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SSPX-Vatican Talks: Keep Calm And Carry On.

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.

Mundabor

SSPX Does Not Accept Proposal And Seeks Clarifications

A "no" that is a "maybe": Bishop Fellay, SPPX.

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.

Mundabor

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