Read on the Eponymous Flower about the new real estate purchases of the SSPX in the Esquilino hill (this is one of the seven hills, a very central and prestigious location, though yours truly prefers the Aventino by far). As always, I read these news for signs of “ceased alarm” (it’s not that I am really worried; it’s that we live in times when even organisation endowed with Sovereignty poop their pants at the first sign of FrancisAnger). The translated article has two messages for me, one good and one bad.
The good one is that the SSPX is buying the real estate. This is clear sign of, cough, independence from a rich and self-assured order. Instead of asking the Vatican “could you allow me to rent, for a very low price, some nice structure?” the approach seem to be “hhmmm, the agreement is approaching. We’ll need a pad in Rome with all the accoutrements. Let’s go shopping!”
The less good one is that Matzuzzi seems to consider it a given that there will be a cost in the form of “painful losses” among his “faithful and priests”, and I wonder what this means.
Firstly, is this a generic expression of things that might happen, or direct knowledge of things that will happen? Of course some isolated Williamson-style hardliner will walk, but does this qualify as “painful”?
Secondly, last time I looked the situation was that any agreement would have to be approved by the General Chapter of the SSPX. Not only this is an extremely strong guarantee that the order will not be sold, as you can’t this is also a strong indication that the agreement will be approved by a vast majority of the priests, it being inconceivable that a cabal of, say, 21 or 22 people decides to split the SSPX into two on this. Rather, the 40 voters will only support the agreement if they are aware of vast support among the ranks and files. I even seem to remember Bishop Fellay promised a direct vote on this, but I might be wrong.
A last point that I think should mention: whether the SSPX is incardinated in the Vatican hierarchy as a Personal Prelature or Apostolic Administration is not as important as the actual legal situation the SSPX will find itself in. It would appear a Personal Prelature would give the SSPX complete freedom from the authority of the bishops, but this is a moot point as every Personal Prelature could be shaped as the Vatican sees fit.
The important thing is to keep the control of a) the hierarchy and b) the assets. This way, in case of bullying the SSPX could walk away from the paws of the Pope en bloc, intact, and with the coffers full.
I have this from Father Z’s blog. Rorate Caeli also mentions, and confirms the letter will have something about the SSPX in it. As Rorate is clearly well connected to the SSPX one can be sure something is brewing. It’s not clear to me whether the Eponymous Flower has its own sources or is reporting external ones; but clearly, this is more than rumour.
Before anyone panics, let me remind you of this: Bishop Fellay stated in the past that no solution/reconciliation/arrangement would be accepted from the SSPX, that has not been approved by the majority of the SSPX priests.
One can, therefore, be reasonably confident that whilst Francis might have fooled the one or other, he could not have fooled the majority of these good and faithful priests.
We shall see how this pans out. It can be an attempt to prepare a trap. It can also be that starting from last September (when he received the Dubia letter), Francis felt so much in a corner concerning his own orthodoxy that he now has desperate need of conservative credentials. This would, of course, contradict the insults to the supporters of the Traditional Mass made earlier this week. But again, this is Francis for you.
Imagine the irony: a V II Pope compelled to regularise the SSPX to counter accusations of heresy. You couldn’t make it up. Divine Humour at work.
Prayers and confidence in the Divine Providence are in order.
In one of his eleison editorials, (it's number 355; no independent link) Bishop Williamson states that the Vatican is thinking of doing what, in fact, Benedict should have done in 2012: recognise the full legitimacy of the Society without any condition or demand.
The statement seems absurd, and it probably is. One simply struggles to see why the Bishop of Rome would do something like that, and at the same time persecute the FFI. Yes, Francis might try to spin this as a move toward “inclusiveness”, particularly if he plans something very scandalous on the other side of orthodoxy, like paving the way for sacrilegious communion. A way to, so to speak, try to make everyone happy and show he is the Saint Protector of Absolutely Everyone: Atheists, Muslims, Jews, Heretics, Sodomites, even Catholics.
One could think he might make such a move, but let us reflect: is this the way he has operated up to now?
No. What he has done up to now has been consistently belittling, insulting or persecuting decent Catholics whilst he panders to the emotional needs of all kind of wrong people, who in turn build his personality cult. Why would he change direction now? Has there been a scandal too big for him, short of officially overturning Church teaching? Does he think if he gives the SSPX a “certificate of conformity” they will stop their rather ferocious, if always respectful, criticism of him? Has he been persecuting the FFI for, basically, no reason at all? Is he not afraid that this might backfire mightily, destroying the image of liberal icon he has been building for himself?
No, I cannot see this working. Rather, it seems to me that the Bishop is receiving third-hand rumours from sympathisers within the SSPX, and that he tries to make the argument of how little orthodox the SSPX must be, if Francis is even thinking of receiving them into his ample, inclusive, Catholicism-free bosom.
Don't believe the rumours.
Believe the facts.
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.
A rather astonishing news came in the last days from the Vatican. It appears Ecclesia Dei now say the SSPX needs more time, and the Vatican is ready to give it to them. Actually, they even mention ongoing discussions…
With all due respect: poppycock.
The SSPX has made very clear, in the most possible public manner conceivable, that further discussions are subject to the Vatican accepting certain conditions, without which there can be no fruitful discussion anyway.
Furthermore, the SSPX has made public that whilst one should never say never, they do not believe in any agreement during this pontificate, and I am rather sure they know why.
Moreover, the SSPX has decided that whatever (future) agreement with the Vatican is proposed, it will not be decided by a small troop of “leaders” (who then ask the other members to simply “obey”) but it will have to be approved by the majority of the SSPX members, thus making it utterly inconceivable that the ambitions of the one or the other may achieve the result of carrying the order with them.
In addition, Cardinal Mueller himself has immersed the negotiations in frozen yoghurt, making very clear he does not want to have anything to do with those bad, bad men who do not even indulge in simony, or encourage sexual perversion like his well-fed German Kollegen. (look at the graphic, please)
Once again: the SSPX has spoken, and unless there is a sudden change of mind from the Pontiff the only reasonable conclusion is that there’s nothing else to say for the time (and the Pontificate) being; then to talk is good, but to waste breath when everything has been said is not very smart.
Why, then, this sudden change of perspective from Ecclesia Dei, which even contradict their own immediate superior?
I can only imagine the following two hypotheses, but perhaps the readers will have other suggestions:
1) Someone at Ecclesia Dei would like to re-launch the discussions and – now Williamson is away – attempt to isolate Mueller, who is clearly an enemy of every sensible agreement. This might make sense because the press release comes from Ecclesia Dei rather than from the CDF itself, and the astonishing description of the discussions as ongoing is clearly an open contradiction of what the boss himself has said. Therefore, it might be Ecclesia Dei now simply pretend the discussions haven’t ended yet; which makes, in this perspective, a lot of sense, as an open offer to the SSPX to re-open them would be linked with some loss of face.
2) This is a very Italian, erm, Southern Italian message: a bit like saying, with a raucous voice, “you think you have spoken, picciotto, but I will pretend you haven’t; just for a while, whilst you reflect on the consequences… I am trying to help you before you get in serious trouble, mi capisci?“.
The second hypothesis is in my eyes less probable, as there would be no need whatsoever to do it in public in such a cryptic way, whilst in the first case the public – if not open – isolation of Mueller is probably the best message the people at Ecclesia Dei can try to send to the SSPX; it is reasonable to assume many at Ecclesia Dei want to see the SSPX reconciled, and could have made without the Pontiff’s sleight of hand when he last changed the text of the preambolo.
Far-fetched both of them, you may rightly say, and I would agree with you. On the other hand, it does not happen very often that both the SSPX and the CDF say “the matter is closed” and suddenly Ecclesia Dei comes out saying “ahem, we are still waiting for your answer then, aren’t we?”
We shall see. Perhaps it was nothing, merely someone at Ecclesia Dei has simply not been paying much attention… one is reminded of the revocation of the excommunication for the SSPX bishop without even knowing Bishop Williamson’s ideas about the Holocaust.
If this is not a case of insisted sleeping activity, I never cease to be amazed at the Vatican corridors: there must be more mines there than at the border with North Korea…
Bishop Williamson’s letter in answer to his exclusion from the SSPX has been published. I have read a German translation, and I must respectfully say that I am not impressed. Please note Williamson has many friends within Kreuz.net, and I think the translation accurately reflects his own thinking.
The way I read the document, there are two main themes and the same time explanations for his “rebellious” behaviour: past obstacles put to his work, which forced him to become active with his blog irrespective of the consequences and, more importantly, a progressive deterioration in the attitude of the SSPX under the leadership of Bishop Fellay.
The first argument is of a very personal nature, and it is impossible from the outside to see who is the real cause of which behaviour, and who is responsible for which reaction; I will, therefore, not get into the matter of who has abused whose patience more, or first.
The second argument simply does not stand. Bishop Williamson accuses the SSPX of having started to “melt” in front of Vatican cajoling since the year 2000, and to have officially left the line of the Founder (may he rest in peace, and santo subito….) at the latest in 2008. As evidence, he brings a couple of short sentences without any context, and which really demonstrate absolutely nothing.
The simple fact is that in Bishop Williamson’s view of things, every talk and every attempt to reason with the Vatican is wrong, to the point that even invitations to dinner from a Cardinal – invitation accepted from “three of the four” bishops – might constitute an inappropriate propinquity. It is clear the Bishop sees Rome as a place infected and therefore to be avoided in principle, rather than the centre of Catholicism; and the Pope, wrong as he may be in this or that matter, your ultimate boss and someone with whom you simply do not refuse to reason.
Some time ago, I wrote an explanation of the different positions within the SSPX based on the very imaginatively Italian comparison of the poisoned cake . Whilst, alas, the Vatican cook was proved a bad one, the different approaches to the cake remained and are, apparently, the main cause of this fracture.
Williamson’s position is made even more untenable by the clear refusal of the SSPX to consent to any agreement which might compromise their integrity; this for the good Bishop rather embarrassing circumstance is dismissed as a kind of fortunate last-minute effort thankfully heading in the right direction; a flawed thinking which ignores the simple reality on the ground: the SSPX has remained completely orthodox and faithful to Catholicism because this is what they are, full stop.
There is in Bishop Williamson’s reasoning also another Leitmotiv: that Archbishop Lefebvre would not have wanted any reconciliation until Rome’s full “conversion”. This simply flies in the face of reality, as the saintly Archbishop obviously sought – and obtained – official recognition for his newly created order, remained in full communion for several years and would have happily gone on that way if his wish for at least one bishop had been heard.
The reality of the last days is, I am afraid, a bit different and somewhat more cruel: a passionate but rather un-diplomatic, rather difficult, and rather grumpy old man finds himself increasingly more detached from a truly orthodox, but still intelligently diplomatic leadership and can digest with more and more difficulty the isolation and loss of influence this unavoidably means.
The reality on the ground is that the SSPX is, as I write, every bit as orthodox as Bishop Williamson.
The only difference – but a highly meaningful one – is that the SSPX will always take every opportunity to explore whether a reconciliation made in the proper way and not implying doctrinal concessions is possible, whilst Bishop Williamson considers every contact with Rome as a defilement and a danger for the organisation itself.
You see the – in my eyes – flawed reasoning also in the reproach made to Bishop Fellay to have made a mistake in trusting the Vatican to be willing to dialogue in good faith. Good Lord, if this is the worst reproach that can be moved to Bishop Fellay I hope he stays in charge for a very long time. To pick up again the “Italian” imagery, you talk with the mamma even if you have the strongest suspicion that the cake baked by her will contain poison. You do that, because she is the mamma and di mamme ce n’e una sola (“mothers, one has only one”). Of course, if the mamma orders you to eat the cake, you don’t; but the SSPX didn’t do it, either.
Up to now, I have not known of any official announcement of the creation of a separate group; but if you google around, you will find at least one internet pages created to – supposedly – “save the SSPX”, and I have not heard any confirmation that no secession is going to happen.
We shall see. As I said, I can’t say I am impressed.
I have often written on this blog – with disbelief, sorrow and some amusement – about the rather numerous cohort of those for whom the Pope is always the one responsible when he does something they like, and the hapless victim of cruel, ice-cold, shameless corridor plotters when he does something they don’t.
It can’t work, you see. Either one has the shop under control (and then he is responsible), or he hasn’t (and then he is responsible too, incidentally…).
This strange disease by which the Pope is either the man in charge or the victim of the famous “wolves” (people he has chosen to stay or remain near him, without exception; this too is elegantly overlooked) according to whether we like what comes out of the Vatican reached frankly amusing proportions in the last months. On this occasion, the famous preambolo – of which it was clear that it had been approved by the Pope, then otherwise the SSPX would have never dared to run to the wall by saying it was – was given back to the SSPX with mysterious last-minute changes, which were and remain clearly unacceptable not only for the SSPX, but for everyone who love their work and the preservation of Tradition they so beautifully defend.
Ah, how the pious cohorts of Pope Benedict went to defend him! The wolves have betrayed him! They have profited when he was taking a nap and have changed the text of the preambolo! Perhaps they changed some key words whilst he was eating his Leberkäse ! And all under his nose! Shock! Horror!
It now turns out that rather smartly, the SSPX – in my eyes tired to be used and abused by the Holy Father, though certainly far too diplomatic to say so openly – have addressed a more or less direct request to the Holy Father asking him who was the responsible for the, erm, voltafaccia.
At this point, you can be as much the Pope as you like, but you are in a bit of a spot. If you do not answer, they will make it public that you have refused to answer, which will let you look extremely bad; if you say that it was someone else’s fault you have to find and agree the version with the poor scapegoat first – which knowing the Vatican means the entire planet will know about it it in a matter of weeks – and then you will have to go back to the text and change it again, losing face twice in one go; no, the only way to limit the damage is to tell the SSPX the truth and hope they sweep it under the carpet in the hope this nicety will spare them the “worse” (say, a renewed excommunication).
Unluckily for the Holy Father, the SSPX does not make this kind of calculation, does not appear to value his word much and wants the planet to know it, and has – I can find no other words – exposed the Pope by saying in a very diplomatic and gentle way, but still klipp und klar, that the Pope has confirmed the person responsible for the changes is – surprise, surprise – he himself.
Kreuz.net reports the interview with Father Schmidberger, the head of the German province of the SSPX. The interview is on Pius.info, and if you understand German you can listen from 3:25 to dispel every doubt as to who is responsible for what. As Father Schmidberger is a rather authoritative and prestigious source, I do not think there can be any doubt whatsoever – even for the “wolves party” of the conspiracy theorists – about how things went.
Alas, now the time to face reality has come, and all those who have accused those around of the Pope of being “wolves” must ask themselves why the Pope should, now that the truth has emerged, by considered by them any more gently than how they were considering those around him.
Like everyone else, I would so much like to believe that the Pope is on the side of a sensible restoration of traditional Catholicism and that he works, prudently but steadily, toward that goal. There was a time – in particular after Summorum Pontificum – when I have thought that this was more or less the case, at least that this was partially the case, in preparation of the successor who would then set the foot on the accelerator. My, was I wrong.
Not only is this Pope fully committed to the errors of Vatican II bar the worst modernist heresies; not only does he consider Vatican II as a whole so much above criticism that he will not allow the SSPX to work in peace whilst he allows wannabe Catholic Bishops and Cardinals all over the planet – particularly in Germany and neighbouring countries – to set forth their work of destruction undisturbed; but he will not even refrain from wilful deception to damage the SSPX, eating his own word in the hope to divide them in the process.
The game is now up, the SSPX has managed the crisis in a rather admirable way – they might lose Williamson and his “wing”, but will not be substantially weakened by internal strife; more a pruning than a falling – and Father Schmidberger’s claim that they are now more united make perfect sense in light of both the Papal behaviour and the clear absence of strife – apart from the Williamsonites, who aren’t very quiet at the best of times – within the Fraternity.
Kudos to the SSPX for having said – charitably but openly – what was clear enough but too many refused to see. This might well bring them a renewed excommunication – which might have come anyway, after letting them believe it won’t if they behave… – but frankly I do not think they are in the least afraid of it.
To say the truth, I think they don’t think much of the Pope, and want the world to know where they stand, and to know why; I cannot otherwise find a reason for their decision to tell urbi et orbi that the Pope has eaten his word at the last second; a statement as damning in his hard reality as it was gently expressed (see the interview again, and if you speak German enjoy the crystal clear subtext of the interview). Once again, the Holy Father was too clever by half.
Next time you complain about the collapse of the talks, please don’t take it out on Cardinal Bertone, or on Cardinal Levada. Rather, think how the Holy Father allowed them to be in the centre of the scandalised Catholic criticism for months, and whether the Holy Father would have ever told the truth if he had not been put in a rather tight corner by the Fraternity. Perhaps a prayer for them both (and for the Holy Father, who needs it most) is in order.
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].
What follows is the integral text of a statement from Archbishop Lefebvre, published in 1988. As always, this good man of God surprises with his ability to explain complex concepts in a simple, easy to understand,but always extremely clear way. The contrast with the usual anodyne statements trying to please everyone by at the same time endeavouring to not openly contradict Catholic teaching, typical of our time, is more than evident.
Note the similarities between the situations then and now: Rome seems to want peace, and then turns out to be exclusively interested in the neutralisation of the SSPX. Where I live it’s called duplicity, and deception.
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.
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.
If I were inclined to see conspiracies everywhere, I would say that this is an attempt of the former Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, to split the SSPX in the middle.
The fact is, I am entirely convinced this is not the case. I have read today with sadness the letter sent in April to the three (alas, all three of them) dissenting bishops. The tones of the letter are, I am afraid, harsh enough to let it appear improbable there is space for a “reconciliation about the reconciliation”. As it stands, I think some form of split appears rather probable.
Still, I think the Holy Father was right in proposing the reconciliation on the terms proposed, and was moved by a sincere desire to put an end to the controversy. As to the reaction of the three bishops, I can’t understand the attitude of not wanting to accept a gift because the giver is supposed to be not good enough; particularly when the giver is the Pontiff, and the gift is big.
I have read (though I should not have 😉 ) the leaked letter of the three bishops, and everyone can read on Rorate the General Council’s answer. The letter is so full of sane orthodoxy and practical common sense, that I wonder at what type of person has been running along the corridors of the SSPX houses for now many years.
I will not publish any excerpt from the leaked letter. Let us see the most important points of Fellay’s reasoning:
To read your letter, one seriously wonders if you still believe that the visible Church whose seat is at Rome is indeed the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a Church horribly disfigured, to be sure, a planta pedis usque ad verticem capitis, but a Church that in spite of all still has as its head Our Lord Jesus Christ. One gets the impression that you have been so scandalized that you no longer accept that it can still be the true Church. For you, it would seem to be a question whether Benedict XVI is still the legitimate pope. And if he is, there is a question as to whether Jesus Christ can still speak through him.
The reasoning informing the letter of the three bishops is, in a word, the main reason why I was always afraid to attend Mass in a SSPX chapel: the uncomfortable feeling of knowing more than some (perhaps many) around me consider the Pope almost the Antichrist, others are Sedevacantists, other still morbidly grumpy about everything in Rome.
But Bishop Fellay is right. The Church is undoubtedly ill – a planta pedis usque ad verticem capitis, as he beautifully says -, but ill as the Church is, she is still the Church, and whilst it may be absolutely necessary to disobey to the Pope when the Pope wants to impose to the faithful a behaviour in contrast with Catholic faith and morals, a Catholic is not allowed to refuse the Pope’s stretched hand merely because he doesn’t like his policies.
I have made very often the comparison of the SSPX and the Vatican with the dutiful son who refuses to obey his drunken father when the latter orders the former to buy alcohol for him. But this is different: the attitude of the three bishops is the same of the son who refuses the embrace of his father, because the latter is not entirely sober yet.
A loving son will in this case embrace his father, gratefully and lovingly so, and will continue the work towards his father’s complete recovery from drunkenness.
Let us see another argument:
If the pope expresses a legitimate will concerning us which is good and which does not order anything contrary to the commandments of God, have we the right to neglect or to dismiss this will? Otherwise, on what principle do you base your actions?
This is, I think, the most enlightening passage: there’s simply nothing seriously wrong with the offer. Yes of course an Ordinariate would have been preferable to a personal prelature, but I can’t see in this the reason of the three bishops’ dissent. It is not that. It is that they refuse the reconciliation purely because of the person it comes from, and the – alas, still partially V II-inebriated – Church he represents. I find this simply inconceivable. This is not even pathological grumpiness; this is outright Sedevacantism.
Within the Society, some are making the conciliar errors into super heresies, absolute evil, worse than anything, in the same way that the liberals have dogmatized this pastoral council.
Another pearl. The three bishops have so much criticised V II, that they simply forget the Church of Christ existing before, during and after it. This is like denying the existence of the sky behind the clouds, because it has been grey and cloudy for so long.
In itself, the solution of the proposed personal prelature is not a trap.
Firstly, this is a practical criticism, which is different from the fundamental problem – Rome being “not Catholic enough” for their liking – expressed by the three bishops. Secondly and examining the criticism itself, I cannot imagine, not by a long stretch, the SSPX being slowly strangled by an army of – basically, dying – liberal bishops. One must trust the simple fact that an organisation which had the guts of doing the right thing for so many years will not have any hesitation in disobeying again if they notice Rome is planning a mortal embrace. The reasoning of the bishops is in my eyes so naive as to think the character and nature of the SSPX would be fatally undermined just because they are not in the waiting room anymore. But wait: the SSPX has been in full communion for many years already! They do not need to be in “imperfect communion”! This is not what Archbishop Lefebvre wanted it to be! Neither the doctor nor Archbishop Lefebvre have ever prescribed the SSPX never to be in full communion until every little trace of V II has been annihilated! In fact, the SSPX was in full communion during several years of the worst V II madness!
More practically, Fellay & Co. seem to me perfectly sound: there are already enough allied bishops to make place for whatever expansion the SSPX may desire; control over seminaries and organisation is maintained; practically, I want to see which bishop will dare to ask them to move an existing chapel out of his diocese, and which Pope will side with the bishop when the SSPX invariably refuses.
An organisation which maintains its leadership, its seminaries and its character will always be able to react to murderous attempts in future, as it has been in the past. I really can’t see what is to be feared there.
I rather see Bishop Fellay made a Cardinal and one day, perhaps, Pope.
We will see how this pans out. I am afraid this won’t be pleasant. But unpleasant as it is, it is probably salutary and necessary, because at this point it is necessary that those who were disobedient for love of the Church are separated from those who were disobedient because they think they are the Church.
I have often noticed how a certain kind of Catholic tends to think we have two Popes. They do not do it only with the present one, but with every one. Certainly, though, this is particularly evident with the current Pontiff.
The first Pope they have is a smart, cunning man. His intellect vastly surpasses the one of the common mortals. If he isn’t an outright genius, he very much resembles one. Whatever he does, must be the expression of this uber-fine intellect. Even when it seems he has made a mistake – say, Assisi gathering; or caving in to the “trendies” in the Wagner affair; or not acting for months in the Austrian matter – they will assure you it might seem something went wrong, but in reality some extremely far-looking plan, whose long-term wisdom we cannot even fathom, is being actuated. You have no idea, they will tell you. He is sooo smart.
More often than not, the very same people think they have a second Pope. This one is the complete opposite of the first. He is frail, and rather naive. Wolves circle around him without pause like he lives in a Jack London’s novel; the reasons for this no one cares to explain, considering not one of the supposed wolves is there by coincidence, but all of them are there because they are wanted just where they are, by the very Pope. This second Pope doesn’t seem very smart. He doesn’t know what happens in the world outside, and only relies on the wolves to tell him what’s up. He seems to not even have an internet connection. He speaks several languages, but newspapers don’t make it into his office. He is lied to, manipulated, made a puppet of.
I’ll tell you what I think. I think this Pope is smart, and knows what he’s doing. He has around him the people he wants to have around him. If his aides are the right ones, than the merit is his, because he is the one who chose them; if they are the wrong ones, then he is responsible for this, for the very same reason.
I think this Pope is nobody’s fool, and a vast improvement on his predecessor; but I’ll tell you very frankly he is no hero of mine. I think the weak choices he makes are, all of them, conscious choices, made in the full knowledge of their consequences. I think so, because I think he’s smart, and I think I only have one Pope.
I think this Pope has decided from the start his pontificate would have one foot on the gas, and another on the brakes. When he decided to issue Summorum Pontificum, he knew his bishops would have boycotted it, and he knew he would have allowed them to get away with it. He wanted to do the right things, but without much energy, lest it causes too many problems. So he did a lot of things right, and to balance that he did a lot of things wrong. Bishop Bonny, about whom I have written yesterday, is one of his (many) wrong, or catastrophic, appointments or promotions. The number of heretical or extremely questionable bishops appointed, or promoted, by him is vast (scour the bowels of this blog, and you’ll see what I mean). He is the man who installed Nichols in Westminster. Schoenborn is a protege’ of his. His German bishops go around frolicking untouched. I won’t insult his – and your – intelligence by telling you he didn’t know his trendy bishops and cardinals would behave that way. Of course he knew. He knew, because he isn’t stupid. And he knew, because he does not remove them.
Now we are at the two Popes again. The smart, forward-looking Pope who decides to seal the reconciliation with the SSPX is (again) at the same time an old, frail man who in the next weeks will be surrounded by wolves (chosen by him; all of them, bar none) trying to let him do… what exactly? Say it was all a misunderstanding?
Please, let us abandon the legend of the wolves. The man knows what he does, and knows what the consequences of his actions are. He has clearly made his decision, and we must trust him he will follow through with it, in his own time. He will be the one who delights us if things go as they should, and who disappoints us if they don’t (improbable, anyway).
He is responsible, because he is in charge; and he knows that.
I don’t know you, but I can’t stand this anymore.
Even at work, I click on the Pius.info website to see whether something has happened. Then, in my desperation, on the Rorate Caeli website to see whether something escaped the attention of the German SSPX site; which is, if I understand correctly, the one who is going to announce whether there is an agreement.
I continue to think what a day it would be.
Possibly the most important since the end of Vatican II.
The beginning of the end of V II.
Summorum Pontificum on steroids.
I know, I know… I shouldn’t do it.
Patience, and all that.
Still, it is hard…
Schmidberger is certainly not pleased with the tones of the Vatican message, and does not do anything to conceal it. More interesting is that he seems to think a positive conclusion is still possible.
I personally prefer to be positively surprised if something – which would at this point, I think, be a real surprise – should happen rather than risk further disappointing if nothing happens.
Still, I think prayers are in order.
On the Vatican-SSPX matters, I have received a long message from Catocon, he of Hocestenim (excellent blog but, unfortunately for many of you, in German).
I sometimes delete such long messages without warning, and tend to dislike them.
Not this time.
This message is so profound, and so beautiful, that I publish it here in its entirety, with many thanks to his author:
the more loyal and loving a son, the more fiercely he will protect his Mother. Those who see their Mother weakening and do nothing but talk cheaply about hermeneutics and textual criticism of some fallible council for fear of being accused of “disobedience” do not love their Mother; they love their reputations. That is the difference between many “conservatives” in “full communion” and the FSSPX.
Yes, the Fraternity is disobedient. They won’t throw away the medicine capable of healing their Mother, even if their Mother orders them to. Therefore, there will be no deal until the Church clearly acknowledges that Her body is infested by the disease of modernism and starts expelling those responsible for it instead of obstructing those trying to fight it.
One last point: The more I think about it, the more I come to believe that this has never been, at its deepest point, a question of doctrine. You can, if you wish, twist the words of the Council until the end of time, and come up with some interpretation that fits Tradition. In exactly the same way, you can do the opposite and twist those words until they become the foundation for a new Modern Church complete with a New Faith and a New Mass. But whatever the officially taught doctrines may be, the real point is, this is not about the doctrine itself, it is about the practical fruits. If the Church were flourishing, if young people were learning the New Catechism by heart, if they were defending the teachings of this Catechism with their blood and their lives, if they were filling the seminaries, if those teachings of the Council and its Magisterium were earnestly defended, if the liturgy was celebrated according to the books and with utmost care and faithfulness to the letter and spirit of the Mass, if they were striving to become saints by living a life of prayer, penance, sacrifice, if all these things were happening, no one would be talking about some inconsistencies or problems in some of the conciliar texts. We would, of course, interpret them according to traditional Magisterium, and one or two professional theologians would be discussing them furiously, but they would pose absolutely no problem. And the FSSPX would fully accept them, as even Archbishop Lefèbvre signed them in 1965, as maybe imperfect, but fully legitimate expressions of Catholicism, and reconciliation would proceed apace. But we can see the fruit of the Council, we see an enormous apostasy among clerics and laymen alike, a vast desert of agnosticism and apathy, empty seminaries, churches and confessionals, beautiful altars vandalized like false idols of a hated heathen religion, almost as if the reformers had perceived them to be such, and when we see these fruits, we know something about the tree that produced them. We know that there is something seriously wrong with this tree. That this cannot be the real tree of the Catholic Faith. And from this knowledge we can deduce that the Council, having produced these rotten fruits, cannot have been a good thing, and that its questionable teachings were in fact novelties, even poisonous novelties, and not just some unfortunate way of expressing the Faith.
We shall know them by their fruits, because words are very flexible, but works are not. They have a crystalline clarity that cannot be obfuscated. We see the rupture of the Council in every average church we attend, hear it in every sermon, smell it in most liturgies, experience it in the divorce courts and abortion mills overflowing with Catholics, and can never believe in “continuity”, even if a proper hermeneutic can be found by theological study, because the fruits tell us a different story. Unless the fruits change, there can be no acceptance for the work that produced them, and therefore no agreement. If the fruits really change, the proper interpretation of problematic passages will follow as sure as night follows day, and the Fraternity will be in full communion before you can even pronounce the words.
Nothing to add and, as the Germans say, Hut ab!
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.
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.
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.
This is the press release from the General House of the Priestly Society of St Pius X.
It says that the 28 people who have the responsibility for running the Society have all met near Rome – actually, also very near to Castelgandolfo – to discuss the Preamble. They will present an answer “in a reasonable time”. We know from other sources that the text is seen as, so to speak, “negotiable” or better said, adjustable. This is possibly another reason why it has not published, though after almost a month it is rather surprising that it hasn’t been leaked.. 😉
Let us make no mistake, the Assisi-tempest now over us will not help this, for a while at least. Personally, I think that the divulged separation between matters concerning the Universal and Ordinary Magisterium on the one side and the possibility of criticising V II on the other, which seems to be the leitmotiv of the document, is very encouraging, but we shall see. I have written already on the matter and I would like to refer the reader to what I have already said, if you click “FSSPX” on the side bar under “Categories” you’ll find, if you are so inclined, plenty of material.
Again, we shall see. Not a very short wait I am afraid, and it is possibly very good so.