SSPX refuses to sign an agreement with the Holy See

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. 

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149 Responses to SSPX refuses to sign an agreement with the Holy See

  1. Let us hope that God gives his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI many more years in his office!

  2. Isaac says:

    Dear Father,

    Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to this discussion in a civil manner.

    Firstly, I believe nothing is impossible. My 3 questions to all would be:

    1) Many seem to question the infallibility of VII simple because it wasn’t an objective to define dogma. Then again, if Catholics are to hold this Council dearly in their hearts, exactly WHAT are Catholics bound to believe in following this Council? Anyone please enlighten.

    2) It would seem that since these are very thorny issues indeed (raised by VII), it would do the Curia a lot of good if a general Synod could be convened to hammer down exactly how each article of the 16 documents ought to be interpreted and which interpretations ought to be prohibited. This will resolve a lot of ambiguities that both the SSPX and the liberals have trouble with.

    3) I myself assist at an SSPX chapel, though not for long. I do sometimes wonder, how long will the Superior General persist in the idea that Rome has to submit to the SSPX. It seems like the only defenders of Tradition are the SSPX. There’s something sinister about this, I feel. I have not heard any SSPX priest quote any papal encyclical from VII onwards, that it almost becomes policy. While it must be underscored that the SSPX do not conceive themselves as a Church, the general ‘ease’ and comfort of operating out of any diocesan jurisdiction leads me to sometimes think that it will get too comfortable one day. I wonder if other laity who assist at SSPX chapels also share these sentiments.

    Isaac.

  3. Stephen says:

    Father Z,
    surely this really comes down to pride v humility. My acceptance of all areas Catholic (which I hope will stand me in good stead at my judgement)is to obey the Pope in everything- to follow him in everything. I cannot see any other way of a catholic -traditionalist or otherwise pleasing God. As an image we could take for instance St Peter in those chains in prison. We need to be those chains binding us to him to whom Jesus promised the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Surely these beloved SSPX priests can search in their conscience and see that humility is what is required. Come home and fight the battles within for the truth to prevail! Jesus will not be asking us how obedient we were to anyone other than the Holy Father.
    stephen

  4. Tom S. says:

    The translation does seem a bit awkward. I’d love to know what the letter REALLY says. I’d also like to know what “agreement” they are refusing to sign – and what does IT say!! That would probably tell us more than this letter!

    And I have to admit the frustration which this letter seems to convey is kind of moving. Like the desperate plea of someone trying to save a loved one from boarding a doomed plane or ship.

  5. Oy says:

    Father, the text appeared when I reloaded the page. This also happened yesterday, when I opened the link from Rorate.

  6. Dob says:

    Thank you Fr. Z for the sober treatment shown here. This news really saddens me. No doubt there are grave problems. However, I cannot see how not getting stuck in and cleaning out the house is helpful. I would love to see a confident SSPX with a suitable agreement that protects and regularizes them taking up the banner within the Church. Sure the waters are dirty, but so what? The truth will overcome it in time. So this announcement is sad for me. However, I suppose one is not privy to all the machinations of Church men and more importantly the Holy Spirit. I can only hope and pray it all turns out for the best. A little time away in a semi -darkened room to be silent may be just the ticket!

  7. Dear Fr. Z.

    The stumbling block was, and still is, the insistence by the SSPX of “…interpreting Vatican II according to Catholic Tradition…”

    The principal themes concern the “evangelization of all nations” and “our relations with other religions.”

    (Please forgive my rushed and rather imprecise nomenclature and “immigrant” English – I want to send my comment before you shut down the blog.)

  8. Timothy James says:

    “does not prevent us from continuing to wait”

    I find this very sad. The longer this split drags on the more it looks like we’ll be “waiting” forever. From what I have seen there has been a repeated reaching out towards the SSPX from the Vatican, while the SSPX just reads statements and rejects them over and over, and never do anything in the way of finding common ground. They don’t seem interested in submitting to Peter, they seem interested in Peter submitting to them.

  9. I wonder. If we try to keep a historical perspective on things, and we try to look at where the Church was in, say, c. 1958, on the death of Pius X, and then compare 1968, when the Bugnini Consilium was enjoying great power, and 1978, when the Consilium was dead and John Paul elected, and 1988, when Ecclesia Dei came, and 1998, where some argued the Ecclesia Dei momentum was arrested if not slowly dying, and 2008, with Summorum Pontificum and an obvious change in Rome…I wonder if we might not think that the Roman mills grind slowly and deliberately, and that already an ENORMOUS amount has been accomplished in a 3-yr. papacy of an octogenarian (shades of Bl. John XXIII there), and that even if the crisis isn’t solved today, tomorrow, or in 2010 or 2015, we have at least more than turned the corner.

  10. Habemus Papam says:

    Some good points already raised; what exactly were SSPX expected to sign up to (and whats on the Vatican side of this agreement)? Vatican II cannot be wished away, its painful to see this dissension. So much is now or never.

  11. Ttony says:

    The French language version is here. Your summary of what it means is, it seems to me, spot on. The SSPX has argued itself into a position from which it cannot submit to Peter other than on something that it could sell to its followers as near-equal terms. A Church in which the regular practice of the Extraordinary Form would be a big threat to the SSPX, especially when the Institute of the Good Shepherd, which was charged with a critical look at Vatican IIfrom the perspective of Tradition begins to publish.

  12. Rellis says:

    I wonder what bearing this has on the open question of schism and the SSPX. I suppose that Rome is the ultimate judge, but the “looks like a duck” test gets stronger every time something likes this happens. I don’t wish to condemn, but the disobedience is now rank.

  13. Michael R. says:

    Father, I do not understand why these doctrinal discussions with the SSPX did not begin years ago. Bishop Fellay raises important questions that do not deserve to be ignored. The continuity of certain Vatican II documents with the Church’s tradition should be a concern of the entire Church, not just of the “traditionalists”. [Yes… that is hard to understand.  It might be that those on both sides are afraid they would “lose” the debate.  I think it is more important to get at the truth.   Perhaps this is a perfect moment: when Benedict XVI would be able to receive the results of such discussions and then make a judgment?]

    On the other hand, I don’t understand why Bishop Fellay thinks the SSPX needs to “sign an agreement” with the Pope before proceeding further. What kind of agreement does a loyal Catholic need to make before submitting himself to the Pope? [Well… since so much of what the SSPX officials have done is public, there must be some sort of adhaesio, at the very least.] Since no proposed “agreement” has been made public, how can Bishop Fellay reject the as-yet unknown contents of such an “agreement out of hand? Or has an “agreement” he finds unacceptable been proposed by Rome?

  14. Gerard says:

    Fr. wrote:

    “[Read: Non serviamus. They are determined to resist submitting to Peter, which is a sine qua non for authentic Catholicism.]”

    Father, agreement and submission are two completely different things. The SSPX are serving the Church and the Holy Father whether he believes it or not. [But the SSPX offer neither.]

    The best way to make any discussion about have hope for understanding the SSPX and the regular part of the Church is to use clarity and precision.

    We have different words for submission, obedience and agreement because they all describe different states and modes of behavior.

    And we know that words like “obedience” have multiple levels to them such as perfect, true and false obedience.

    In the political milieu, contention is fostered by using words to make a conclusion without clarity. The crude condemnations of “America” by that reverend Jeremiah Wright have elements of truth in them just as much as the effusively patriotic descriptions of “America” by Rush Limbaugh. Both can be seen as true but they are incomplete and imprecise. They serve no purpose other than to create a false polarization.

    The same happens in religious discussion by not clarifying “the Church” from “the Churchmen.”

    With some of the questions raised, I think we have to be extremely precise and search for the correct language that will clearly demonstrate point by point where the truth is. [I don’t see they are doing any of those things, regardless of the terms. Am I missing something?]

    Issues like Cardinal Newman’s stance on development of doctrine would have to be considered from both sides. Has doctrine actually developed or has it been obscured? [A good question. People can jump in.] Definitions narrow things. I’m not sure a strong case has been made that degradations of doctrine hasn’t been the case regarding Vatican II. Did Vatican II present a development in doctrine in the same way that Aquinas’ ideas of transubstantiation developed the explanation of the mystery in a deeper way than Augustine’s “latent mystery?” [A great explanation. But truly… more can be said!]

    You also wrote:

    “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.”

    This doesn’t strike those who are associated with the SSPX as strange at all. The lugubrious fact is, it is not the SSPX that upsets many of problem makers in the heirarchy. It is in the opinion of many the raw, uncompromised “Militant” Catholicism that they espouse. [And could a chip on the shoulder attitude play a part as well? Part of what brought Galileo down was his attitude, after all, rather than his theories.] If the SSPX decides to capitulate to the anti-authority philosophies that manifested themselves after WWII, and instead embraces the mobilism and pyrrhonism that have crept into modern theology, the SSPX would be completely accepted. The only problem is, that leads to a disconnected faith where the physical natural world is ultimately not affected objectively by the supernatural but only through the “faith experience” or the “feelings” (ie, Vital immanence) which is modernism and ruinous to belief.

    The strangest part of this whole scene is, the SSPX may actually be doing what John XXIII has professed his hope was. ” that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously. That doctrine embraces the whole of man, composed as he is of body and soul. And, since he is a pilgrim on this earth, it commands him to tend always toward heaven.”

    Bishop Williamson speaks the language of modern man when he states that “God created the world for no other reason than to get souls to Heaven. All else is a distraction.” It’s short, it’s succinct, it’s powerful and it’s true. It should make everyone pause to contemplate it. Read “On Christian Unity” from Augustin Cardinal Bea and he sounds more like Bishop Williamson than any modern Roman prelate. Why is it that no one high up in the heirarchy can speak and act with that much certitude? [Hmmm…. I wonder if sometimes it is not the words, but the music. And then the quite obvious lack of willingness to maintain manifest unity with Peter.]

  15. Doug Nesmith says:

    Father, the really sad part that seems to annoy the majority of us is it seems as if both the SSPX and Rome(meaning not just the place but all Bishops, Cardinals, etc.) seem to forget that the never ending search for their way or the highway leaves us(your average parishoner) in a state of sadness and insecurity. We admire the SSPX and adore the E.F of the Mass. We would die before distancing ourselves from Rome. But we are constantly forced to jump back and forth between the two. We got to confession to diocesan priest since SSPX priests have no jurisdiction to give absolution(please spare us the state of emergency issue), then go to Mass at SSPX chapels because the Bishops and priests are so anti anything that doesnt fit their feel good, everybody’s ok hippy Mass. Just about everyone I am associated with who holds fast to tradition do not want the ordinary form of the Mass abolished and would have no problem attending if it was just done the way it’s supposed to be(say the black, do the red). I dont think either the SSPX or Rome seems to get that. We want a unified faith. Engage the SSPX to help re-do the Mass of Paul VI. Stop making the lives of millions of Catholics miserable building their houses on either the far right or left. Our Holy Father is a wonderful example of what both sides should strive for. Very educated and contemporary in everyday things, very Roman in his belief’s. We long for the day we dont have to hop around all over town for confession, Mass, Marriages, etc. I wish we could either sit them both down, tell them what we face on a daily basis and then lock them in a room until they learn to behave or have a million Fr. Z’s. God bless you all [Doug… my experience of men in the Curia, in least in the most recent years and at the lower levels is that they do know what is going on in parishes.]

  16. I have always wondered how the position of the SSPX — especially in the way it has been expressed and presented in the last few years — can be reconciled with the indefectibility and infallibility of the Church and of the Holy See.

    The SSPX considers that Rome has turned away from the faith — that much is clear.When faced by the fact that the Church is supposedly infallible and indefectible, the excuses often given are that the Holy Fathers have not proclaimed any and all teachings of Vatican II and of the post-Conciliar popes in an ex cathedra manner, and that the Holy Fathers since c. 1965 have been guilty of material but not yet formal heresy, and that since Vatican II was a “pastoral” council its teachings are not part of the Magisterium and thus can be safely ignored. Some SSPX supporters have even argued that the Popes from Paul VI onwards have not really exercised their teaching office because they are liberal modernists who have no real intention or capability to teach. Thus, one is able to profess the traditional Catholic doctrines on papal infallibility and the indefectibility of the Church and still say that Rome has become
    modernist and has lost the faith.

    The problem with this approach — as I see it — is that it turns papal infallibility and the indefectibility of the Church into mere technicalities that do not actually safeguard the Church from error. The SSPX is able to condemn what it sees as post-Conciliar heresies, errors and innovations emanating from Rome only by interpreting the infallibility and indefectibility of the Church so narrowly as to lose all real meaning.

    The Pope is infallible in matters of faith and morals, and is incapable of officially teaching doctrinal error even when it is not a question of defining a dogma, precisely so that
    so that the Church will not be led into spiritual shipwreck and so that the Christifideles may
    be assured that they are not being led into error when they follow Peter
    and his successors. Thus, private judgment is prevented and the faithful are
    assured of peace and certainty.

    However, if the SSPX is correct in its interpretation, then,
    the Church merely ends up with a useless doctrine, for if they are indeed correct,
    then even the decrees of Ecumenical Councils (for Vatican II is admitted even by them to be
    Ecumenical) and the Encyclicals of popes cannot be absolutely trusted to
    nourish us with orthodox teaching, and must still be scrutinized carefully
    lest they be purveyors of error and even manifest heresy.

  17. Brian L. says:

    I’m a bit unfamiliar with SSPX and their goals outside of a complete repeal of Vatican II, so forgive me if this sounds like a dumb question.

    I just have to ask though, if this large group of clergy is so interested in reviving Catholic liturgical tradition, why do they persist in remaining outside the legitimate circles of Church leadership, especially in this time when there seems to be an almost open battle between the supporters of Summorum Pontificum and the hangers on from the 60s? Would they not have more influence as a force acting WITHIN the Church, rather than from without? Especially considering the priest shortage here in the US, I would think that these priests would be able to work toward real change on the parish level. Not to mention giving the Pope and his allies a much needed pool of traditionally-oriented priests eligible for promotion to the all-important episcopal level.

    Now I could be wrong (wouldn’t be a surprise, haha) but it just seems to me that at least on the leadership level of the SSPX, there’s something sinister going on, to quote Isaac.

  18. Tom says:

    I haven’t been to an SSPX chapel. But I have encountered, from Pope Benedict XVI to various Churchmen, very positive remarks regarding the holiness that flows from the SSPX.

    What pains me regarding the SSPX and Rome is the following:

    During his address to the Bishops of Chile, Josef Cardinal Ratzinger (our Holy Father) declared that man priests have “desacralized” and “despoiled” the Mass and churches.

    Incredibly, priests, and for that matter, additional Catholics (such as liturgists and theologians), who desacralize and despoile the Mass and parishes each day are in “full communion” with the Church.

    Conversely, it has been acknowledged that God’s Holiness flows from SSPX chapel…that SSPX bishops and priests are holy and fine men who strive to bring God’s Holiness to Catholics.

    Incredibly, SSPX bishops and priests are supposedly not in “full communion” with the Church.

    I am reminded of Father Z’s posting of a news article recently that pertained to Bishop Rifan. I believe that the article emphasized that Bishop Rifan was required to return to “full communion” with the Church.

    In Bishop Rifan, we encounter the “full communion” issue.

    Various priests (and various Catholics) who were in “full communion” with the Church have been permitted to “desacralize and despoil” the Mass and parishes.

    But for many years, the holy Bishop Rifan was supposedly not in “full communion” with the Church.

    Please…anybody…please explain to me how it’s possible that holy SSPX bishops and priests (and the Bishop Rifans of the Church (at least during a time) are supposedly not in “full communion” with the Church…

    …while priests (liturgists and theologians among others) who have wrecked the Mass, emptied parishes and spurred many souls to lose the Faith are in “full communion” with the Church.

    That hurts my heart as a Catholic…that we live during a time similar to the 4th Century…widespread persecution of holy Catholics transpires…while various Catholics in “full communion” with the Church are permitted to shipwreck the Faith.

    All I know is that the SSPX has not “desacralized and despoiled” the Mass and parishes (or chapels).

    Let us pray for Rome and the SSPX.

    I believe that the Holy Father loves the SSPX…and the Society loves the Holy Father…and that God will lead the Vicar of Christ and the SSPX to a blessed and peaceful resolution.

    Pax.

  19. Gregg the obscure says:

    I’m puzzled that “the Fraternity of Saint Pius X cannot sign an agreement” in these broad and general terms. I could understand if they said they could not sign a particular proposed agreement because of specific items with which they do not agree, but this statement forecloses any possibility of agreement. If this statement means that current SSPX leadership cannot come into any kind of agreement with the Pope, the statement sounds like current SSPX leadership is edging closer to an outright schism.

  20. Gerard says:

    Isaac wrote:

    3) I myself assist at an SSPX chapel, though not for long. I do sometimes wonder, how long will the Superior General persist in the idea that Rome has to submit to the SSPX.

    Isaac,

    That’s not quite an accurate characterization. The SSPX only wants Rome to submit to the truth. There is no “SSPX truth” or “Vatican II truth” there is only the Truth.

    If the SSPX demanded that Rome acknowledge 2+2=4. That wouldn’t be Rome submitting to the SSPX. It would simply be acknowledgeing the truth. Rome didn’t submit to the SSPX when Pope Benedict admitted the truth about the TLM never being abrogated. The SSPX simply wants Rome to clean up the mess brought on by Rome’s unwillingness to reign in liberalism.

    “It seems like the only defenders of Tradition are the SSPX.”

    I can reassure you that that is not true. The SSPX helps anyone working for tradition. They train Novus Ordo priests who want to learn the TLM on the sly if necessary, they send them books, they provide any number of services when the bishops are exhibiting a weird resistance to tradition. They are also helping out priests who have both irregular and regular standing (the late Fr. Paul Wickens and Fr. Harry Marchosky are two prominent examples)

    “There’s something sinister about this, I feel. I have not heard any SSPX priest quote any papal encyclical from VII onwards, that it almost becomes policy.”

    This may be your personal experience or impression but mine has been quite the opposite. The only place I’ve ever heard Popes get quoted was in SSPX chapels. (Fr. Eric Simonot quoted Paul VI about the need for zeal accompanying the gaining of indulgences, Fr. Grieg Gonzales consistently from the pulpit asked for prayers for the Pope because “the Devil works much harder against a priest than a layperson because he can steer that many more souls away from Christ if he corrupts a priest. How much harder is he attacking the Pope? ” Fr. Johannes Grun was recently reading passages of Cardinal Ratzinger’s books from the pulpit where the Pope pointed out that the ability to pray has diminished among the faithful.

    People have to realize that in practical terms the situation is much more fluid “on the ground” so to speak than the “official” press releases and comments say.

  21. Volpius says:

    As this issue drags on and on it seems to me that the SSPX are slipping closer and closer into an outright denial of the existence of a living magisterium.

    This became most apparent in their refusal to accept the new Good Friday prayer, they couldn’t find anything wrong with other than that it was something new.

    They should pay heed to the following:

    “The living magisterium, therefore, makes extensive use of documents of the past, but it does so while judging and interpreting, gladly finding in them its present thought, but likewise, when needful, distinguishing its present thought from what is traditional only in appearance. It is revealed truth always living in the mind of the Church, or, if it is preferred, the present thought of the Church in continuity with her traditional thought, which is for it the final criterion, according to which the living magisterium adopts as true or rejects as false the often obscure and confused formulas which occur in the monuments of the past. Thus are explained both her respect for the writings of the Fathers of the Church and her supreme independence towards those writings–she judges them more than she is judged by them.” Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912.

  22. caesium says:

    Relations between the SSPX and Rome were even worse in the 1980’s so I wouldn’t be too depressed.

    We understand from Econe is that they are struggling for vocations also and their have been accusations that the system there is “stuck in the 1970″! There is the further claim that the SSPX formation is too Jesuitical in tone. Another problem is the charismatic figure of Richard Williamson by virtue of his “charisma” – there is simply nobody like him in the English speaking World (for good or for bad!).

    I have a suspicion that there will more informal links between Roman clergy (like Fr Z) and SSPX. Laity, normally loyal to SSPX, will attend “SP” Masses also. I am delighted to hear that Fr Z has so much goodwill towards the SSPX – would that some of his colleagues shared those sentiments. There is still too much bigotry and liberal intolerance towards our brothers and sisters within the SSPX. [I have good will toward many of the individual priests. I have a measure of respect for the great work of Archbp L in Africa and also for many of his aspirations. However, being steeped as I am in the Fathers, I have a horror of schism. I know that Card. Castrillon is not using this word and has moved away from it. Fine. But I really struggle, friends, with the “Duck Argument” on this one. What I see is a group of people trying to tell three Pontiffs, by now, how things are going to be before they will consent to “agree… submit… obey” (pick a word). I really struggle with that. I am also eager for the contribution those of good will could make within manifest unity.]

  23. Gerard says:

    “The problem with this approach—as I see it—is that it turns papal infallibility and the indefectibility of the Church into mere technicalities that do not actually safeguard the Church from error.”

    Carlos,

    I think your position presumes a few things that are really not a part of Church teaching. Rome itself is where the authority to define matters resides. But it is not necessarily Rome that is the mechanism in which the indefectibility of the Church manifests. The indefectibility of the Church will manifest itself according to the Grace of God and cooperation of his people.

    To presume that Rome will always be the mechanism turns infallibility into impeccability and makes the ordinary and extraordinary Magisterium a moot distinction.

    I think understanding the possibilities of where and how Rome can let us down is essential to understanding traditional resistance to policies that have shown disappointing results in the post conciliar era.

  24. Tom, to answer your question, being in full communion is not just about how a priest (or bishop) celebrates holy Mass. It is about much, much more than that. The Orthodox celebrate the Divine Liturgy (Mass according to the Eastern Rite) with great sanctity and devotion as they have for centuries, yet they are not in full communion with Rome. Were Mass the only issue this would be a very different discussion.

    The SSPX and Bishop Rifan may have celebrated the Mass with reverence, attention, and devotion. But, they set up “parallel” churches outside the construct of the Roman Church. What they did, they did in opposition to Rome, not with Rome. The SSPX have said that the Ordinary Form of the Mass is not valid. By saying this they have acted against the infallible teaching of the Church regarding her infallibility and indefectibility as noted above. Why? Because what is required for a valid Mass is valid matter, form, and proper intention. As long as these are present, the Sacrifice is offered and the Mass is valid. This the Church has ever taught. Additionally they interpret the Church’s teaching on Papal Infallibility as they see it, not as the Church has ever meant and taught it. Thus they can claim that the recent popes have been in material heresy. Finally, they refuse to submit in obedience to the Roman Pontiff, and this refusal has been clearly explicitely and implicitely stated. To be in full communion means to fully submit to the Roman Pontiff. One who has submitted might not obey, but unless he states he will not submit he has not broken his communion with Rome.

    Finally, Tom, before Vatican II there were priests who did not celebrate Mass with attention, reverence and devotion, who “desacralized and despoiled” the Mass and parishes. Conversely there are priests today who celebrate the Ordinary Form with great attention, reverence and devotion.

    The divisions in the Church are a scandal. But just as she cannot bend to those who would steer her to the left, neither can she bend to those who would steer her to the right. Rather she must keep her eyes fixed on Christ and look neither to the right nor left, but by steering her course, show all people the way to salvation.

  25. Ben says:

    I think Volpius above has it right. With the passage of time, positions become more entrenched, and it becomes harder for the SSPX to ‘back down’. I do wonder, as well, if maybe they don’t actually enjoy their independence. It makes thinks easier if you acknowledge no superiour.

  26. Justin says:

    “I think your position presumes a few things that are really not a part of Church teaching. Rome itself is where the authority to define matters resides.”

    I don’t think that was what Carlos meant. Without presuming to speak for him, when I think of the infallibility of the Church, it goes hand in hand with the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff. It’s the Holy Spirit working through the office of the Papacy which safeguards and protects the Church from error.

    That said I do not believe that the SSPX are calling for a repudiation of Vatican II.

  27. caesium says:

    Can anyone find where this translated text is to be found within the original letter from Bishop Fellay?

  28. Jacob says:

    I had this all thought out the other night, but now I don’t remember what phrases I had in mind. But as I see it, it works like this…

    The SSPX seems to say one thing and believe another. It says that it follows the pope and the Magisterium of the Church, but at the same time, it disavows the pope’s doings and refuses to accept the latest expression of the Magisterium (i.e. the Second Vatican Council). Where does it end?

    The great disconnect that I have not ever seen truly spelled out seems to be this: Benedict XVI represents the working to rehabilitate the council and save it from the Spirit of Vatican II. The SSPX represents the belief that the council and the spirit are one and the same and cannot be separated.

    Gerard commented:
    Father, agreement and submission are two completely different things. The SSPX are serving the Church and the Holy Father whether he believes it or not.

    Couldn’t the same exact thing be said about many Jesuits? Where is the line drawn? Either you’re with the Holy Father or you’re against him. That’s a pretty blunt distinction, but in these times we live in, can we have any other?

  29. Christophe says:

    The problem for the SSPX, with whom I sympathize (I don’t think we would have the traditional Mass without Abp. Lefebvre), is that following SP they are irrelevant. With all restrictions lifted from the extraordinary form of Holy Mass, the obvious draw of the SSPX is gone. This is the beginning of the end. Maybe not next year, maybe not in five years, but in the near future the withering away of the SSPX will be obvious. Bp. Fellay will never get a better “deal” than he is being offered now. Soon no one will care about the SSPX. And that will be a pity.

  30. Jamie says:

    Father Z, I think this is probably the first time you have dealt with the SSPX in a way that I think is fair – so I am very pleased about that. [Then you really haven’t been paying attention to what I have written in the long term.] Regarding your comment on the SSPX desiring the Pope to bend to their will,if the Pope is wrong (and we know he can be) and they are right – the Pope must bow to truth – I feel that you might be overlooking this.

    Additionally, I feel that you are suggesting that refusing to sign any document from the Pope is tantamount to schism – what if the document supports heresy? [Have you perhaps forgotten the constant acts of, well, defiance from 1988 onward? This so-called agreement is just he latest and it doesn’t spring into discussion in a vacuum] Are you a schismatic for refusing to agree? Obviously not. The SSPX DO submit to the will of the Pope insofar as he is not speaking a new doctrine. Development of dogma is not denied by them – if it were they would have to go back to the first 200 years of the Church and deny things like the Immaculate Conception which were not unanimously agreed upon in the past. But the fact is, the main issues they have are with collegiality, ecumenism (not of return), and religious liberty are new things – they are things that MUST be repudiated. [Do they submit to the Roman Pontiff or not? So far I think we have to say: “Not”.]

    In my experience with the SSPX I don’t think I ever saw a priest or Bishop who said VII had to be abolished [Okay. That’s fair enough.] – they know it must be seen in the light of Tradition – but the actions of the Pope (who does seem to earnestly wish this) are not showing that he is wholeheartedly doing so. It would take a single encyclical to clear up the problems of the council – but he does not do so – and expects the society to sign a document that agrees with the council BEFORE the problems are resolved.

    Given time, the Pope will (I think) make very strong moves to clarify the council and bring it in line with Tradition – at which point it will be crippled as far as the liberals are concerned and will be pointless as it says nothing new (when seen in the light of Tradition). The society will sign the document then because truth will have prevailed. [I think Popes must be very careful in their actions so as not to tear the Church apart. Paul VI’s experience after Humanae vitae is a case in point. If nothing else, he was magnificent in that moment, but the cost was very hard for the Church to bear and it almost tore it apart. It is an object lesson for a Pope to consider. Can a Pope simply say “Damn the torpedoes? Only a Pope can answer. But consider what any kind of formal walking back from the Council in a Magisterial document might do to the Church. It is a fascinating and frightening thing to ponder. And way beyond our pay grades.]

  31. Norman Lee says:

    Fr Z’s question is,”Are they simply getting to used to being their own Church according to their own lights and without manifest union with the Roman Pontiff?”

    With what I hear from the local SSPX chapel, it seems to me very much to be the case. Confirmations, marriages, baptisms and funerals go on as usual. Frequent air travel is the norm for many of the SSPX priests based here. I hear that the SSPX bishops visit very often also.

    One reason commonly cited by SSPXers to me is that “I’d rather join the SSPX than be associated with the happy-clappy Novus Ordo” (and of course, they conveniently ignore the fact that I was part of a group trying to get Gregorian chant started). It is as though the sins of others gives you a license to do wrong things. This is precisely what I read from Bp Fellay’s letter.

    What I’m not sure of, though, is whether the local diocese in communion with Peter, could do more to open lines of communication. Right now its very much an atmosphere of hostility, even to orders like the FSSP. There is hardly any mention of the Old Rite in diocesan media.

  32. Wm. Christopher Hoag says:

    I will keep my observations simple and will not enter into polemics with anyone…

    I entered the North American seminary of the SSPX twenty years ago. I consider Msgr. Lefebvre to be my spiritual grandfather. In the late 80s and during the 90s I was thick in the SSPX.

    I hold an MA in theology and have completed all work towards a PhD in Church History. I have untold numbers of hours in post-graduate theology and philosophy.

    I currently work as a parish catechetical leader and an seeking to become a certified lay ecclesial minister in the Diocese of Cleveland.

    Twelve years ago I left the SSPX when it became painfully evident that the SSPX was in error in matters of ecclesiology and that the general spirit of clergy and laity alike would allow no room for reconciliation between Rome and itself. In fact, I find the lay supporters of the SSPX to be far more intransigent than the clergy and religious. I am a professed brother of the SSPX Third Order although I no longer follow the Rule since my separation from the SSPX milieu. In fact, there is one part of the rule that no Catholic can abide, e.g,, never attending the Novus Ordo because it is “protestant”.

    That all said, I am very sad to read the words of Msgr. Fellay. I will pray for my former confreres. Kyrie eleison!

  33. Virgil says:

    I think +Fellay has overplayed his hand.

    The fact is, at least in the dioceses in the US and Italy with which I am familiar, lay folks are leaving SSPX parishes. As more and more Traditional Latin Masses (in union with Rome) pop up nearby, people tend to opt for them rather than the schismatics.

    In other words, IT IS THE LITURGY, STUPID! Many of the laity at SSPX parishes might have bones to pick with the Second Vatican Council, and with its aftermath. But these conscientious lay people are of the opinion that:

    (1) They are more effective questioning these issues from WITHIN the Barque of Peter, and

    (2) As long as they have a decent place to worship, they can tolerate the perceived heresy within the broader Church.

    In the end, the simple economics of the collection plate with kill the SSPX.

  34. Somerset '76 says:

    To do justice to this entire topic would require more space than is befitting here and time I don’t now have. So I will distill my points, many of which I’ve made before.

    1) Many bloggers and blog commenters alike do not really understand the SSPX, its milieu, or its motivations … or else try to read into them things that the SSPX does not intend. For them, it’s all a simple matter of “handing down what was received” without alteration. A Catholic of right mind, they would insist, believes unflinchingly and asserts without apologies the things asserted for centuries, in the conceptual language that has been used for centuries, that of Thomist realism and the traditional Roman liturgy.

    The SSPX milieu apprehends an alien spirit in the life of the Church since the day Pope John XXIII dispensed with anathemas, an alien spirit they believe was institutionalized by Vatican II in its documents (as to what they said, what they declined to say, and the non-Thomistic conceptual language it was said in) and by the Magisterial authorities since the Council in all areas. To accomodate this spirit in any way is, they believe, tantamount to committing a sin of compromising the “Faith of all time.” That is the profound reason they do not feel they can bring themselves back under an authority that refuses to teach, worship, and govern like Pius XII and his predecessors. It is important to remember that they were founded in 1970 with proper authorization … which was removed by Rome in 1975 under eggregiously dubious circumstances. Their refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of any sanctions against them since then follow upon those original circumstances.

    2) The danger for them lies in that fine line between steadfastness and intransigence: terms that both describe the same actions but with different moral qualities. And it is a considerable danger. There is a great reluctance (at best) to see much of anything worthwhile in the postconciliar acts (excepting Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, which they did commend), and they generally disdain the tone and substance of postconciliar approaches and emphases. In doing so, they run into what sometimes-commenter Brian Sudlow has observed to be a problem with the Dogma of Indefectibility — which, I’m inclined now to agree, necessarily involves the See of Rome … as opposed to what the prevailing opinion in the SSPX holds (that the dogma of the Faith will be preserved by someone, somewhere, at any given time).

    Part of that sense of steadfastness they believe they have involves, they insist, not merely the dogmas of Faith but concrete ideas on how these are to be lived, promoted, and defended. Hence, while it was the Society’s original intent only to train seminarians in the preconciliar manner, it quickly found itself willing to foster its own subculture, one intended to be comprehensive in its scope. One senses in the neo-Jansenistic sensibilities of this subculture a reactionary response to the cultural currents prevailing both in the secular world and in the mainstream of the Church institution.

    3) I repeat what I said in these pages only recently: one cannot hope to see much movement in that milieu towards a trust of Roman authority unless and until the latter begins to follow up the good things it says with proportionately severe actions against the inveterate miscreants, who continue to usurp the name “Catholic” to their shameless advantage (like the pro-abort politicians who announced in advance their intention to take Communion at the Pope’s DC Mass, and then proceeded to do so).

    4) Criticism of the SSPX would be better justified on one other condition, which our host did allude to in his comments: the long-overdue effort by the Magisterium to show the continuity of doctrine in the postconciliar acts and teachings. The SSPX justifies its modus operandi largely on its belief that this reconciliation is simply impossible. Let Rome show us, at last, how it can be done. This clarification, along with a good cleaning of the neo-Modernist Aegean stables, will together force the Society to decide its future course of action; anything short of these two measures will not break the impasse.

  35. Gerard says:

    Fr. Bailey,

    A few of your points need addressing for the sake of clarity.

    “But, they set up “parallel” churches outside the construct of the Roman Church. What they did, they did in opposition to Rome, not with Rome.”

    What they did, was act out of compassion and the highest law of the Church. The salvation of souls because Rome did not act against the excesses or alleged “misinterpretations” of Vatican II. And it was the faithful that requested this of archbishop LeFebvre.

    “The SSPX have said that the Ordinary Form of the Mass is not valid.”

    This is not true. It was actually Fr. Corapi on EWTN quoting one of the Roman Congregations that stated that many diocesan masses are invalid due to the failings in matter, form and or intention where I first saw someone address this issue.

    “By saying this they have acted against the infallible teaching of the Church regarding her infallibility and indefectibility as noted above. Why? Because what is required for a valid Mass is valid matter, form, and proper intention. As long as these are present, the Sacrifice is offered and the Mass is valid. This the Church has ever taught.”

    Actually that is incorrect. Liturgical matters are disciplinary and not universal therefore infallibility would not be a factor. It would be a matter of moral certitude dependent on magisterial statements about the nature of sacraments.

    “Additionally they interpret the Church’s teaching on Papal Infallibility as they see it, not as the Church has ever meant and taught it.”

    Again, not true. The definitions in and of themselves require no interpretation. To do otherwise is to make the infallible definition submit to a fallible interpretation.

    “Thus they can claim that the recent popes have been in material heresy.”

    It is quite possible for a Pope to be in material heresy. And they don’t claim that either. “obstinate denial” is required for heresy. The condition of those in charge of policy is described an intellectual confusion. How to distinguish the weak, from the wicked and the hopelessly confused is not part of the SSPX analysis.

    “Finally, they refuse to submit in obedience to the Roman Pontiff, and this refusal has been clearly explicitely and implicitely stated.”

    Obedience is subordinate to justice. That is the teaching of the Church. Vatican I demands submission in “true” obedience. Not servile obedience.

    “To be in full communion means to fully submit to the Roman Pontiff. One who has submitted might not obey, but unless he states he will not submit he has not broken his communion with Rome.”

    The actions of the SSPX don’t coincide with your assertions. The SSPX consistently takes the reality of the problems of the Church to the proper authorities. Whether it is warnings about seminarians that are unworthy to the local ordinary or the large scale doctrinal crisis to the Holy See. When Orthodox clerics wanted to convert to Catholicism via Bishop Fellay, he sent them to Rome. He said he wasn’t the proper authority.

    The divisions in the Church are a scandal. But just as she cannot bend to those who would steer her to the left, neither can she bend to those who would steer her to the right. Rather she must keep her eyes fixed on Christ and look neither to the right nor left, but by steering her course, show all people the way to salvation.

    That’s sounds very good on its face but the fact is the Popes have veered dramatically to the “left” since Pius XII.
    While they are not raving lefties. They are still to the left. John XXIII and Cardinal Bea would be considered extremists by today’s standards. Cardinal Bea when asked what “Unity” meant to the Catholic Church, he unhesitatingly stated that it was agreeing to the same doctrine, in the same meaning, with the same 7 sacraments under the authority of the Successor of St. Peter.

    I guarantee you. No one in the Curia today would state that to the World press in such clear terms.

  36. Justin says:

    “Cardinal Bea when asked what “Unity” meant to the Catholic Church, he unhesitatingly stated that it was agreeing to the same doctrine, in the same meaning, with the same 7 sacraments under the authority of the Successor of St. Peter.”

    Card. Bea is absolutely right. The SSPX should follow suit.

  37. “Criticism of the SSPX would be better justified on one other condition, which our host did allude to in his comments: the long-overdue effort by the Magisterium to show the continuity of doctrine in the postconciliar acts and teachings. The SSPX justifies its modus operandi largely on its belief that this reconciliation is simply impossible. Let Rome show us, at last, how it can be done. This clarification, along with a good cleaning of the neo-Modernist Aegean stables, will together force the Society to decide its future course of action; anything short of these two measures will not break the impasse.”

    I believe that part of the mission of the IBP is precisely to formulate a clear and
    comprehensive enumeration of what the Traditionalist movement sees as the errors
    and ambiguities of Vatican II and of the post-Vatican II Magisterium. Once
    that “list” is available, Rome can respond with equal detail and clarity.

    Incidentally, there have also been monumental individual efforts to demonstrate
    that the teachings of the Council are in continuity with that of the pre-1958
    Magisterium. I am thinking in particular of Fr. Basile Valuet (a monk of Le
    Barroux) who has written a massive study showing that Vatican II’s teaching
    on religious liberty constitutes a legitimate development of doctrine.

  38. Chris says:

    I am not SSPX. But, in a way, I think most people are at least subconsciously secured in the fact that they are what they are. As Gerard said, no one speaks clearly any more. Not even at times our Holy Father (or maybe I’m not bright enough to understand him. That could also be true). But I do understand Fellay, Williamson and others when they speak, and I makes great sense to me, and gives me hope. Keep praying they stay strong for as long as they need, but that they ultimately come into the fold through the grace of God because Rome has returned to her glory as well.

  39. Gerard says:

    Virgil wrote:

    “I think +Fellay has overplayed his hand.”

    Fellay isn’t playing poker. There is no bluffing on his part, no threats, no maneuvering. He’s simply stating the truth and standing up for it. After his meeting with Pope Benedict he said it may take another 20 years to resolve things.

    “The fact is, at least in the dioceses in the US and Italy with which I am familiar, lay folks are leaving SSPX parishes. As more and more Traditional Latin Masses (in union with Rome) pop up nearby, people tend to opt for them rather than the schismatics.”

    I don’t think that’s a fact at all. What numbers do you have to support this assertion? I find people leaving SSPX chapels in order to move to traditional communities like St. Mary’s or Post Falls. But strangely, new faces always show up to replace them. Also, the SSPX are not schismatic. Schism has a specific meaning. The SSPX don’t fit that meaning.

    “In other words, IT IS THE LITURGY, STUPID! Many of the laity at SSPX parishes might have bones to pick with the Second Vatican Council, and with its aftermath. But these conscientious lay people are of the opinion that:”

    Actually it’s my experience that many people float between SSPX chapels and TLM’s in the diocese depending on varying circumstances. Convenience being only one of them.

    “(1) They are more effective questioning these issues from WITHIN the Barque of Peter, and”

    But the SSPX didn’t leave the Church. It was a huge papal mistake and an injustice to try and declare them excommunicated while those “in full communion” continue to tear the Church down. Unless of course, you rule out the possibility that the Pope was wrong in this matter. [I think they deserve a canonical trial, if they contest the formal confirmation of the latae sententiae excoim!]

    “(2) As long as they have a decent place to worship, they can tolerate the perceived heresy within the broader Church.”

    Ah yes. “the Zoo” option as described by Bishop Fellay. It’s also called Cafeteria Catholicism. Charity prevents that from being a real option. “I got mine” Catholicism is not part of the evangelical spirit of the Church. St. Augustine often wrote to other bishops correcting them when necessary.

    “In the end, the simple economics of the collection plate with kill the SSPX.”

    You could say the same thing about the Novus Ordo is already happening. There are some opinions which believe that overtures to the SSPX are purely economical because they have land and facilities and funds that debt-ridden diocese desperately want.

  40. Jamie says:

    Gerard: I applaud your comment – it is well thought out and well presented. Thank you.

  41. Michael R. says:

    Wm. Christopher Hoag said,

    “I currently work as a parish catechetical leader and an seeking to become a certified lay ecclesial minister in the Diocese of Cleveland.”

    What is a certifed lay ecclesial minister?

  42. caesium says:

    I encountered a convert priest in Wales (Great Britain) who clearly stated to me that he doesn’t believe in transubstantiation. Are his Masses invalid or illict or ok?

    I have never attended a SSPX Mass but I can understood why they exist.

  43. Gerard says:

    Justin,

    You wrote:

    “Card. Bea is absolutely right. The SSPX should follow suit.”

    The SSPX does follow suit. It is the heirarchy that has abandoned the goals of John XXIII and the purpose of true ecumenism.

    When Cardinal Bea opened the SPCU, it was known that dialogue in understanding each others position was important in order to weed out hatred. But Bea also never hesitated to say that conversion was the ultimate goal of all dialogue. When told by prominent jews in New York that “Jews don’t like to talk about conversion.” Bea replied, “Our Jews do.”

    When you hear those kinds of unequivocal statements coming from the Vatican without backpedalling,contradictions or apologizing, the SSPX will be standing in the door mitres and birettas in hand ready to help.

    If they were to accept some kind of agreement now, they would be persecuted for reiterating what the “liberals” like Cardinal Bea were stating in the early 60’s.

  44. Wm. Christopher Hoag says:

    Michael R. asked:

    What is a certifed lay ecclesial minister?”

    I will post here a link to the USCCB webpage on lay ecclesial ministry : http://www.usccb.org/laity/laymin/index.shtml

    That explains lay ecclesial ministry far better than I ever could hope to do!

  45. caesium says:

    Fr. Basile Valuet (a monk of Le Barroux) has written a massive study showing that Vatican II’s teaching on religious liberty constitutes a legitimate development of doctrine.

    Is this assertion problematic? Was not the council pastoral and not doctrinal?

  46. “I think your position presumes a few things that are really not a part of Church teaching. Rome itself is where the authority to define matters resides.”

    I don’t think that was what Carlos meant. Without presuming to speak for him, when I think of the infallibility of the Church, it goes hand in hand with the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff. It’s the Holy Spirit working through the office of the Papacy which safeguards and protects the Church from error.”

    Yes, Justin, you understood me correctly.

    We cannot separate the infallibility of the Papacy and the indefectibility of
    the Church. The Pope is infallible precisely so that the Church may be indefectible.
    Conversely, the indefectibility of the Church implies the infallibility of the Holy See

    While it is true that there is a distinction between the ordinary and extraordinary Magisterium,
    both require the humble assent of mind and heart. We are required to profess our
    faith in the dogmas of the Church (including those proclaimed ex cathedra), and are not required to give the same level
    of faith to the teachings of the ordinary Magisterium. Still, we are required —
    as Catholics — to humbly accept even the Encyclicals and Apostolic Letters of
    the Popes as bearers of authentic teaching. Needless to say, we must always interpret these latter documents in the light of tradition.

    If what the SSPX says about the Church is true, I fail to see how I can still
    put my trust in the teachings of the Holy See. Even the worst-ever case of obvious papal error — that of Pope Honorius I — merely involved a pope who wrote a letter that “defined
    nothing and condemned nothing” and which unintentionally aided the spread of the Monothelite
    heresy. However, the SSPX would have us believe — by direct statement or by implication — that certain documents and expressions of the Magisterium of the recent Popes have, in fact, taught error.

  47. Gerard says:

    Christopher,

    Can you flesh this out a bit?

    “…it became painfully evident that the SSPX was in error in matters of ecclesiology …”

    What precisely is the error in ecclesiology that you are referring to?

  48. It’s a tragedy and this must have been hard for you. You handles it very well.
    The only safety is on the barque of St. Peter.

  49. Timothy Clint says:

    Dear Fr. Z.

    Thought I would add a few comments being someone who regularly attends a SSPX Chapel. Firstly, I have never questioned the validity of the New Mass nor did the Archbishop. He only cautioned about regular attendance because there is the possibilty of gradually loosing ones Catholilc sense. The Holy Father’s Mass in Washington attests to this. As do the many banal masses performed with clowns, actors, dancers etc. And not to mention the improvisation that Priests regularly do with the texts of the Mass. The Mass from St Patrick’s yesterday at times had an air of a rock concert personality with the thunderous applause and whisteling even in the church, as the Holy Father processed. I was a Scoutmaster of a Catholic Troop in my community. While working on several badges the boys needed to know about thier catholic faith. NO scout had any idea about such things as the rosary, the Feast Days, who the Pope was at the time. Seems to me that the Archbishop was not to far off base.

    Now, I am involved with an Una Voce Chapter near where I live. I have tried to be a positive force with the group without ever bringing into play my involvement with the SSPX though they all know my position. Again, I regularly meet with Priests from various dioceses through Una Voce. Some persons, in this organization,regularly remind me that the SSPX is schismatic with out ever stopping to consider the good which they have done and are continuing to do. There seems to be a lot of mistrust by many people.

    A prominant priest resides in Erie and regularly appears on EWTN. To my face he says that my family is Catholic but behind my back cautions people not to get involved with the XXX and the SSPX. One Lent a few years back someone from our congregation heard him say on EWTN that the SSPX is schismatic; remember thats not what he tells me to my face, so I called him on Palm Sunday morning and asked him to reafirm my being a catholic in good standing, to which he did,and asked him with such a following on EWTN why not use this forum to invoke prayes for healing in the church. It’s been about 7 years and I am still waiting. You see it appears that many want the situation between Rome and the SSPX to improve but are doing scarce little to make it happen, whether at the parish, diocese, national or international level. Summorum Pontificum gave the church the gift of the Mass in the Extaordinary Form yet there is still very much a vengance on the part of many bishops to the work of the SSPX. Although I will say that in one Southeast Asian Diocese the SSPX is welcome and regularly preaches retreats and the catichism. There is hope.

  50. Doesn’t reconciliation come before the lifting of an excmmunicaton…with this logic, wouldn’ the SSPX submit to HH before the excommunicationc can be lifted?

  51. Jordan Potter says:

    Somerset ’76 said: In doing so, they run into what sometimes-commenter Brian Sudlow has observed to be a problem with the Dogma of Indefectibility — which, I’m inclined now to agree, necessarily involves the See of Rome … as opposed to what the prevailing opinion in the SSPX holds (that the dogma of the Faith will be preserved by someone, somewhere, at any given time).

    Interesting. I held the same opinion when I was a Protestant — the Church overall may at times be caught up in doctrinal error, but there will always be a faithful remnant somewhere, found in various different churches and denominations.

  52. B. says:

    Regarding the question of the correct interpretation of Vatican II:
    I don’t think Rome cares how Vatican II is interpreted. If the SSPX said “we accept Vatican II” that would be A-OK with Rome even if they continued to say exactly the same things as they do now.
    I think the problem is that the SSPX says “Dudes, there’s a problem with Vatican II”.

    The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary said that they accepted Vatican II and at the same time they continue to teach that everyone who is not a baptized Roman Catholic is automatically doomed to hell, and that’s OK with Rome. One of them (Br. Thomas Mary Sennott, I believe,) even wrote an interpretation that said that Nostra Aetate and Lumen Gentium say that every non-catholic automatically goes to hell (I don’t know how he did that, but he did), and Rome accepted that as a perfectly valid interpretation of the council.

    As long as you say that you accept Vatican II you can make whatever you want out of it. The problem arises only if you say there is a problem with it, because it has been risen to a sacred principle.

  53. Brian Day says:

    Brian L. asks,
    Would they not have more influence as a force acting WITHIN the Church, rather than from without?

    There are many arguments to both sides to this question. Based upon my experience at the parish level and mindful of Fr. Z’s Rules of Engagement, working “within the system” where there is a reluctance, or even hostility, to implementing a more solemn liturgy, the frustration level gets so high that I sometimes think that it would be better to “vote with my feet” and leave for ‘greener pastures’.

    Maybe the SSPX leaders feel that ‘working within the system’ is a sure way to have their voices drowned out and their agenda ignored.

    I don’t think that is the correct course. In my parish, I am seeing baby steps taken towards more solemnity. There is a long way to go to get a Novus Ordo in Latin, forget about getting the TLM here. But brick by brick…

  54. Father Z wrote:

    “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 think you are spot on here, Father, and IMHO, it should give any member of the SSPX with misgivings about their current state further pause.

    The notion that the Catholic Church must somehow purify herself of all heresies and divergent beliefs and practices in her membership BEFORE a group(presumably the purer of the two) deigns to re-enter full communion also smacks of a form of spiritual delusion.

    Why not re-enter and be part of the solution? Why the “non serviam”?

    The recent restoration of full communion between the synodal ROCOR Church and the Moscow Patriarchate gives me hope.

    In ICXC,

    Gordo

  55. Wm. Christopher Hoag says:

    Gerard wrote:

    “What precisely is the error in ecclesiology that you are referring to?”

    Jordan Potter answers this above when referencing Brian Sudlow (also a former SSPX seminarian).

  56. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    First, I do think that the SSPX should cut a deal and work from the inside. The Church is in a crisis, and I think it is silly to wait until the crisis is over to come back. Do they want to be a part of fixing the crisis or not? That said Vatican II is a real problem, and it will not be solved without a great and probably contentious debate. Vatican II is unique in the history of the Church, not in the fact that it was a pastoral council, but in the fact that they taught things, and basically said we will decide what these words mean later. No one knows what Vatican II said with authority. We all have ideas what Vatican II taught, but there is no certainty. What did it teach on the inerrancy of scripture? Depends on which Cardinal/Bishop you ask. What about the meaning of subsistit? Again depends who you ask. What about religious liberty, or the goal of ecumenism? Again depends who you ask. The problem is in the Council texts. They are not clear, and do not make their meaning known. Unfortunately, I do not think this Pope is ready to have this debate (of course the Pope could be right, with all the liberals in the Church, how could the traditional understanding prevail). When this Pope was elected, and especially after the his speech to the Cardinals on December 22, I thought that Pope Benedict was the last chance the Second Vatican Council had of being saved. Especially, when he spoke of the theology of rupture. Unfortunately, I do not think the Church was/is ready for his message. Perhaps once all the members of the Church, who have a personal stake in Vatican II, have died, the next generation can deal with the mess left behind. If this is the case, however, I would not be surprised if that generation was much less concerned with Vatican II saving face, and much more concerned with giving clear teaching in line with traditional doctrine.

    One final note, I believe it is wrong to submit to teaching when you can not know the meaning of what is taught. I believe the Antiochians were right at the Council of Ephesus to refuse to sign the statements. The underlying atmosphere of that Council was the Propositions of St. Cyril, which were heretical in the understanding of the Antiochians (and most Catholics ie “the one incarnate nature of Christ”). What happened? The Pope of course sided with the Antiochians, and Theodorat drew up a union document clearly stating a correct and understandable Christology. St. Cyril was forced to sign this by the Pope, and only then did the Antiochians have to submit the Council. This could also be a solution. The Church could draw up a series of documents, explicitly stating what the ambiguous passages in Vatican II mean, and condemning the erroneous positions that claim their authority in these ambiguous passages. But as I said, I do not think the Church is ready for that.

  57. Somerset '76 says:

    As Gerard said, no one speaks clearly any more. Not even at times our Holy Father (or maybe I’m not bright enough to understand him. That could also be true). But I do understand Fellay, Williamson and others when they speak….

    Chris points out one of the issues the SSPX has with the approach of the postconciliar Magisterium: the latter’s reluctance to speak with the decisive clarity of the preconciliar Magisterium, which the Society considers (as I still do) a consequence of its virtual abnegation of the preconciliar Magisterium’s legacy in terms of both thematic material (e.g. the salvation of souls, the errors of liberalism, the rights of Christ the King in the social order, etc.) as well as the more piercing criticisms of the preconciliar era of the modern world. (Who today would say with Gregory XVI, writing in 1832’s Mirari Vos, that the freedom of the press is “execrable” and a danger to souls?)

    A traditionalist journal based in Rome, founded by an ally of the SSPX and taken over by the Society upon his death, bears a title speaking to this point: Si Si No No, a reference to our Lord’s dictum that “when you say yes, mean yes, and no, no; anything else is from the evil one.” The postconciliar approach is, by contrast, timid and riddled with nuances, qualifications, backpedaling, etc. The Apostles and their immediate successors didn’t hesistate to speak in sweeping, categorical terms (see the Acts and Epistles for plenty of examples): why only in our time is this no longer a suitable approach?

    This is a larger part of the SSPX milieu’s distrust of the official Church than most people realize.

  58. Anonymous says:

    I can’t really see the difference in the disobedience of the SSPX from that of the Jesuits. They seem cut from the same cloth, and yet, with the talents of both, rightly ordered and in obedience, great and mighty works would surely follow. I feel the tone of the letter is one written from outwith the fold; how sad that is, and how they let down those Catholics who hold firmly to being within the fold.

  59. Gerard says:

    There is a false argument going on here.

    The “non-serviam” argument simply doesn’t hold water. Exactly what is the service that is required of the SSPX?

    Having just suffered through a papal liturgy that while being less disjointed and horrifying than the JPII papal masses, it was still a travesty as far as offering the sacrifice of Calvary. Hooting and hollering and chanting the Pope’s name like it was the old Arsenio Hall show and then the Pope stands and sings, “Credo in Unum Deum…” and the SSPX is supposed to join in that surrealism?

    I would love for someone to take that soundtrack and sync it with the scenes from “the Passion of the Christ” and see how appropriate it would be.

    Is the SSPX supposed to cooperate in the destructive behaviors by bishops priests and laity off the last 40 years?

    Another false argument is the working within the system argument.

    It was from “within” the system that the modernists worked out their dark plans and it was precisely why they absolutely had to get archbishop LeFebvre “out” of the system. LeFebvre knew that the rules are established by the aggressor and adjusted his behavior so as to innoculate himself from them. The last shot was convincing JPII to step on him. Well, they got what he wanted but that hasn’t stopped them. It forced the “tolerated oasis” of the FSSP to be formed.

    The third false argument is the “their way” in reference to the SSPX. How about if we actually define what “their way” really is? So far, I haven’t heard a doctrinal condemnation come out against the SSPX.

  60. Former Altar Boy says:

    The longer this “quasi-schism” goes on, the harder it will be to heal. Pride is a terrible obstacle. The older their four bishops get, the more apt they are to consecrate additional bishops, thus compounding the problem. Worse are there adherents (no, not all) who believe they are more Catholic than the Pope. They will use their financial “muscle” to put pressure on their pastors no different than many have done and do in Novus Ordo parishes.

  61. Brian Day says:

    Gerard @ 3:44pm

    Please look at your “false argument … working within the system”. Your argument actually proves the point of working in the system and that it is not a false argument. It may be a false argument, but your wording doesn’t make it clear.

  62. Tom says:

    I think everyone can see the contradictions in the FSSPX position between calling for and, if we accept their sincerity, longing for fidelity to the Church, on the one hand, and remaining aloof and irregular on the other.

    I think we can all see the irony of oh-so-many Bishops and Cardinals who are, let us say, well-received in Rome (it might be putting the thing a bit strongly to say ‘in communion’, since many cases just scream INVISIBLE SCHISM to the casual observer) who constantly practice and even preach, on certain subjects, defiance of the Church, but still remain well received.

    The two positions are not the same, and comparisons are not just odious but unfair.

    To make a prudential judgement for the lesser evil (irregularity rather than infidelity) , while holding to a greater good (Catholicism), even subjectively, is not the same as embracing an evil while holding to another evil.

    If the FSSPX are in good faith, and I think they are, if they have judged certain ‘signs of the times’ aright, as I think they have, while the greater number of the Church has gone ‘to hell in a hand-cart’, we cannot blame them for caution.

    Any of us who have suffered for the Traditional Liturgy can imagine the terrible things that await the FSSPX as soon as they are well received in Rome again. More to the point, the positions that they hold in good faith, and I think they have a good point on many of them, would be irretrievably weakened if they walked like sheep into the wolves’ lair while the Shepherd was still busy fending the wolves off.

    Does the Shepherd even regard the ‘wolves’ as wolves? Certainly, fleece is back this season but it doesn’t make them less wolves because some of them are starting to wear sheeps’ clothering again.

    Can we PLEASE stop throwing sticks, stones, etc., at the FSSPX and, instead, work for their immortal souls and for the good of the Church. Be the Catholics you want the FSSPX to be – and see if you’re as safe with the wolves as you think they will be.

  63. BobP says:

    Maybe this is a dumb question, but what “agreement”?

  64. Barb Schoeneberger says:

    I believe that there are a number of SSPX priests who want to be in visible unity with Rome, but Father Z’s comment about how badly they have been treated by bishops keeps some from making a change. And, no doubt, a number of these priests take their responsibilities to their flock very seriously and do not want to leave the SSPX, thereby leaving the flock without any shepherd. It is too easy to tar all SSPX with one brush.

    We have serious problems in almost every diocese in the USA: homosexual priests who act out with one another or “boyfriends” but remain as pastors because of the priest shortage; failure of bishops and priests to see that the truths of the Faith are taught unequivocally; laity who rebel against orthodoxy and try to have their good pastors removed, etc.

    The bishops who refuse to make priests who are deeply attached to the traditional liturgy welcome are every bit as big a stumbling block as any other issues. Indeed, some bishops would rather lose a good priest than have one whose fount of spiritual sustenance is the Extraordinary form and who want to serve the laity who love it. And so, not only SSPX priests who desire visible unity with Rome and diocesan priests who love the Extraordinary form are not really welcome in some places.

    Why can they (the bishops)not understand that liturgical piety is a dominant motivator for many priests and laity attached to the Extraordinary form? Why do they view this attachment as a threat? Even post Summorum Pontificum the persecution continues. So I have a certain amount of sympathy for the SSPX priests and the bishops who want to tread carefully. Yet nothing can be accomplished from the outside looking in, which is why some of us have borne unspeakable evils to stay where someday our arms will receive our brethren who have also fought a valiant battle. And in all of this, we must remain humble as Our Lady.

  65. Gerard,

    You wrote:

    “Having just suffered through a papal liturgy that while being less disjointed and horrifying than the JPII papal masses, it was still a travesty as far as offering the sacrifice of Calvary. Hooting and hollering and chanting the Pope’s name like it was the old Arsenio Hall show and then the Pope stands and sings, “Credo in Unum Deum…” and the SSPX is supposed to join in that surrealism?”

    Calling the Papal Liturgy which I witnessed this morning here in Tokyo on-line a “travesty” is an exercise in dramatics. Apart from some of the music (which WAS a travesty in terms of the choice or selection), it was by and large a beautiful and solemn celeration. You overstate the exhuberance of some and project it onto the whole Church as a demonstration of a lack of unity in faith. Perhaps the only thing that is surreal is your judgment that shouting out the Pope’s name is grounds for essential differences in belief.

    You may not recall St. Cyril of Alexandria mentioning the shouts and applause that preachers in the liturgies would receive during their homilies, so moved and inspired did the people feel by their words. The fact that some Catholic New Yorkers get excited that the Successor St. Peter is in Yankee Stadium should be no surprise. I think their total silence would be!

    You then say:

    “Is the SSPX supposed to cooperate in the destructive behaviors by bishops priests and laity off the last 40 years?”

    Who is saying this? I see the great good the Society could do for the vast majority of Latin Catholics worldwide. I also think that full unity with Rome could also do some good for the Society. That’s not just opining, that’s de fide.

    As to your point about the modernists, who knows. To my knowledge, modernists have never consecrated bishops in direct disobedience to the pope’s directive. I believe the day they start doing that, you will see declarations of excommunication coming from Rome.

    In ICXC,

    Gordo

  66. Tom says:

    “I see the great good the Society could do for the vast majority of Latin Catholics worldwide. I also think that full unity with Rome could also do some good for the Society.”

    The opponents of the FSSPX and all that it claims to stand for – and does stand for in the eyes of its enemies (which should give us a greater generosity towards it) – also see the “great good” and would crush it as they have crushed so many so often who have stood up or just peeped out for Tradition and the Traditional Catholic Faith or even just asked that the Pope be obeyed or the 1970 Missal faithfully observed.

    I do not question which disobedience (that of the FSSPX or the Modernists) is ‘better’, although I know which I prefer, but I plead for you not to abuse the FSSPX for being cautious. Their caution is more than justified, even if their position is more than infelicitous.

    Simply put, the FSSPX would not be let do any good and any grace that is to be gained from being ‘well received’ in Rome – and let us remember that they are not in schism – would surely be more than countered by the direct, daily, disastrous attacks by the men into whose hands they had put themselves for the sake of outward peace.

    Even Disraeli wouldn’t embrace the College of Bishops!

  67. RichR says:

    This dialog is very enlightening. I have been reading about the SSPX controversy, but I am not convinced that their approach is justified. I cannot understand how they can both affirm and deny the Pope’s jurisdiction in their order. As an example, HH makes a legitimate change to the Good Friday prayer, but the SSPX refuses to accept this (yet they accept the changes made to the Mass by Pope Pius to Holy Week and Pope John XXIII to Good Friday and to the Canon itself). If even on this simple legislation the Society refuses to let the Pope exercise jurisdiction, then it is obvious that their “allegiance” to the Holy See is shallow at best – a facade at worst.

  68. Ottaviani says:

    Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. The SSPX have said that the Ordinary Form of the Mass is not valid. By saying this they have acted against the infallible teaching of the Church regarding her infallibility and indefectibility as noted above. Why? Because what is required for a valid Mass is valid matter, form, and proper intention. As long as these are present, the Sacrifice is offered and the Mass is valid. This the Church has ever taught.

    This is absolutely not true. Archbishop Lefebrve made all candidates for the priesthood before ordination, swear an oath of allegiance to the Pope that they would never accept the false sedevacantist argument and that they would recognise the validity of all the sacraments celebrated in the reformed rite of Paul VI, even if they did not accept it’s sanctity in comparison to the traditional rites of the church. I have never heard any SSPX priest say the New Mass is invalid. To insinuate so, is unjust calumny. [TONE IT DOWN. It could simply be a statement made without knowing as many facts as you know. I don’t want this sort of thing entering the combox at this point.]

  69. Barbara Rickman says:

    Time for the laity inside the SSPX to rise up and say to their leadership ENOUGH ALREADY!! “It’s time to go home” These laity that want reunion with the Holy See have to start shouting and make themselves heard. The longer the SSPX is outside the safety of Rome, imperfect as it is, the greater their chances of staying outside. Look at what has happened to those who stayed away from HOME. History is a great storyteller on that score!

    bjr

  70. Mark says:

    Epistemology, epistemology, epistemology.

    I think that this is really the problem. This is also what is often being discussed when we hear complaints of the modern Church being “modernist”.

    Since Vatican II, we have heard a lot about “nuancing”. This seems to mean that different true statements carry different weight. This in turn implies that various statements cannot stand on their own.

    Note what was stated above:
    “For them, it’s all a simple matter of “handing down what was received” without alteration. A Catholic of right mind, they would insist, believes unflinchingly and asserts without apologies the things asserted for centuries, in the conceptual language that has been used for centuries, that of Thomist realism and the traditional Roman liturgy”.

    I don’t think that we can address these issues of SSPX without addressing philosophy, especially epistemology and philosophy of language.

    E.g. How can the Church clearly affirm the truth and condemn error on the one hand, and on the other, allow different philosophies to go on finding different ways of defining what it means to “accept,” “believe in,” and “follow” the teaching of the Church. (and these philosophies are being applied within theology)

    Again, depending on your epistemology, you will have a different notion of what it means for doctrine to “develop,” what it means to say a “dogma is infallible,” and what it means to say that two propositions (in two historical situations) do, or do not “contradict” each other.

    This is a serious issue. Of course the Church has addressed some of these questions previously…but now we say that even those rulings were not infallible and that they must be nuanced and seen as historically conditioned and based upon incomplete information. (It seems a bit circular) This is a serious problem, and the Church doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to lay if fully to rest with authoritarian rulings.

    It is precisely the insistence on realism and the irreformability of doctrine as being part and parcel with being Catholic that seems to make the SSPX unique among various groups in the Church today (though I think FSSP and IBP would take a similar approach on many issues).

    The below is just food for thought:

    I don’t have a lot of experience with Society priests but I would have to ask the question:

    Does the Society want to be another voice among the many? Does its interpretation of Church teaching and truth suggest that the very tolerance of many voices is a manifestation of the very errors it wants to reject? (note I am only asking a question and do not want to assert that I am any authority on the views of SSPX, and I am certainly not claiming that they reject diversity of theological emphases altogether, such as between Franciscan and Thomist schools).

    If the above were true (and I am not asserting that it is), then it would seem possible that a group like IBP would hold that being one voice among many would allow the light of truth to dispel the darkness of error (in the other voices and eventually the multiplicity itself). On the other hand, SSPX might argue that being one of the many is itself something that blocks the ability to shed the light of truth. (…neither am I saying that they are or are not in the Church.)

    I hope they will regularize and I pray for them…but I must say, what a mess of a situation the modern world and theology are in! (I must also say that I have great hope that their regularization will be a source of clarification for the whole Church…I just hope it happens…)

  71. Rafael Cresci says:

    Original version:

    Lettre aux Amis et Bienfaiteurs n°72 – Avril 2008 –

    Chers Amis et Bienfaiteurs,

    Le Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum qui a reconnu que la messe tridentine n’avait jamais été abrogée pose un certain nombre de questions en ce qui concerne le futur des relations de la Fraternité Saint-Pie X avec Rome. Plusieurs personnes, dans les milieux conservateurs et à Rome même, ont fait entendre leurs voix arguant que, le Souverain Pontife ayant posé un acte d’une si grande générosité, et donné par là même un signe évident de bonne volonté à notre égard, il ne resterait à notre Société qu’une seule chose à faire : « signer un accord avec Rome ». Malheureusement quelques-uns de nos amis se sont laissés prendre à ce jeu d’illusions.

    Nous voudrions saisir l’occasion de cette lettre du temps pascal pour rappeler une fois de plus les principes qui gouvernent notre action en ces temps troublés et signaler quelques événements récents qui indiquent bien clairement que, au fond, à part l’ouverture liturgique du Motu Proprio, rien n’a vraiment changé, afin de tirer les conclusions qui s’imposent.

    Le principe fondamental qui dicte notre action est la conservation de la foi, sans laquelle nul ne peut être sauvé, nul ne peut recevoir la grâce, nul ne peut être agréable à Dieu, comme le dit le Concile Vatican I. La question liturgique n’est pas première, elle ne le devient que comme expression d’une altération de la foi et corrélativement du culte dû à Dieu.

    Il y a un changement notable d’orientation dans le Concile Vatican II par rapport à la vision de l’Eglise, surtout par rapport au monde, aux autres religions, aux Etats, mais aussi par rapport à elle-même. Ces changements sont reconnus par tous, mais ne sont pas évalués de la même manière par tous. Jusqu’ici, ils étaient présentés comme très profonds, révolutionnaires : « la Révolution de 89 dans l’Eglise » a pu dire un des cardinaux du Concile.

    Benoît XVI encore cardinal présentait la question ainsi : « Le problème des années soixante était d’acquérir les meilleures valeurs exprimées de deux siècles de culture “libérale”. Ce sont en fait des valeurs qui, même si elles sont nées en dehors de l’Eglise, peuvent trouver leur place – épurées et corrigées – dans sa vision du monde. C’est ce qui a été fait [1] ». Et au nom de cette assimilation, une nouvelle vision du monde et de ses composants a été imposée : une vision fondamentalement positive, qui a dicté non seulement un nouveau rite liturgique, mais aussi un nouveau mode de présence de l’Eglise dans le monde, beaucoup plus horizontal, plus présente aux problèmes humains et terrestres que surnaturels et éternels…

    En même temps, la relation aux autres religions se transformait : depuis Vatican II, Rome évite tout jugement négatif ou dépréciateur de ces autres religions. Par exemple, la dénomination classique de « fausses religions » a complètement disparu du vocabulaire ecclésiastique. Les termes « hérétiques » et « schismatiques », qui qualifiaient les religions plus proches de la religion catholique, ont eux aussi disparu ; ils sont éventuellement utilisés, surtout celui de schismatique, pour nous désigner. Ainsi en est-il du terme « excommunication ». La nouvelle approche se nomme œcuménisme, et contrairement à ce que tous croyaient, ce n’est pas d’un retour à l’unité catholique qu’il s’agit, mais de l’établissement d’une nouvelle sorte d’unité qui ne requiert plus de conversion.

    Envers les confessions chrétiennes s’est établie une nouvelle perspective, et cela est encore plus clair avec les orthodoxes : dans l’accord de Balamand, l’Eglise catholique s’engage officiellement à ne pas convertir les orthodoxes et à collaborer avec eux. Le dogme « hors de l’Eglise pas de salut » rappelé dans le document Dominus Jesus a connu une réinterprétation nécessaire à la nouvelle vision des choses : on n’a pu maintenir ce dogme sans élargir les limites de l’Eglise, ce qui a été réalisé par la nouvelle définition de l’Eglise donnée dans Lumen Gentium. L’Eglise du Christ n’est plus l’Eglise catholique, elle subsiste en elle. On a beau dire qu’elle ne subsiste qu’en elle, il reste que l’on prétend à une action du Saint Esprit et de cette « Eglise du Christ » hors de l’Eglise catholique. Les autres religions ne sont pas privées d’éléments de salut… Les « églises orthodoxes » deviennent d’authentiques églises particulières dans lesquelles s’édifie « l’Eglise du Christ. »

    Ces nouvelles perspectives ont évidemment bouleversé les rapports avec les autres religions. Il est impossible de parler d’un changement superficiel, c’est bien une nouvelle et très profonde mutation que l’on prétend imposer à l’Eglise de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ. Ce qui fait que Jean-Paul II a pu parler de « nouvelle ecclésiologie », admettant un changement essentiel dans cette partie de la théologie qui traite de l’Eglise. Nous ne comprenons tout simplement pas comment l’on peut prétendre que cette nouvelle compréhension de l’Eglise serait encore en harmonie avec la définition traditionnelle de l’Eglise. Elle est nouvelle, elle est radicalement autre et elle oblige le catholique à avoir un comportement foncièrement différent avec les hérétiques et schismatiques qui ont tragiquement abandonné l’Eglise et bafoué la foi de leur baptême. Ils ne sont désormais plus des « frères séparés », mais des frères qui « ne sont pas en pleine communion »… et nous sont « profondément unis » par le baptême dans le Christ, d’une union inamissible… La dernière mise au point de la Congrégation de la Doctrine de la Foi sur le mot subsistit est à ce propos très éclairante. Tout en affirmant que l’Eglise ne peut pas enseigner de nouveauté, elle confirme la nouveauté introduite au Concile…

    De même pour l’évangélisation : le devoir sacré de tout chrétien de répondre à l’appel de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ est d’abord affirmé, « Allez par tout le monde, et prêchez l’Evangile à toute créature. Celui qui croira et sera baptisé, sera sauvé ; celui qui ne croira pas, sera condamné. [2] » Mais il est ensuite allégué que cette évangélisation ne concerne que les païens, et ainsi, ni les chrétiens, ni les juifs ne sont concernés… Tout récemment les cardinaux Kasper et Bertone, au sujet de la controverse sur la nouvelle prière pour les Juifs, ont affirmé que l’Eglise ne les convertirait pas.

    Ajoutons à cela les positions papales au sujet de la liberté religieuse et nous pouvons aisément conclure que le combat de la foi n’a en rien diminué ces dernières années. Le Motu Proprio qui introduit une espérance de changement vers le mieux au niveau liturgique, n’est pas accompagné par des mesures logiquement corrélatives dans les autres domaines de la vie de l’Eglise. Tous les changements introduits au Concile et dans les réformes post-conciliaires que nous dénonçons, parce que l’Eglise les a précisément déjà condamnés, sont confirmés. Avec la différence que désormais, on affirme en même temps que l’Eglise ne change pas… ce qui revient à dire que ces changements seraient parfaitement dans la ligne de la Tradition catholique. Le bouleversement au niveau des termes joint au rappel que l’Eglise doit rester fidèle à sa Tradition peuvent en troubler plus d’un. Tant que les faits ne corroborent pas l’affirmation nouvelle, il faut conclure que rien n’a changé dans la volonté de Rome de poursuivre les orientations conciliaires, malgré quarante années de crise, malgré les couvents dépeuplés, les presbytères abandonnés, les églises vides. Les universités catholiques persistent dans leurs divagations, l’enseignement du catéchisme reste une inconnue alors que l’école catholique n’existe plus comme spécifiquement catholique : c’est devenu une espèce éteinte…

    Voici pourquoi la Fraternité Saint-Pie X ne peut pas « signer d’accord ». Elle se réjouit franchement de la volonté papale de réintroduire le rite ancien et vénérable de la sainte Messe, mais découvre aussi la résistance parfois farouche d’épiscopats entiers. Sans désespérer, sans impatience, nous constatons que le temps d’un accord n’est pas encore venu. Cela ne nous empêche pas de continuer d’espérer, de continuer le chemin défini dès l’an 2000. Nous continuons de demander au Saint-Père l’annulation du décret d’excommunication de 1988, car nous sommes persuadés que cela ferait le plus grand bien à l’Eglise et nous vous encourageons à prier pour que cela se réalise. Mais il serait très imprudent et précipité de se lancer inconsidérément dans la poursuite d’un accord pratique qui ne serait pas fondé sur les principes fondamentaux de l’Eglise, tout spécialement sur la foi.
    La nouvelle croisade du Rosaire à laquelle nous vous appelons, pour que l’Eglise retrouve et reprenne sa Tradition bimillénaire, appelle aussi quelques précisions. Voici comment nous la concevons : que chacun s’engage à réciter un chapelet à une heure assez régulière du jour. Vu le nombre de nos fidèles et leur répartition dans le monde entier, nous pouvons être assurés que toutes les heures du jour et de la nuit auront leurs voix vigilantes et orantes, de ces voix qui veulent le triomphe de leur Mère céleste, l’avènement du Règne de Notre Seigneur, « sur la terre comme au ciel ».

    + Bernard Fellay

    Menzingen, le 14 avril 2008

    [1] Mensuel Jesus, novembre 1984, p. 72.

    [2] Mc, 16, 15-16.

    date : 19/4/2008

  72. CPKS says:

    I’d like to raise one note of caution. The SSPX is not the monolithic organization Catholics would tend to assume. [A good reminder. Thanks.] There is an extraordinary range of views. What is common is tremendous conviction and commitment – much of it perhaps proceeding from a sense (not absent among the mainstream Catholic laity) that a lot of bishops seem to regard the desire for worthy worship as a vicious character defect punishable by a lifetime of liturgical torment!

    There are some elements within the society who would dismiss Newman as a modernist, and indeed give the impression that no pope has said anything worthwhile since the publication of the Syllabus Errorum. Society publications frequently use arguments from association (e.g., find a heretical existentialist, condemn existentialism, and then, by quasi-inference, condemn anyone who is an existentialist or knows a friend of a friend of an existentialist). At least until recently, internally circulated SSPX newsletters referred to the Catholic Church as “newChurch” and the Novus Ordo as the “New Mess”, and so on. For those who are familiar with the extreme tensions within contemporary Anglicanism in the USA, it would not I think be unfair to characterize the horror and contempt that some society members feel for mainstream Catholicism as similar to that felt by traditional Anglicans for the more extreme gay-marriage contingent in the Episcopalian church, i.e. it’s a different religion. Some SSPX priests counsel their flocks never to receive communion at a Novus Ordo Mass.

    Many of these extreme positions would be deplored by other, moderate, adherents.

    I take the view that if ever a “deal” were worked out, then the SSPX would split. I think the mainstream Church could easily have avoided this tragedy, but because of post-Vatican II intransigence on the part of those possessed by its malign “spirit”, the opportunity was lost. I hope and pray that the majority can and will be reconciled. The descendants of the rest will be still going strong in 2108, still dressed in the style of the 1950s, just as they are today. And their women won’t go to no stinkin’ university.

  73. Tom says:

    Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R wrote: “Tom, to answer your question, being in full communion is not just about how a priest (or bishop) celebrates holy Mass. The SSPX and Bishop Rifan may have celebrated the Mass with reverence, attention, and devotion. But, they set up “parallel” churches outside the construct of the Roman Church. What they did, they did in opposition to Rome, not with Rome. The SSPX have said that the Ordinary Form of the Mass is not valid.”

    Father, I appreciate your point that a priest may offer the Holy Mass with reverence while being in schism…such as the Eastern Orthodox.

    The problem, Father, is that various priests, theologians and even lay Catholics who wield power within dioceses and parishes are considered in “full communion” with the Church despite their espousal of unorthodox teachings.

    As Josef Cardinal Ratzinger (our Pope) declared, “many priests” destroyed the Mass and parishes. Father, that goes far beyond the point that you made (although I appreciate your point).

    There are “full communion” priests, for example, who are permitted to perform baptismal rites invalidly.

    Many holy Catholics have fled to SSPX chapels to receive the orthodox Catholic Faith.

    Something is terribly wrong when SSPX holy priests are viewed as “outcasts”…while “full communion” priests are permitted to ruin souls.

    At any rate, Father, it’s difficult for anybody to argue that Catholics should avoid SSPX chapels when various “full communion” parishes shipwreck the Mass and souls.

  74. CPKS says:

    Having just seen the French original, I don’t think the Fellay letter is alleging that anyone in Rome has actually asked the SSPX to “sign an agreement”. Rather, it is a figure of speech like “doing a deal”, and the question it raises is wholly hypothetical. Really, this letter seems to be saying “we’re not yet ready to ‘do a deal'”. It’s not a “non serviamus”. It’s saying that there are a lot of unresolved issues, and the Motu Proprio, wonderful though it was, has not actually had any appreciable practical effect.

    This letter could be just a matter of rallying the restive troops, and quelling possible rumours of deals behind closed doors, rather than signalling any sort of hardening of position (which was pretty hard two years ago).

    The French bishops probably won’t construe it as an olive branch.

  75. Fr. Steve says:

    Can someone help me out? I still don’t understand their differentiation between VII being a “pastoral council” and all others that came before being “doctrinal councils” which all the faithful are bound to follow. It seems a differentiation of necessity for convienance sake. Were all previous councils not pastoral? Was not the council of Trent pastoral in nature when it defined true doctrine against the heritics? Has there ever been any such distinction of Church councils in the tradition of the Church? And if there isn’t any such on going pressedint, how could they claim to be upholders of tradition?

  76. Geoffrey says:

    One Christmas I received an SSPX prayer book titled “Christian Warfare.” It contains many wonderful prayers and devotions. However, there are two items that should be considered:

    1. In the Examination of Conscience in the section on Devotions for Confession, under the Third Commandment, one finds this for reflection: “Have you attended and actively participated in the ‘New Mass’? Have you received Holy Communion in the hand?” [Something in the back of my mind suggests that this was also on some website once hosted by the SSPX. But, unless I am mistaken, it was repudiated. Someone will know the details, I am sure.]

    First of all, my answers would be (1) “All the time” and (2) “I used to.” Now these are NOT sins that need to be confessed, however it would appear that the SSPX thinks so. This is cause for concern. The Pope and even Fr. Z have “actively participated in the ‘New Mass’”. Apparently, the SSPX feels this is a sin that needs to be confessed! Communion in the hand is a problem, but technically legal for right now.

    2. In the section on the Third Order of the SSPX, there is a special Examination of Conscience for members. One item for reflection is: “Am I truly grateful to the inestimable gift of the True Holy Mass given to us directly from Archbishop Lefebvre through the priesthood he has perpetuated?”

    This one is very disturbing to me…

  77. Maureen says:

    The sad thing is this:

    If the SSPX would sign an agreement with the Church, it’s very likely that they’d soon be bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and smug, whereas their “episcopate” enemies would be gnashing their teeth. Staying separate is not achieving their goals; they’ve run as far as they can as independents. The road from here on out is toward stagnation (boring) or just going further and further away from Mother Church (creepy — just look at the Old Catholics, ordaining Sinead O’Connor!).

    Reconciliation en masse means that the SSPX will have power and influence in the Church. It provides the Pope’s “Marshall Plan” with personnel at just the right moment – personnel who will get to do exactly what they say they’ve wanted to do. And it means your enemies have to make nicey. I don’t see a downside for them here, honestly.

    Oh, well. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

  78. At this point let me remind people that

    SHORT comments are really GOOD!

    Also, I got an amusing note from a reader about the threats I breathed at the top, which I share with you.

    “I will not only delete comments, I will probably ban the person even from reading the blog by blocking his IP address(es).”



    In a humorous vein, in the blogosphere this is truly “excommunication”!

    LOL!  Yes, I guess it is. And it is remedial, reversable under the usual conditions.

  79. Matt Q says:

    I read the Dici posting of the French letter and it says a lot more than what people may want to hear. The reason outlined for not signing any accord is not just because “their way” is being ignored. Rome has been taking its sweet time when the SSPX has been asking for clarification in various areas. There was also mention of many kind gestures Rome has made. In the end, if Rome isn’t in a hurry, there is no reason for the SSPX to be also. This is why Archbishop Fellay said they can wait. This non-signature doesn’t mean everything is over, but just a set-back.

    In this case, I’m glad but disappointed at the same time they didn’t sign. If they believe they are not ready, they are not ready. I do find it disagreeable many get self-righteous with the SSPX but say nothing of the actual Schismatics–the Orxthodox and their related branches. Why should the SSPX rush to sign an accord with Rome but no one makes any assertions about the Orthodox?

    From what we have seen about Summorum Pontificum and the alleged Clarifications, I don’t see why there should be any anger towards the SSPX. On face value, it seems Rome cannot seem to be definitive within the Church let alone outline something for another entity. Perhaps Father Z can add more to this, as he knows some SSPX members personally and would have a greater understanding of their position.

    Sorrow and disappointment, of course, but not anger. We wish we knew the fuller extent of the points of contention to get a better understanding of this matter.

  80. Hermione says:

    “I have good will toward many of the individual priests. I have a measure of respect for the great work of Archbp L in Africa and also for many of his aspirations. However, being steeped as I am in the Fathers, I have a horror of schism. I know that Card. Castrillon is not using this word and has moved away from it. Fine. But I really struggle, friends, with the “Duck Argument” on this one. What I see is a group of people trying to tell three Pontiffs, by now, how things are going to be before they will consent to “agree… submit… obey” (pick a word). I really struggle with that. I am also eager for the contribution those of good will could make within manifest unity.”

    There are those in full communion who “struggle” (your word not mine) to “agree… submit… obey” – a point the Holy Father made in one of his sermons, I think it was to the seminarians.

    The SSPX complaint is not with 3 (or should that be 4?) successive popes but with the curia whose sincerity and fidelity to the Supreme Pontiff they have reason (and even evidence) to doubt.

    Fellay’s assertion is that it will take 70 years (asserted elswhere but hinted at in this letter) to resolve their differences i.e. 1970 + 70. I suspect this resolution will take the form of another council. Or that council will begin the normalisation process.

    The Pope has for the first time in public spoken of “disappointment” and “Vatican II” in the same breath, a point you make in your excellent commentaries/annotations. Slowly but surely, this genre of remark will become more common place. Even the “Catholics Come Home” website, to my astonishment, includes “Goodbye Good Men” in its reading list!

    The worm is turning. Whether you like it or not, struggle though you might, you are now part of that process. You are cleaning house and in a position to the offer the most beautiful of all invitations: SSPX come home!

  81. Larry says:

    The thing that has always concerned me about the SSPX is the way the problems keep compounding themselves. In the first place the excommunication was for disobeying Pope John Paul II by consecrating new bishops, correct? So that is the main issue that got them in hot water. But before that could be resolved they seem to have begun acting as a sort of Church in exile, decrying most of the documents of V2. This gets even more complicated by the fact that the rest of the Church labored for years under what can only be discribed the dillusional spirit of V2. My question is this are the SSPX people opposed to the “actual” documents or this “spiritualized” version of the documents or both?

    At the same time they continue to raise new issues. The observation that they are not monolithic is correct and further complicates the issue. It seems to me that it has become a many headed monster over which no one really has control in spite bishop Fellay’s supposed postion of authority.

    Furthermore to grant what they seek is to undermine the very understanding of the teaching authority of the Church. Such that if they won the day it would point to an error in the teaching office which is impossible. The solution lies in humility. It seems to me that Rome has bent about as far as it can. As we move further down the line the waiting may lead to in the direction of a much harsher attitude in Rome than is currently be offered.

  82. markamdg says:

    “I want to be Catholic, but I won’t acknowledge the Holy Father, the Magisterium or the Council.”

    Read- I want to be on the Olympic swim team, but I won’t jump in the water.

  83. Andy says:

    OK, I’m not (F)SSPX and I think to be truly Catholic they should recognize Pope’s authority. However, there is one thing raised in these comments that I agree with – total lack of clarity of the message on the part of the Pope and the Church. Benedict XVI is much better at speaking understandably than John Paul II, but still his addresses require comments and analysis while they should not unless he is addressing a conference of theologians. A good and worrying example is his recent address to Jews on the meeting with them in Washington (somehow not mentioned on WDTPRS and other trads blogs)[official text here], where he equals the Passover to Easter and basically seems to suggest that they have their own path to salvation that does not include Christ. In any case he falls short of saying clearly: there is no salvation outside of Christ, there is no salvation outside of the Church.

    Why can’t the Vicar of Christ say those few simple yet utterly important things clearly and without leaving any room for doubt? This is something that troubles me greatly and something that I don’t understand. Why can’t he? Could someone explain this to me?

    I don’t know about (F)SSPX leadership but as to their lay supporters I can understand their longing for some clarity at last from the Church and its leadership.

  84. David2 says:

    I think that it is important to note (as did a commentator above) that the SSPX is not a monolithic organization. The society manages to embrace Bishop Williamson and his “groupies”, as well as any number of individuals who are much closer to the Catholocism espoused by groups in full communion with the Holy See. The Society has experienced its own “schisms”, with sedevacantist groups being expelled, and other groups and individual priests returning to full communion at the prompting of their own consciences. I suspect the reconciliation process will be painful to them, and will involve more such discord.

    Second, it is not particularly apposite to compare the Econe consecrations with unorthodox teaching in ordinary parishes. Archbishop L did something that he clearly recognized would incur a latae sententiae excommunication (listen to his sermon at the consecrations of the bishops – it is clear he well knew that he was going into schism). The unorthodox in parishes are often naive, or misguided, or uninformed, or just plain stupid. Sometimes they are defiant, but, excommunicating for heresy these days entails patient engagement with the CDF, with a view to correcting errors – which after all, are “disordered” ways of thinking – rarely open juridical defiance – if that distinction makes sense. Only when unorthodoxy is defiant and recalcitrant does the Holy See wield the big stick. Nobody ever said that Archbishop L was teaching error – rather he refused obedience in a grave “juridical” matter. Might it be useful if heresy was policed with more Tridentine zeal? You betcha. Might that also result in hardening of divisions and the loss of souls? Certainly, which, I suspect, is one reason why the Vatican treads with care. I hope that rambling discourse made at least a little sense!

    Finally, I think that the Society’s bishops and priests have spent so long outside the barque of Peter that returning to filial obediance will be very hard for them. In this way they are like an adult who has lived independently and then returns to live with his parents. There will be great reluctance to defer, and there will be tensions and gnashing of teeth. How ever much lip-service is given to the Society’s Catholicism, they have been in practice their own Church for 20 years – returning will require enormous courage and humility – and I wonder whether the current bishops, whose reception of orders was the “final straw” that led to schism – will have those qualities in sufficient quantities to achieve a reconciliation.

    Having said all of that, I’m on the record here as saying that the SSPX should long ago have come back to obedience. The Society should be aware that “the Pope is judged by no-one”. No Catholic can say to the Holy Father, “I will obey you, provided you teach the faith in the following way…”. That is simply not Catholic at all, because it involves sitting in judgment on the Pope. Were the Society to return to obedience, they would find that there is indeed an abundance of freedom to interpret V-II documents consistently with tradition. The longer they delay, the greater the risk that their schism will slowly evolve into full-blown heresy (perhaps sedevacantism, perhaps some variant of the “Old Catholic” heresy – who knows), and then where will they be?

  85. fr. Anselm says:

    I was sorry to read Bp. Fellay’s words. I am afraid that, the way SSPX is going, that most of us will not live to see them reconciled with the Church. This is a great tragedy, especially as conditions are most favourable now for their return. However the spiritual blindness of SSPX to see how important communion with the Vicar of Christ on earth is, is THE main stumbling block to their return to the fold. They should not fool themselves into believing the opposite. They are in very real danger of forming a separate church, a separate religion. Cut off from Peter means, in very real terms, being cut off from Christ. Christ is the good shepherd who cares for all his sheep, even those who have strayed. The priests and laity adhering, in whatever capacity, to SSPX should heed again the words of Pope John Paul II in his Motu proprio ‘Ecclesia Dei’ – ‘…I wish especially to make an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, that they may fulfil the grave duty of remaining united to the Vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church, and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offence against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church’s law(8. Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 1364)’.Unless grave circumstances exist, Catholics can surely not attend their services, in light of Bp. Fellay’s recent and most disappointing words. I am beginning to believe that SSPX is drifting towards the same position of those who, in the 19th century, opposed papal infallibility and became ‘Old Catholics’. I pray that SSPX may see the non-dogmatic Second vatican Council II ‘in the light of tradition’, and see the beauty of many of its teachings which develop from and cannot contract what the Church has always held. May the veil be lifted from their eyes,O Lord.

  86. Wm. Christopher Hoag says:

    “The SSPX is not the monolithic organization Catholics would tend to assume.”

    This is very important to keep in mind!!! Having read the French original of Msgr. Fellay’s letter to friends and benefactors and knowing the SSPX intimately, I believe that the unity of the Society (and her affiliate communities) is much at the heart of Fellay’s comments.

    The SSPX has numerous partisan positions in her ranks, the only unifying principle being a disdain for the new liturgy. Vatican II is accepted in various degrees from a discomfort with certain teachings in DH and GS to an outright rejection of the whole council. Positions on the conciliar and post-conciliar popes vary from love and respect to contempt and hatred. Some clergy and perhaps slightly more laity hold privately to the Cassiacum thesis (sedeprivationism) or sedevacantism. The continental European clergy view the Church and history through the lens of 19th century Catholic reaction to French Revolution. Clergy from other nations have their own particular viewpoints.

    There are some in the movement who desire immediate reconciliation with Rome. Alas, these have become fewer over the years. (N.B.: The Institute of the Good Shepherd comprises many of the original French members of the SSPX.) Others will never reconcile short of divine intervention.

    In many ways the SSPX reflects the diversity of opinion and fluctuations of mood found in her founder, Msgr. Lefebvre. When reads reads through collections of his sermons and writings in the post-conciliar era, two persons seem to emerge–the humble son of Rome and the intransigent rebel. These two faces tend to emerge in reaction to Roman behaviour.

    Let us all pray that this mess may soon be ended, and ecclesial unity be restored!

  87. Patrick says:

    A few considerations…It seems to me that the SSPX has very little to gain by returning. Since they insist that they are not separated from the Church, I don’t see why they would work hard to return.

    1. If they returned it would be under the model of the Society of St. John Vianney (and probably the canonical structure of a personal prelature). That would mean the SSPX bishops would have to pledge their fidelity to the Pope and the teachings of the Church (including Vatican II) and their excommunications would be lifted (NOT declared in error).

    2. The SSPX would need permission from the local ordinary to operate within any diocese (just like Opus Dei). There would be many dioceses that would drag their feet on this and never give them approval.

    3. Many SSPX adherents would not come back with the bishops. They would lose many followers to various independant and sedvacantist chapels.

    4. They would have to stop issuing their own annulments.

    5. Right now the SSPX kind of has the best of both worlds. They can tell everyone “We are truly Catholic” and “We are not excommunicated”, yet at the same time, they have complete autonomy where no ecclesiastical authority can tell them to do anything. They are totally independent and only bound to what they wish.

    Unless the SSPX truly believes that they are schismatic, there is no good reason to put up with all the headaches and difficulties listed above. Surely, they won’t be coming back anytime soon.

  88. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    I would like to add, that perhaps the main problem with the SSPX, is that they do not think that the Vicar of Christ is the reality to whom submission is required for salvation. They insist that “tradition” is the reality to which submission is required for salvation. However, Boniface VIII clearly defined in Unam Sanctam:

    “[W]e declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

    This being said, the Pope has a grave responsibility to govern wisely, and to be someone to whom submission does not require heroic virtue. I do think the Society should have accepted the deal in 1988. If the Pope had betrayed them it would have been his sin, and I do think this betrayal of the Society was not unlikely (JP II was infamous for making promises and backing down under the pressure of the Curial Bureaucracy). Perhaps the martyrdom of the SSPX at the hands of the hierarchy would have obtained the grace necessary to right the Church sooner.

    And this leads to the next main defect in the SSPX, and that is a lack of belief in the providence of God. Anything that happens, happens for a reason, and the world is better off for it. “[W]e know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good” Rom. 8:28. The Church is better off because God allowed the Second Vatican Council to happen, and the New Mass to come. We might not see it in this life, but with faith we know this is true. I believe the liturgy before Vatican II was slowly (maybe even organically) moving towards the New Mass. How many people would have protested if after 100 years of slow change, we wound up with the New Mass. However, because the New Mass was brought into being in a short time, with radical changes, some saw how bad the changes were. This really revived interest and participation in the TLM. Before the Second Vatican Council the liturgies in the US were pretty bad compared to what you get at a FSSP chapel. Gregorian chant was no where to be seen outside of the monasteries and St. Paul’s Church in Boston. The Church in America requested and received an indult so that they could use the liturgy for infant baptism when baptizing a convert. Eventually, (I am hoping in my life) we are going to see the liturgy of the Church fixed, and it will be much better than it was in the 1950s. Are we there yet? of course not. Are things worse in most places than they were in the 1950s? sure. But it is also better in many places. Any chapel run by one of the orders saying the TLM is most likely going to give you better liturgy and doctrine than you would have received at the normal 1950s American parish.

  89. “(In a humorous vein, in the blogosphere this is truly ‘excommunication’!) LOL! Yes, I guess it is. And it is remedial, reversable under the usual conditions.”

    Which are…

  90. Limbo says:

    Huge Sigh !
    I just want to be able to take my family to Mass without fear of harm to the faith of my children. Where I live, Rome is not attending to this very vital need. FSSPX is.
    What is a parent to do ?

  91. RBrown says:

    Now here’s where it gets weird: If the Holy See ripped up the excommunications of the bishops of the SSPX tomorrow, every traditionally minded friend I have would be at one of their chapels the next day. We’ve talked about it at length. If, on the other hand, Cardinal Re had declared the Lincoln excommunications null and void we couldn’t be dragged kicking and screaming into a meeting of CTA, and presumably members of that organization aren’t even excommunicated in my diocese.

    How does that make sense? I really don’t understand and the only way I can sleep nights is to pretend the issue doesn’t exist.
    Comment by boredoftheworld

    I agree that a lot of it doesn’t make sense. The Church right now is fragmented and will be until Latin is pumped into the system.

    And I tend to agree about the SSPX. They own their own property, and so when they are reconciled to Rome, it will mean immediate availability of mass according to the 1962 Missal. IMHO, the stubbornness of the SSPX is hindering the propagation of Latin liturgy.

  92. Patrick says:

    RBrown,

    When they are reconciled they likely won’t be able to secure permission from the local ordinary to operate those chapels. It’s also highly unlikely that Rome would allow the SSPX to operate without regard to the permission of the local bishop. This is probably one of the greatest obstacles to ending the schism.

  93. jacobus says:

    Patrick, I think you are correct. I have a feeling that they would have no problem with full communion with the Holy Father. But that would mean having to submit to a lot of mediocre, tradition-fearing bishops out there.

  94. RBrown says:

    When they are reconciled they likely won’t be able to secure permission from the local ordinary to operate those chapels. It’s also highly unlikely that Rome would allow the SSPX to operate without regard to the permission of the local bishop. This is probably one of the greatest obstacles to ending the schism.
    Comment by Patrick

    Incorrect. NB:

    1. Those properties (e.g., chapels) would not be owned by the diocese.
    2. The chapels would not be manned by diocesan priests but by SSPX priests, and they would be directly under Rome.
    3. SP gives them permission–none would be needed from the local bishop.

    In other words any pressure that a diocesan bishop could bring to bear on one of his pastors or assistants could be exercised on them.

  95. Patrick says:

    The only way they’ll come back is if Rome gives them complete freedom to operate anywhere they desire. There is NO WAY Rome would ever give them such freedom, as it would be completely opposed to the traditional concept of jurisdiction. It would circumvent the apostolic power of the local ordinary.

    For this reason, I see the chances of any reconciliation of the whole SSPX as very very slim. More likely, I think we will see an outreach from the Vatican to the SSPX priests in an attempt to bring them in individually. That way, the jurisdiction issue is sidestepped as the priests would enter the FSSP or other traditional group.

  96. RBrown says:

    Should be:

    In other words any pressure that a diocesan bishop could bring to bear on one of his pastors or assistants could NOT be exercised on them.

  97. Patrick says:

    RBrown,

    Rome does not allow organizations to operate without approval of the local ordinary. For instance, Opus Dei owns their own centers but cannot operate in a diocese without the permission from the local ordinary. Same with the FSSP, or Legionaries of Christ. They can’t just buy some land, build a church, and start saying Masses. They must first secure permission of the local bishop to operate in that jurisdiction. Even though they are accountable canonically to the superior (or prelate) of their order, they still must have the blessing of the local ordinary to carry out their work. I don’t see Rome making an exception to this longstanding practice for the SSPX, because it would radically (and untraditionally) undermine the authority of the local bishop.

  98. RBrown says:

    .The only way they’ll come back is if Rome gives them complete freedom to operate anywhere they desire. There is NO WAY Rome would ever give them such freedom, as it would be completely opposed to the traditional concept of jurisdiction. It would circumvent the apostolic power of the local ordinary.

    I suggest you read up on the nature of religious institutes and the foundation of the Dominicans and Franciscans in the Middle Ages.

    By their very nature religious orders of Pontifical Right (i.e., under the pope not the local bishop) have often had a tenuous relationship with local bishops.

    For this reason, I see the chances of any reconciliation of the whole SSPX as very very slim. More likely, I think we will see an outreach from the Vatican to the SSPX priests in an attempt to bring them in individually. That way, the jurisdiction issue is sidestepped as the priests would enter the FSSP or other traditional group.
    Comment by Patrick

    That outreach has already happened with the foundation of the FSSP and other groups.

  99. Jordanes says:

    Fr. Steve said: It seems a differentiation of necessity for convenience sake. Were all previous councils not pastoral? Was not the council of Trent pastoral in nature when it defined true doctrine against the heretics? Has there ever been any such distinction of Church councils in the tradition of the Church?

    Not only that, but it is not true that Vatican II was the first council ever convened without the intention to define doctrine. The 15th oecumenical council, the Council of Vienne (1310-12), was called by the Pope for three reasons, none of them doctrinal or dogmatic: 1) to decide whether or not to suppress the Knights Templars as the King of France wanted, 2) to determine a course of action to help Christians in the Holy Land (i.e. organize another crusade), and 3) to reform the moral of clergy and general Christian morals. It was a purely pastoral and juridical or disciplinary council, issuing no doctrinal or dogmatic definitions or anathemas.

  100. RBrown says:

    Rome does not allow organizations to operate without approval of the local ordinary. For instance, Opus Dei owns their own centers but cannot operate in a diocese without the permission from the local ordinary. Same with the FSSP, or Legionaries of Christ. They can’t just buy some land, build a church, and start saying Masses. They must first secure permission of the local bishop to operate in that jurisdiction. Even though they are accountable canonically to the superior (or prelate) of their order, they still must have the blessing of the local ordinary to carry out their work. I don’t see Rome making an exception to this longstanding practice for the SSPX, because it would radically (and untraditionally) undermine the authority of the local bishop.
    Comment by Patrick

    When Rome wants the local ordinary to give permission, permission will be given.

    The universal authority of the pope is not mitigated by the presence of a local bishop. To put it another way, when a bishop is given jurisdiction over a diocese, the pope does not lose his jurisdiction over the same diocese.

    If the relationship between Rome and the SSPX is regularized, then permission for those houses will be included.

  101. Patrick says:

    RBrown wrote: “I suggest you read up on the nature of religious institutes and the foundation of the Dominicans and Franciscans in the Middle Ages.

    By their very nature religious orders of Pontifical Right (i.e., under the pope not the local bishop) have often had a tenuous relationship with local bishops.”

    Yes, but that was the middle ages. This is now. Rome is not about to give the SSPX permission to operate chapels against the expressed wishes of the local bishop. It simply will not happen.

  102. Patrick says:

    RBrown,

    I am not trying to say that the Holy Father cannot overrule the local jurisdiction of the bishop. Of course, he can. I’m just saying that I find it extremely unlikely that he will. The greatest chance would probably be to give them a “blanket” permission for all existing chapels. Any new one’s though, would certainly need the blessing of the local ordinary.

    All in all, I think we will see a more vigorous recruiting of the SSPX priests. Which might not warm the relationship between the Holy See and the SSPX.

  103. RBrown says:

    Yes, but that was the middle ages. This is now. Rome is not about to give the SSPX permission to operate chapels against the expressed wishes of the local bishop. It simply will not happen.
    Comment by Patrick

    Do you know the difference between Pontifical and Diocesan Right?

    BTW, Rome wants it to happen. That is why a personal prelature is one of the options for the SSPX.

    If Opus Dei wanted to go into a diocese, and the ordinarius loci said no, Rome has the authority to permit it.

  104. Patrick says:

    RBrown wrote: “If Opus Dei wanted to go into a diocese, and the ordinarius loci said no, Rome has the authority to permit it.”

    Yes, Rome could overrule it, but would they???

    Even Opus Dei’s own statutes state: “177S1 For the apostolic labor of the Prelature to begin in any diocess through the canonical erection of the first Center from which collective apostolate can be exercised, the local Ordinary, whose permission is required, preferably given in writing should first be informed.” And also, “172S2 They [All the Christian Faithful of the Prelature] are subject also to the local ordinary by the norm of general law, by the same reason as are other Catholics in his own diocese, according to the prescriptions of this Code.”

    I find it extremely unlikely that Rome would begin overruling local bishops everytime the SSPX wanted to open a new chapel. They don’t (to my knowledge) do that for the FSSP or the ICKSP, so why would they start doing it for the SSPX?

  105. RBrown says:

    I am not trying to say that the Holy Father cannot overrule the local jurisdiction of the bishop. Of course, he can. I’m just saying that I find it extremely unlikely that he will. The greatest chance would probably be to give them a “blanket” permission for all existing chapels. Any new one’s though, would certainly need the blessing of the local ordinary.

    All in all, I think we will see a more vigorous recruiting of the SSPX priests. Which might not warm the relationship between the Holy See and the SSPX.
    Comment by Patrick

    A few points:

    1. Any “blessing” by the ordinarius loci is not juridically necessary.

    2. When the SSPX is reunited with Rome, it will include regularization of their chapels.

    And perhaps most importantly,

    4. BXVI intends to govern the Church.

  106. Patrick says:

    RBrown wrote: “1. Any “blessing” by the ordinarius loci is not juridically necessary.”

    It seems that it is under the Opus Dei statutes. I would imagine other personal prelatures would have similar statutes.

  107. RBrown says:

    Even Opus Dei’s own statutes state: “177S1 For the apostolic labor of the Prelature to begin in any diocess through the canonical erection of the first Center from which collective apostolate can be exercised, the local Ordinary, whose permission is required, preferably given in writing should first be informed.” And also, “172S2 They [All the Christian Faithful of the Prelature] are subject also to the local ordinary by the norm of general law, by the same reason as are other Catholics in his own diocese, according to the prescriptions of this Code.”

    I don’t doubt that is true. But that is Opus Dei, which, as I was told, made liturgical concessions because they wanted to be a personal prelature.

    As I said above, this is a different pope.

    I find it extremely unlikely that Rome would begin overruling local bishops everytime the SSPX wanted to open a new chapel. They don’t (to my knowledge) do that for the FSSP or the ICKSP, so why would they start doing it for the SSPX?
    Comment by Patrick

    Once again: The SSPX already owns properties.

    And again: BXVI intends to govern the Church.

  108. RBrown says:

    It seems that it is under the Opus Dei statutes. I would imagine other personal prelatures would have similar statutes.
    Comment by Patrick

    Why would you assume that?

  109. RBrown says:

    All in all, I think we will see a more vigorous recruiting of the SSPX priests. Which might not warm the relationship between the Holy See and the SSPX.
    Comment by Patrick

    And I know of no example when Rome “recruited” SSPX priests. Rome has, however, made provisions for trad priests, esp groups, who desired re-unification.

  110. Patrick says:

    RBrown,

    I would assume that any personal prelature would be modeled after Opus Dei. Also, I have a hard time believing that the Holy Father would give the SSPX (freshly returned from schism) total freedom to run about the world setting up chapels wherever he wants. That’s my take, you, of course, are welcome to your’s.

  111. David O'Rourke says:

    I have long thought that it is easier to overcome heresy than it is to overcome schism. That is why it is urgent to heal the schism with the SSPX as soon as possible because they will indeed get too accustomed to being their own Church.

    I have never felt that Archbishop Lefebvre was an evil man and Rome is not immune to the sins which cause schisms. It normally takes two to make a schism. I can easily see ways in which the SSPX suffered abuse by various powers in Rome but would the SSPX be as willing to concede that same was no doubt true at the Reformation and with the Great Eastern Schism? Normally fault can be found on both sides.

    So let the discussions begin in an atmosphere of mutual humility, prayer and repentance before the original reasons for the break are forgotten and the split takes on a life of it’s own.

  112. RBrown says:

    I would assume that any personal prelature would be modeled after Opus Dei.

    There’s no reason for you to assume that.

    Also, I have a hard time believing that the Holy Father would give the SSPX (freshly returned from schism) total freedom to run about the world setting up chapels wherever he wants.
    Comment by Patrick

    That was not the issue I raised–I referred to the fact that the SSPX already owns properties.

  113. wayne ratzinger says:

    “Yes, but that was the middle ages. This is now. Rome is not about to give the SSPX permission to operate chapels against the expressed wishes of the local bishop. It simply will not happen.

    Comment by Patrick — 21 April 2008 @ 11:19 am”

    Patrick I’m sure you will recall that Fr Foster (I think that is his name) the Chief Latinist at the Vatican said days before the Motu Proprio was published, that the Pope was not going to free the Mass, and that the Traditional Mass was no good anyway. I think I remember a priest in the Catholic Times (England), which published by the English Hierarchy, writing the same, several days later the Pope frees the Mass.

    The Bishops are doing themselves no favours with their stupid “resistance” to the Mass. Archbishop Lefebvre said “Lets give the Traditional experiment a try” or words to that effect. We can’t even think about that experiment, because Hundreds of Bishops are going to be even more embarrassed than Fr Foster was. The Bishop of Argyle and the Isles, Scotland, is on the front page of the Universe, another English Hierarchy paper this week moaning about the lack of vocations, how did vocations collapse in Scotland ?, who’s fault is it, Not Archbishop Lefebvre that’s for sure.

  114. Patrick says:

    RBrown wrote: “There’s no reason for you to assume that.”

    Well, since Opus Dei is the only other personal prelature, I thought it made sense. Your mileage may vary.

    I addressed your comment about the SSPX existing properties. Perhaps an agreement would include permission to operate existing chapels. New chapels, however, would likely need permission from the local ordinary (see above).

  115. Steve Ruyle says:

    This whole situation is exhausting as can be demonstrated by trying to read and process the 118 comments above this one. God help us. I argue with my brother about this situation all the time. God help us.

  116. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Jordanes,

    You are incorrect about the Council of Vienne. It also condemned the errors of the Beghards and Beguines concerning the State of perfection. So they did condemn certain doctrinal teachings, unlike Vatican II. See Denzinger 471-478.

  117. RBrown says:

    Well, since Opus Dei is the only other personal prelature, I thought it made sense. Your mileage may vary.

    They are two different organizations. Opus Dei is a new organization, anxious to expand, but the expansion of the SSPX is mostly over.

    I addressed your comment about the SSPX existing properties. Perhaps an agreement would include permission to operate existing chapels. New chapels, however, would likely need permission from the local ordinary (see above).
    Comment by Patrick

    Why would the SSPX negotiate with Rome if it didn’t include Papal permission to continue to use their existing properties?

  118. dcs says:

    I addressed your comment about the SSPX existing properties. Perhaps an agreement would include permission to operate existing chapels. New chapels, however, would likely need permission from the local ordinary (see above).

    The SSPX was offered a worldwide apostolic administration in 2000 or 2001, so why would they agree to less (a personal prelature) now? And why would Benedict XVI be less generous to them than John Paul II? No, Opus Dei is not the model — Campos is, except in the case of the SSPX jurisdiction would not be limited to a single diocese. Bp. Rifan does not need permission to build a parish in the Diocese of Campos. Likewise, if the SSPX is regularized they will not need the local ordinary’s permission to run their chapels as they see fit, or to establish new ones.

  119. Jrbrown says:

    Father Bailey,
    Not only can I find three SSPX priests who will say the exact opposite (that the new Mass, as written, is a valid rite of the Church at least in its sacramental effect), but can probably find three bishops who will say, to this day, that SSPX Masses are not valid (not only illicit, but actually invalid). One cannot make an argument against the whole by the example of some.

  120. Richard says:

    What about a Pontifical Institute of Consecrated Life (I think I’ve got the right phrase; groups such as the Oratorians or the new Good Shepherd lot)? Do they need the permission of the local Ordinary to operate?

    As a passing thought; would the SSPX accept a Personal Prelature, since they were instituted by the hated Second Vatican Council?

  121. Patrick says:

    Richard,

    I think generally all entities need permission to operate. Orders, prelatures, societies, etc. all seek permission from the local ordinary before opening chapels, oratories, monasteries, etc. I don’t know that such permission is canonically required (perhaps it is), but it is definitely the way things are done. After all, the bishop is the one who grants the jurisdiction for absolution and marriage, so I would think they would want to be in good graces with the ordinary.

  122. Malta says:

    Fr. Bailey: “…going to an SSPX chapel it is no different from going to an Eastern Orthodox church with the exception that it is a different liturgical tradition.”

    I think PCED and the Pope would disagree with you on this point:

    http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/mershon/070410

  123. Bukowski says:

    I would truly love to read more discussion about the point raised at the head of the comments: the crisis in the Church come from the doctrine of Vatican II, to what degree its teachings are reformable in view of not being infallible, and the possibility of the Holy Father soon judging these questions in his solemn magisterium.

    I think of the canonical trials begun against the Abbe Georges de Nantes in 1967, and his books of accusation against Gianbattista Montini in 1973, Karol Wojtyla in 1983, and the author of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (sic) for heresy in their capacities as private theologians. Had an infallible judgment been rendered, I suspect that much of the terrible agony of these last forty years could well have been averted and shudder to think what is yet to come until a judgment is rendered.

  124. Daniel Latinus says:

    Back in 1988 and in the early 1990s, it seemed to me that most of the more moderate elements either left, or were driven out of, the SSPX. Those who remain are the hardliners. The other thing is that there is now at least one generation of people who have grown up in the SSPX, and for them, the present situation is normal.

    It also seems to me that if the leaders of the SSPX ever did attempt a serious reconciliation with the Church, there would be a breakaway element that would repudiate any reconciliation.

    While I believe in miracles, I think it will take a miracle to reconcile the SSPX.

  125. william says:

    Ubi Petrus Ibi Ecclesia

  126. Malta says:

    Fellay writes that the Vatican continues to have a Vatican II Conciliar “orientation…despite forty years of crisis, despite the deserted convents, the abandoned rectories, the empty churches.” I agree that there is a general malaise in the Church right now, and that it started around the time of Vatican II. However, to blame the crisis wholly on Vatican II is not logical–not that Fellay does that, but he might leave that impression. All faiths have lost their bearings since the 60’s, as well as society in general: Just look at the Episcopalians.

    I think Benedict’s approach to VII is spot on: Demphasize its importance, affirm what is good (and there are many passages in the documents of VII which are finely wrought,) and also, point-out that it is possible that the Church might have been better off if VII had never happened (he did this indirectly), and begin to roll-back the harm which emanated with reformers filled with the “Spirit of Vatican II.”

    There is nothing dogmatic in the documents of VII that wasn’t a dogma before the Council (Even the documents which say, “Dogmatic Constitution,” are not so According to Cardinal Avery Dulles.) Religious liberty and Ecumenism are not dogmas, but the thought of the Church at a given epoch. The 4th Lateran Council, convened by Pope Innocent III in 1215, established that Jews and Muslims in “every Christian province” were required to wear special clothing. The Church certainly changed her mind about that, even though it was prescribed by an ecumenical council. My point is that, in my humble opinion, Rome should not force adherence to the idea of, say, Ecumenism. SSPX, for its part, ought to be very careful that they do not go the way of the Old Catholics, who were tripped up on the idea of Papal Infallibility, which was a dogma; however, there is a vast difference between Papal Infallibility, and the notion of, say, Ecumenism, which is not a dogma of the Church, and thus Her understanding on it could change tomorrow. I think there is stubbornness on both sides. I disagree that Vatican II issues need to be worked-out before an interim regularity is established; I think SSPX should be warmly welcomed back into the Church despite the disagreement over VII, and let them hold to the teachings of the church before VII since VII a) has caused much confusion, b) did not teach new dogma, c) was pastoral in nature.

  127. Arturus says:

    they’re right about the 40 years of desacralization of the chuch liturgical and spiritual life, but i’m agee with you father, that they must seek the unification and submission to the supreme pontiff and not looking the repudiation of the whole councill.These ways that the SSPX are using are not the correct ones.

  128. P Verdun says:

    Mon Fellay’s letter to friends and benefactors #72 English version:
    http://www.sspx.org/superior_generals_ltrs/sup_gen_ltr_72.pdf

  129. Malta: the article you cite does nothing to back up your point. It is also selective in it’s sources.

    Jrbrown: It was made clear to me that this was the official stand of the SSPX.

    Fr. Z.: If you are going to delete comments you should also delete all comments that refer to the one deleted.

  130. D. S. says:

    laudetur JS CHS!

    Thanks to You, Rev. Father and to You bloggers for the fair and civil discussion. I hope that I will also be that fair/civil. (I know my emotionality…)

    But so many points. How to start? (and not having so much time – and space…)

    So:

    (i) The FSSPX, as stated above, does not hold/consider[?] the NOM invalid, if the promulgated form, the right materia and intention is there.

    But the society sates two things:
    First, in many modern Masses there is a danger of not having the right intention or not using the correct form (and – only – therefor invalidity).
    Secondly, even the nOM is not invalid it is morally not correct / not legitime / illicit [I´m German and do not know what is the best English expression]. The main reason for this statement is that the NOM is clearly supporting some heresy, therefor can´t be seen as an authentic Catholic but a more/rather protestant or modernistic rite. It is the outward expression of the modernistical thinking and teaching. Nevertheless NOT intrinsically invalid.
    – I agree with that. For arguments for the fact that the NOM supports/promotes some heresies see my comments on the thread about the Washington D.C. Mass. (Perhaps I can post some of them later also on this site/page.)

    (ii) The FSSPX does submit to the Pope and I can give you proof for that. As stated above by some blogger, there is a difference between obedience and submission, also beteen justified disobedience and unjustified.
    Yes, the society is in many cases disobedient. They – like me – think justified, you might think that unjustified. That can be discussed. But it does not make them schismatics. And, yes, together with this the society gives not many signs of submission.
    So to Your statement, Rev, F. Z.: “…they refuse to offer any sign of submission…” I can only agree that in this case as in many others they do refuse. But I cant´t agree with the “any”. There are some signs of submission, that also indicate that they are not schimatic or at least that they act not totaly like schismatics, like
    # praying for the Pope and the lokal Bishop in the Canon
    # praying for the Pope in many Sacramental ceremonys [? – Sakramentsandachten]
    # on the actual german homepage you find a prayer for Pope Benedikt re aniversary of his election
    # they recognice the new canon law if not offending the faith, f.e. the one-hour-fasting before Communion, albeit teaching the people that the better way is to fast 3 hours. I heard so myselfe in the chapels and also at the great chartres-pilgrimage

    And so on and so for….

  131. D. S. says:

    (iii) I heard it by many of the Society priests, but you can also read it in many statements of them or of the Archbishop himselfe, that they do recognice a development of faith but only in a non-modernistical sense, like stated by Vat.I quoting St. …: “Eodem sensu eademque sententiam” but they refuse the modernistical teaching of dogmatic development and evolution. – They do so rightly.

    (iv)To C.A. Palad (who wrote 20. Apr. 10.33: “The SSPX is able to condemn what it sees as post-Conciliar heresies, errors and innovations emanating from Rome only by interpreting the infallibility and indefectibility of the Church so narrowly as to lose all real meaning…
    then even the decrees of Ecumenical Councils (for Vatican II is admitted even by them to be
    Ecumenical) and the Encyclicals of popes cannot be absolutely trusted to nourish us with orthodox teaching, and must still be scrutinized carefully lest they be purveyors of error and even manifest heresy “)
    or others who stress on the obedience and ifallibility:

    Disobedience can be justified or even a duty, also towards the Pope – read St. Thomas, Bonaventura, Bellarmino, Suarez, and many others.
    There is no doubt about that.

    Also an Ecumenical Council or an encyclical teaching if not claiming for infalibility can be wrong. They are not automatically infallible. There is absolutly no doubt concerning the Ecumenical council and nearly no doubt re the encyclical teaching (i.e. authentic teaching). See some Dogmatics/dogmatical handbooks [I as a German can only quote some German ones – if you don´t believe me I can give You some quotation/citation.]

    And there is absolutly no doubt – in answer to Fr. Steve 20.Apr. 8.39 – that the Vat. II declared itselfe (means Pope/bishops declared so) as only a pastoral one – and Card. Ratzinger did explixitly do so, as most of you know.
    So, yes, it can contain some wrong teaching.

    But, even if it would not be directly wrong or heretic, most of you then seem to draw the wrong conclusion: then the text itselfe is o.k., only wrong interpretation, bad spirit of the council … – no, you oversee that some text can also be seen as “inducens in haeresim”, “haeresi(m) favens/fovens”, haeresim sapiens”, or “temerarius” etc. So at least this would be the right censuration. Remember, that HH Pope Honorius was first condemned as hertic and then later not totaly justified but condemned only as too week in rejecting heresy. But that is also a condemnation.

    So not only heresy is worth of condemnation, but also supporting some heresy, not rejecting some heresy (etc.). Or a text beeing – intended – ambiguous is to be condamned even if not heretic itselfe.

  132. Wessex says:

    The work of the SSPX and independents is a continuation of the Church before it was hijacked by lovers of modern German philosophy. Without exception the hierarchy everywhere is tarred with the same brush including the Ecclesia Dei brigade and its neo-traditionalist schemes. It will take decades for the conciliar church to fade away leaving the church in exile to pick up the pieces.

  133. Antiquarian says:

    “It will take decades for the conciliar church to fade away leaving the church in exile to pick up the pieces.”

    But this is not schismatic… uh, huh.

  134. Malta says:

    ““It will take decades for the conciliar church to fade away leaving the church in exile to pick up the pieces.”

    But this is not schismatic… uh, huh.

    Comment by Antiquarian”

    Ask St. Athanasius if such a scenario is possible.

  135. D.S. says:

    Laudetur JS&Ma!

    To Antiquarian et Malta:

    Yes, St. Athanasius is the right witness. Don´t forget history: we had a very similar case to the actual one:
    A Pope being wrong or not supporting orthodoxy but prmoting heresy, a bishop therefor not following the Pope. The Bishop now is a Saint, the Pope was and is to be blamed.

    And as the church-historicans are convinced: The Pope did excommunicate the bishop – and that was an unjust act, not followed by the Saint. – I can quote you a theological standard work, the Greman version of the “Denzinger”, the “Denzinger-Hünermann”. There you can read in the introduction to some decrees from that time that the historicans do appreciate the testimony of “excoim” as authentic/true.

    But even if there would be a rest of a doubt, at least it shows that church-historicans and theologians do estimate/consider such a szenario as possible and not contradicting faith.

    In CHO per Mam
    D.S.

  136. D.S. says:

    And, in additon to my last comment:

    In response to, as F. Z. somewhere [quoted by memory] wrote: “the old fathers were in great fear of / they shrinked away from all schism.” – Yes, right, but they were in no less fear, or you can say: they were in much greater fear of any heresy, also of only promting heresy or only giving the appearance of doing so.

    So St. Athanasius did not shrike away from giving the appearance of beeing schismatic by not following the Pope and becoming excommunicated by him because of not beeing willing to give even only appearance of promting heresy.

    So that is the case of Archbf. Lef. and his society.

    And I am afraid that most of us have lost this fear of heresy or just of appearance of promoting some heresy. If we would have the eagerness and zeal of the old fathers then we all had to reject f.e. the NOM profoundly, like the society does, because it is promoting and at very least seems to promote/gives the appearance to promote heresy. – I argued for that on the thread of Washington D.C. Mass, see there!

    I think there can be no doubt what the old fathers would do now: they would be totaly upset and shocked of the thousands of heresies and temerarious teachings and the weeknes of the Popes and bishops in rejecting them – if not promoting them! And they would rather have less contact to the bishops and the Pope and much less be afraid of beeing seen as schsmatcis than the FSSPX does and is.

    They would shout: hold off from this bishops and Popes as long as they do not reject all the errors with all their strength; and pray for them – but do not give the slightes sign that can be interpretated as supporting of them resp. the errors tolerated or promoted by them.

    If you know some church history I think that is out of any doubt.

    So let´s pray for our Holy Father and the bishops (but not compromise in our behavioure and not loose zeal for the truth like the old Christians had)!

    In CHo per Mam
    D.S.

  137. Jordanes says:

    D.S., from what I can tell, the case of St. Athanasius and Pope Liberius is nowhere near as cut-and-dried as you seem to be presenting it. The istorical sources are confusing and contradictory as to whether Pope Liberius really approved St. Athanasius’ unjust and invalid excommunication. Certainly the Arians and semi-Arians claimed Liberius had agreed to the condemnation, and certainly St. Athanasius believed that he had approved it, but then communication in those days was slow and often unreliable, and the Arians and semi-Arians apparently circulated some spurious letters of Pope Liberius too. Of course even if Pope Liberius did approve the excommunication, as there was duress, a struggle against an antipope, and a threat of exile from a meddling heretic emperor, and as it arose through the machinations of heretics conspiring against St. Athanasius at an invalid council, the excommunication was invalid in any case. That situation bears no resemblance at all to that of Msgr. Lefebvre and the SSPX bishops, whose excommunications are unquestionably valid and obviously just.

  138. I am not Spartacus says:

    The 0SPX is clearly an annealed schism. It has calcified into an abomination and its leaders teach heretical ideas; that the Jews as a race are cursed; that an Ecumenical Council taught heresy; that the normative Mass is evil.

    To think their ideas are “traditional” all that would be necessary is for faithful Christian Catholics to believe the Jesus was a liar when he established His Church as the Pillar and Ground of Truth and sent the Holy Spirit upon it to teach it all truth.

    Schisms always judge the Church Jesus established. What the sspx has done, while lamentable, is nothing new. Ecumenical Councils always trail in their wake schism, heretics, cranks, and lunatics.

    What is interesting to me is the extent to which the sspx has adopted the ideology of the liberals. They may think themselves “traditional” but they are quite liberal and specialise in private judgment and refusal to submit to legitimate authority.

    They are this Council’s Old Catholics and because antisemitism is the rennin binding their schism together their is no chance this Pope will reconcile them to the Church.

    I think the sspx puts out these statements as agitprot to keep their supporters standing on the shoals of schism. They are afraid their members will reboard the Barque of Peter and they will be left with an ever dwindling number of supporters.

    The sspx has rhetorically painted itself into a corner from which it can not logically escape. Everyone knows they can not rescind any of their doctrinal ideas (their members would revolt) and everyone knows Rome will not, can not, accept their doctrinal ideas.

  139. Antiquarian says:

    “The Pope did excommunicate the bishop – and that was an unjust act, not followed by the Saint.”

    Apropos of the SSPX’s position on the excommunications, did anyone catch the coverage of the “protest mass” said by the women who were “ordained” and have been excommunicated? One of them said flatly that the excommunication was unjust and therefore not valid– and that she is in no way excommunicated.

    Just like the SSPX bishops.

  140. Geoffrey says:

    It should be no surprise. In the history of the Church, has anyone who was officially excommunicated said “yes, I am excommunicated”? Currently, the SSPX bishops, Archbishop Milingo, and women “priests” all deny the reality of excommunication, which is a denial of authority and of the Church.

  141. Malta says:

    Antiquarian and Geoffrey: but the Vatican has not said that women “priests” offer valid sacraments (at least the Eucharist) as they have said about SSPX, so the comparison is flawed.

    I am not Spartacus: yours is a veritable rant against a society containing many fine priests and parishioners-in fact, some of the best I have met; your comment that “antisemitism is the rennin binding their schism together,” is a spurious, libelous charge. Are you not aware that the Church is in a crisis of unprecedented proportions, and that the driving force behind SSPX (whether they are right or wrong) is to maintain the last vestiges of Tradition in the barren landscape of the modern Church? I have been to too many masses that would have horrified the Church Fathers and Saints to think their, SSPX’s, claims are without any merit.

  142. Patrick says:

    Malta,

    So the end justifies the means, eh?

    SSPX aren’t nice, good, holy guys. Nice, good, holy guys don’t go around committing mortal sin everytime they confect the Holy Eucharist.

  143. Malta says:

    Patrick,

    I don’t think SSPX priests “confect” the Holy Eucharist, but, rather, pray the Unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass. It is as valid, or more valid than some Ordinary Form parishes (yes, it is possible to invalidly “confect” the Eucharist in the OF). I think most SSPX priests and parishioners are “nice, good, holy guys.” They are trying to live the Roman Catholic Faith the best way they can in the modern, often-modernistic, Church.

    Last fall, when I took my kids to Disney Land, I actually worshipped at an SSPX Chapel for the first time in Phoenix, because I felt I could be sure I would receive a valid Eucharist and a good homily there. It was a tremendous, wonderful mass. I decided to take my family there because in the past I had been to Mass in Sedona, AZ, and was horrified, and decided I would never subject my family to such an abomination again. I want to raise my children as Roman Catholics, not in some other religion, and I’m not being judgmental, but plainly, objectively, truthful.

  144. David O'Rourke says:

    Patrick, SSPX priests do “confect” the Eucharist. By definition, to confect a sacrament is to do what is necessary to produce a valid sacrament.

    Also, the unbloody sacrifice is offerred, not merely prayed.

  145. David O'Rourke says:

    Sorry, I meant to address the above comment to Malta, Not Patrick.

  146. Michael says:

    It seems to me we’re making better inroads with our Eastern Orthodox brothers of late than with a group that should have remained within the folds. So much misinterpretation of Vatican II was a result of groups like SSPX walking away and more “enlightened” groups making the best of the opportunity. I am disappointed that SSPX can’t act in a more magnanimous way toward the mother Church. Benedict XVI may be their last best hope, as we do not know what kind of leadership will emerge after his passing.

  147. Malta says:

    David,

    Thanks for the correction. I’m a convert, as you can tell, but a very zealous one, I guess. Fifteen years ago I was worshiping Sartre and other existentialists, as an atheist…

  148. John R. says:

    To say the promulgation of the Novus Ordo involves ecclesiastical infallibility or indefectibility is absurd. Pope Paul VI promulgated it, not as supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church, but as Patriarch of the West and head of the Latin Church.

    His act wasn’t anymore infallible than the American Byzantine Catholic eparchs introduction of a slightly modified version of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

    I have a problem with ascribing infallibility to the Latin Church by itself.

  149. David says:

    Father, please keep in mind that SSPX is a diverse organization itself.
    Bishop Fellay, I am sure, has political considerations within SSPX that he needs to be concerned with, just as the Holy father does. For many years, the SSPX has been sort of a “middle ground” among traditionalists, occasionally having groups of priests return to Rome, occasionally expelling priests for sedevacantism. Bishop Fellay, I am sure, wants to keep the group united, and bring everyone back into the Church together. Ignoring the specific issues causing the division, this is clearly prudent. The SSPX has been a very effective force for teaching the Catholic faith and morals. One visit to one of their chapels proves the kinds of Catholic families they help to form. It could be a tremendous force for good if it returns undivided to the Church.

    (I do speak as a man who was confirmed by Abp Lefebvre.)