Several readers yesterday sent me e-mails about something that our friends over at Rorate have finally posted on.
I hesitated to post about this today, but in retrospect, I think it oughtt o be put out there, but with my emphases and comments.
While I urge you to go over to visit Rorate, early and often, for their good work, I am just going to save time and post what they present
The Superior-General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX), Bishop Bernard Fellay, signed his latest Letter to Friends and Benefactors last Monday – and it was published in the current edition of the official newsletter of the Fraternity, DICI, made available today. [I used that link posted by Rorate, but it took me to a blank page on DICI. I wonder if DICI didn’t yank it, or perhaps the SSPX is trying to bury this bit of news. This is one of the reasons why WDTPRS, one the bigger blogs these days, needs to put this out there for "your opportune knowledge".]
This is the heart of the letter:
The Motu Proprio which introduced a hope of change for the better at the liturgical level is not accompanied by logically co-related measures in the other areas of the life of the Church. [We have been saying all along that the issue of the excommunications, liturgical problems, regularizing priests… these are all pretty easily solved. The deeper issues revolve especially around matters like religious libery and some other points of ecumenism, etc.] All changes introduced at the Council and in the post-Conciliar reforms which we denounce, because the Church has already condemned them, are confirmed. [Right. I think they must be talking about things like liturgical abuses and distortions of Council documents, etc.] With the difference that, from now on, it is said, at the same time, that the Church does not change…[sic], which means that these changes are perfectly in the line of Catholic Tradition. [Hmmm… I wonder what the position of some of the SSPXers is on the thought of Ven. John Henry Newman concerning development of doctrine. I honestly don’t know. This might be an interesting point of discussion, below, if it can be civil.]
The disruption at the level of concepts joined with the reminder [I sure would like to see the French version. This seems strange to me.] that the Church must remain faithful to her Tradition may trouble some. Since the facts do not corroborate the new affirmation, it is necessary to conclude that nothing [sic] has changed in the will of Rome to follow the Conciliar orientations, [The SSPX wants, it seems, a total repudiation of the Second VAtican Council? Partial? D’ya think that’s going to happen? Papa Ratzinger has written that perhaps it would have been better for some Councils in the past never to to have been held. That, however, doesn’t mean that we repudiate them entirely. We put them in proper perspective and then move on. But what if your view of the Church and of doctrine doesn’t alow for "moving on" or "development". This is why I asked that question, above.] despite forty years of crisis, despite the deserted convents, the abandoned rectories, the empty churches. [I agree warmly with this. Something is dreadfully wrong. Pope Benedict spoke yesterday of "disappointment" in the wake of Vatican II, did he not?! I think we must all wake up and smell the incense about this. However, how we choose to act in light of these hard facts…. well… that is where we begin to distinguish ourselves as Catholics in the modern world.] The Catholic universities persist in their ramblings, the teaching of the Catechism remains unknown at the same time that the Catholic school does not exist anymore as particularly Catholic: it has become an extinct species… [sic] [I think this is problematic. The Church and our education institution are not Jurassic Park either.]
[Pay attention to what follows….]
This is why the Fraternity of Saint Pius X cannot "sign an agreement" [ne peut pas "signer d’accord"]. [Read: Non serviamus. They are determined to resist submitting to Peter, which is a sine qua non for authentic Catholicism.] It openly rejoices on the papal desire to reintroduce the ancient and venerable rite of the Holy Mass, but it also discovers the resistance, at times brutal, of whole episcopates. [They are probably speaking mostly about the French bishops, but we have seen signs of distain and resistence elsewhere too.] Without despairing, without impatience, we observe that the time for an agreement has not yet come. [Because they have not yet gotten their way?] This does not prevent us from continuing to wait, from continuing on the path defined in the year 2000. [This point deserves more attention, if it can be civil.] We continue to ask the Holy Father for the repeal of the decree of excommunication of 1988, because we are persuaded that that would do much good to the Church and we encourage you to pray that it may take place. [The only problem is that they refuse to offer any sign of submission to his authority! Isn’t that a real problem?]
But it would be very imprudent and hasty to thrust ourselves unwisely in pursuit of a practical agreement which would not be founded upon the fundamental principles of the Church, particularly on the faith. [Isn’t it unwise to put your hand in Peter’s face? ]
+ Bernard Fellay
Menzingen, April 14, 2008
I hold in high regard many of the aspirations of some members of the SSPX whom I have met in years past. I have know a few very fine priests.
At the same time, I hurt deeply at the thought that these men are not within a truly manifest unity with Rome. I believe many of them would really like to be, were it not for the serious pratical difficulties I have seen some of them experience when leaving the SSPX in favor of unity with Rome.
This letter raises a lot of good question, worthy of discussion.
The real problem is, of course, they think they can force Peter, the Vicar of Christ, to their will.
I recognize the problems that have been caused by many who work in the Roman Curia and in conferences of bishops. There is a weird hostility that goes beyond the bonds of reason and charity. I can see why many in the SSPX would mistrust them.
I also consider unrealistic what some in the Curia propose, that is, let’s get together right away and hammer out the theological problems later. No. The deeper problems have to be seriously addressed and discussed. That open discussion must begin, in my opinion, yesterday if not sooner.
What I question at this point is if anyone – also in the SSPX – is really interested in such a discussion. Are they simply getting to used to being their own Church according to their own lights and without manifest union with the Roman Pontiff?
I hope there can be some good discussion on some of these questions.
However, this time I think I will take a somewhat more draconian approach than usual to the combox. I would like to leave it open for good and civil discussion. But if some people dash in and
1) try to dominate the combox
2) ignore the comments of others
3) get nasty (and I am the judge of that)
4) show disrespect to the Roman Pontiff
5) say stupid things about the Council
6) say stupid or hateful things about anyone
7) simply annoy me (and that just might depend on my mood)
I will not only delete comments, I will probably ban the person even from reading the blog by blocking his IP address(es).
I would hope some discussion can drill into these hard questions, but I don’t want this to get out of hand.
Please, people, for the love of Christ and neighbor, be reasonable if you are going to post.
Finally… no "Anonymous" comments please. Come up with a clever and engaging pseudonym.