Search Results for fellay preambolo
On the usual Rorate Caeli page, the anticipation from “La Stampa”‘s Andrea Tornielli Fellay has signed the preambolo dottrinale. The official announcement is now to follow in a matter of hours.
As to the details, no dramas, which means: historic vindication (or should I say: victory? Or is this indelicate?) for the SSPX.
From what transpires, the SSPX accepts the Pope and Bishops must be given “religious submission of will and intellect”, “when they exercise their authentic Magisterium”, which to me is so banal as to be a tautology. Whilst this does include what is not dogmatically declared, it does exclude what is not in harmony with authentic Magisterium.
Thinking out loud, this means the SSPX doesn’t say they obey the Pope only when he speaks ex cathedra (this would be absurd, and extremely un-Catholic), but it means they obey the Pope exactly as they have obeyed the Pope until now, that is: as long as the Pope is in line with the Church.
Unless I am making a big mistake, this means the SSPX hasn’t given an inch on her condemnation of Vatican II; better, of whatever is wrong in Vatican II.
This is a day that will be remembered in history; the day in 50 or 100 years will be remember as the beginning of the end of Vatican II. The day the lie of “NuChurch” is exposed, and condemned to the well-deserved ridicule; if not tomorrow, certainly in the decades to come.
I am tired from all the vain clicking today, and probably should go to sleep now and wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow we will have ( I think) official press releases, and a clearer idea.
But I think it will be a sweet night.
My prayers, today more than ever, to Archbishop Lefebvre.
What a great, great man.
The photo above shows the participants to the recent meeting in Albano. We now have more detailed information, as diffused by both Rorate Caeli and Messa in Latino:
1) Bishop Williamson was not present at the meeting. Not a logistic problem, apparently, but he was either not willing to participate, or not invited to. Bishop Williamson had already expressed his misgivings about the possible attempt at reconciliation, I have reported here.
2) The non-rejection is very good news in itself. Messa in Latino reports that it is the habit of the SSPX to make public any serious reservations immediately. It seems improbable, therefore, that the SSPX considers the documents not a valid basis for further talks.
3) Fellay and his strictest aides have been authorised to go on. Always according to Messa in Latino, the General Counsel of the Fraternity authorised to continue the talks is actually composed of Fellay and his two strictest aides, to whom one or two people may be added in special circumstances. This means that the participants in the Albano talks have enough confidence not only in Fellay, but in the possibility of success of the entire exercise to allow his small team to continue the negotiations.
Whilst none of these news is of an exceptional nature, it seems to me that a picture slowly composes itself, of cautious progress and will to further negotiation. In addition, please consider that the text of the Preambolo Dottrinale being open to modifications, the discussions will not be of a “take it or leave it” sort.
Encouraging signals, methinks, which should allow the moderate elements of the Fraternity to survive the harsh criticism very probably linked to the Assisi exercise.
Further prayers are certainly in order.
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.
I have written only yesterday about what would have happened if the SSPX had been foolish enough to accept the Preambolo dottrinale in its latest version, which included the poisonous pills about the silent acceptance of Vatican II.
It is, perhaps, fitting to take stand on where – I think – the SSPX stays today, and why they should in my eyes congratulate themselves for having done the right thing back then.
I think the time will soon come when many who thought they could afford the luxury to criticise the Society will realise they can't afford this extravagance anymore. If this Papacy drifts towards the easy rhetoric and the avoidance of the difficult issues we are certainly authorised to fear, many will be those who understand the Church needs more than easy slogans, and it is time to show some charitable, but proper Catholic teeth. None does this better than the SSPX.
This is the more important because up to now I have noticed in Pope Francis' utterances a marked reluctance to frontally assault controversial themes. Please note that when the Pope wants to speak in defence of the poor – which he does, well, every time – he has no qualms in specifically and openly addressing the issue; whilst themes like abortion and sexual perversion are deemed to have been touched by some commenters, but have in fact been avoided up to now.
For example, the Pope intervened to defend Creation, and half an army of commenters was willing to remark that hey, Creation includes babies in the womb, so the Pope is speaking against abortion! No, he isn't: one speak against abortion by clearly saying that abortion is the legalised murder of an innocent life, not with convenient words about the very popular and utterly uncontroversial environment. Again, the SSPX does the clear talking admirably.
Then there is the matter of liturgy. Not only has the SSPX avoided a probable self-destruction by refusing to accept V II, but the FSSP and the other traditionalist organisations must be now overjoyed they did. If we look at the situation as it is, the continued existence of a dissenting SSPX is the only reason why the Vatican steamroller might not crush FSSP & Co., forcing the Novus Ordo down their loyal throats. Without the SSPX vigilant and ready to cry foul game – and to welcome, perhaps, the refugees – it is fair to say the moderate Traditionalists would very probably be all, liturgically speaking, on the death row by now.
Then there is the pure doctrinal matter. The SSPX have already publicly criticised the Pontiff pointing out to his V II, “dialogue” mentality, and will continue to do so. They are respectful, but pertinent. They cannot be dismissed as a motley crew of lunatics, and more and more people will understand in the coming years where real Catholic orthodoxy lives. They will be the wise cricket talking to… The Vatican Pinocchios about their mistakes, and will continue to rally and inspire admiration in sincere, orthodox Catholics. Once again, I cannot imagine a more powerful brake to the antics of the wreckovation supporters in the style of Cantalamessa then a strong and vigilant SSPX.
By deciding to stay put, the SSPX has been of excellent service to Traditionalism, to conservative minded Catholics and even to the common faithful in the pews. Many will continue to criticise them, whilst continuing to profit of their very existence. Many others will at some point understand what treasure of orthodoxy we have in them.
I think they are the biggest consolation sent from Heaven to help us overcome this difficult age. Long may it last.
In another round of the endless ping-pong game between the SSPX and the Vatican, today we were treated with a declaration of the SSPX – for internal use, and public knowledge – and with the – semel in anno – rather smart answer of the Vatican.
Allow me to copy the two texts in their entirety with my short(ish) emphases and comments about what I think the SSPX want to convey to the Vatican, and vice versa. In the next days, I will probably expand a bit more for those already not bored to death already.
Declaration of the General Chapter of the Society of Saint Pius X sent to the Holy See
As announced in the press communiqué of the Society of St. Pius X’s General House on July 14, 2012, the members of the General Chapter sent a common statement to Rome. It has been published today.
During the interview published at DICI on July 16, Bishop Bernard Fellay stated that this document was “the occasion to specify the (SSPX’s) road map insisting upon the conservation of the Society’s identity, the only efficacious means to help the Church to restore Christendom”. “For,” he said, “doctrinal mutism is not the answer to this “silent apostasy”, which even John Paul II denounced already in 2003.” [ You may prefer to shut up, but we won’t].
At the conclusion of the General Chapter of the Society of St. Pius X, gathered together at the tomb of its venerated founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and united with its Superior General, the participants, bishops, superiors, and most senior members of the Society elevate to Heaven our heartfelt thanksgiving, grateful for the 42 years of marvelous Divine protection over our work, amidst a Church in crisis and a world which distances itself farther from God and His law with each passing day.
We wish to express our gratitude to each and every member of our Society: priests, brothers, sisters, third order members; to the religious communities close to us and also to our dear faithful, for their constant dedication and for their fervent prayers on the occasion of this Chapter, marked by frank exchanges of views and by a very fruitful common work. Every sacrifice and pain accepted with generosity has contributed to overcome the difficulties which the Society has encountered in recent times. We have recovered our profound unity in its essential mission: to preserve and defend the Catholic Faith, to form good priests, and to strive towards the restoration of Christendom. [Christendom has been so savaged by your “doctrinal mutism” and embracing the world, that it now needs a restoration] We have determined and approved the necessary conditions for an eventual canonical normalization. [We are not against normalisation per se. But we won’t allow the Vatican to use it to envelop us in a mortal embrace, or to make us accept the errors of V II]. We have decided that, in that case, an extraordinary Chapter with deliberative vote will be convened beforehand. [You will not succeed in dividing us, and Bishop Fellay will never act of his own initiative against the cadres of the SSPX].
We must never forget that the sanctification of the souls always starts within ourselves. It is the fruit of a faith which becomes vivifying and operating by the work of charity, according to the words of St. Paul: “For we can do nothing against the truth: but for the truth” (cf. II Cor., XIII, 8), and “as Christ also loved the church and delivered himself up for it… that it should be holy and without blemish” (cf. Eph. V, 25 s.).
The Chapter believes that the paramount duty of the Society, in the service which it intends to offer to the Church, is to continue, with God’s help, to profess the Catholic Faith in all its purity and integrity [ because you clearly don’t do it] , with a determination matching the intensity of the constant attacks to which this very Faith is subjected nowadays [if you think you can scare us with threat of further excommunications or declaration of schism, forget it now].
For this reason it seems opportune that we reaffirm our faith in the Roman Catholic Church, the unique Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, outside of which there is no salvation nor possibility to find the means leading to salvation [we reaffirm what you don’t have the nerve to say anymore, and reject your sugary doublespeak] ; our faith in its monarchical constitution, desired by Our Lord himself, by which the supreme power of government over the universal Church belongs only to the Pope, Vicar of Christ on earth; our faith in the universal Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of both the natural and the supernatural orders, to Whom every man and every society must submit.
The Society continues to uphold the declarations and the teachings of the constant Magisterium of the Church [ because no Pope can change the Truth] in regard to all the novelties of the Second Vatican Council which remain tainted with errors [ the novelties of V II are tainted with errors…] , and also in regard to the reforms issued from it [and what came later was even worse]. We find our sure guide in this uninterrupted Magisterium which, by its teaching authority, transmits the revealed Deposit of Faith in perfect harmony with the truths that the entire Church has professed, always and everywhere.[where there is rupture, there can’t be infallible Magisterium]
The Society finds its guide as well in the constant Tradition of the Church, which transmits and will transmit until the end of times the teachings required to preserve the Faith and the salvation of souls [same concept as above], while waiting for the day when an open and serious debate will be possible which may allow the return to Tradition of the ecclesiastical authorities [ We will wait. And wait. And wait. But it’s not us who will have to change their minds about the novelties tainted with errors of V II].
We wish to unite ourselves to the others (sic) Christians persecuted [Mundabor: “Persecuted”? Come on!] in different countries of the world who are now suffering for the Catholic Faith, some even to the extent of martyrdom. Their blood, shed in union with the Victim of our altars, is the pledge for a true renewal of the Church in capite et membris, according to the old saying sanguis martyrum semen christianorum.
“Finally, we turn our eyes to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is also jealous of the privileges of her Divine Son, jealous of His glory, of His Kingdom on earth as in Heaven. How often has she intervened for the defense, even the armed defense, of Christendom against the enemies of the Kingdom of Our Lord! We entreat her to intervene today to chase the enemies out from inside the Church who are trying to destroy it more radically than its enemies from outside. May she deign to keep in the integrity of the Faith, in the love of the Church, in devotion to the Successor of Peter, all the members of the Society of St. Pius X and all the priests and faithful who labor alongside the Society, in order that she may both keep us from schism and preserve us from heresy.
“May St. Michael the Archangel inspire us with his zeal for the glory of God and with his strength to fight the devil.
“May St. Pius X share with us a part of his wisdom, of his learning, of his sanctity, to discern the true from the false and the good from the evil in these times of confusion and lies.” (Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre; Albano, October 19, 1983).
Given at Ecône, on the 14th of July of the Year of the Lord 2012.
Communiqué of the Holy See Press Office
The recently concluded General Chapter of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X has addressed a Declaration regarding the possibility of a canonical normalization in the relationship of the Fraternity and the Holy See. [ We are still talking about a normalisation] While it has been made public, the Declaration remains primarily an internal document for study and discussion among the members of the Fraternity. [This is for internal use. This is not the document we are waiting for].
I’d love to be a fly in the meeting room of the SSPX General Chapter, now underway.
From what I understand, the main arguments will be three:
1. A decision concerning the latest Vatican version of the preambolo dottrinale.
2. A discussion about the opportunity of going into this last phase of negotiation with the Vatican, and
3. Perhaps, a more or less open personal criticism of Bishop Fellay and his leadership style.
As to 1., it seems clear to me the SSPX will reject the text proposed by the Vatican. Whilst we do not know the wording, we know that: a) the last version presented by the SSPX, which had the unofficial blessing of the Holy Father, has been changed again, and b) Bishop Fellay has already said the latest version is not acceptable.
Beside the discussion about the wording of the preambolo, the matter of the concrete way of working of the SSPX will certainly play a role. After the latest weeks, not even Laurel and Hardy would believe in the sincere intention of the Pope or the Vatican apparatus to reconcile themselves with the SSPX because they understand the SSPX is as Catholic as any of them (and I am being generous…).
Therefore, any agreement will have to be waterproofed not only concerning the SSPX relationship with the mistakes of V II and the following years, but also against any attempt to assimilate the SSPX and pollute it with a V II ideology. That will be an interesting discussion indeed, and I can easily forecast the utter rejection – though perhaps not officially stated for obvious reasons – of every agreement subjecting the local structures of the SSPX to any influence whatsoever from the local bishop, let alone from a talking ass like the Archbishop Mueller.
As to 2. I can see a charge of the hard-line brigade, accusing Fellay of having leaned too much out of the window, and having been conned into believing an agreement on the text was reached before the Vatican back pedaled again. In my eyes, the Bishop has the excellent defence than one tends to believe that the Pope’s word has some value until the contrary is proved, and that one should not be blamed for honestly trying to see whether a reconciliation is possible, however untrustworthy the people on the other side should prove afterwards. But this should make for a highly entertaining discussion, too.
Thirdly, it appears some – a minority – of the SSPX priests will push their criticism to the point of asking Bishop Fellay to go. I doubt the latter will comply with their wishes, and it would appear he has – besides being elected for further six years – around two thirds of the Society firmly on his side. It will be interesting, though, to see how this pans out, because if a strong minority harshly criticises Fellay this might have as a result a certain “hardening” of his line toward the Vatican.
Lastly, I do not think there will be any meaningful defection in any way, and now many weeks after the leak of the internal “three bishops’ letter” I have not read a single threat, overt or covert, of secession.
The Vatican is clearly playing the old divide et impera game, alternating phases in which the agreement is made to believe to be imminent and others of more rigid attitude, thus maximising the potential for conflict and recrimination within the Society.
Unfortunately for the Pope, the SSPX appears to be a bit more solid – both politically, and morally – than the corrupt and miserably led bunch he has chosen to trigger the tragic meltdown of his pontificate. His trick of trying to divide the SSPX under the disguise of the “dying Pope who would oh so much want to see the SSPX reconciled before he dies” will, I am afraid, not impress many in Econe. The Pope has already abundantly showed how much he wants to see the SSPX reconciled (to heterodoxy perhaps; certainly not to Catholicism, which the Society already is), and what kind of Church he is preparing for his successor.
Let us support the SSPX members with our prayer, that they may avoid the snares of the Vatican and agree to a solution allowing them to continue their wonderful work without restraints, or to no solution at all.
Still, don’t worry: the SSPX will be around, rich and strong, long after the Pope’s departure.
I must confess of feeling a bit naive at having considered the agreement between the SSPX and the Vatican a done deal. At the same time, I think I am in excellent company on this, and in my defence I can also say that I had not really considered the possibility of the Pope either lacking the courage of doing what he clearly wanted to do and indicated he would do, or being so thoroughly manipulated by those nearest to him that they can lie to him – indicating to Bishop Fellay the Pope was in agreement with the latest version of the Preambolo – with the certainty of impunity. Make no mistake, even in this last case I see the Pontiff as much more worthy of blame than every Gaenswein, because most certainly Gaenswein was never elected Pope.
We are, therefore, at this point in presence of a great quantity of broken porcelain, and whilst the porcelain can still be fixed in one way or other (one word of the Pope can, in fact, set pretty much everything right even today) , I wonder whether this fixing will take place.
We do not know whether the Holy Father changed his mind under the weight of the pressures and threats coming from Germany and elsewhere, or whether the exchange of documents was a plot to divide the SSPX and allow the liberals to rise up like a man and promise open revolt if the Pope would not obey to their command. What we know is that there can be no doubt that (emphasis mine)
On June 13, 2012, Cardinal Levada delivered to our Superior General [the] text from last April, but amended in such a way that it now reintroduces, substantially, the propositions of September 2011. Bp. Fellay immediately informed him that he could not sign this new document, clearly unacceptable. The next [General] Chapter will allow for an appraisal of the complete dossier.
One is baffled at this kind of “diplomacy”, then everyone who thinks the SSPX would accept today what they considered unacceptable yesterday just because they were allowed to smell the sweet (and difficult) flavour of the reconciliation does not understand much of the SSPX, let alone of moral integrity in general.
If, however, the main aim was to try to cause an open fracture and division within the SSPX, this will now surely backfire, as the resounding “no” the new/old text will receive in July – as it received it in September – will add to the credibility of Bishop Fellay and his friends even among those ready to doubt his actions or his motives.
Therefore, unless the Holy Father decides to take control of the matter, make a decision and accept responsibility for it, we will continue with the usual minuet of half overtures and hoped-for agreements which lead to nothing, if the Vatican is not ready to accept a workable and sensible agreement.
I would very much like to express to you the hope that the Holy Father will now rise to the occasion and actually act as a Pope; but in truth, I lack this hope as I write these sad lines, as I think the Holy Father has allowed himself to be taken hostage by liberals, or to be treated like a fool by his closest collaborators, all of them picked by him.
The SSPX General Chapter will conclude his work around mid-July. I do not doubt they will take the right decision, and the SSPX will go out of this matter as the by far more trustworthy – thought nobody is perfect, of course, and some SSPX member can also leak like plumbers have gone out of fashion – organisation.
Let us hope and pray. But I for myself will not believe anything less than the dried ink of the signatures, and even at that point will wonder how much even signatures are worth in the Vatican.
A shocking leak from the SSPX shows the extent of the chaos in which the Vatican is sinking. I know, it is very bad that the letter has been leaked, but this post is not about that so let us leave that aside for the time being.
The letter is not explicit, but very clear in saying what has happened: someone at the Vatican lied, or was duplicitous, or ate his words.
Logically excluding Bishop Fellay himself might have lied about his proposal of preambolo being acceptable to the Holy Father, and espousing the generally accepted opinion – and the only one compatible with common sense and basic diplomacy – that Monsignor Gaenswein informed Fellay the Holy Father had no objections to the revised version of the Preambolo, only one of the two could have happened:
1. Gaenswein lied to Fellay in order to induce him to present a document which would then be refused, fomenting discord and strife within the SSPX.
2. The Holy Father either wilfully lied to reach the same objective or – far more probably if you ask me – just did not have the gut, until today at least, to follow through on what he had said.
Alas, tertium non datur. In both cases, the Holy Father goes out of this story severely damaged, and justifying serious doubts about his ability to adequately fulfil the job description. Whether Gaenswein – the man the Pontiff is supposed to trust the most – lied in order to let the SSPX run through the test of the reconciliation whilst the German bishops were mobilised, of the Pope himself decided to eat his words, the Pontiff – of whom I cannot believe that he himself was the architect of this deception, if for no other reason because no doctor ever prescribed that he starts the reconciliation process in the first place – is rapidly resembling King Theoden before Gandalf’s visit. Alas, I can see no Gandalf around the Vatican.
Let us say this once again: there can be no reasonable doubt Fellay was informed the Pontiff was in agreement with his last draft of the document. This makes the content of the leaked letter so explosive, because it reveals a shocking breach of trust.
I only hope the usual litany of the “wolves” will now cease. The responsibility for bad – or very bad, or awful, or outright stupid – governance does not lie somewhere in the clouds, but in the one who is responsible for it.
Where I grew up a man was only as good as his word, and clearly someone very highly placed in the Vatican isn’t very good at all. Besides, he is too clever by half, because to indulge in such cheap tricks thinking that they will not come out in the open isn’t very smart in the end. Lies have short legs, and nowadays leakers have extremely long ones.
I never thought I’d see the day, that’s all.
The problem of the Vatican isn’t a problem of wolves, but rather of sheep. The Italian saying comes to mind: chi agnello si fa, il lupo se lo mangia. If one makes himself a lamb, the wolf will eat him. He then has, I am afraid, no right to complain.
Not entirely encouraging news are transpiring from several sources (as always, see Rorate Caeli). We do not know much at this stage, so the only thing one can do is to reason calmly as to what is happening and avoid both unwarranted enthusiasm and conspiracy theories.
It appears Bishop Fellay came back from Rome not simply, as it has been widely believed, with a straight answer to the preambolo dottrinale – which would have been a yes, clearly – but with ” a heavier Roman dossier”. This dossier now requires a new meeting of the General Chapter. If memory serves, the General Chapter met in Albano in September of last year, and decided to decline to accept the first version of the preambolo. The new meeting is scheduled for the 7-14 July. Methinks, Fellay would have decided to proceed with the meeting anyway, but seven days it’s a lot of talking.
What is now happening might, if you ask me, only be one of the following:
1) Bishop Fellay went with a straight “yes” to the preambolo, and with more or less detailed proposals as to the way the Personal prelature would work. He has been required to accept, or refuse, en bloc. Therefore, he wants the General Council to discuss the organisational matters, make sure they are satisfied with it, and go on with the complete package.
2) The preambolo was changed. I beg you to consider that it can be held as certain Bishop Fellay would not have given to the Pope the latest version of the preambolo without assurances the Pope was in agreement with it, and to think otherwise is in my eyes every bit as naive as to think some evil cardinal drives the hands of the Holy Father over the papers he signs (or modifies). A man is as good as his word, and as this most certainly applies to a Pope I beg you to not even consider this.
If we go back a few days and read from the SSPX communique, the situation was described as follows:
On Wednesday, June 13, 2012, Bp. Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, joined by the First Assistant General, Father Niklaus Pfluger, was received by Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who delivered to him the evaluation of his dicastery of the Doctrinal declaration presented by the Fraternity on April 15, 2012, in response to the Doctrinal Preamble submitted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on September 14, 2011.
In the course of this meeting, Bp. Fellay listened to the explanations and details presented by Cardinal Levada, to whom he presented the situation of the Society of Saint Pius X and exposed the doctrinal difficulties posed by the Second Vatican Council and the Novus Ordo Missae. The desire for supplementary clarifications could lead to a new phase of discussions. [Emphasis added]
At the end of this long audience of over 2 hours, Bp. Fellay received a project of a document proposing a Personal Prelature, in the case of an eventual canonical recognition of the Society of Saint Pius X. In the course of the meeting, the matter of the situation of the three other bishops of the Society was not discussed.
As you can see, there is no way to exclude the one or other of the hypotheses, and what speaks against the second is merely the fact it is not reasonable to think the Holy Father is not a man of his word, or that he surrounds himself with men of such falseness and duplicity as to not be able to escape from responsibility himself. I cannot, and will not think this until crushing evidence is given.
Please also consider this initiative started from the Holy Father, and I cannot imagine he started the entire circus with a view to trying to be smarter than the SSPX, tricking them at the last moment into an agreement they would never have accepted at the beginning of the discussions. This would really be too clever by half, and I am sure the Holy Father is smarter than that.
Of course, the talks could still fail because of the inability to find a practical way to implement the reconciliation in a way which satisfies both parties; but I think this is more a secondary battleground: if there is a will to an agreement and reconciliation, ways will be found to find a solution acceptable to both parties.
Logically, therefore, I will think – then I want to sleep at night myself – consider the matter of the preambolo as resolved, and the discussions now related to what happens in practice after the reconciliation.
As the Germans say, abwarten und Tee trinken.
With a prayer added.
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.
On the usual Rorate Caeli, the translation of a rather saucy leak from the Vatican corridors: the Pope had the text of the SSPX’ reply to the Preambolo Dottrinale beforehand, and did not raise any objections.
This has been largely anticipated, and in fact it would have been rather inconceivable, and against the most elementary rules of prudence, that Bishop Fellay would give his official answer without having received unofficial confirmation that the Pontiff had given his green light. In the end, and if we are honest with ourselves, we know perfectly well a theologian Pontiff does not need the CDF – composed in part of individuals like Schoenborn – to know whether the answer his acceptable. Still, the fact itself the matter was leaked makes it rather intriguing.
Why then, will you ask, the three weeks of waiting to examine the document, and then the big meeting, and the big decision everyone knows has already been taken?
If you ask me, this is nothing to do with the Pope wanting to know what the CDF thinks on the matter, but about the Pope forcing the CDF to toe the line on the reconciliation. The CDF is expected to say what they think beforehand, but they also clearly know what they are expected to say. If they criticise the SSPX’s answer, they will be silenced by the Pontiff and exposed as irretrievable tambourine-men. If they approve, they’ll have to shut up afterwards.
All in all, it could be this procedure isn’t all bad after all…
Now several hours after the first breaking of The News, it is still a savage waiting and repeating of what we already know.
The German site of the SSPX this morning reported (in German, of course) the press was anticipating the agreement. They reported the news without commentary. From that moment, I had no doubts, and if I am proved wrong, blame my innocence and the SSPX naivete’. Mind, though, I can certainly be naive, but the men at the German SSPX are not.
A bit later the news from another SSPX site came, the reality is “different” from the news reporting an agreement is achieved. Well of course the agreement hasn’t been achieved. The Pope must say “yes”, and without his consent this reconciliation will not take place. It’s like a marriage: rejoice as much as you want, but the words will have to be spoken.
Then the Vatican chimed in, and basically said in so many words (from the mouth of one Federico Lombardi, who with a SSPX Pope wouldn’t survive more than fifteen minutes at his place; twenty, tops) that the Vatican will now examine everything oh so very carefully; and it might take oh such a long time; and the signed preambolo is not quite what one would expect; but it is still encouraging, and the reckless children have improved their behaviour; so that, you see, the Pope might, just might, in the end allow them to be reconciled.
In saying so, Lombardi tries to tell us – obviously, in so many words – we are all idiots; the terms of the signed preambolo has not been examined and agreed verbatim before it was delivered; and we could actually not expect any kind of agreement, unless it was for the benevolence of the Vatican.
Lombardi reminds me of those people who, days before the marriage, still tell everyone the betrothed are not actually married, and the bride (or the bridegroom, if you prefer) could still decide he-stroke-she wants to cancel everything. Yes, we know it. But we know the two want to marry, and are in agreement on this.
We can, now, speculate as to why the Vatican speaks of weeks rather than of, as it would be more natural and more sensible, days.
I will launch here, as it is a beautiful day, my wildest speculations:
1) They want to show to the SSPX he who loves, waits. A squabble of 24 years is coming to an end, and if the bride wants to make herself scarce for some other weeks, fine. In the end, it appears the greatest concessions by far, and I mean by far, are coming from there.
2) Some people at the CDF/Ecclesia Dei are a bit grated the SSPX (in my yes, on purpose) waited for the expiry of the “ultimatum which wasn’t really such” to deliver their answer. If you ask me, the SSPX wanted to give a signal they not are going to be bullied into any kind of undue subservience before, during or after the reconciliation; nor have they liked the undertone of “agree with us, or else…” which have been circulated. Kudos to them, say I. Still, as it is often the case in this kind of semi-diplomatic matters, now the ball is in the Vatican side they return the nicety: I waited for you, now you wait for me.
3) The weeks (if such they will be) of waiting will give both sides (particularly the SSPX) the time to organise themselves internally. They’ll find the way of having the preambolo circulated, explained, and approved. They’ll avoid Fellay exposing himself to the accusation of having put the SSPX in front of a fait accompli in front of the troops, in the face of which only approval or a frightful row with the Vatican are possible. They’ll discuss and agree with Williamson the way he himself will explain to his own aficionados why he can live with the agreement if he can, or to agree ways in which he can express an acceptable dissent if he cannot.They will, in short, prepare the ground for what, for an organisation now accustomed to live in open conflict with the Vatican for almost 25 years, must be an earthquake.
I might be wrong. I am, in fact, more often than I care to admit. But I refuse to be either worried or in any way “concerned” at the news of today.
In the end, the Pope is not a capricious, doting old man, but a smart guy who knows what he wants. If he were to back pedal now, he would stand there as the most cruel of men, and to be easy to manipulate. I don’t think he is either in the least. Besides, he knows the SSPX too well to think he could play games with them, even if he wanted.
It is as clear as the sun the Pontiff has already made his decision, as otherwise the SSPX would never have announced they have submitted a text they knew might be publicly refused.
If you ask me, the rest is entertainment.
In September, when the hopes of a reconciliation between SSPX and Vatican started to take momentum, I wrote a blog post about the SSPX, the Mamma and the Cake inspired by an excellent post on Messa In Latino.
After the failures of the talk, I felt it natural to go back to those optimistic days and try to understand – as far as we can do it from the outside – what went wrong.
In September, the beautiful comparison was made in the Italian blog between the idea that the Vatican bakes poisoned cakes (which, I agree, should not be accepted by the Vatican in the first place, and seems to me in contrast with the very concept of indefectibility of the Church) and the much more moderate idea the Vatican bakes cakes, some of which aren’t a success.
I remind you what made everyone very optimistic in September is the fact the preambolo was announced with a joint press release, whose tones led one to hope the second reading (the Church bakes bad cakes at times, and it is perfectly legitimate for an obedient son to say so, and to say he won’t have any part of the cake which tastes badly) is the one that would apply.
What happened later, no one really knows. I can, at this late night hour, only think of two hypotheses:
1) Fellay and his strictest collaborators thought the compromise was viable and would save the doctrinal integrity of the SSPX, allowing her to continue her work of vigorous – but loyal – criticism of V II; but when Fellay met with the other SSPX grandees in Albano the latter gave a different reading of the matter; then it was decided to write a counter preambolo saying “are we sure we will be able to continue to criticise V II as we are doing now?”, and the rest is history.
2) The Vatican gave the SSPX the medicine in small doses. First she released the preambolo and the joint press release indicating the way for an agreement, and in the following weeks – more discreetly perhaps, and by way of hints – gave the SSPX to understand what would be required of them if an agreement took place; not out of bad faith perhaps, but of a different concept of what loyalty requires from the SSPX. The SSPX began to smell the rat and in Albano decided to ask for an explicit consent to freedom of movement (that is: open criticism of the wrongs of V II). The rest is, again, well known.
And in fact, it seems to me in the later utterances of Fellay – a person who cannot be accused of the rigidity of a Williamson – this point came out again and again: the fear to be silenced, and to have to shut up as a price for the reconciliation. My personal impression was the problem is not so much a doctrinal one anymore, but one of practical behaviour after the reconciliation.
I have in this blog very often compared the Vatican to a drunken father and the SSPX to an obedient, but loving son; a son whose love and devotion for his father does not, cannot arrive to the point of abetting his drunkenness, and in whose refusal to agree to his father’s drinking habit I see not rebellion but love, and loyal, loving, truly filial submission to a father’s role rather than to parental antics.
As I see it, the Church is still drunk of Vatican II. Not besotted as she once was, for sure, but still not entirely sober. Continuing with the simile, it seems to me we are at the point where the father is almost sober and begins to see he has done a lot of mischief in the past, but still insists to say – as he used to say in his drunken days – his son was wrong in not obeying to him whilst drunk, and by the bye he was not really drunk, merely curiously excited nd perhaps a bit too exuberant; but really, nothing to be ashamed about.
If, dear reader, you think the Church has not – or could not – go through such phases, I suggest you delve a bit into Church history; methinks, you’ll find examples of erratic behaviour which can compete with V II every day of the week; the Arian heresy was a terrible disgrace for the Church hierarchy not less than for Christianity at large; the Avignon period can be only remembered with shame, like the end of the Templars which took place just before those terrible years; the corruption – moral, if not theological – of the XV and XVI century has been abundantly exploited by popular press and media; heresies like, again, Arianism swept away a good part of the Catholic bishops, and in more recent times Jansenism became not less dangerous, if in the end less devastating. To say nothing about modernism, of which V II is a less virulent, if in the end more dangerous version (and in fact, V II has already unquestionably caused far more damage than Modernism ever did).
In all this, what I understand is that the survival of the Church in the midst of phases of more or less spectacular corruption and/or incompetence is the bets proof the Holy Ghost supports Her. If Coca Cola and Apple were run with the same professionalism of the Church they would go belly up in a matter of years. But you see, they don’t have the Holy Ghost to back them.
The news here
Alas, I think in order to see the SSPX in full communion we will have to wait the death of the VII generation.
I am glad the SSPX decided not to compromise. Whilst we will possibly never know the details as the famous preambolo dottrinale‘s text was never published, I think most will agree the public comments and interpretations given by the SSPX clearly indicated the SSPX was required to either officially accept V II with all its baggage of mistakes and wrong formulations, or at the very least accept to be institutionalised and lose its function of whistle-blower about the still too many bad influences within the Church.
The Vatican has asked Fellay to clarify his clarification, which would indicate the door is not officially closed. But at this point I do not see how what could not be cleared in years of discussions could be cleared with the next round of letters exchange.
My conclusion is that the Vatican is still dealing with the V II toxins and at this point it will take time, and at least a new pontificate, to heal the wounds. A pity, but it is what it is.
The great consolation in all this is that the SSPX was, in a way, tempted with an easy exit and chose not to yield to the lure of a “reconciliation” that would have gone against the spirit of his founder, and would have betrayed th every reason why it exists. If you don’t believe Williamson in this, I am sure you’ll believe Fellay.
We will, no doubt, read in the next days the position of the SSPX and many other comments.
At the risk of appearing sugary, I’d say prayers for all parties involved are in order.
It would appear the moment of truth (better: of not having the nerve to say the Truth) is rapidly approaching for the Society of Saint Pius X, with the Vatican expected to end the matter before the end of June.
Those who have followed the discussions up to here will know that very probably, at this point not much is going to happen, at least for this round of discussions. The SSPX have been offered golden bridges if they accept to compromise on the role and reach of Vatican II, and implicitly accept the muzzle in the matters related to the Council. They have gently but clearly answered this is not going to happen, but have presented a document asking the Vatican to clarify some of the statements therein contained, for the case a common position which does not compromise the SSPX could be found.
But with the progress of the talks, it seems to me the issue looming in the background was less and less the doctrinal differences – which would probably be rapidly worked out with the more conservative elements of the Curia – and more and more the matter of the new role which would be expected from the SSPX in case of full communion. I do not doubt that, if this is wished from both side, an agreement can be found. What I doubt is the SSPX will be able to renounce to the full freedom in criticising the ruptures with the past represented by Vatican II, and the ability of the Vatican to accept they do not want to silence their criticism.
What I think is easily neglected, is that the reigning Pope is – though certainly from a conservative point of view – through and through a VII man. Whilst he has the best intention towards the SSPX, it appears to me less than probable he will allow them to continue to drive the hardline position that VII be – together with its orthodox parts, which are in harmony with the Magisterium and therefore not the work of VII itself – at times not better than a homily in the Sixties, and a very bad one at that.
In my eyes, I think we enter here the inscrutable workings of our deep nature, with men in perfect good faith able to disagree on such momentous matters because of their past history and cultural heritage. It shouldn’t happen, though. Goes to tell you what damageVII still continues to inflict on the body of the Church.
I am, as always, a long-term optimist. It seemed to me this things might have had a happy end, but I am now much more cautious on the matter (remember the text itself was never published, so the room of manoeuvre was never to be fully gauged) as it seems to me the unread preambolo was worded in a way which made the agreement not really acceptable for the SSPX. A pity, because the initial joint communique’ about the preambolo itself was certainly encouraging.
It seems to me this matter will approach solution only when the VII generation has, literally, died.The fact people like Vincent Nichols continue to be called in good standing whilst Bishop Fellay is not in full communion really demonstrates the size of the problem.
Both Messa in Latino and Rorate Caeli, (the latter in English) report about the now imminent refusal of the Preambolo Dottrinale from the side of the SSPX.
Whilst it is sad for me – as, I hope, for every Catholic – to have to write these lines (there might still be further changes and an agreement in the end; but at this point I am not holding my breath), it is easy to see what is happening: the SSPX will only accept an agreement allowing them to continue to fire with all cannons at the “Spirit of V II” and the toxic rests still polluting the Church, or will continue to remain in imperfect communion.This was the main aim of the request for clarification from Rome, and the result is in front of our eyes.
In times of Assisi III and of Archbishops astonishingly expressing themselves in favour of “civil partnerships” ( a practice, as you all know, widely practiced during twenty centuries of Christianity and only now… no, wait!!) one is really not surprised at the Bishop’s stance; then to renounce to thunder against the continuing state of popularity-seeking drunkenness of too large a part of the clergy would be tantamount to giving up the reason the SSPX exists in the first place.
Allow me, on this occasion, to comment on what I have read around: that Bishop Fellay be more or less forced to refuse the agreement because of the internal pressures from the right wingers, and assorted killjoys.
Frankly, I think it’s bollocks.
The senior members of the SSPX have met in Albano and have held talks all together about what was the real – I think this meant: the unspoken, the implicit – deal offered to them. You will remember Bishop Williamson was not even present. It can, therefore, not be said that the “hawks” have managed to somehow highjack the gathering and impose their extremes views. On the contrary, the fact that the mainstream within the SSPX – which is, I am tempted to think, pretty much the very best the Church has to offer nowadays – has decided not to approve the Preambolo Dottrinale is in itself a clear indication that, after careful consideration, this was seen as not giving enough guarantees that the SSPX would be free to continue his work unmolested.
I am rather sure a clear majority among my thirteen readers will be persuaded that whilst the SSPX is not immune from isolated cases of extreme religious grumpiness, the majority of their religious members sincerely desire the end of the strife and full reconciliation, if this can be made in the right way.
Alas, they have decided – without Bishop Williamson even being there – this is not the case. I admire their courage and determination; and their, well, chutzpah. Whatever faults you may attribute to them, the absence of cojones is not among them.
Secondly, I do not agree with this idea of the SSPX so jealously interested in remaining in a state of imperfect communion, because this would promote their work and leave them in a golden spot at the margin, but still inside the edifice of the Church. Besides the fact that these are not really the kind of people putting ambition first – otherwise they would have tried to become, say, the one or other of the 27,000 bishops in full communion, some of them cowards and/or heretics in astonishing measure, but undisturbed- it seems clear to me that the day the Society is in full communion its expansion will be massive, as the stigma of “rebellion” would be lost but the fame of doctrinal integrity would be intact. The SSPX has much to gain from an agreement, and if they had been driven by ambition this is exactly what its members would have done.
The brutal truth is, if you ask me, that the men of the SSPX put doctrinal orthodoxy before personal interest and ambition for their order, as this rather spectacular refusal of an agreement without full guarantees of being able to continue Archbishop Lefebvre’s work shows.
What a difference with the thousand big and small testimonies of cowardice and appeasement with the world coming from people who are and continue to be in full communion.
Seriously, I never liked the SSPX so much as these days, as they have showed in the most impressive way the cloth they are cut from. It is really a pity they should – unavoidably – attract so many protosedevacantist – or outright sedevacantist – elements. Can’t be helped, I am afraid, sedevacantism being so fragmented and litigious that the attraction of a substantial, rock-solid organisation with spread presence must be irresistible to many of them.
Still: thank God for the SSPX!
Bishop Fellay has spoken and the position of the SSPX on the Doctrinal preamble is now clear: unacceptable as it is, but with proposals of modifications.
As the Preambolo was not set in stone, and had been open to modifications from the start, this answer is not surprising. Granted, it may sound strange to mainstream Catholics that an organisation to which reconciliation is offered would show such resilience to set all problems aside; still, this goes to show the wood out of which the SSPX is carved. “Peace” for the sake if it is, fortunately, not on the menu, and the Society will only accept full reconciliation when its leading men will be satisfied that it will be possible to them to continue the same fight after the reconciliation they are fighting now.
Judging from what the CNA reports, the biggest issue seems to be the “leeway” (as “allowable margin of freedom or variation”, says Merriam-Webster) that would be given to them. In Bishop Fellay’s words:
“What is the extent of this leeway? The proposal that I will make in the next few days to the Roman authorities and their response in turn will enable us to evaluate our remaining options,”
So: there will be no acceptance of the “Preambolo” as long as there are no guarantees regarding the ability of the SSPX to continue to be, well, the SSPX, but there will be alternative proposals of clarification aimed at seeing whether the Vatican accepts that the SSPX will continue its work without any form of muzzle after the reconciliation.
I might be an incurable optimist, but if this is the biggest issue I would say that great progress has been made, irrespective of the reconciliation happening, or not. It would appear the only big obstacle is the ability of the SSPX to continue its work without any impediment must be guaranteed, and without this guarantee the SSPX will prefer to do without reconciliation.
Note that there is no talk of, so to speak, “converting the Vatican to Catholicism”; also, there is no word about the unfortunate Assisi III event. It seems to me that the SSPX says they are ready, if they are allowed to continue their work.
Fair enough, says I.
One of the things I love about (us) Italians is the imaginative, colourful language. A beautiful example comes from Don Alfredo Morselli’s brilliant blog post of Messa in Latino, examining the possible content of the Preambolo Dottrinale.
The blog article is very long and I will not even attempt to translate it, but there is a concept (the key message) there that is very interesting.
According to this article (I am very aligned with this hypothesis, as it can be read around the blog in several places) what the Vatican is asking from the SSPX is nothing else than the renunciation of the “poisoned cake theory”, allegedly an image invented by Bishop Williamson. Williamson’s idea is that Vatican II is like a poisoned cake: once you know that there is poison inside the cake, you throw away the entire cake instead of discussing which parts of it aren’t poisoned.
The answer of the author (and very probably: of the majority of the SSPX) is as follows:
..la Mamma (la Santa Madre Chiesa) non fa torte [avvelenate], ma, in virtù delle promesse del Salvatore, può fare solo torte buone (altrimenti prevarrebbero le porte dell’inferno). Certamente però, come a ogni buona mamma, qualche torta o qualche sua parte non riesce sempre al meglio.
“The mamma (the Holy Mother Church) bakes no poisoned cakes; on the contrary, in virtue of the Saviour’s promises, she can only bake good cakes (otherwise the gates of Hell would prevail). Certainly, though, as it happens to every good mother, some cake or some part of the cake does not always result in a perfect success”.
I have the impression that truly nothing more than this is required of the SSPX, and I frankly wonder how less than this could be required.
I also notice that:
1) the press release of the 14th was a joint one. I wonder how can it be seriously feared that at least Fellay and his strictest collaborators have worked to the presentation of a dish which they themselves have no intention of eating. If Fellay & Co. hadn’t considered the Preambolo worthy of approval, the tones would have been rather different ones or, more probably, no joint press release would have taken place.
2) Bishop Williamson started to become rather nervous already in June, before the news of the Preambolo Dottrinale but after the news of the invitation for the 14th September. Once again, with the benefit of hindsight we can clearly see that Williamson understood that the Vatican proposal would have cut in the middle between his position and those of the more moderate elements within the SSPX.
We will see how this evolves. Frankly, though, I can’t understand how one can avoid being optimistic in the presence of so many encouraging signals.