In the matter of the Preambolo it has now transpired the first answer delivered by the SSPX to the Vatican has been considered not to the point (that is: too long-winded), and the SSPX has been requested to present a second answer, more concise and more focused on the Preambolo itself.
This second version is being examined as we speak, though of course no immediate reaction is to be expected.
What seems interesting to me from the source (the highly reputable Italian daily newspaper “La Stampa”) is that the SSPX answer is not a simple refusal of the Vatican offer, but a partial acceptance, with the clarification of what the SSPX is not ready to accept and the request of further clarifications from the Vatican as to what they mean by certain expressions.
The crux of the disagreement seems to me in the way the SSPX and (perhaps) the Vatican understand the ordinary (which means, erm, cough: the fallible) Magisterium.
For the Vatican, it would seem that
the Catholic is called to ensure a “religious submission of will and intellect” to the teachings that the Pope and the college of bishops “offer when they exercise their authentic Magisterium,” even if they are not proclaimed in a dogmatic way, as is the case with most of the documents of the magisterium.
For the SSPX, what is not in accordance with the Tradition is just plain wrong, and therefore there can be no question of religious submission to error. As a consequence,
the Lefebvrians do not intend to give their assent to the texts of the Council regarding collegiality, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, and religious freedom, because they believe these to be inconsistent with tradition
As it is acutely pointed out – oh, the difference between Italian “vaticanisti” and the bunch of politically correct ignorant idiots employed by the BBC and elsewhere! –
the concept of tradition – “Traditio” – and its value, represents the crux of the debate that has characterized the talks between the Society and the Holy See. The Lefebvrians criticize some of the Council’s provisions, considering them to be at odds with the tradition of the Church.
In simple words, I will put it in this way: if your drunk father orders you to bring him more brandy, are you obliged to comply because he is your father and you are supposed to obey him? Substitute “drunkenness” with “Vatican II novelties” and you are, I think, not very far from the nucleus of this disagreement. The Vatican seems to think you still obey to papa because you owe him obedience, the SSPX says the very love and obedience you owe to your father requires that you refuse to comply. The comparison with drunkenness might seem strong, but after fifty years of Vatican II devastation I am inclined to call it gentle.
We shall see. Don’t hold your breath. Actually an Hail Mary or three is a better idea.
After the end of my pressing engagements 😉 , I notice that the usually very well informed Messa in Latino informs us of the following:
1) The SSPX has been given ample time to answer. This is very good as it prevents the SSPX internal debate occurring in the middle of the predictably torrid weeks leading to and – hopefully not – perhaps following the Assisi-III initiative.
2) It would seem that a personal prelature in Opus Dei-style is being considered instead of an Ordinariate; but Messa in Latino points out that it would have to be an organisation sui generis to avoid the SSPX pastoral activities being controlled by the local bishops, a solution which not only will never be accepted, but is very probably not desired by the Vatican, either.
I cannot avoid a certain sense of euphoria, I admit. It’s not the evening whiskey, either. It seems to me very clear that the Vatican would not have released such an invitation, and handed such a document, without an agreement with the top echelons of the SSPX having been reached beforehand.
Of course, it will now be the SSPX’s job to persuade their ranks; but again, if I am right and they have already deemed the document acceptable this is a clear sign that they already know that they will have a clear majority of the SSPX with them, and no one seriously doubts that a minority of professional grumpy men would have never been satisfied anyway.
Better days ahead.
I had already written in June about the possibility (and what spoke against it) that the meeting of the 14. September will lead to news concerning the canonical position of the SSPX.
It now turns out that the German internet site of the SSPX invites to pray.
The site also notes that Fellay and his two colleagues invited are, themselves, an organ of the SSPX, the “General Council”. In other words, Fellay is invited not with his two nearest aides, but the leading organ of the SSPX is invited to appear. I notice here, as others have done, that the discussions with bishop de Galarreta ended in a positive atmosphere.
Now, of course it can be:
a) that the invitation to prayer is a purely pious one, and
b) that the three SSPX men are supposed to merely talk about the discussions.
At the same time, I remember the Rosary Crusade of the SSPX before the lifting of the excommunications, and the cynical part of me can’t avoid thinking that this is the way parts of the SSPX start telling us that something big is in the making.
As I have already written in June, my suggestion would be to “curb our enthusiasms”, as the scheduled “Assisi III” in October doesn’t really make an offer of reconciliation in September really desirable in view of the heated discussions that would be engendered within the SSPX (and we have already seen that the likes of bishop Williamson would be on the war path in no time).
Still, when the SSPX invites to prayer before something happens from the Vatican I begin to think that something more than a pious attitude is in play.
The video above is a collage of fragments from lessons given by Bishop Williamson to his students at the SSPX’s St Thomas Aquinas seminary in Minnesota.
You might crack an easy joke and say that these less than six minutes are all the sensible talk that his students could assemble out of many years of teaching, but in my eyes this would be more than a tad ungenerous. What comes out of this video is a man profoundly Catholic and able to make his point in a very eloquent manner. As an Italian, I find his southern-European gesticulating the more interesting… The beautiful Karl Jenkins music accompanying his words is in my eyes too loud, and I can’t understand every word he says. There might be another joke lurking here….
I heard this video and thought of what I have written often from pre-blog times: bishop Williamson is certainly a man with his own idiosyncrasies, not all of them pleasant or reasonable. But I’d rather have him as bishop than everyone else in England & Wales.
As we have experienced before Summorum Pontificum, liberal catholics are not weary to prophesy a great catastrophe for the Church is she decides to start taking Catholicism seriously. As if liberal Catholicism wouldn’t be rapidly extinguishing itself already, the French magazine Témoignage Chrétien (one of those rags living on subsidies, informs us Messa In Latino) expresses his concern that the Church in France might suffer oh so much if there is a full reconciliation between the Vatican and the SSPX*. Some of the arguments brought about to justify the alleged haemorrhage of faithful are as follows:
1) France is the “historic cradle” of the “Lefebvre movement” and still today its most important stronghold. It is not clear to me how this should cause people to leave the Church en masse. The SSPX being bigger in France doesn’t motivate one more to leave the Church, if this is what he wants to do. Rather, I’d think that France is the country where the reconciliation will bring the most copious fruits, because the SSPX is more present on the territory.
2) Reminiscences of the war in Algeria play, allegedly, a role. One never ceases to be amazed at what excuses people may find.
3) The “trauma” of the “affaire Gaillot”, the ultra-liberal bishop who was kicked out by JP II. The reasoning here is that if you give the boot to an ultra-liberal bishop, people will defeat en masse if the Church reconciles herself with the SSPX. This would make halfway sense, if the supporters of Gaillot were very many, and very angry. But as they are very few, and very much dying, one doesn’t follow the logic.
Dulcis in fundo, bishop Vingt-Trois – the head of the bishops’ conference – is invited to make pressure on the Pope unless he wants to be considered a lightweight compared to his predecessor, Lustiger. The appeal to the vanity of one man is not likely to obtain much of a result, as here the problem is rather that Pope Benedict would seem to be very interested in a full reconciliation. Témoignage Chrétien admit it themselves when they notice, whining a little, that “the Curia doesn’t seem much interested to the feelings in France”.
One can easily imagine that such “don’t do it or the Church will explode” argument – which very resembles a “don’t do it or the schismatics will make a schism” argument – will be much used by others in France and elsewhere. Thankfully, it may well be that the Holy Father is simply of a different opinion.
* This is FSSPX in Latin, and SSPX in English. I read them around both, and never can decide which one to use.
Strange things happen these days at the FSSPX. I have already written about the potential offer of a worldwide ordinariate for Traditionalists, and of the subsequent clarification from Bishop Fellay that no formal offer has been made. On this second occasion, the Italian blog Messa In Latino insisted that the news (Ordinariate on its way of being offered; formal document not ready yet) are authentic and from credible source.
We now have, from the same blog, two pieces of news; the first rather, the second very interesting.
The first is that Bishop Williamson has criticised the offer of Ordinariate (which was clearly expected), at the same time confirming that he has a source of information directly inside of Ecclesia Dei. He adds the definition “Apostolic Ordinariate“, with the adjective not mentioned by Messa in Latino. This sounds like one with one ear inside Ecclesia Dei, and not particularly pleased at what he hears.
The second is that Bishop Fellay has been summoned to Rome, together with his two assistants, for the 14th September, 4th anniversary of the day Summorum Pontificum came into force.
Fellay is supposed to deposit the SSPX’s final relation about the doctrinal talks, but the date is a sensitive, directly relevant and historical one and it is not difficult to imagine that something might be in the making here. What day would be more apt for this second historical step, than the anniversary of when the first came into force…
Against this datum of 14th of September would, on the other hand, speak the fact that in October we will have the questionable “Assisi III” gathering, and it is easy to imagine that the spirits at the SSPX will be rather excited. If, therefore, a formal offer is presented mid-September, the discussion within the SSPX will develop in the weeks leading to the Assisi gathering. Not good for them, and not good for Rome. Good, actually, only for Williamson and the other opposers of full reconciliation.
We will see out this pans out. In the meantime, the clear nervousness of Bishop Williamson and the symbolic date for Bishop Fellay’s meeting with the Pope do give some reason to hope.
The Italian blog Messa In Latino – which had published the original rumour – today informs us that Bishop Fellay has denied the existence of a document outlining the proposal of an Ordinariate for the FSSPX and other traditionalist groups.
Messa In Latino confirms that such a solution has been (tentatively) outlined to the FSSPX. The explanations given by the blog as to how reconcile this with Fellay’s words are as follows:
1) Bishop Fellay has denied the existence of a “concrete project” (say: a definitive document of proposal), not the existence of a verbal, in principle proposal to proceed in this way.
2) It would appear that the announcement has caused some discontent within the FSSPX, with the least moderate part predictably opposed to any solution which doesn’t represent a complete backpedaling from Rome.
3) It would appear possible that in light of this situation, Fellay himself may have wished the postponement of the official proposal to a later time, in the meantime hoping to consolidate the approval for such a solution.
4) The proposed Assisi meeting in October is not going to make things easier; again, this might speak for an official proposal after the sandstorm to be caused by the Assisi gathering has settled.
It all makes much sense to me and I do not think that the Italian translation will reveal fundamental changes. Whilst it is predictable that the intransigent fraction will not be happy with the solution, I frankly can’t see why the vast part of the SSPX clergy should refuse it, provided that the ability for the SSPX to continue to operate in complete autonomy (which means: to continue to criticise V II documents ad libitum) would not be compromised. It is not that Lefebvre was any softer regarding V II before his excommunication, so there is no need to fear that return to full communion will mean the necessity to accept the V II documents as pure gold.
What is important to notice is that Messa In Latino boldly confirms the rumours. In this respect, the presence of a written document is in my eyes not really decisive, as after so many years of disagreements there is no real hurry and the idea of waiting until, say, Advent does make sense.
I will keep you posted if further news appear.
Messa In Latino invites the faithful Catholics to pray for the full reconciliation between the FSSPX and Rome.
After consultation with priests collaborating with the site, the following prayer has been published:
V/.Veni, Sancte Spiritus,
R/. Reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
V./ Emitte Spiritum tuum et creabuntur;
R./ Et renovabis faciem terrae.
Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti, da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere, et de eius semper consolatione gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
My unworthy translation:
V. Come, Holy Ghost,
R. Fill the heart of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love;
V. Send your Spirit, and it will be a new creation;
R. And you will renovate the face of the earth.
Let us pray
O Lord, who with the light of the Holy Ghost instruct the faithful, grant us to taste, through the same Spirit, what is right* and to always enjoy His comfort. For Christ our Lord. Amen.
The prayer should be recited between Pentecost Sunday and Trinity Sunday.
Those who recite the Rosary daily are asked to offer the rosary for this intention.
Priests are asked to add this to their intention during Mass.
* the site’s italian translation of recta is given with “la vera sapienza”, “the true wisdom”.