Recent developments by the Institut Du Bon Pasteur/Institut des Guten Hirten throw a rather sinister light on what kind of pressure would be put on the SSPX if the reconciliation – if such a reconciliation should happen – is not made in the proper way.
It would appear from Kreuz.net (a very aggressive German Catholic site, but from what i can see a rather accurate and well-informed one ) that the Institute is now the object of a visitation and relative suggestion for their improvement.
You can take the background from Wikipedia (German, alas…), which describe the institute as a group formed from former SSPX priests, celebrating only in the traditional form and maintaining an attitude of open criticism to V II, whilst being in good standing and full communion. The supervision of the institute is shared between the Holy See and the relative dioceses.
Such a structure would appear to be, at first sight, something similar to what might be – certainly with modifications – proposed for the SSPX. My impression is that the member of the Institute were put under ecclesia dei, with the assurance their traditionalist outlook would be respected
It transpires now this might now – at least if the Vatican gets its way – change: the Institute would have now been requested to drop the “exclusivity” of the Traditional Mass.
I do not need to tell you what are the implications of this request – if confirmed, of course – for the SSPX, and how not-so-intelligent the former SSPX priests who have decided to trust the Vatican look. If what is reported is true, then a politics of mortal embrace would be the aim of the “reconciliation”, with the SSPX allowed to keep its Latin Mass without discussions in the beginning, and after a number of years – perhaps, when signs of weakness are spotted – asked to simply drop the “exclusivity” criterium.
The same source also reports the Institute has been advised to tone down the criticism to V II. Again, this appears perfectly in line with a strategy of assimilation and V II-isation made in instalments, and profiting from the belief of the original members that they would be allowed to go on with their own criticism of V II and their staunch defence of the Traditional Mass – including the refusal to celebrate the Bugnini mass – would be respected.
I wonder, then, what is the value of the assurances of those who, from inside the Vatican, tell us a doctrinal agreement is not a condition precedent to a full communion and canonical recognition. That this could be so, there can be no doubt. That this is what the Vatican is planning to do, is a different matter altogether.
On the contrary, it seems to me the facts of the last weeks and months point to the opposite direction. The consequence of this is, in my eyes, twofold:
a. The concerns of those within the SSPX who do not trust the Vatican seem to be more than reasonable, and solidly grounded on facts.
b. The reconciliation is certainly something to be desired and discussed with the Vatican if they so wished, but the SSPX should pay attention that “trust” plays no role in the decisions about the future structure of the SSPX. If you ask me, nothing but the strongest canonical guarantees of the SSPX being able to continue their work exactly as now should be considered sufficient.
This would make it impossible for liberal elements of the Vatican – Pope included – to infiltrate them, or to neutralise them using the instruments the agreement between the SSPX and the Vatican have given to them and – in this constellation – accepted by the SSPX because they “trust” the Vatican will not abuse of such instruments.
We will see how this controversy with the Institut du Bon Pasteur – provided the information is correct – pans out.
If you ask me it might, perhaps, at this point be wise for the SSPX to wait for the next pontificate: if someone in the mould of Mueller becomes Pope – do not laugh; the appointment of one like Mueller at the head of the CDF seemed absurd enough – every agreement reached now, irrespective of how intelligent or well prepared, will be for the dog anyway. If the new Pope has a sincere desire to allow the SSPX to operate – as SSPX, not as the lapdog of Ecclesia Dei – then whatever is feasible will be done just as well. What is, in my eyes, important is that the SSPX does not assume the “I do not play with you anymore”-attitude and remains open to every agreement allowing them to operate as they have done up to now.