As it is now known, the CDF has recently (that is: when still badly led by Cardinal Müller) sent a letter to the SSPX in which the Vatican states exactly the same conditions for the reconciliation with the SSPX that caused the last attempt to fail. Besides secundary matters, the crux of the question was the acceptance of V II from the part of the SSPX, an acceptance on which the Vatican now officially still insists.
Predictably, the SSPX has refused, and this is the end of that.
One would be tempted to think that the Vatican had no intention to allow an unconditioned reconciliation with the SSPX in the first place, and Francis may well have had this intention from day one. However, it would be naive to think that the SSPX embarked in the new negotiations without a reasonable hope of success.
What I think gas happened is that a not irrelevant franction of Vatican functionaries and dignitaries has been pushing for an unconditioned reconciliation with the SSPX, prospecting to the Unholy Father its advantages in terms of “diversity acceptance” and with the possible further benefit of the now “reconciled” SSPX avoiding calling Francis “Modernist through and through”. Francis has either weighted his options during this time or, more probably, told his people that he was doing so in order to enjoy a more prudent SSPX for as long as practicable. This is a Jesuit, which in modern parlance is synonymous with “atheist, possibly homosexual, church-hating devious liar”. It is, therefore, more reasonable to assume that Francis was lying all the time rather than to charitably imagine that he really gave the thought of unconditioned reconciliation a honest chance and the benefit of a long reflection.
So: what changes now? I don't know because I don't know to what extent the upper caeli said of the SSPX believe – at this point naively, if you ask me – that some small door could still be open.
In my eyes, however, something very important should change.
1) The SSPX should stop focusing on a reconciliation that will clearly not happen during this pontificate at the very least, and start firing from all cannons at the heretical work of subversion we are witnessing every day.
2) In a less immediate perspective, the SSPX should wonder whether the times do not call for a more aggressive leadership than the one of Bishop Fellay. I am not doubting the personal integrity of the Bishop, but one who states that a reconciled SSPX would avoid criticising too loud or too harshly (I have written about it) is just too much on the soft side, and in my eyes not good enough for the present time.
There is a time for peace and a time for war. This is a time for war.
I am not sure Bishop Fellay is the best man to lead it.
The SSPX-Vatican agreement seems now (not for the first time, actually; and we know how it ended before) very near.
However, this time the situation is different, in that the Church is led by such a demonic, heretical, and bullying individual that some question (among them professor Roberto de Mattei) whether such an agreement is really the best way to go in the current situation.
I must say I am with New Catholic on this, and think that what is good in itself should be regarded as good irrespective of the circumstances in which this good takes place.
However, I have a number of caveats, which are the same I have expressed several times on this blog. They are as follows:
a) The agreement should be made from a position of complete mistrust, and actually utter contempt, for the Evil Clown.
b) Therefore, it should be structured in such a way that the assets and legal position of the SSPX as an institution are completely insulated from the paws of the ‘umble ‘eretic, Pope Uriah.
c) It should be (but of this I have no doubt) accompanied by the strongest desire to keep following the truth no matter what the Evil Clown says, or orders, or spits about. Finally,
d) it should be (but of this I have no doubt, either) accompanied by the firm resolution to be just as critical of FrancisChurch after the agreement as before.
The way I see it is this: you don’t refuse something good for Catholicism merely because it comes from a man who is bad for Catholicism. However, this clearly assumes that the agreement is such that the bad guy cannot hurt the good guys.
The agreement allows the SSPX to expand like a cancer in Francischurch’s body. This, my friends, is jolly good.
What advantages Francis has in inviting this cancer is in my eyes not difficult to fathom. I see a maximum of three of them.
a) Firstly and most importantly, credentials of “tolerance”, which will allow him to push his heretical agenda even further;
b) perhaps, the suppression of Summorum Pontificum and of the FSSP and other traditionalist bodies as he would claim there is, now, a legitimate outlet for Traditional concerns;
c) also possibly, the attempt to bully the SSPX into submission like he has just done with the girls at the Cowards of Malta.
I see a) as the first motivator and the only realistic aim for Francis. I suspect the agreement with the SSPX would be followed by a “mercy offensive” that would see Kasperism more or less officially embraced. However, not the SSPX would have to answer for this, but Francis. Francis can attempt any and every heresy every day, and it is not realistic to demand from the SSPX that they should reject a historic victory out of a misplaced sense of responsibility for the evil actions of other people.
The b) scenario is, ultimately, possible with or without agreement, any day. Ask the FFI. But also here, I do not think the SSPX should have a set of genitals for themselves, another one for the FSSP, a third one for the institute Of Christ The King Sovereign Priest and other ones for the Papa Stronsay priests, etc. If these institutions are ordered to disband, it is their damn duty to refuse and go the way the SSPX did in the Seventies; protecting their assets as they can, but their integrity first. Once again, you can’t avoid a good outcome out of fear that cowards will accept to be bullied. Not even sovereignty was enough to allow the Cowards of Malta to resist, and this was a protection around ten orders of magnitude bigger than any SSPX “rebellion”. Cowards will be cowards. It is not the job of the brave to be held hostage by their cowardice.
The c) is, in my eyes, completely unrealistic. I doubt there are people outside the SSPX who distrust not only Francis, but the entire V II Church more than they do. They breath it, eat it, drink it every day. A priest who accepted to be suspended a divinis the day of his consecration isn’t likely (bar something very short of demonic possession or total loss of faith) to accept to be sodomised “in obedience” by the very people against whose heresies he vowed to fight the good fight for his entire life.
Again, the SSPX are no Cowards of Malta. This is Sparta.
Heretics will be heretics. Francis will be evil, very probably, for as long as he breathes. Whatever evil deed he wants to do, he has abundantly showed he will do not only out of calculation but also out of a whim, out of spite, out of long held grudges, or out of pure arrogance, and there is no way we can rely on him to behave rationally.
He has his own motives in pursuing this reconciliation. We have ours. If this reconciliation is made the proper way (see above) I see no reason to refuse it.
By weary of Greeks bearing gifts. Look attentively into the horse. Then make of the horse a war machine against the Greeks.
We shall see who is smarter, who is Catholic, and who has the Lord on his side.
Concerning the matter in the title, I beg not to be counted among the optimists. I do not believe in the least that any sincere reconciliation effort will come from the Vatican. If any rapprochement were to be seen, it would probably only be aimed at dividing the SSPX, as already seen in 2011.
Still: it shall be allowed, I hope, to play a bit. Let us imagine, them, what would be reasonable and acceptable to the right side.
The principle that what the Church has always held stays, and that the SSPX has the right to refuse strange novelties, is too banal to merit discussion. The principle that in whatever V II documents have declared that is in harmony with Truth cannot be logically denied is also too banal to waste time on it. The fact that V II was a merely pastoral Council is also an undisputable fact for every sound Catholic.
The problem is, if you ask me, another: control. The Vatican might want to attract the SSPX in a mortal embrace, and they might even be ready to make concessions for this. But the SSPX will – I am sure of this – not accept any agreement that puts them at the mercy of the V II Church. Not with Benedict as Pope, much less with Francis.
Therefore, the issue, and the litmus test of the Vatican's honesty in any agreement, will be that of independence.
Own seminaries, own finances, complete freedom from episcopal interference, and – as unavoidable consequence – complete freedom to criticise Pope Francis and V II left, right and centre. Nothing else would be acceptable, nothing less should be accepted, and nothing else will.
Unacceptable for the Vatican? So be it. Profitable in the longer term, or just the Catholic thing to do? Welcome.
In theory, there would be an upside for Francis: the “mercy” rhetoric and the “inclusiveness” propaganda, and the personal satisfaction of having “succeeded” where Benedict failed. In practice, it will never happen: those who hate Catholicism, that is, Francis' audience and applauding public, would turn against him faster than you can say “Ricca”, and the myth of the revolutionary Pope would die a fast but horribly painful death, without making him more popular among true blue Catholics in the least. A heretic remains a heretic even if he embraces a saint.
Back to the issue of acceptable compromise, it is clear there can be no compromises on what is not negotiable (the issues of the Liturgy, of religious freedom, etc). It is also clear it would be suicide – an act Fellay or his would never commit – to deliver themselves to the mercy of V II Popes, who would – this, or the next, or the following one – subject the SSPX to the FFI treatment.
This, I think, is the inescapable frame of any serious discussion, or lack thereof.
Of course, the SSPX would not maintain that all of VII was evil. V II was a modernist mixture of truth and lie, and one can't deny the truth just because the Devil says it. Rather, the SSPX will maintain that everything that is not truth must be expunged from the teaching and the praxis of the Church; and that V II was, as a whole, the work of the devil in its mentality and inspiration, which both must be expunged from the Church, too.
Will, or should, the SSPX demand that the Vatican goes back to sanity before accepting reconciliation? Of course not. If the work of the SSPX can go on in exactly the same way, to refuse a freely offered reconciliation would be tantamount to elevating the SSPX to a parallel church, of which the Vatican is not worthy. It would be like refusing the blessing of a priest because one does not like the priest. One may despise the man, but one will still recognise the office.
This is, I think, the only possible frame of a reconciliation. At the same time, this is why the reconciliation will not work as long as The Most Astonishing Hypocrite In Church History (TMAHICH) is in power.
Even a “gratuitous” exercise of “mercy” would be too expensive for the Vatican.
They know perfectly well how mercilessly the same people would attack them, who are now the beneficiaries of the fake “mercy” they peddle around.
Father Lombard informed everyone today there are going to be no news in the matter of the SSPX, and the file will be transmitted to his successor.
It makes sense and in fact, a last – minute agreement wouldn’t have been smart. The SSPX priests who would have had to approve might have felt they are put under pressure (“accept this now, now! Or face tough action from the next Pope”), and the Pope himself would have exposed himself to the right remark that he acts now to escape from the unavoidable polemics following such an act.
Perhaps it is now the time to say that this almost messianic expectation of an agreement isn’t healthy. On the contrary, it creates a climate by which an agreement is seen more and more as indispensable, irrespective of its content. Besides, an agreement now might as short-lived as the rest of this papacy.
In my eyes, those who love the Society should train themselves to the exact contrary: resignation that they will die before an agreement is reached, and tranquil confidence an agreement will come when both the time and the content are right.
Fellay & Co. know what they are doing. They will not endanger the organisational autonomy of the Society or its doctrinal integrity, but will work an pray for the end of this unsavoury situation as soon as possible.
From the wonder of the Catholic blogosphere, Rorate Caeli, we are now informed of some details of the latest exchange between the Vatican and the Society.
The first piece of information is that the letter was sent on the 8 January. This is more than one month before the surprise announcement of the Holy Father’s abdication. Clearly, at that time no one had any idea of what was about to happen. Already this makes the document almost as useful as a broken fork.
The second is that the letter seems to have offered the immediate erection of a Personal Prelature in case of SSPX’s agreement.
We also knew already that the letter contained a big “… or else” in case the SSPX rejects the proposal.
What, I think, we can infer from all this is that the CDF addressed all members of the SSPX saying ” if the Society as such does not accept our proposal, those of you who defect individually can have their own Personal Prelature on the spot, on the very 22 February”. This is not explicitly said, but the offer of a Personal Prelature together with an address to every individual priest makes it clear enough to these eyes what the Vatican intention is.
Truly, they don’t get it.
Why on earth SSPX priests should now decide to leave en masse is beyond me. It is as if the Vatican believed they were all sleeping and now, magically awakening in 2013, would discover with terror that they might be excommunicated, and find the thought unbearable.
Certainly, the one of other will always leave every now and then; it is in the logic of human nature. But it is the idea that suddenly a big number of SSPX would say “let’s do what Archbishop Mueller says, he is so good to us and so orthodox!…” that I find hilarious.
The men at the Vatican do not get a simple concept: every member of the SSPX is there for a reason, the fruit of very careful deliberation. They aren’t children ready to change their mind because uncle Müller offers them a candy.
The second piece of information is a bit more intriguing.
The reasons why Father Barthe goes to the point of imagining the creation of an Ordinariate on the very 22 February are not clear to me, but it does not seem probable a unilateral offer of the Holy Father (I mean here, without asking for any concession) is in the cards, or would even be wise.
We must reflect that every last-minute concession of the Pope would be seen as a further sign of weakness, as if he had waited for the last days in order to dodge the massive flak that would have followed an earlier announcement. In addition, we must consider the problems caused by the reconciliation would transfer to his successor in its entirety, again making him look like someone ready and willing to throw a hot potato in his successor’ hands; with the possible result that his successor, not entirely pleased at he proceedings, decides to revoke every concession made. Moreover, the SSPX is so organised that every proposal of reconciliation must be approved by the majority of their own members. It isn’t going to happen in six days, and the matter would therefore only have a sense if it is a unilateral recognition without any condition. Not very realistic, I would say.
There will be, therefore, no reconciliation on the 22nd and whilst I would be overjoyed at the news I do not think this kind of reverie leads to anything.
The SSPX is in a strong position, and can wait the conclave with confidence that the next Pope will be smart enough to understand the SSPX is not only the past but, emphatically, the future of the Church.
We shall see.
Oh Lord, please give us a strong Pope.
This is a difficult post: a blog post about what a French site says the Vatican has written to every SSPX priest, which has already been proved wrong because they wrote it to Menzingen ( SSPX headquarter) and they apparently copied and sent to every priest (boy, their photocopier must be good…).
You find the English translation of what the content might be at the usual Rorate Caeli.
My comment to the text are as follows:
1. Once again, Archbishop Di Noia writes over Archbishop Mueller’s head. Apparently (but see below) no fear of being drowned in yogurt there. Good!
2. Archbishop Di Noia appears to have posed, amidst the lines of a very long letter, the following conditions:
a) no discussion of V II in the media
I wonder what the Archbishop thinks, or if he just loves to write. The very aim of the SSPX is to fight against the distortions of V II. It is not a private exercise. The role the SSPX requires from her priests, which is the reason itself why the SSPX exists, is to say things as they are. This reminds me of Mussolini, who allowed dissident books to be published provided the run was limited to 1,000 copies. This is not going to work, full stop.
b) the SSPX does not establish itself as a parallel Magisterium.
This is not very intelligently formulated and I hope it does not come directly from Archbishop Di Noia’s pen. If the Archbishop thinks the SSPX want to establish their parallel Magisterium, he has a lot of studying to do. More probably, he means the SSPX must accept every cretinous statement of the V II church (religious liberty, and so on) as infallible Magisterium.
c) presents the objections in a positive and constructive manner
I have never read a criticism of the SSPX to V II that wasn’t constructive (though they were negative, as the matter deserves). Actually, I am still waiting for the minutes of the meetings with the Vatican to see who was more constructive. I think Archbishop Di Noia owes every conservative Catholic out there, because in my book a man is only as good as his word and the minutes of the meetings have been vocally announced. Let’s take the time to read it all and see who has the better argument and logic.
d) bases all analysis on a deep and wide theological basis.
This is offensive. It implies the SSPX has up to now not based her analyses on a deep and wide theological basis. From what I could read up to now, the SSPX shames every Vatican theologian you can care to mention, obviously starting from the Pope. But again, I am waiting for the announced minutes of the meeting to see who has the “deep and wide theological basis”. I bet three pints it isn’t the Vatican.
Personally, I’d say this new “smile offensive” from the Vatican can only be one of two:
1) Di Noia wants to make himself independent from Mueller (good!), and he is trying to establish his own negotiating credentials whilst, at the beginning, trying not to anger Mueller too much, lest he be drowned in yogurt. Therefore, unacceptable demands are posed, which in the meantime establish Di Noia as the interlocutor of the SSPX within the Vatican.
2) This is a remote-controlled Mueller initiative to, again, try to drown the SSPX in yogurt: “you will have your recognition”, they say, “and you will be able to criticise VII. Provided, of course, you shut up.”
Er, well, no.
This is not the SSPX everyone of us knows, and the SSPX will not accept any “compromise” which silences them, even if they are able to do their own thing and criticise Vatican II in a very hushed way in the bargain. This is pretty much what is already allowed to the FSSP, and the SSPX priests know why they do not join the FSSP.
I wish within the beautiful palaces of the Vatican they would start to accept that the decomposition of Catholicism in the West is the result of erroneous teachings, practices, and ways of thinking introduced during – and spread or magnified after and through – Vatican II. That, and only that, will be the beginning of the healing, whilst every Catholic insistence that V II be not wrong (a statement more ridiculous with every new day) is going to crash against the wall of orthodox Catholicism built by the SSPX, a wall that will certainly not be taken down against a promise of a reconciliation. Athanasius was never lured to compromise his position by promises of reconciliation.
Besides, Di Noia’s position appears contradictory in itself: “look what damaged goods we are”, he seems to say, “please damage yourselves with us and agree with our corruption, so that we can heal together”.
Again, more than a proposal this seems a provocation dipped in … yogurt. Still, this could be an erroneous rendition of those who made the synopsis.
For this 2013 I would like to formulate a very special but I think equally legitimate wish: the announced publication of the minutes of the meetings between the Vatican and the SSPX.
Again, besides having been announced (and therefore, in a way, promised) I am unable to see why this should be problematic for the Vatican: if the erroneous nature of the Society’s position is evident, the publication of the minutes will lead to the gradual isolation and withering of the organisation, and Vatican orthodoxy will in time triumph without the need for shocking measures that would never work anyway. If, on the other hand, the SSPX does have a case, it is only fitting that this case be heard back to back with the Vatican position.
What better occasion for millions of interested Catholics to properly instruct themselves!
OK then; I am waiting…
Very strange contribution some days ago on Rorate Caeli, with Archbishop Gullickson writing about the controversy and saying that he is a friend of the SSPX, but clearly implying they are in his opinion behaving in a rather stubborn way, refusing to consider that not everything can be perfect in life and that one should be able to accept the one or other little inconvenience and injustice for the sake of a greater good.
Archbishop Gullickson is, from what I can read around, a good Archbishop and a friend of true Catholicism; but frankly, one cannot but be unpleasantly surprised at the mentality his message betrays. The idea – coming from one who described himself as their friend – that the Society would now be doing, in the end, not much less than throwing toys out of the pram for a laudable, but misguided desire of perfect justice is so out of touch with the reality of the last 40 years, that one must despair this generation of VII churchmen will be able to even get what is going on.
What the Archbishop seems unwilling to understand is that the SSPX is fighting against a very grave, fundamental corruption of the entire way the Church thinks and acts. Their opposition to the New Mass, for example, is not the result of the fact that they consider it sub-optimal, or a questionable way to celebrate the liturgy. Their opposition to the Mass is due to it being the result of a radically wrong thinking, which engendered a dumbing-down, a Protestantisation and a general loss of sacredness of which the Novus Ordo is but the most dramatic and most tragically wrong expression. Their refusal of the Novus Ordo is the result of the refusal of the entire poisonous mentality behind it. It’s not a matter pf wanting to be right in everything, or to have everything set up to perfection. It is a battle for the fundamental way in which the Church thinks and acts; or, to use an imagery I often employ, a battle waged to help the Only Church to regain soberness after the drunkenness of populism, bad or outright heretical theology and utterly manifest desire to please the world rather than convert it that we have witnessed in the last fifty years; starting with Paul VI, soon to be beatified in order than V II be beatified, and continuing (albeit in a generally less drunken way) in our own age, with Neocatechumenal Masses, Assisi III rubbish, and the like.
When, therefore, the Archbishop invites his “friends” of the Society to be a bit flexible and stop being a fuss already, he clearly misses both the nature of the problem and the concern it represents for orthodox Catholics like the brave priests of the SSPX.
For a “friend” of the Society, the Archbishop shows a rather alarming disregard of why the SSPX exists in the first place, and why the “solution” ventilated by him is utterly impracticable.
Friend or no friend, after 40 years of existence one would expect those prelates who write about the SSPX to at least have an in-depth knowledge about what the SSPX is about, instead of assuming they are making a fuss over, in the end, secondary matters.
And this is the knowledge of a friend of the SSPX, and I do not doubt a rather sincere one.
Imagine the enemies!
Now that the talks between the SSPX and the Vatican have ended, what stays in the way of the publication of the minutes of the meetings? Have they not – unless I am mistaken, which at this time of the day I often am – been more or less promised for a future time? Why not shorten this span now that t is clear there will be no talks? And if the publication of the minutes has not been promised, why hasn’t it?
In my humble opinion, the publication of the minutes would be a great help to Catholics all over the world: it would help them to get into the heart of the controversy, enlarge and deepen their theological horizon, and experience first hand the differences between the Vatican and the SSPX.
They would, perhaps, even help the one or the other to compare the degree of preparedness of the representatives of both sides.
Surely, the Vatican can only profit from publishing what has been said? Surely, their argument must be seen, after careful consideration and attentive study, as the better one?
Oh well, I am afraid we’ll have to wait…
It has been (as Sir Humphrey would have said) “officially unofficial” since yesterday: V-II ecumenism has gone.
In a radio interview to be broadcast today Archbishop Mueller (the short-tempered, Liberation Theology sympathiser, and theologically challenged Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) has finally said very clearly what conservative Catholics all over the world wanted to hear: the Catholic Faith is non-negotiable.
Therefore, there will now be an end to the endless ecu-maniacal dialogues. As it has been pointed out already, this means the end for the International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, for the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews, for the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, for the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with Muslims, for the U.S. Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue, and for all the countless institutions, both local and Vatican, “negotiating” about the faith.
It cannot be anymore. Speaking of the Catholic faith, the Archbishop says “there will be no compromises here”.
An astonishing U-Turn, nicht wahr? Who would have thought that a man in more than odour of heresy would finally decide to defend the Catholic Faith after so much ravaging?
Still, this is what he said!
But wait: has he?
We must pray for this very confused man.
In case someone should not have enough already of this interminable ping-pong, I would like to add some considerations to explain how – at least in my limited understanding – thing are going as I write.
I would say the negotiations are not dead. They are, very probably, still going on as we speak. The SSPX text is very clear in that it does not close any door, let alone slam it. The Vatican answer reinforces the impression. I note here the latter mentions a separate document (the famous “road map”) they are awaiting, and it is not clear to me whether this document will be made public when it is released. Methinks, it might be already on Archbishop Di Noia’s desk.
As always, the SSPX expresses itself with wonderful clarity, and makes evident no single inch of orthodox Catholic territory will be given away. The fact that this statement comes from the General Chapter must persuade the most unrealistically minded people in the Vatican that their dream of “acceptance of V II” (meaning with this: of the errors and distortion of V II, and the entire mentality behind it) from the side of the SSPX is just-not-going-to-happen. The Vatican boys may like this or not, but that’s how it is; if they want to talk in a serious way, they must know this is how it is going to be.
The press release, whilst gentle in its tones, lays some very heavy charges (all of them, if you ask me, perfectly justified and proved by a mountain of daily growing evidence) at the Vatican’s door. They accuse the Vatican of being silent in the face of widespread apostasy and heresy; or not having been serious in their discussions up to now; and of having misused and disfigured Tradition with unacceptable novelties not in line with it, on whose acceptance they nevertheless insist. The consequence of this is also very clear: serious discussions will only be possible if this position of the SSPX is, if clearly not approved, at least accepted as a legitimate point of view. This is, in my eyes, the point around which the entire exercise revolves. The SSPX is not asking the Vatican to convert to their vision of Tradition in order to discuss or be regolarised. But there will be no agreement unless and until their position is seen as a legitimate one. This is, as I see it, a simple “yes or no” question, on which it is inconceivable that the Vatican might not have a well-defined position. If they accept the SSPX stance, they should negotiate about the details as long as they please. If they don’t, it might be wiser to stop wasting their time.
The SSPX gives a diplomatic, but rather stern answer to the matter of what happened in June. My personal opinion is that they do not even pretend to be so naive as to believe that Cardinal Levada would take it as a new hobby to change texts already approved by the Holy Father (in this case, it would have been very easy to accuse him in some diplomatic way). On the contrary, 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”.
I have read and re-read the SSPX statement and, as always, found myself in agreement with almost every word (the only exception being the rather whining implicit accusation that the Vatican is “persecuting” them; in my eyes a wild exaggeration). Most importantly, I find that the clarity of thought and speech of the SSPX puts to shame the doublespeak or outright heresy we hear from Vatican officials and prelates in good standing with now almost daily frequency, as the meltdown of the – weak at the best of times – Papal authority causes a renewed, massive attack on Tradition from wicked princes of the Church, mainly German or Austrian ones.
We will see in the coming months how all this evolves. In my eyes, following considerations must be made:
1. At this point, it is not so terribly important whether an agreement is reached. Pope Benedict will probably not live long, and his successor will be able to denounce or quietly dismount every agreement which might have been reached during this pontificate, or to reach an agreement with much better chances of, so to speak, consolidating its position on the ground. Much more important than this is that the SSPX hasn’t given away an inch of properly intended, traditional orthodoxy. God bless them.
2. As stated above, the Holy Father must – as in: must – make a decision whether he accepts that the SSPX will continue not to accept what they think wrong in V II, and continue to say so. If he does, ways will be found to allow the SSPX to work properly – but as… SSPX – from a position of full communion. If he doesn’t, he is just wasting his time, or more probably posturing as a Pope looking with a benevolent eye on Traditionalists, when in fact he only wants to destroy them.
It is my personal impression that the Holy Father wanted to be too clever by half, firstly letting the SSPX smell the blood of reconciliation and then taking away the bait at the last moment, in the hope they would either lacerate internally over this, or perhaps even be moved to extraordinary concessions for the sake of this “reconciliation” now being dangled in front of their eyes. In case you would think the Pope would not do that, please reflect this is exactly what he tried to do, as cardinal, with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, an institution clearly meant to become the trojan horse inside the SSPX citadel, and a strategy which failed already.
The strategy of division failed a first time in 1988, and a second time in 2012. It is time to see reality for what it is and realise that the SSPX doesn’t care two straws for a reconciliation which asks them to sacrifice what they stand for, though they are always ready for a reconciliation allowing them to fight for true orthodoxy from a position of full communion, and with guarantees of not being regaled with the next trojan horse as a result.
God bless the SSPX.
From the DICI website, an interview with Bishop Fellay about what is happening.
As always, this SSPX interview is a joy to read. One compares them with the inane blabber coming from the Vatican, and is ashamed.
Comments and Emphases mine.
“DICI : How did the General Chapter go? How was the mood of the meeting?
Bishop Fellay : It took place in a rather hot atmosphere, since July is a particularly hot month in the Valais! [ nice joke, this one…] But in a very busy schedule, where the members of the Chapter were able to freely exchange ideas, as it befits such a working meeting.
DICI : Were you able to discuss the relations with Rome? Were there any forbidden questions? The dissensions manifested within the SSPX these last moths, have they calm down?
Bishop Fellay : That makes for quite a few questions! Regarding Rome, we went to the very heart of the issues, and all the capitularies were able to study the complete file. Nothing was left aside and there were no taboos among us. It was my duty to exhibit with detail all the documentation exchanged with the Vatican, something which was rendered difficult by the obnoxious climate of recent months. This made it possible for us to conduct direct discussions which have cleared out the doubts and dissipated any misunderstandings, resulting in peace and unity of hearts, which of course is something to rejoice about.
DICI : How do you foresee the relations with Rome after this Chapter?
Bishop Fellay : All ambiguity has now been resolved among us. Very soon we will convey to Rome the position of the Chapter, which has been the occasion to specify our road map insisting upon the conservation of our identity, the only efficacious means to help the Church to restore Christendom. [= there will be no swallowing of the SSPX]. As I told you recently, “if we want to make fruitful the treasure of Tradition for the benefit of souls, we must both speak and act” (cf. interview of 8 June 2012, DICI #256). We cannot keep silent when facing the rampant loss of faith, the staggering fall of the number of vocations, and the decrease of religious practice. [ what rampant loss of faith? Wasn’t V II the masterpiece of the Holy Spirit? Tsk, tsk…]. We cannot refrain from speaking when confronted with the “silent apostasy” and its causes. Doctrinal mutism is not the answer to this “silent apostasy” which even John Paul II denounced already in 2003. [ this is another fine piece of humour…]
Our approach is inspired not only by the doctrinal firmness of Archbishop Lefebvre but also by his pastoral charity. The Church has always considered that the best testimony to the truth is to be found in the early Christians’ unity built in prayer and charity. They had “but one heart and one soul,” as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. Acts 4, 32). Such a common ideal is also our watchword, Cor Unum being the name of the internal bulletin of the SSPX. Hence we distance ourselves resolutely from all those who have tried to take advantage of the situation in order to drive a wedge turning Society members against each other [this is one for Williamson and one for the Vatican, I think…]. Such a spirit does not come from God.
DICI : What are your thoughts on the appointment of Archbishop Mueller as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?
Bishop Fellay : It is nobody’s secret that the former bishop of Regensburg, where our seminary of Zaitzkofen is located, does not like us. After the courageous action of Benedict XVI on our behalf, in 2009, he refused to cooperate and treated us like if we were lepers! He is the one who stated that our seminary should be closed and that our students should go to the seminaries of their dioceses of origin, adding bluntly that “the four bishops of the SSPX should resign”! (cf. interview with Zeit Online, 8 May 2009). [yours truly reported…]
For us what is more important and more alarming is his leading role at the head of the Congregation for the Faith, which must defend the Faith with the proper mission of fighting doctrinal errors and heresy. Numerous writings of Bishop Mueller on the real transubstantiation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, on the dogma of Our Lady’s virginity, on the need of conversion of non-Catholics to the Catholic Church… are questionable, to say the least! There is no doubt that these texts would have been in the past the object of an intervention of the Holy Office, which now is the very Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith presided by him. [game, set and match Fellay…].
DICI : How do you see the future of the SSPX? In the midst of its fight for the Church’s Tradition, will the SSPX keep to the same knife’s edge?
Bishop Fellay : More than ever we must maintain the knife’s edge traced by our venerated founder. It is not easy to keep, yet absolutely vital for the Church and the treasure of its Tradition. We are Catholic, we recognise the pope and the bishops, but above all else we must keep intact the Faith, source of God’s grace. Therefore we must avoid all that may endanger the Faith, without trying to become a replacement for the Church, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman. Far from us the idea of establishing a parallel Church, of exercising a parallel magisterium!
This was well explained by Archbishop Lefebvre more than thirty years ago: he did not wish to hand down anything else but what he himself had received from the Church of two millennia. This is what we want also, following his lead, so that we may effectively help “to restore all things in Christ.” It is not us who will break with Rome, the Eternal Rome, mistress of wisdom and truth. Nevertheless, it would be unrealistic to deny that there is a modernist and liberal influence in the Church since the Second Vatican Council and its subsequent reforms. In a word, we maintain the faith in the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and in the Church founded upon Peter, but we refuse all which contributes to the “self-demolition of the Church” acknowledged by Paul VI himself since 1968. May Our Lady, Mother of the Church, hasten the day of its authentic restoration!”
I do not know what you think about this, but in my eyes the SSPX has come out of the machinations of the Vatican more unite and stronger than it used to be. There is now a clear line of reconciliation if such an event is honestly pursued by the Pontiff, and refusal to be swallowed whole with the excuse of the “dying Pope who would oh so much want a reconciliation” (provided it leads to the death of the Society) if it isn’t.
Once again, it is not difficult to imagine the Society will keep the door of honest talk open. They know the Vatican is corrupted by strong strains of neo-modernism (or of modernism tout-court), but they also know Peter is the one they will continue to look to; hoping he will, one day, restore the Church to sobriety.
I’d love to be a fly in the meeting room of the SSPX General Chapter, now underway.
From what I understand, the main arguments will be three:
1. A decision concerning the latest Vatican version of the preambolo dottrinale.
2. A discussion about the opportunity of going into this last phase of negotiation with the Vatican, and
3. Perhaps, a more or less open personal criticism of Bishop Fellay and his leadership style.
As to 1., it seems clear to me the SSPX will reject the text proposed by the Vatican. Whilst we do not know the wording, we know that: a) the last version presented by the SSPX, which had the unofficial blessing of the Holy Father, has been changed again, and b) Bishop Fellay has already said the latest version is not acceptable.
Beside the discussion about the wording of the preambolo, the matter of the concrete way of working of the SSPX will certainly play a role. After the latest weeks, not even Laurel and Hardy would believe in the sincere intention of the Pope or the Vatican apparatus to reconcile themselves with the SSPX because they understand the SSPX is as Catholic as any of them (and I am being generous…).
Therefore, any agreement will have to be waterproofed not only concerning the SSPX relationship with the mistakes of V II and the following years, but also against any attempt to assimilate the SSPX and pollute it with a V II ideology. That will be an interesting discussion indeed, and I can easily forecast the utter rejection – though perhaps not officially stated for obvious reasons – of every agreement subjecting the local structures of the SSPX to any influence whatsoever from the local bishop, let alone from a talking ass like the Archbishop Mueller.
As to 2. I can see a charge of the hard-line brigade, accusing Fellay of having leaned too much out of the window, and having been conned into believing an agreement on the text was reached before the Vatican back pedaled again. In my eyes, the Bishop has the excellent defence than one tends to believe that the Pope’s word has some value until the contrary is proved, and that one should not be blamed for honestly trying to see whether a reconciliation is possible, however untrustworthy the people on the other side should prove afterwards. But this should make for a highly entertaining discussion, too.
Thirdly, it appears some – a minority – of the SSPX priests will push their criticism to the point of asking Bishop Fellay to go. I doubt the latter will comply with their wishes, and it would appear he has – besides being elected for further six years – around two thirds of the Society firmly on his side. It will be interesting, though, to see how this pans out, because if a strong minority harshly criticises Fellay this might have as a result a certain “hardening” of his line toward the Vatican.
Lastly, I do not think there will be any meaningful defection in any way, and now many weeks after the leak of the internal “three bishops’ letter” I have not read a single threat, overt or covert, of secession.
The Vatican is clearly playing the old divide et impera game, alternating phases in which the agreement is made to believe to be imminent and others of more rigid attitude, thus maximising the potential for conflict and recrimination within the Society.
Unfortunately for the Pope, the SSPX appears to be a bit more solid – both politically, and morally – than the corrupt and miserably led bunch he has chosen to trigger the tragic meltdown of his pontificate. His trick of trying to divide the SSPX under the disguise of the “dying Pope who would oh so much want to see the SSPX reconciled before he dies” will, I am afraid, not impress many in Econe. The Pope has already abundantly showed how much he wants to see the SSPX reconciled (to heterodoxy perhaps; certainly not to Catholicism, which the Society already is), and what kind of Church he is preparing for his successor.
Let us support the SSPX members with our prayer, that they may avoid the snares of the Vatican and agree to a solution allowing them to continue their wonderful work without restraints, or to no solution at all.
Still, don’t worry: the SSPX will be around, rich and strong, long after the Pope’s departure.
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.
What would you think of a, say, Prime Minister who first indicates a draft of agreement is fine, and then eats his words and decides on second thought it is better to back pedal?
What would you think of a Prime Minister who surrounds himself with people of such falseness as to – in case; this is the milder hypothesis for the Prime Minister – lie to negotiation counterparts concerning the PM’s agreement with the draft document?
If the Prime Minister were surrounded by people without scruples, duplicitous and scheming, would you not consider the Prime Minister responsible for the people he selects to be near him?
If the Prime Minister surrounds himself with people of evidently manipulative character – Alastair Campbell comes to mind – would you not think that said Mr Campbell is there because he is exactly the kind of person the Prime Minister wants in that position?
When Blair decided to wage war in Iraq, how many of those critical with this decision blamed Gordon Brown for it? How many of those in favour praised the same Brown for it?
When a man promises to a woman to marry her, and then eats his word because he didn’t like the reaction of some relatives of his – perhaps important, no doubt; but none of them the bridegroom – what do decent people think of such a man? Do they think that bad “wolves” made him change his mind? Or do they think that a man is only as good as his word, and a man who does not keep his word is not a decent man?
Here the matter is very simple:
a) The Holy Father ate his word; or
b) The Holy Father surrounds himself – willingly, mind; and full knowing what he does – with people who do not hesitate to lie and to spend his own name and personal integrity to reach some objective of theirs: for example, in order to achieve a general mobilisation of the German clergy so as to scare the – in himself not truly difficult to scare – Pope.
Unless of course you persuade me that Pope Benedict can work with the likes of Bertone, Levada & Co. for decades without knowing them, in which – absurd – case you are telling me that he should not have been made parish priest, let alone Pope.
The falseness and duplicity of what has happened in the Vatican in the last weeks is beyond contempt, because here something much worse was done than simply saying “no” to the SSPX. In this case, the SSPX was simply used – either by the Holy Father, or by the likes of Gaenswein under the supervision and responsibility of the Holy Father – to proceed to the mobilisation of the V II crowd. The saddened words of Bishop Fellay about the SSPX being used like a ping-pong ball seem to me to clearly refer to this.
Let me tell you this once again, because I get slightly nervous when I read that suddenly Cardinal Levada should be the culprit and the Pontiff, who obviously lives on Mars, should be whither than snow: Levada is not the Pope. Benedict XVI is the Pope. The Pope is in charge. He is answerable for what he does and for what his people do. If Gaenswein has lied, he is responsible for having Gaenswein in his role. If Levada was duplicitous, he is responsible for having Levada in his role. If “wolves” are roaming around, he is responsible for everyone of them, because they are there on his decision and under his responsibility.
Make no mistake, this blunder is 100% Pope Benedict’s responsibility, and casts a huge shadow on his personal integrity in the worst of cases, and on his leadership and ability to work as a Pope in the best one.
In case, then, you should think a Pope would, oh, never ever do such things, think again: the leak is still very fresh of how Pope Benedict authorised the scandalous neo-catechumenal liturgy and simply let Cardinal Burke in the dark. Just like that. This is not only poor leadership, this justifies doubts about one’s personal integrity, and it might be useful to open one’s eyes and see reality as it is instead of chasing imaginary “wolves” accurately selected by the Pontiff across several decades to do exactly…. the contrary of what he wants.
Then the “Levada did it ” argument is preposterous, because by wanting to discharge him it simply indicts the Pontiff in the most brutal of ways. If you surround yourself with wolves all your life, can you say you are better than them? Did the Pontiff think these dogs would have no fleas? For an entire lifetime? Please.
Once again: Cardinal Levada is not in charge. The Pope is. Levada can only propose, but he cannot decide. If the Pope has come to the point that his Cardinals do whatever they please without his having the force to react, he should resign at once for the good of the Church and of his own soul. But we all know that this is simply not the case; and that frail as he is, he is certainly not an old man in his dotage.
The problem I see with the Pontiff is, very bluntly stated, one of lack of integrity. He lacks integrity if he lies (let’s hope not; but let us not be Pollyanna here); if not, he lacks integrity because he chooses collaborators who evidently lack integrity; and he certainly lacks integrity if he does not have the basic decency of sticking to his own word, as can be expected by every man who think his word has value.
“Let your yea be yea and your nay, nay” seem words unheard of in nowadays’ Vatican, from the Pope down. Instead, playing with the SSPX in this shameful way – in order to divide them, or to provoke a reaction from the other side – seems to be perfectly legitimate. For shame.
Then we are told the Pope is “saddened” that there are leaks, and plots, and subterranean schemes. Of course there are, if this is the mentality he promotes and selects! Of curse there are, if this is the forma mentis he wants in the people surrounding him! The Pontiff made this bed in its entirety, but now he is saddened he has to lie in it! This is about the same as Obama complaining his team is made of money-squandering, incompetent, atheist nincompoops; with the difference that Obama has far less liberty in choosing his people than the Pope.
We all have seen in the past how the one or other Pope disgraced his Office and the Church. In recent times, Pope John Paul II – who managed to tamper with the Crusades, be scolded live by “rock stars” and “nuns”, and kiss the Koran – comes to mind; but the old Pope was, at least on some of these occasions, probably not really there with his head anymore, and one wonders to what extent he can be blamed.
I don’t think the same can be said of the present Pontiff. Whatever has happened here, it has happened during many weeks of careful plotting. Whatever deception was staged here, it was made in cold blood and with utter disregard for the feelings of thousands of devoted Catholics, and with the arrogance of those who think to them everything is allowed.
Let us pray for the Pope, recruiter of wolves; that he may see the error of his ways and make a better use of the time left to him.
A shocking leak from the SSPX shows the extent of the chaos in which the Vatican is sinking. I know, it is very bad that the letter has been leaked, but this post is not about that so let us leave that aside for the time being.
The letter is not explicit, but very clear in saying what has happened: someone at the Vatican lied, or was duplicitous, or ate his words.
Logically excluding Bishop Fellay himself might have lied about his proposal of preambolo being acceptable to the Holy Father, and espousing the generally accepted opinion – and the only one compatible with common sense and basic diplomacy – that Monsignor Gaenswein informed Fellay the Holy Father had no objections to the revised version of the Preambolo, only one of the two could have happened:
1. Gaenswein lied to Fellay in order to induce him to present a document which would then be refused, fomenting discord and strife within the SSPX.
2. The Holy Father either wilfully lied to reach the same objective or – far more probably if you ask me – just did not have the gut, until today at least, to follow through on what he had said.
Alas, tertium non datur. In both cases, the Holy Father goes out of this story severely damaged, and justifying serious doubts about his ability to adequately fulfil the job description. Whether Gaenswein – the man the Pontiff is supposed to trust the most – lied in order to let the SSPX run through the test of the reconciliation whilst the German bishops were mobilised, of the Pope himself decided to eat his words, the Pontiff – of whom I cannot believe that he himself was the architect of this deception, if for no other reason because no doctor ever prescribed that he starts the reconciliation process in the first place – is rapidly resembling King Theoden before Gandalf’s visit. Alas, I can see no Gandalf around the Vatican.
Let us say this once again: there can be no reasonable doubt Fellay was informed the Pontiff was in agreement with his last draft of the document. This makes the content of the leaked letter so explosive, because it reveals a shocking breach of trust.
I only hope the usual litany of the “wolves” will now cease. The responsibility for bad – or very bad, or awful, or outright stupid – governance does not lie somewhere in the clouds, but in the one who is responsible for it.
Where I grew up a man was only as good as his word, and clearly someone very highly placed in the Vatican isn’t very good at all. Besides, he is too clever by half, because to indulge in such cheap tricks thinking that they will not come out in the open isn’t very smart in the end. Lies have short legs, and nowadays leakers have extremely long ones.
I never thought I’d see the day, that’s all.
The problem of the Vatican isn’t a problem of wolves, but rather of sheep. The Italian saying comes to mind: chi agnello si fa, il lupo se lo mangia. If one makes himself a lamb, the wolf will eat him. He then has, I am afraid, no right to complain.
Cardinal Burke gives a nice interview, in the course of which he says “this reconciliation can take place”, just the latest signal the reconciliation is, in fact, already in the bag.
If I wanted to be cynical, I would say that the way Cardinal Burke has been kept out of the loop (not by wolves, or by trolls; but by the Pope) in the disgraceful affair of the neocatechumenal liturgy hardly makes of him the person to go for the latest news.
Still, if I were cynical I would also say that the Pope tells to his collaborators what they want to hear; therefore, he has certainly already informed the Cardinal the reconciliation is decided, because he knows Burke will give no trouble on this.
I can’t imagine this is not going to happen now. Actually I did not imagine this even before; but now the preparations for the event are assuming Olympic Games size.
Rather disquieting interview from bishop Tissier de Mallerais on the usual Rorate Caeli. The bishop’s utterances are more than surprising because they repeat in public what had been privately ventilated in the infamously leaked letter in May. Please note this interview was given on the 1 Juni, and this interview does not mean in the least the bishop would secede in case of agreement. Still, I find his reasoning alarming to say the least.
The bishop’s problems with the reconciliation seem to be, as I see it, mainly three:
1. The practical agreement should not have come before the doctrinal one.
2. Rome is so far away from true Catholicism, that anything other than open war against her risks to contaminate the SSPX.
3. Even from the practical point of view, the reconciliation would effectively castrate the SSPX, reduce it to obedience, put insurmountable obstacles to its growth. This because
3.1 the SSPX would be forced to acknowledge V II , and
3.2 the bishops would be in a position to even close existing structures.
To 1, the Bishop says (emphases always mine):
We refuse a purely practical agreement because the doctrinal question is fundamental. Faith comes before legality. We cannot accept a legalization without the problem of the faith being solved. To submit ourselves now unconditionally to the higher authority imbibed with Modernism would be to expose ourselves to have to disobey. And what is the good in that? Abp. Lefebvre said since 1984: “one does not place oneself under an authority when that authority has all the powers to demolish us.”
The idea is that practical agreements should not even be sought – not even if offered without doctrinal quid pro quo– because Rome is so bad this can only end up in tears. I cannot see any concrete difference between this mentality and considering the Vatican, from the Pope down, a bunch of heretics in the hands of Satan. It is unclear to me how one can have such a position and not call himself sedevacantist. It is also unclear how the Bishop can even think a personal prelature would be a way to “destroy” the SSPX, and an agreement without doctrinal concessions would be to “submit unconditionally”. One has the impression the SSPX be a fold of timid sheep only waiting to be eaten by an evil wolf in Rome. Please.
This position becomes even clearer when we examine point 2.
The irregularity is not ours. It is that of Rome. A Modernist Rome. A Liberal Rome that has renounced Christ the King. A Rome that had been condemned in advance by all Popes up until the eve of the [Second Vatican] Council. […] But Pope Benedict XVI, while he is Pope, remains Modernist. […] […] we are currently in a state of war in the Church. It would be a contradiction to wish to “regularize the war”.
Please read this again. Rome is not seen as ill, or going through a phase of corruption. She is seen as simply heretical. Rome is not seen as polluted by heretical tendencies, but as heretic tout court. The consequence of this is that nothing less than outright war is an acceptable option.
One thinks he is reading Luther, or Calvin. Shocking.
Where the bishop might, in case, have some good cards is in the third problem. As to 3.1, I think the argument stays and falls with the confidence one has the SSPX has a mission, and a spine. I cannot imagine the cadres of the SSPX (not the Fellays, let alone the Tissiers) to submit to the V II mantra. They have not done it decades ago and one cannot see why on earth they should do it now. As to 3.2, this is the first time I hear the SSPX could be forced (more to the point: requested in vain) to close existing structures. Still: if this were to be true, it would be in my eyes the first solid argument against a reconciliation. As to the necessity of the local bishop giving his authorisation for new structures, I think this could really be a good ground for some amusing confrontation, but personally if I were Fellay I would not make the reconciliation depend on the SSPX obtaining total satisfaction on this. Considering at least 10% of the bishops as orthodox and/or sympathisers, there would be abundant scope for growth anyway.
Still, we do not know: we do not know what concrete form this personal prelature would take, and what measures would be adopted to address the SSPX legitimate objections. Also, it seems to me – but I might be wrong – the acceptance of the reconciliation does not imply the acceptance of the personal prelature. I think it is rather so, that the reconciliation would be the starting point for discussions concerning the organisation of the reconciled SSPX; discussions of which I cannot imagine – and I am not an admirer of this Pope – that they would be conducted with a view to damage the SSPX.
In the end, though, what really is disappointing is to see that highly placed members of the SSPX are – I think it is fair to say it – alarmingly similar to closet sedevacantists; with no desire whatsoever to any sort of peace with the Vatican, because they consider the Vatican so thoroughly heretic that nothing but outright war will do. Frankly, by this attitude I am not at all surprised the CDF wants to examine the position of the three bishops more closely.
Seriously: what kind of Catholicism is this?
On the usual Rorate Caeli, the news that is not really news, but rather the anticipation of (hopefully) The Great News.
I personally cannot imagine the doctrinal declaration has been altered again, for the simple reason that I cannot imagine either Bishop Fellay officially delivering the text without unofficial assurances the Pope is in agreement with it, or the Pope indicating that he agrees with the text and then trying to strong-arm the Bishop.
Therefore, I can only think the last waiting phase will be a formality, perhaps used by Fellay to fly back and have a chat with the other three musketeers, and perhaps even prepare a common declaration? But I am dreaming now…
Therefore, even if some days will be apparently needed before the official announcement, I suggest everyone to do what I will do myself: set aside a very good bottle, and wait with confidence.
P.s. Mind, I am the born optimist and this has cost me more than one disappointment in the past…
Interesting interview given to the Angelus Press, who put it on youtube (I have it from angelqueen)
The last part (of this Part I) is clearly the most interesting (American spelling as in the original):
Q: Father, there are those who argue that the Society is simply looking for a practical agreement, even contrary to the wishes of Archbishop Lefebvre himself. What would you say to that argument?
A: Well, I think first of all we must make it clear that Bishop Fellay is not really looking for an agreement. Rome is proposing a regularization of the Society. So, the term “agreement” is confusing. It’s not clear. It’s too vague. An agreement would be mainly on doctrine, which is not the case. But a recognition of the Society: that’s what we are talking about today. The Society [has existed] for more than forty years. It was founded, erected, within the Church in the normal way of the Church. And because of the circumstances, because of the crisis of the Church, where we were kind of kicked out – in a way, not that we are outside of the Church, but we are…
– in an irregular situation –
…yes, pushed into an irregular situation – it would be an act of justice in fact to be just reintegrated in a more visible way in the Church. That’s all we are talking about here.
Father Rostand points out to a very important fact: the SSPX can wait because they are not waiting or expecting for anything, nor are they making any “concession”.
The more cynical (but more often right) part of me thinks that this contains a veiled message: if the Pope has postponed the announcement of the reconciliation waiting for some “announcement” of the SSPX leading him to believe they have moved an inch, he will be disappointed and will have to die without an agreement.
The less cynical (and more often wrong) part of me sees this as a simple message of the SSPX to the Holy Father: we had hoped the decision would come in May but hey: you’re the boss, take your time.
It is not to be denied that Bishop Fellay has played his cards well: at no point has he compromised the integrity of the SSPX; at no point has he given the impression the SSPX would be ready to make a barter, giving something to get something. The simple truth is: the SSPX is not going to give anything, and the Vatican can decide what to do of it.
This is, in a way, the reverse of the situation of 1988. In 1988 Archbishop Lefebvre knew he would not live for long, and had to act. In 2012, it is Pope Benedict who knows he will not live for long, and is – if he is wise – terrified at the idea of going to His creator with hundreds of appalling episcopal appointments, heresy spreading undisturbed and the SSPX situation still unresolved. The SSPX, on the other hand, can wait for as long as it takes, and will not compromise for the sake of reconciliation.
If there’s something I have learned from the reconciliation discussions it is how absolutely spiffing these SSPX people are.
I am not a friend of the “SSPX will be eaten alive after the reconciliation”-argument. I am not, because it seems to me that what one might call “corporate identity” of the SSPX – based not only on strictest Catholicism, but on the conviction that this should prevail against sabotages made from bishops or Popes – is strong enough to resist any attempt at, so to speak, domestication by the V II crowd.
Still, episodes like the one reported here help us to better understand where the skeptics within the SSPX come from. A French Bishop travels to Germany to celebrate the ordination of six deacons of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (the “reconciled” traditionalists, mind) and the local press shoots at him like it’s grouse shooting season. You see here the usual vocabulary: “some” in the diocese are “hurt” (how sensitive these manipulative bitches, including males, are will never cease to amaze me) because the Fraternity is “perceived” as a bunch of “fundamentalists”. Translated: dear bishop, please do not do anything which I might “perceive” to be in some way (I do not hate to explain) “wrong” because I would be “hurt”, and please let me decide who is a “fundamentalist” because I am oh so good. Classic.
Still, I can easily imagine what the skeptical elements among the SSPX will think in reading such news: if a bishop can be criticised because the Fraternity – which has been in good standing every day of its existence – is seen as a group of “fundamentalist”, what will happen to the SSPX, a group which will continue to be far more vocal than the FSSP even after the reconciliation?
One can understand reasonable persons may disagree on this. Still, my take is that:
a) those who have resisted being called “schismatics” for so many years will certainly not care much if someone is “hurt” by whatever they do;
b) Once the SSPX is reconciled, there will be a number of bishop ready to travel to visit them, fully uncaring of the “hurt” of the easily hurt violets.
c) It is not that anyone expected this to be a walk: polemics and accusations were to be expected anyway.
d) Once the SSPX is reconciled, the traditionalist argument will receive much more weight; it will, so to speak, be able to punch much harder. The shrinking violets know this, and their attempt to silence every sympathy for the traditionalist cause is a clear indication they know the punches are coming.
Bishop Castet has been brave. Many others will follow him. I do not see any reason to be worried, provided one is conscious the reconciliation will not be the end of the controversies, merely the start of new ones.
Benedict XVI’s decision regarding the return of the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) to the full communion of the Church will take place from now up to the end of the month of May 2012, Vatican sources close to the dossier have indicated to I.MEDIA.
It would almost appear the “Vatican source close to the dossier” was, basically, the valet (whom the press insists in calling “butler”) Paolo Gabriele…
I am joking, of course, but it certainly seems we will have to live with this further period of waiting, as there has been no formal decision or commitment of the Holy Father to decide within the month.
If you ask me, this is another piece of rather questionable Vatican (internal) diplomacy. It being squarely inconceivable that the Pope has not made up his mind about the matter – and barely conceivable that he may have wilfully misled Bishop Fellay into thinking Fellay’s reply to the preambolo was fine with him – what I think is happening is a reprise of a well-known Papal tactic: the delaying of a momentous decision to make clear to the opponents their objections have been taken into account and attentively considered.
This is, if memory serves, what happened in 2007 with the long-awaited decision which then became Summorum Pontificum, and I remember reading that Paul VI reacted in the same way to the famous (and reported on this blog: as always, please use the search function if you are interested) Ottaviani intervention, merely delaying what he wanted to do anyway. Basically, it seems a way to soothe the feeling of the losers by letting them feel they are not neglected.
I am at a loss to understand how this may soothe any wound, rather than encourage the wounded to fight harder. I am also unable to see how the long wait for Summorum Pontificum made the opposition to it less bitter.
Still, not my rules.
I think at this point we must arm ourselves with patience and prayers, whilst remaining confident things will, in the end, adjust.
I never understood the argument that if the SSPX is reconciled, it will stop acting as they always did. This thinking seems in my eyes to consider that the SSPX never was in what the Vatican calls “full communion”, or that once it wasn’t anymore this constituted a sort of improvement.
If you ask me, the SSPX just does not work that way: they are now what they were forty years ago, and when this reconciliation comes they will be reconciled exactly as they were forty years ago, and will not be a iota “softer” because of it.
If you want another confirmation, please read the excellent excerpt of Bishop Fellay’s Pentecost speech on the usual Rorate Caeli.
A casual observer, who had just been informed the SSPX and the Vatican are very near reconciliation, would be nothing less than astounded at the tones chosen by Bishop Fellay. Please consider this is a man of some diplomatic talent, not an emotional steamroller flattening everything on his path. The words he uses, he has chosen carefully.
You can read in every word a very clear intention of showing – to his own troops of course, and by reflex to the entire Catholic world – that the SSPX is not going to change anything in the way they operate. This is what they have always made clear, by the way, so that if anyone in the Vatican has nurtured some illusions of making the SSPX “house trained” by the means of the reconciliation, he must blame himself for the mistake.
This man is made, if you ask me, of the stuff great Popes are made of: prudent but firm; patient but clear; never closing any door, but never allowing anyone to let him in from the servants’ entrance.
I can’t imagine a better shepherd for the SSPX.
From the UK site of the SSPX:
a) the press release of the Vatican Press Office
Vatican City, 16 May 2012 (VIS) – Early this afternoon, the Holy See Press Office issued the following communique regarding the Society of St. Pius X:
“As reported by news agencies, today, 16 May 2012, an Ordinary Session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met to discuss the question of the Society of St. Pius X.
In particular, the text of the response of Bishop Bernard Fellay, received on 17 April, 2012, was examined and some observations, which will be considered in further discussions between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X, were formulated.
Regarding the positions taken by the other three bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, their situations will have to be dealt with separately and singularly”
Last Updated ( Thursday, 17 May 2012 15:48 )
b) the comment of the Society’s District Superior of Italy:
Comment by Fr Pierpaolo Petrucci SSPX, District Superior of Italy
on the CDF Press release :
“…the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made public today (May 16) a press communique. In the text, on the one hand, the will is displayed of moving forward in “further discussions between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X”, on the other, it is affirmed, in reference to the letter of the three bishops, that, “regarding the positions taken by the other three bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, their situations will have to be dealt with separately and singularly”.
“This way of acting clearly manifests the intention of dividing our Priestly Society in its highest representatives. For this reason, we invite all the friends and faithful to intensify their prayers and, in particular, the Holy Rosary, in the Crusade called by our Superior, so that the Society of Saint Pius X may remain united in the battle against the errors infiltrated in the Church.
Fr. Pierpaolo Maria Petrucci
I leave it to the readers to make an opinion as to the degree of plausibility of Father Petrucci’s reflections. I for myself have no doubts.
Part II of the video born of the CNS interview with Bishop Fellay is now out. You can see all of it above and as it goes on for little more than five minutes I suggest you invest the time.
My small considerations are as follows:
1) Look at how young, and motivated, those seminarians are. I wonder how many within the conciliar church have the same purity of intent. Some certainly have, but not many.
2) It is, if you ask me, no coincidence a mainstream outlet like the CNS exposes his readers/viewers to minutes of SSPX arguments without any counterpart; say, without the usual V II bishop saying to us how much they are in error, and perhaps schismatics. It truly means the CNS thinks the reconciliation is very near.
3) Note the very dry, realistic, absolutely beautiful attitude of the SSPX personnel regarding the reconciliation: beautiful if it happens, but we will not change. The rather open tones used in this interview (most certainly with the approval of Bishop Fellay) make it very clear not much will change within the SSPX should this reconciliation happen.
I looked at this brave people of God and realised – like, I am sure, many of you – I would rather have the SPPX not reconciled, than reconciled and muzzled or in any way whatsoever “sanitised”.
Swiss religious news agency APIC confirms the official delivery by Cardinal Levada (in French/ in German), but no real new development is added, other than the confirmation that “the pope can now directly decide the outcome of the discussions with the Lefebvrists or can wait for ‘new developments’ on the doctrinal questions wished by the members of the CDF.”
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this (in case you ask: on Rorate Caeli, of course).
Please make yourself a chamomile tea and read it again: (some) members of the CDF wish that the Holy Father “waits for new developments”.
Your humble correspondent is at a loss to understand what sensible (not V II) meaning can be given to this. The SSPX do not “evolve” their doctrine, and there is no way they can “evolve” it to make it, say, nearer to the wishes of a Cardinal Schoenborn. The august prelates know this very well. They know it, because this is what they have witnessed these past several decades, and know the SSPX has retained all the stubborn orthodoxy of its founder.
Which means, some of the members of the CDF suggest the Pope simply do nothing and let the thing die quietly, possibly accusing the SSPX when they inevitably make some remarks about the decision which seems never to come. What is more worrying is that this opinion is represented strongly enough as to form part of the CDF’s report to the Pope. In plain English, the report reads “we know you want this, but please reflect one last time whether it would not be better to reconsider”.
In three words: true to form.
If you visit Rorate Caeli (which, I am rather sure, you do) you will see there a close succession of interventions from Superiors of several districts of the SSPX. All of them are clearly supportive of the reconciliation. At this point I see the matter as follows:
1) Today is the 18 May and one months after Fellay’s response was given to the Vatican there are no open calls to rebellion to the official line of the Society. Not even Bishop Williamson is officially on record with a single word inviting to or even hinting at such a measure. I tend to believe if such had been Williamson’s intention, the most effective and spectacular way of doing it would have been with an open challenge to the decision. It did not happen.
2) One after the other, the regional big whigs within the Society speak openly, and they all approve the move, provided it is done properly. Which it will, because Fellay was not born yesterday.
3) Bishop Tissier de Mallerais is on record with an open call to obedience and he is, crucially, one of those who signed the letter unfortunately leaked to the press.
4) I have no news of any group more or less spontaneously forming around the one or other rebel, and announcing the intention to give battle and split the Society.
Mind, I do not doubt there will be defections. If even the three Bishops clearly think Rome is not good enough for them to consider fitting to take its stretched hand, I do not doubt there will be a certain number within the Society willing to go further than this; particularly, when they have poisoned their own congregation for years with talks of the wickedness of Rome.
Still, the procession of SSPX notables and the absence of an open and credible challenge up to now justifies in my eyes the opinion that those who will secede will be a minority, and probably a minority who should not have been part of the SSPX in the first place.
On the usual Rorate Caeli, the translation of a rather saucy leak from the Vatican corridors: the Pope had the text of the SSPX’ reply to the Preambolo Dottrinale beforehand, and did not raise any objections.
This has been largely anticipated, and in fact it would have been rather inconceivable, and against the most elementary rules of prudence, that Bishop Fellay would give his official answer without having received unofficial confirmation that the Pontiff had given his green light. In the end, and if we are honest with ourselves, we know perfectly well a theologian Pontiff does not need the CDF – composed in part of individuals like Schoenborn – to know whether the answer his acceptable. Still, the fact itself the matter was leaked makes it rather intriguing.
Why then, will you ask, the three weeks of waiting to examine the document, and then the big meeting, and the big decision everyone knows has already been taken?
If you ask me, this is nothing to do with the Pope wanting to know what the CDF thinks on the matter, but about the Pope forcing the CDF to toe the line on the reconciliation. The CDF is expected to say what they think beforehand, but they also clearly know what they are expected to say. If they criticise the SSPX’s answer, they will be silenced by the Pontiff and exposed as irretrievable tambourine-men. If they approve, they’ll have to shut up afterwards.
All in all, it could be this procedure isn’t all bad after all…
This is the video released by the CNS following the interview, on which I had already commented.
First of all, please note the video has the same original sin of the interview: cut and put together with a certain intent, adorned with suggestive music and historical footage and, in general, more similar to a bad documentary rather than an interview.
Still, it clearly emerges Bishop Fellay is perfectly orthodox in his theology, albeit not without the solid practical spirit every Southern European Catholic carries with himself.
The part about the Vatican II, whose problems should be “rather” in the application has been cut – clear indication Fellay’s words have been not correctly transmitted – but Fellay stresses an important concept: V II is in itself far more conservative than its adorers would want us to believe (religious freedom: 1:36 to 2:02) albeit rather diplomatic in his criticism of it. As to V II in itself, Fellay has very strong words (try 0:42 to 0:50), conveniently ignored in the interview.
In general, though, one can’t say he is – at least from what we have been shown – very belligerent. Which is fine, as there is a time for everything under the heaven, and it was probably not the right time to say the Church is ill a planta pedis usque ad verticem capitis. Although, thinking of it, it might have said something similar, which was subsequently cut because it did not agree with the general tone the interview was supposed to have.
On a more personal note, from the interview emerges a man with very good, and very piercing eyes; with a marked sense of humour; and a with a fundamental serenity, and love for the Church, appearing from his every word.
In the next weeks and month, Bishop Fellay will be slandered and misinterpreted from both sides – right and left of him – in the most various ways. Please consider what he says before what other people say that he has said.
On Rorate Caeli, another excellent blog post about the difficult (well, no; not really…) decision the SSPX must take in the next weeks, and which might lead to a dangerous, expensive, and rather damaging split.
I leave it to you to follow the article in its many interesting points. I limit myself to comment on a couple of points:
1. The split itself: the author of the article points out disagreement doesn’t mean disobedience, and in the end one or more of the bishops may well decide that much as they disagree, they will obey. The example made is Bishop Tissier de Mallerais. The evidently well-informed author states ” These last few days, even after the reception of his superior, he has called the faithful to unity in several different places”. This is extremely good news, though if the disagreement was not so serious as to cause a split I can’t avoid considering the words in the response letter rather on the harsh side.
2. The author also points out to “the predators coming from Sedevacantist mini-chapels that have, as their main sign of charity, the fact that they hate one another”. One could make the obvious observation that perhaps more attention should have been paid to these communities before accepting them as part of the Society, but I assume such distinctions are not always as easy to make beforehand as they appear after a division has occurred. Up to a certain extent, such influences and questionable strains – possibly kept under the radar screen when absolutely necessary – are unavoidable in an organisation like the SSPX. My take on this is that rather than hoping in an illusory unanimity in favour of the reconciliation, the latter should be seen as a welcome opportunity to force the enemies of the Church – because if we look at things rationally, this is what they are – to come out in the open and admit their hostility to Rome qua Rome. The reconciliation will unavoidably lead to disagreements, and the disagreements will happily lead to a cleansing.
On a separate note, I notice up to now and apart from the leaked letter the three bishops have not issue any public statement against the agreement, let alone an open threat of splitting the Society into two. Whilst it might be said that they will do it the moment the reconciliation is announced, I wonder whether it is possible to reach in a forceful manner the more the hundreds of priests and seminarians without stating publicly what the consequences of a reconciliation would be. I might be too sanguine here – I rather often am, thank God – but in my eyes if the three were determined to go on with the split in case of reconciliation, than it would make sense to openly and publicly threat with the former in order to try to prevent the latter.
We will see how this evolves, but we are approaching one month from the SSPX letter to the three bishops and such a split has not been publicly announced.
I invite to continued prayers that this situation might come to a positive end soon.