This is a difficult post: a blog post about what a French site says the Vatican has written to every SSPX priest, which has already been proved wrong because they wrote it to Menzingen ( SSPX headquarter) and they apparently copied and sent to every priest (boy, their photocopier must be good…).
You find the English translation of what the content might be at the usual Rorate Caeli.
My comment to the text are as follows:
1. Once again, Archbishop Di Noia writes over Archbishop Mueller’s head. Apparently (but see below) no fear of being drowned in yogurt there. Good!
2. Archbishop Di Noia appears to have posed, amidst the lines of a very long letter, the following conditions:
a) no discussion of V II in the media
I wonder what the Archbishop thinks, or if he just loves to write. The very aim of the SSPX is to fight against the distortions of V II. It is not a private exercise. The role the SSPX requires from her priests, which is the reason itself why the SSPX exists, is to say things as they are. This reminds me of Mussolini, who allowed dissident books to be published provided the run was limited to 1,000 copies. This is not going to work, full stop.
b) the SSPX does not establish itself as a parallel Magisterium.
This is not very intelligently formulated and I hope it does not come directly from Archbishop Di Noia’s pen. If the Archbishop thinks the SSPX want to establish their parallel Magisterium, he has a lot of studying to do. More probably, he means the SSPX must accept every cretinous statement of the V II church (religious liberty, and so on) as infallible Magisterium.
c) presents the objections in a positive and constructive manner
I have never read a criticism of the SSPX to V II that wasn’t constructive (though they were negative, as the matter deserves). Actually, I am still waiting for the minutes of the meetings with the Vatican to see who was more constructive. I think Archbishop Di Noia owes every conservative Catholic out there, because in my book a man is only as good as his word and the minutes of the meetings have been vocally announced. Let’s take the time to read it all and see who has the better argument and logic.
d) bases all analysis on a deep and wide theological basis.
This is offensive. It implies the SSPX has up to now not based her analyses on a deep and wide theological basis. From what I could read up to now, the SSPX shames every Vatican theologian you can care to mention, obviously starting from the Pope. But again, I am waiting for the announced minutes of the meeting to see who has the “deep and wide theological basis”. I bet three pints it isn’t the Vatican.
Personally, I’d say this new “smile offensive” from the Vatican can only be one of two:
1) Di Noia wants to make himself independent from Mueller (good!), and he is trying to establish his own negotiating credentials whilst, at the beginning, trying not to anger Mueller too much, lest he be drowned in yogurt. Therefore, unacceptable demands are posed, which in the meantime establish Di Noia as the interlocutor of the SSPX within the Vatican.
2) This is a remote-controlled Mueller initiative to, again, try to drown the SSPX in yogurt: “you will have your recognition”, they say, “and you will be able to criticise VII. Provided, of course, you shut up.”
Er, well, no.
This is not the SSPX everyone of us knows, and the SSPX will not accept any “compromise” which silences them, even if they are able to do their own thing and criticise Vatican II in a very hushed way in the bargain. This is pretty much what is already allowed to the FSSP, and the SSPX priests know why they do not join the FSSP.
I wish within the beautiful palaces of the Vatican they would start to accept that the decomposition of Catholicism in the West is the result of erroneous teachings, practices, and ways of thinking introduced during – and spread or magnified after and through – Vatican II. That, and only that, will be the beginning of the healing, whilst every Catholic insistence that V II be not wrong (a statement more ridiculous with every new day) is going to crash against the wall of orthodox Catholicism built by the SSPX, a wall that will certainly not be taken down against a promise of a reconciliation. Athanasius was never lured to compromise his position by promises of reconciliation.
Besides, Di Noia’s position appears contradictory in itself: “look what damaged goods we are”, he seems to say, “please damage yourselves with us and agree with our corruption, so that we can heal together”.
Again, more than a proposal this seems a provocation dipped in … yogurt. Still, this could be an erroneous rendition of those who made the synopsis.
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.