pope (an event we as Catholics have by far not deserved), then the problem would solve itself by itself. We’d soon have the SSPX in full communion and – in time – Fellay as Cardinal ( I have joked about that in another post, but in this constellation I can’t see any other outcome). Case 3) is not a problem, but the end of all problems, and is therefore not worth discussing much.
What can, then, an hypothetical new and angry Pope do against the Society? A fat nothing, is the answer. The Society exists because the Papacy is in crisis. They will not do the Pope’s bidding when the papacy is even more in crisis than it has been in the times of Paul VI.
On the contrary, it seems to me that the decision of the Pope to go away is in fact a vindication of the SSPX policy. He will soon be gone, and the SSPX is still there. With Benedict, Mueller will soon go (not immediately, probably; the successor will allow him a face-saving time before he picks his own man). If there had been a (bad) agreement, how long had it lasted? Months? If the new pope is bad, than the SSPX was even more right in not wanting lazy compromises, and insisting on guarantees of freedom of criticism beside operational autonomy.
If you are smart, you talk with the Vatican but you don’t trust your own existence to their mercy. Bishop Fellay is very smart, and every agreement would have to be approved by the majority of the SSPX priests, so expect no surprises from there.
So: Pope Benedict will soon be gone. Archbishop Mueller will follow him soon after. The SSPX is still there, as solid as a rock, growing like a mushroom colony, and not scared of anything but lazy compromises.
I wonder who won?
The Pope has, so to speak, just about finished to resign, and already you read on the Press the most unbelievably uninformed articles and commentaries. My favourite up to now is the one of the perverts calling themselves “Catholics” who see in Pope Benedict’s resignation a hope for a Pope who will “embrace” their lifestyle. They dream (or blather about to make themselves important; fags & co. are always primadonnas) of a Pope starting a III Vatican Council to tell them they are spot on on pretty much everything, and the Church has been so naughty from Jesus down.
I am certainly very scared of the possibility of a mickey mouse Cardinal like Schoenborn becoming Pope (don’t bet your pint), but these people really don’t know what they are thinking. They don’t know what they’re writing, either (“ecumenicalism”. I kid you not), but they manage to be angered at the Church’s insistence on “purity”.
The pope should, therefore, embrace filth. Keep dreaming.
So these people can’t write and can’t think, but I am sure they know a lot of things we can’t even imagine, so they must think they are fine on the “knowledge” issue.
Sorry, no link. They’d feel important at counting your clicks.
Well, then, dreaming for dreaming, let us see what I would want my dream Pope to do….
He would declare the V II experiment officially failed; announce a re-writing of all V II documents, which (the old ones) are with immediate effect not to be used for pastoral purposes anymore; announce a gradual demolition of all V II innovations, from the Novus Ordo (obviously) to the bishops’ conferences, from the altar girls to the parish councils (or how on earth are called), from communion in the hand and/or standing to the V II-induced revisions of the rules of religious orders. Then I would very much like for him to proceed to a purge of Stalinian proportions among the Cardinal first, followed by the archbishops and bishops, all given the strictest warnings that thy are responsible for the behaviour of their priests, and slacking will be punished without fail or delay.
All the clergy (priests, bishops, cardinals, deacons; not Hans Kueng, though, because he will be already defrocked) would obviously have to take the Oath of Allegiance, which for the Cardinals and most important Archbishops would be recorded and put on the Vatican channel o YouTube, so that the faithful can think “look, let me see how my Bishop gives the Oath”. Obviously, Cardinal Archbishop Fellay would proudly have his own oath online too. The priests and other bishops would of course have it put on the parish/diocesan website, because it should not be said my dream Pope isn’t very modern and, well, aggiornato.
What next? Well, stupid names should be rethought. For example, “Holy Inquisition” would be a brilliant name for the most important department, now led from Cardinal Fellay (first case: Father Mueller, the former Archbishop); “confession” sounds so much better than “reconciliation”, and “last rites” is actually far more appropriate than the way they call it now, and distribute around like M&Ms (how is that? Has to do with anointing…).
I am sure one can think of many other useful measures, but my ideal Pope would have a slogan he applies to all of them: WDPPD? This means “What did Pope Pacelli do?”. Did he want altar rails? Altar rails it is! Was he in favour of Capital punishment? Bring it on! Did he want three hours of fasting before communion? Three hours for us, please!
A capital chap, my ideal Pope.
Not sure the above mentioned fags would like him much, though.
I like Bishop Williamson. I like him, so to speak, even when I do not like him. His passion and energy resonate very much with this emotional Southern European; and his beautiful, utterly politically incorrect sense of humour is a fresh breeze in a world dominated by the cowardice of pretty much every institutional outlet on the planet, perhaps a couple of Eastern European governments excepted.
It is, therefore, with sadness that I am now waiting for the official announcement of the secession/defenestration of Williamson and the extremely likely creation of a dissident group.
At the same time, one must – leaving for a moment personal sympathies aside – admit the Bishop’s positions had become rather an embarrassment for the Society herself; not so much – I hope – for the man’s singular opinions about the Holocaust (opinions to which he is perfectly entitled everywhere but in those countries tainted by PC-Neonazism; like, well, Germany) , but for his singular insistence in seeing in Rome something very similar to the “Whore of Babylon” so dear to the Protestant imagination.
I do not think, though, that this was in the end decisive in this now imminent split; if I know this kind of dynamic sufficiently well, this is rather one of those situations where differences in theology create more and more pronounced personal differences, and in the end separation becomes an outcome that cannot be pinned down to a single event, though no doubt both sides will certainly be tempted to do so (he did not take down his blog; they wanted to humiliate me; he is disobedient; they want to sell to Rome, and so on…).
What I do not think will happen is that the SSPX will get out of the story weakened or less credible. Setting aside for a moment the disagreeable taste of a split, it is probably for the best that Williamson and his followers get their own outlet: this will allow them to freely express their own opinion, whilst the SSPX will gain much credibility in presenting herself to the public exclusively with the Fellay and Schmidberger of this world rather than having to endure the ceaseless static of a group of people who have been making their own foreign policy ( and, realistically , leaking like a sieve) for a long time anyway.
I might be the eternal Pollyanna, but I think the Traditionalist front will get out stronger – provided the two organisations do not start quarrelling with each other – out of the split.
You see, traditionalism is not a cake which can only be divided in so many slices. Rather, I would compare it to a growing market, destined to expand massively in the decades to come, and able to accommodate both Williamson’s “ultras” and the in my eyes more reasonable and ultimately wiser SSPX.
If Pope Benedict’s intent in dangling the carrot of the reconciliation – save eating his word at the last moment – was to split the SSPX in the middle (as I am persuaded was his aim from day one) I think he will soon be disappointed with this outcome.
The Vatican proved untrustworthy and deceitful, giving right to Williamson who had smelled a rat from the start; and the SSPX discussed seriously with them without making any compromise, giving right to Fellay that the organisation is not compromised in her integrity just because they do not refuse to talk to Rome. But seriously, the idea that the SSPX should even refuse to talk to the Pope – even knowing beforehand he will be deceitful – sounds outlandish to me, and utterly unjustified. I think someone among those of the SSPX allowed their own zeal for purity to carry them a bit too far.
In an ideal world, the two souls of the SSPX would have found a way to coexist and pull together at the same rope. Alas, we do not live in an ideal world. Unpleasant, yes. A tragedy, certainly not. Perhaps, even an advantage in the long-term.
I am persuaded the Holy Father started the entire procedure to make a “FSSP 2.0” attempt at divide et impera, and his intentions were no better than the ones the Williamson wing of the SSPX ascribes to him. Still, he is the Pope, and you talk to the Pope when he asks to. If he proves deceitful you refuse – obviously – to obey him as the Church has no Fuehrerprinzip and the last Peter has no more right than the first Peter to be obeyed when he is just plain wrong; but to refuse to even talk to him, to write the head of the Church off even as an interlocutor, this in my eyes means to institutionalise, to cry from the roofs a total separation from the Only Church. I know this is not the intent of Williamson & Co., but I think their mistrust and anger prevents them from seeing the ultimate consequences of this stance.
As to the Pontiff, I doubt he will be satisfied with the outcome, with the SSPX largely untouched and rather more credible now, and a new organisation which, if it survives its founder, will probably prove to be solvent and combative enough to be a permanent part of the Traditionalist landscape for as long as – perhaps after the death of the founder – a milder counsel prevails.
This looks to me like a win-win scenario for the SSPX, and a lose-lose scenario for the Vatican.
Again, someone was too clever by half.
This appeared some days ago on the generally well-informed (and said to have very good contacts within the SSPX) Kreuz.net.
The news matches rather neatly with another one, always from the same sources, concerning the Bishop having celebrated some confirmations in Brasil without authorisation from the SSPX.
It is now irrelevant to decide whether Bp. Williamson will (would; might) be excluded because of his Brasil confirmations, or whether he decided to fly to Brasil because he had decided to secede in the first place. What I think is relevant is that the news comes from a generally very informed source, and as far as I know has not been denied by the SSPX yet.
Those of us who think that the Holy Father started the entire exercise to try to see whether he could provoke divisions within the SSPX (I am among them) might think that with this development the Holy Father has reached his objective, but I am not persuaded the action will be of any use to the Pope either during the rest of his pontificate or afterwards.
Williamson will – if the exclusion/secession really happens – carry with him a part of the SSPX, but not a very big one. We know this, because we have seen Bishop Fellay carrying with him the vast majority of the Fraternity in the past months and we know that his leadership was not challenged in any significant way. It is reasonable to assume enough supporters and – importantly – wealthy donors will remain with the SSPX to allow it to continue its work undisturbed, with the added advantage of getting rid of the at times embarrassing presence of Bishop Williamson.
At the same time, it is difficult for me to believe Bishop Williamson would have decided to (or encouraged the) split without being assured he will have an organisation at his command with enough supporters and enough means to be of some permanence. I might be wrong, but if this secession is going to happen I think the newly created organisation is going to stay with us for a long time, and to be a voice heard within the Catholic world.
If, therefore, the split was the objective of the Holy Father, what has he obtained? Has he managed to weaken the SSPX, or to undermine its authority and prestige among sanely thinking Catholics? By no means. Has he then at least managed to defuse Bishop Williamson? Improbable.
Of course, the Holy Father might now proceed to excommunicate (again) both Williamson and the SSPX bishops after the clear failure of the negotiations (which I am now persuaded were meant to fail from day one from the Vatican, it being rather illogical that a Pope who placidly tolerates schismatic movements or currents in Austria, Switzerland and Germany would see himself unable to allow the SSPX to continue their perfectly orthodox work), thus striking them when they are, allegedly, weak; but again, I doubt this would lead to any meaningful results, as the SSPX fare best when the Post-conciliar Vatican is against them, as the past decades have abundantly shown.
Therefore, as a result of what I think were rather Machiavellian machinations from the Holy Father, the Vatican will – if the secession happens – be now confronted with not one SSPX but, so to speak, two; of which one rather as strong as ever, and the other possibly destined to become rather strong, too.
I have often thought, and become more and more persuaded, that this Pope is too clever by half, and his policy of deception is not bearing any of the desired fruits.
Pope Benedict gave conservative Catholics Summorum Pontificum to make them believe he was on their side and would (slowly and prudently, but steadily) steer the Church in their direction. In reality, though, he was only giving some food to the pigeons whilst he continued the Vatican-II policy of appointment of modernist bishops, and toleration of almost every form of dissent (not the orthodox one of the SSPX, of course; perish the thought…). As a result, conservative Catholics are now more and more aware of the deception and will (particularly after he has died; alas, many Catholics can just not conceive a reigning Pope might be wrong) soon realise the “hermeneutic of continuity” is nothing more than an attempt to perpetuate the Neo-modernist horrors by getting rid of the Modernist tones.
Concerning the SSPX, the same politics was observed: the lifting of the excommunications – a fact which might have been embarrassing for the Vatican, but was certainly not decisive for the SSPX – was the prelude of “talks” meant to divide them in the middle, and possibly strike them separately afterwards. It seems clear to me this policy will fail, too, and the traditionalists will now grow stronger rather than getting weaker.
Make no mistake: Williamson will do fine, and so will the SSPX. The only one who will be disappointed is the one who wanted to beat or destroy them, and whose machinations are now all too clear to see. Just reflect how free the neo-modernist forces are to operate, and how inflexible the Vatican is with the SSPX, to realise on which side this Pope stands.
Again: too clever by half.
From the DICI website, an interview with Bishop Fellay about what is happening.
As always, this SSPX interview is a joy to read. One compares them with the inane blabber coming from the Vatican, and is ashamed.
Comments and Emphases mine.
“DICI : How did the General Chapter go? How was the mood of the meeting?
Bishop Fellay : It took place in a rather hot atmosphere, since July is a particularly hot month in the Valais! [ nice joke, this one…] But in a very busy schedule, where the members of the Chapter were able to freely exchange ideas, as it befits such a working meeting.
DICI : Were you able to discuss the relations with Rome? Were there any forbidden questions? The dissensions manifested within the SSPX these last moths, have they calm down?
Bishop Fellay : That makes for quite a few questions! Regarding Rome, we went to the very heart of the issues, and all the capitularies were able to study the complete file. Nothing was left aside and there were no taboos among us. It was my duty to exhibit with detail all the documentation exchanged with the Vatican, something which was rendered difficult by the obnoxious climate of recent months. This made it possible for us to conduct direct discussions which have cleared out the doubts and dissipated any misunderstandings, resulting in peace and unity of hearts, which of course is something to rejoice about.
DICI : How do you foresee the relations with Rome after this Chapter?
Bishop Fellay : All ambiguity has now been resolved among us. Very soon we will convey to Rome the position of the Chapter, which has been the occasion to specify our road map insisting upon the conservation of our identity, the only efficacious means to help the Church to restore Christendom. [= there will be no swallowing of the SSPX]. As I told you recently, “if we want to make fruitful the treasure of Tradition for the benefit of souls, we must both speak and act” (cf. interview of 8 June 2012, DICI #256). We cannot keep silent when facing the rampant loss of faith, the staggering fall of the number of vocations, and the decrease of religious practice. [ what rampant loss of faith? Wasn’t V II the masterpiece of the Holy Spirit? Tsk, tsk…]. We cannot refrain from speaking when confronted with the “silent apostasy” and its causes. Doctrinal mutism is not the answer to this “silent apostasy” which even John Paul II denounced already in 2003. [ this is another fine piece of humour…]
Our approach is inspired not only by the doctrinal firmness of Archbishop Lefebvre but also by his pastoral charity. The Church has always considered that the best testimony to the truth is to be found in the early Christians’ unity built in prayer and charity. They had “but one heart and one soul,” as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. Acts 4, 32). Such a common ideal is also our watchword, Cor Unum being the name of the internal bulletin of the SSPX. Hence we distance ourselves resolutely from all those who have tried to take advantage of the situation in order to drive a wedge turning Society members against each other [this is one for Williamson and one for the Vatican, I think…]. Such a spirit does not come from God.
DICI : What are your thoughts on the appointment of Archbishop Mueller as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?
Bishop Fellay : It is nobody’s secret that the former bishop of Regensburg, where our seminary of Zaitzkofen is located, does not like us. After the courageous action of Benedict XVI on our behalf, in 2009, he refused to cooperate and treated us like if we were lepers! He is the one who stated that our seminary should be closed and that our students should go to the seminaries of their dioceses of origin, adding bluntly that “the four bishops of the SSPX should resign”! (cf. interview with Zeit Online, 8 May 2009). [yours truly reported…]
For us what is more important and more alarming is his leading role at the head of the Congregation for the Faith, which must defend the Faith with the proper mission of fighting doctrinal errors and heresy. Numerous writings of Bishop Mueller on the real transubstantiation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, on the dogma of Our Lady’s virginity, on the need of conversion of non-Catholics to the Catholic Church… are questionable, to say the least! There is no doubt that these texts would have been in the past the object of an intervention of the Holy Office, which now is the very Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith presided by him. [game, set and match Fellay…].
DICI : How do you see the future of the SSPX? In the midst of its fight for the Church’s Tradition, will the SSPX keep to the same knife’s edge?
Bishop Fellay : More than ever we must maintain the knife’s edge traced by our venerated founder. It is not easy to keep, yet absolutely vital for the Church and the treasure of its Tradition. We are Catholic, we recognise the pope and the bishops, but above all else we must keep intact the Faith, source of God’s grace. Therefore we must avoid all that may endanger the Faith, without trying to become a replacement for the Church, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman. Far from us the idea of establishing a parallel Church, of exercising a parallel magisterium!
This was well explained by Archbishop Lefebvre more than thirty years ago: he did not wish to hand down anything else but what he himself had received from the Church of two millennia. This is what we want also, following his lead, so that we may effectively help “to restore all things in Christ.” It is not us who will break with Rome, the Eternal Rome, mistress of wisdom and truth. Nevertheless, it would be unrealistic to deny that there is a modernist and liberal influence in the Church since the Second Vatican Council and its subsequent reforms. In a word, we maintain the faith in the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and in the Church founded upon Peter, but we refuse all which contributes to the “self-demolition of the Church” acknowledged by Paul VI himself since 1968. May Our Lady, Mother of the Church, hasten the day of its authentic restoration!”
I do not know what you think about this, but in my eyes the SSPX has come out of the machinations of the Vatican more unite and stronger than it used to be. There is now a clear line of reconciliation if such an event is honestly pursued by the Pontiff, and refusal to be swallowed whole with the excuse of the “dying Pope who would oh so much want a reconciliation” (provided it leads to the death of the Society) if it isn’t.
Once again, it is not difficult to imagine the Society will keep the door of honest talk open. They know the Vatican is corrupted by strong strains of neo-modernism (or of modernism tout-court), but they also know Peter is the one they will continue to look to; hoping he will, one day, restore the Church to sobriety.
Once again, we have a small change in the Vatican and once again, the Internet is alive with speculations as to what this might mean for the SSPX-Vatican negotiations.
I am always amused at this exercise by which a huge elephant is in the room, and so many commentators stubbornly refuse to see it.
Now, Father Schmidberger may have his diplomatic reasons to say that the appointment of Archbishop Di Noia to the position of main negotiator with the SSPX might be a positive sign, and he is right in sending a signal to the Holy Father that when the Vatican abandons unrealistic demands, the door of the SSPX is always open. It is, also, perfectly fine he does not say who is, in the end, the responsible for the “ping-pong ball treatment” reserved to the Society. Once again, and even after having been abused and lied to, the SSPX shows real charity and a sincere desire for – proper – reconciliation.
What in my eyes is not realistic is to think that this or that appointment of this or that person may really change anything in the fundamental question: either the Pope (not Levada; not Di Noia; not Gaenswein; The Pope) accepts that the SSPX will not change its position on Vatican II, or there will be no agreement. Not now, not in two years’ time, and not if the Pope lives to be 120.
Please note unless I am mistaken the incardination of Ecclesia Dei under the CDF has not been changed; therefore, Di Noia’s immediate superior is still Cardinal Levada. Please also note Cardinal Levada was supposed to retire… today, and as far as I can see he is still there. Ditto Gaenswein.
Therefore, at the moment I do not see any change in the position of the Pope (not Levada’s; not Di Noia’s; not Gaenswein’s; the Pope’s) that in order to reach an agreement the SSPX must swallow Vatican II whole. We know this is the position of the Pope because we know the Pope isn’t doddering, and we know he can write, use the phone, send emails and surf on the internet. Therefore, if he were minded to consent to regolarise the SSPX’s position (leaving the doctrinal discussions to a later stage), and would – incredibly, as they are his own people, and still at their places – not entirely trust Gaenswein, or Levada, or Di Noia, or whomever else, he could simply grab the phone and be done with it in just a few minutes. Something like that:
“Gut morning, may I speak to Bishop Fellay, please? Yes, zis is ze Pope. Thanks, I’ll vait….
Hallo, Bishop Fellay? Thanks, excellency, hope you too. Zis is just to tell you I am faxing over ze doctrinal declaration. Yes, it’s all fine. How’s ze veather by the vay? Here is very varm… You’re velcome, excellency. It vas a pleasure”.
Five minutes, top; including the waiting, and the fax transmission.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Particularly if you are the most powerful man on Earth.
In this case, I begin to think there is simply no will. What is wanted here is either an unrealistic conversion of the SSPX to V II bollocks, or a rather shameless attempt to split them in the middle – as already attempted with the FSSP; I forget who was one of the main architects of the operation at the time… – dangling in front of them the bait of the reconciliation, and hoping that some back and forth and some broken promises will move them to cave in in the end.
Someone at the Vatican is being too clever by half. Not good.
What would you think of a, say, Prime Minister who first indicates a draft of agreement is fine, and then eats his words and decides on second thought it is better to back pedal?
What would you think of a Prime Minister who surrounds himself with people of such falseness as to – in case; this is the milder hypothesis for the Prime Minister – lie to negotiation counterparts concerning the PM’s agreement with the draft document?
If the Prime Minister were surrounded by people without scruples, duplicitous and scheming, would you not consider the Prime Minister responsible for the people he selects to be near him?
If the Prime Minister surrounds himself with people of evidently manipulative character – Alastair Campbell comes to mind – would you not think that said Mr Campbell is there because he is exactly the kind of person the Prime Minister wants in that position?
When Blair decided to wage war in Iraq, how many of those critical with this decision blamed Gordon Brown for it? How many of those in favour praised the same Brown for it?
When a man promises to a woman to marry her, and then eats his word because he didn’t like the reaction of some relatives of his – perhaps important, no doubt; but none of them the bridegroom – what do decent people think of such a man? Do they think that bad “wolves” made him change his mind? Or do they think that a man is only as good as his word, and a man who does not keep his word is not a decent man?
Here the matter is very simple:
a) The Holy Father ate his word; or
b) The Holy Father surrounds himself – willingly, mind; and full knowing what he does – with people who do not hesitate to lie and to spend his own name and personal integrity to reach some objective of theirs: for example, in order to achieve a general mobilisation of the German clergy so as to scare the – in himself not truly difficult to scare – Pope.
Unless of course you persuade me that Pope Benedict can work with the likes of Bertone, Levada & Co. for decades without knowing them, in which – absurd – case you are telling me that he should not have been made parish priest, let alone Pope.
The falseness and duplicity of what has happened in the Vatican in the last weeks is beyond contempt, because here something much worse was done than simply saying “no” to the SSPX. In this case, the SSPX was simply used – either by the Holy Father, or by the likes of Gaenswein under the supervision and responsibility of the Holy Father – to proceed to the mobilisation of the V II crowd. The saddened words of Bishop Fellay about the SSPX being used like a ping-pong ball seem to me to clearly refer to this.
Let me tell you this once again, because I get slightly nervous when I read that suddenly Cardinal Levada should be the culprit and the Pontiff, who obviously lives on Mars, should be whither than snow: Levada is not the Pope. Benedict XVI is the Pope. The Pope is in charge. He is answerable for what he does and for what his people do. If Gaenswein has lied, he is responsible for having Gaenswein in his role. If Levada was duplicitous, he is responsible for having Levada in his role. If “wolves” are roaming around, he is responsible for everyone of them, because they are there on his decision and under his responsibility.
Make no mistake, this blunder is 100% Pope Benedict’s responsibility, and casts a huge shadow on his personal integrity in the worst of cases, and on his leadership and ability to work as a Pope in the best one.
In case, then, you should think a Pope would, oh, never ever do such things, think again: the leak is still very fresh of how Pope Benedict authorised the scandalous neo-catechumenal liturgy and simply let Cardinal Burke in the dark. Just like that. This is not only poor leadership, this justifies doubts about one’s personal integrity, and it might be useful to open one’s eyes and see reality as it is instead of chasing imaginary “wolves” accurately selected by the Pontiff across several decades to do exactly…. the contrary of what he wants.
Then the “Levada did it ” argument is preposterous, because by wanting to discharge him it simply indicts the Pontiff in the most brutal of ways. If you surround yourself with wolves all your life, can you say you are better than them? Did the Pontiff think these dogs would have no fleas? For an entire lifetime? Please.
Once again: Cardinal Levada is not in charge. The Pope is. Levada can only propose, but he cannot decide. If the Pope has come to the point that his Cardinals do whatever they please without his having the force to react, he should resign at once for the good of the Church and of his own soul. But we all know that this is simply not the case; and that frail as he is, he is certainly not an old man in his dotage.
The problem I see with the Pontiff is, very bluntly stated, one of lack of integrity. He lacks integrity if he lies (let’s hope not; but let us not be Pollyanna here); if not, he lacks integrity because he chooses collaborators who evidently lack integrity; and he certainly lacks integrity if he does not have the basic decency of sticking to his own word, as can be expected by every man who think his word has value.
“Let your yea be yea and your nay, nay” seem words unheard of in nowadays’ Vatican, from the Pope down. Instead, playing with the SSPX in this shameful way – in order to divide them, or to provoke a reaction from the other side – seems to be perfectly legitimate. For shame.
Then we are told the Pope is “saddened” that there are leaks, and plots, and subterranean schemes. Of course there are, if this is the mentality he promotes and selects! Of curse there are, if this is the forma mentis he wants in the people surrounding him! The Pontiff made this bed in its entirety, but now he is saddened he has to lie in it! This is about the same as Obama complaining his team is made of money-squandering, incompetent, atheist nincompoops; with the difference that Obama has far less liberty in choosing his people than the Pope.
We all have seen in the past how the one or other Pope disgraced his Office and the Church. In recent times, Pope John Paul II – who managed to tamper with the Crusades, be scolded live by “rock stars” and “nuns”, and kiss the Koran – comes to mind; but the old Pope was, at least on some of these occasions, probably not really there with his head anymore, and one wonders to what extent he can be blamed.
I don’t think the same can be said of the present Pontiff. Whatever has happened here, it has happened during many weeks of careful plotting. Whatever deception was staged here, it was made in cold blood and with utter disregard for the feelings of thousands of devoted Catholics, and with the arrogance of those who think to them everything is allowed.
Let us pray for the Pope, recruiter of wolves; that he may see the error of his ways and make a better use of the time left to him.
Rather disquieting interview from bishop Tissier de Mallerais on the usual Rorate Caeli. The bishop’s utterances are more than surprising because they repeat in public what had been privately ventilated in the infamously leaked letter in May. Please note this interview was given on the 1 Juni, and this interview does not mean in the least the bishop would secede in case of agreement. Still, I find his reasoning alarming to say the least.
The bishop’s problems with the reconciliation seem to be, as I see it, mainly three:
1. The practical agreement should not have come before the doctrinal one.
2. Rome is so far away from true Catholicism, that anything other than open war against her risks to contaminate the SSPX.
3. Even from the practical point of view, the reconciliation would effectively castrate the SSPX, reduce it to obedience, put insurmountable obstacles to its growth. This because
3.1 the SSPX would be forced to acknowledge V II , and
3.2 the bishops would be in a position to even close existing structures.
To 1, the Bishop says (emphases always mine):
We refuse a purely practical agreement because the doctrinal question is fundamental. Faith comes before legality. We cannot accept a legalization without the problem of the faith being solved. To submit ourselves now unconditionally to the higher authority imbibed with Modernism would be to expose ourselves to have to disobey. And what is the good in that? Abp. Lefebvre said since 1984: “one does not place oneself under an authority when that authority has all the powers to demolish us.”
The idea is that practical agreements should not even be sought – not even if offered without doctrinal quid pro quo– because Rome is so bad this can only end up in tears. I cannot see any concrete difference between this mentality and considering the Vatican, from the Pope down, a bunch of heretics in the hands of Satan. It is unclear to me how one can have such a position and not call himself sedevacantist. It is also unclear how the Bishop can even think a personal prelature would be a way to “destroy” the SSPX, and an agreement without doctrinal concessions would be to “submit unconditionally”. One has the impression the SSPX be a fold of timid sheep only waiting to be eaten by an evil wolf in Rome. Please.
This position becomes even clearer when we examine point 2.
The irregularity is not ours. It is that of Rome. A Modernist Rome. A Liberal Rome that has renounced Christ the King. A Rome that had been condemned in advance by all Popes up until the eve of the [Second Vatican] Council. […] But Pope Benedict XVI, while he is Pope, remains Modernist. […] […] we are currently in a state of war in the Church. It would be a contradiction to wish to “regularize the war”.
Please read this again. Rome is not seen as ill, or going through a phase of corruption. She is seen as simply heretical. Rome is not seen as polluted by heretical tendencies, but as heretic tout court. The consequence of this is that nothing less than outright war is an acceptable option.
One thinks he is reading Luther, or Calvin. Shocking.
Where the bishop might, in case, have some good cards is in the third problem. As to 3.1, I think the argument stays and falls with the confidence one has the SSPX has a mission, and a spine. I cannot imagine the cadres of the SSPX (not the Fellays, let alone the Tissiers) to submit to the V II mantra. They have not done it decades ago and one cannot see why on earth they should do it now. As to 3.2, this is the first time I hear the SSPX could be forced (more to the point: requested in vain) to close existing structures. Still: if this were to be true, it would be in my eyes the first solid argument against a reconciliation. As to the necessity of the local bishop giving his authorisation for new structures, I think this could really be a good ground for some amusing confrontation, but personally if I were Fellay I would not make the reconciliation depend on the SSPX obtaining total satisfaction on this. Considering at least 10% of the bishops as orthodox and/or sympathisers, there would be abundant scope for growth anyway.
Still, we do not know: we do not know what concrete form this personal prelature would take, and what measures would be adopted to address the SSPX legitimate objections. Also, it seems to me – but I might be wrong – the acceptance of the reconciliation does not imply the acceptance of the personal prelature. I think it is rather so, that the reconciliation would be the starting point for discussions concerning the organisation of the reconciled SSPX; discussions of which I cannot imagine – and I am not an admirer of this Pope – that they would be conducted with a view to damage the SSPX.
In the end, though, what really is disappointing is to see that highly placed members of the SSPX are – I think it is fair to say it – alarmingly similar to closet sedevacantists; with no desire whatsoever to any sort of peace with the Vatican, because they consider the Vatican so thoroughly heretic that nothing but outright war will do. Frankly, by this attitude I am not at all surprised the CDF wants to examine the position of the three bishops more closely.
Seriously: what kind of Catholicism is this?
Interesting interview given to the Angelus Press, who put it on youtube (I have it from angelqueen)
The last part (of this Part I) is clearly the most interesting (American spelling as in the original):
Q: Father, there are those who argue that the Society is simply looking for a practical agreement, even contrary to the wishes of Archbishop Lefebvre himself. What would you say to that argument?
A: Well, I think first of all we must make it clear that Bishop Fellay is not really looking for an agreement. Rome is proposing a regularization of the Society. So, the term “agreement” is confusing. It’s not clear. It’s too vague. An agreement would be mainly on doctrine, which is not the case. But a recognition of the Society: that’s what we are talking about today. The Society [has existed] for more than forty years. It was founded, erected, within the Church in the normal way of the Church. And because of the circumstances, because of the crisis of the Church, where we were kind of kicked out – in a way, not that we are outside of the Church, but we are…
– in an irregular situation –
…yes, pushed into an irregular situation – it would be an act of justice in fact to be just reintegrated in a more visible way in the Church. That’s all we are talking about here.
Father Rostand points out to a very important fact: the SSPX can wait because they are not waiting or expecting for anything, nor are they making any “concession”.
The more cynical (but more often right) part of me thinks that this contains a veiled message: if the Pope has postponed the announcement of the reconciliation waiting for some “announcement” of the SSPX leading him to believe they have moved an inch, he will be disappointed and will have to die without an agreement.
The less cynical (and more often wrong) part of me sees this as a simple message of the SSPX to the Holy Father: we had hoped the decision would come in May but hey: you’re the boss, take your time.
It is not to be denied that Bishop Fellay has played his cards well: at no point has he compromised the integrity of the SSPX; at no point has he given the impression the SSPX would be ready to make a barter, giving something to get something. The simple truth is: the SSPX is not going to give anything, and the Vatican can decide what to do of it.
This is, in a way, the reverse of the situation of 1988. In 1988 Archbishop Lefebvre knew he would not live for long, and had to act. In 2012, it is Pope Benedict who knows he will not live for long, and is – if he is wise – terrified at the idea of going to His creator with hundreds of appalling episcopal appointments, heresy spreading undisturbed and the SSPX situation still unresolved. The SSPX, on the other hand, can wait for as long as it takes, and will not compromise for the sake of reconciliation.
If there’s something I have learned from the reconciliation discussions it is how absolutely spiffing these SSPX people are.
Benedict XVI’s decision regarding the return of the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) to the full communion of the Church will take place from now up to the end of the month of May 2012, Vatican sources close to the dossier have indicated to I.MEDIA.
It would almost appear the “Vatican source close to the dossier” was, basically, the valet (whom the press insists in calling “butler”) Paolo Gabriele…
I am joking, of course, but it certainly seems we will have to live with this further period of waiting, as there has been no formal decision or commitment of the Holy Father to decide within the month.
If you ask me, this is another piece of rather questionable Vatican (internal) diplomacy. It being squarely inconceivable that the Pope has not made up his mind about the matter – and barely conceivable that he may have wilfully misled Bishop Fellay into thinking Fellay’s reply to the preambolo was fine with him – what I think is happening is a reprise of a well-known Papal tactic: the delaying of a momentous decision to make clear to the opponents their objections have been taken into account and attentively considered.
This is, if memory serves, what happened in 2007 with the long-awaited decision which then became Summorum Pontificum, and I remember reading that Paul VI reacted in the same way to the famous (and reported on this blog: as always, please use the search function if you are interested) Ottaviani intervention, merely delaying what he wanted to do anyway. Basically, it seems a way to soothe the feeling of the losers by letting them feel they are not neglected.
I am at a loss to understand how this may soothe any wound, rather than encourage the wounded to fight harder. I am also unable to see how the long wait for Summorum Pontificum made the opposition to it less bitter.
Still, not my rules.
I think at this point we must arm ourselves with patience and prayers, whilst remaining confident things will, in the end, adjust.
If I were inclined to see conspiracies everywhere, I would say that this is an attempt of the former Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, to split the SSPX in the middle.
The fact is, I am entirely convinced this is not the case. I have read today with sadness the letter sent in April to the three (alas, all three of them) dissenting bishops. The tones of the letter are, I am afraid, harsh enough to let it appear improbable there is space for a “reconciliation about the reconciliation”. As it stands, I think some form of split appears rather probable.
Still, I think the Holy Father was right in proposing the reconciliation on the terms proposed, and was moved by a sincere desire to put an end to the controversy. As to the reaction of the three bishops, I can’t understand the attitude of not wanting to accept a gift because the giver is supposed to be not good enough; particularly when the giver is the Pontiff, and the gift is big.
I have read (though I should not have 😉 ) the leaked letter of the three bishops, and everyone can read on Rorate the General Council’s answer. The letter is so full of sane orthodoxy and practical common sense, that I wonder at what type of person has been running along the corridors of the SSPX houses for now many years.
I will not publish any excerpt from the leaked letter. Let us see the most important points of Fellay’s reasoning:
To read your letter, one seriously wonders if you still believe that the visible Church whose seat is at Rome is indeed the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a Church horribly disfigured, to be sure, a planta pedis usque ad verticem capitis, but a Church that in spite of all still has as its head Our Lord Jesus Christ. One gets the impression that you have been so scandalized that you no longer accept that it can still be the true Church. For you, it would seem to be a question whether Benedict XVI is still the legitimate pope. And if he is, there is a question as to whether Jesus Christ can still speak through him.
The reasoning informing the letter of the three bishops is, in a word, the main reason why I was always afraid to attend Mass in a SSPX chapel: the uncomfortable feeling of knowing more than some (perhaps many) around me consider the Pope almost the Antichrist, others are Sedevacantists, other still morbidly grumpy about everything in Rome.
But Bishop Fellay is right. The Church is undoubtedly ill – a planta pedis usque ad verticem capitis, as he beautifully says -, but ill as the Church is, she is still the Church, and whilst it may be absolutely necessary to disobey to the Pope when the Pope wants to impose to the faithful a behaviour in contrast with Catholic faith and morals, a Catholic is not allowed to refuse the Pope’s stretched hand merely because he doesn’t like his policies.
I have made very often the comparison of the SSPX and the Vatican with the dutiful son who refuses to obey his drunken father when the latter orders the former to buy alcohol for him. But this is different: the attitude of the three bishops is the same of the son who refuses the embrace of his father, because the latter is not entirely sober yet.
A loving son will in this case embrace his father, gratefully and lovingly so, and will continue the work towards his father’s complete recovery from drunkenness.
Let us see another argument:
If the pope expresses a legitimate will concerning us which is good and which does not order anything contrary to the commandments of God, have we the right to neglect or to dismiss this will? Otherwise, on what principle do you base your actions?
This is, I think, the most enlightening passage: there’s simply nothing seriously wrong with the offer. Yes of course an Ordinariate would have been preferable to a personal prelature, but I can’t see in this the reason of the three bishops’ dissent. It is not that. It is that they refuse the reconciliation purely because of the person it comes from, and the – alas, still partially V II-inebriated – Church he represents. I find this simply inconceivable. This is not even pathological grumpiness; this is outright Sedevacantism.
Within the Society, some are making the conciliar errors into super heresies, absolute evil, worse than anything, in the same way that the liberals have dogmatized this pastoral council.
Another pearl. The three bishops have so much criticised V II, that they simply forget the Church of Christ existing before, during and after it. This is like denying the existence of the sky behind the clouds, because it has been grey and cloudy for so long.
In itself, the solution of the proposed personal prelature is not a trap.
Firstly, this is a practical criticism, which is different from the fundamental problem – Rome being “not Catholic enough” for their liking – expressed by the three bishops. Secondly and examining the criticism itself, I cannot imagine, not by a long stretch, the SSPX being slowly strangled by an army of – basically, dying – liberal bishops. One must trust the simple fact that an organisation which had the guts of doing the right thing for so many years will not have any hesitation in disobeying again if they notice Rome is planning a mortal embrace. The reasoning of the bishops is in my eyes so naive as to think the character and nature of the SSPX would be fatally undermined just because they are not in the waiting room anymore. But wait: the SSPX has been in full communion for many years already! They do not need to be in “imperfect communion”! This is not what Archbishop Lefebvre wanted it to be! Neither the doctor nor Archbishop Lefebvre have ever prescribed the SSPX never to be in full communion until every little trace of V II has been annihilated! In fact, the SSPX was in full communion during several years of the worst V II madness!
More practically, Fellay & Co. seem to me perfectly sound: there are already enough allied bishops to make place for whatever expansion the SSPX may desire; control over seminaries and organisation is maintained; practically, I want to see which bishop will dare to ask them to move an existing chapel out of his diocese, and which Pope will side with the bishop when the SSPX invariably refuses.
An organisation which maintains its leadership, its seminaries and its character will always be able to react to murderous attempts in future, as it has been in the past. I really can’t see what is to be feared there.
I rather see Bishop Fellay made a Cardinal and one day, perhaps, Pope.
We will see how this pans out. I am afraid this won’t be pleasant. But unpleasant as it is, it is probably salutary and necessary, because at this point it is necessary that those who were disobedient for love of the Church are separated from those who were disobedient because they think they are the Church.
Important and reassuring message from Father Pflueger, Bishop Fellay’s First Assistant.
Speaking in Germany (as always, Rorate Caeli has the story), Father Pfluger made clear as follows:
1) Initially, the position of the SSPX was that there would be no agreement without a full theological reconciliation. Whilst this position may appear a bit too much Williamson-style, one must understand the possibility of a reconciliation without settling the doctrinal disagreements did not really seem in the card.
2) When it was clear – as it had to be clear from the start – such an agreement would not be reached, the possibility was sounded for the SSPX to be reconciled without the differences being settled. This is, I think, the general element emerged from the now famous joint press release in September. What other price was to be paid, we do not know.
3) The SSPX has complained on several occasions – and I have written about it – that there was the fear of being silenced, or being more or less tacitly expected to stick to the Vatican line after the reconciliation. This has, says Fr Pfluger, also gone away from the table. Personally, I think we are here rather in February/March, when it was clear Benedict was facing the very real prospect of going to meet His maker without any reconciliation with the SSPX, and wisely decided to yield.
4) At this point a rather strange situation was created: the Vatican offers the SSPX full reconciliation without the latter having to change a iota of what they believe, or having to be afraid for their autonomy of action: why should they refuse such a concession? Why would Archbishop Lefebvre have ever refused such an offer, had it been made in his own time? It is perfectly logical to say that to refuse reconciliation at these conditions would be tantamount as to consider the entire Church edifice as evil. This is, as Fr Pfluger very rightly points out, not traditionalism anymore, but outright sedevacantism, and seen in this perspective it does make sense the Pope should prospect a new excommunication if no agreement is reached. Not, mind, because there would be no agreement, but because there would be the refusal to have anything to do with Rome in the first place.
This, if I understand correctly, is the situation the SSPX found itself in when Mid-March came, with the reconciliation a fruit the SSPX only has to stretch its hand to pluck; unless, of course, it thinks the tree itself is poisoned.
This makes sense of a couple of things: the vague rumours of “excommunication if you do not agree”, which put in that way seemed the most childish threat ever made; the back-and-forth of an agreement discussed, then prospected, then refused when offered at the price of factual acquiescence, then offered again without strings attached; and lastly, the fact to this day Bishop Williamson has been to my knowledge admirably silent on the matter, hopefully recognising at this point resistance to the reconciliation would be tantamount to sedevacantism.
The last background on the talks comes from a person who was active part of the negotiations and is therefore highly credible. It is also, I believe, part of that concerted effort to prepare the SSPX troops to the reconciliation, reconciliation which to some of them must appear a bit like Italy’s 8 September 1943.
I can’t say Fr Pfluger words make for a bad reading. Actually, I found his arguments highly enjoyable, and the reasoning highly practical. More surprisingly, I found the other side highly practical and very wise too, though I would personally attribute this more to a personal decision of a Pontiff knowing his time might be rather limited, than to a substantial and determined pro-SSPX fraction in the corridors of the Vatican.
We shall see; but I think we’ll very much like what we see.
This is the communique released today. Emphases mine.
On September 14, 2011, at the office of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a meeting was held between His Eminence, Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of this Congregation and President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, His Excellency, Archbishop Luis Ladaria, S.J., Secretary of this Congregation, and Monsignor Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and His Excellency, Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, and Fathers Niklaus Pfluger et Alain-Marc Nély, General Assistants of the Fraternity
Following the petition addressed on December 15, 2008, by the Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, the Holy Father had taken the decision of lifting the excommunication of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and to open at the same time doctrinal conversations with the Fraternity, aiming to overcome the difficulties and the problems of a doctrinal nature, and to achieve a healing of the existing fracture.
Obedient to the will of the Holy Father, a mixed study commission, composed of experts of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X and of experts of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, assembled eight times for meetings that took place in Rome between the month of October 2009 and the month of April 2011. These conversations, whose objective was that of presenting and examining the major doctrinal difficulties on controversial themes, achieved their goal, which was that of clarifying the respective positions and their motivations.
Given the concerns and requests presented by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X regarding the integrity of the Catholic faith considering the hermeneutic of rupture of the Second Vatican Council in respect of Tradition – hermeneutic mentioned by Pope Benedict XVI in his Address to the Roman Curia of December 22, 2005 -, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith takes as a fundamental basis for a full reconciliation with the Apostolic See the acceptance of the Doctrinal Preamble which was delivered in the course of the meeting of September 14, 2011. This preamble enunciates some of the doctrinal principles and criteria of interpretation of Catholic doctrine necessary for ensuring fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church and to the sentire cum Ecclesia, while leaving open to legitimate discussion the study and theological explanation of particular expressions and formulations present in the texts of the Second Vatican Council and of the Magisterium that followed it.
In the course of the same meeting, some elements were proposed regarding a canonical solution for the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, which would follow the eventual and hoped-for reconciliation.
Early days (or hours) and I have pressing engagements now (Champions League, mainly 😉 ).
It seems to me that the acceptance of the preamble is the only thing required, and that this preamble – whose content is for the moment not published – does not demand that the SSPX accepts any interpretation of the V II document deemed in contrast with Catholic orthodoxy. Actually, the SSPX seems even authorised to question the entire way the Magisterium has been (erroneously, of course) presented in the following decades (the “Spirit of V II” and all the annexed bollocks).
Without having read the preamble – which might be a cold shower, though I’d say this is rather improbable – I’d say that this is huge; but this is, in fact, even bigger 😉
Again: early days, and we’ll have to see how the situation develops. But come on, I can’t imagine the SPPX having being informed and having given informal approval to the document beforehand.
This is huge, huger, hugest!! However it may end up, the text already signals a great understanding for the SSPX position, and the fact that they are in line with the “hermeneutic of continuity”, whilst the trendies are not.
Better days ahead. Now we only have to pray.
God bless Pope Benedict.
The SSPX has criticised in a rather harsh way the Pontiff’s decision to hold a new Assisi meeting.
“We are deeply indignant, we vehemently protest against this repetition of the days at Assisi”, declared Bishop Fellay and one can only wonder what Bishop Williamson would say if he were allowed to do so freely without being confined in some remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
I have already written about the matter and it seems to me that whilst I agree with Bishop Fellay on the fact that this is not a brilliant decision, the choice of words is not a particularly happy one. In my eyes, Bishop Fellay talks and speaks as if Pope Benedict were another John Paul II. I do not think this is the case. Besides the fact that even Pope John Paul II had to see that things had gone far too far in 1986 and took care that the worst excesses were not repeated during the second Assisi gathering in 2002, it is very clear after almost six years of pontificate that Pope Ratzinger has nothing of the “let’s be hip”-mania, of the desire to be perceived as modern and in synchrony with the times that made so much damage during his predecessor’s pontificate.
During these years we had no Koran kissing, no kissing of the ground, no rock concerts and no search for easy ways to please the crowds. Nothing in Benedict XVI’s demeanour says “I will accommodate your need to be entertained or to feel good in the cheapest possible way”. The Assisi-mentality is clearly not his and this (in my eyes, ill-advised) renewed Assisi-gathering a tribute to the good intentions of his predecessor, whose beatification is clearly imminent and who is still a powerful weapon in the Church’s evangelisation effort.
At the same time I must disagree with the generally excellent William Oddie, who in his reaction to the SSPX’s utterances exaggerates in the other direction and calls the SSPX on their way to the funny farm.
What happened in 1986 must never, ever happen again. It was a damned shame and a show of breathtaking TV-fuelled ecu-maniac orgy of the worst kind. That excellent defenders of Catholic orthodoxy like the SSPX be concerned is certainly understandable, though the way of expressing these concerns might be (and in my eyes, certainly is) open to criticism.
Let us also say that “when the mills were white” Catholics were not allowed to pray with non-Catholics and this for the simple reason that such an exercise generates confusion among Catholics and can easily lead to the perception that what faith one subscribes to is of no great importance. By all talking of peaaace and looove, we should never forget that whoever isn’t Catholic is in the wrong shop , however saintly he may be.
I also disagree with Oddie that an orthodox Catholic should not think that he is more orthodox than the Pope. Of course he should, and he should every time that this is the case. The Holy Ghost guarantees infallibility to the Pope only when he speaks ex cathedra; it doesn’t guarantee at all that the Pope may, in his behaviour, frontally go against Catholic teaching. Pope Benedict IX sold his Papacy, and no one says he is not a Pope for that. The same goes, of course, for the kissing of Korans. A Pope is infallible but nor impeccable. Sometimes, Popes make a mess of things and sometimes they make a huge mess of things (Paul VI comes to mind). To say this is not un-Catholic in the least and doesn’t call for any farm, funny or not.
Assisi 2011 will, I am rather sure, be nothing similar to the catastrophe of 1986. But this doesn’t seem to me sufficient reason to go back there anyway. The risk of awakening ghosts from a shameful past is too big.