Our friends over at Rorate have picked up on Paolo Rodari’s note on Palazzo Apostolico about the Five Conditions posed by the Holy See to the SSPX. The Holy See is requiring a response by the end of the month.
Here is my translation of Rodari’s item:
First consideration: I don’t know if the Lefebvrites will accept the conditions of the Holy See. I know that another, similar occasion probably will not happen ever again. And I know that, if they don’t accept, they would probably lose quite a few of their followers, principally because they want to participate in Masses with the old rite. But this Mass, today, can be found also elsewhere, thanks to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.
[Right. Pope Benedict, understanding all the angles here, knew when it was time to pose the unavoidable question. Will you accept union with Peter and his role or will you be like the others, way over on the other side of the road. Remember: Ceteris paribus, people would rather be with the Church than against her! With the local bishop than against him!]
Second consideration: A very small indication concerning the fact that, probably, the Lefebvrites will accept the conditions posed by the Holy See (or that at least they are seriously thinking them over) came to me from a telephone call I made yesterday to Ecône, headquarters of the SSPX. As at other times in the past, I asked to speak with Bishop Fellay, Superior of the SSPX. Usually, especially when he wanted to reassert that there was nothing new concerning their reentry into the Church, he answered me quickly. Instead, yesterday he made it known that he had nothing to say. Perhaps this is because he is seriously thinking about accepting the Vatican’s conditions – but doesn’t want to say it?
I think Rodari has hit the nail on the head both times.
Even if we consider that the conditions were probably put directly to Bp. Fellay, maybe, rather than the whole SSPX. Still, he is their Superior.
First, if there is a viable option, I think that people in their goodness and their native Catholic instincts, unless they have been somehow terribly hurt or perhaps twisted in their thinking or their hearts, would by far rather be in union with the local Church and with Rome. That is why I wrote ceteris paribus… all things being equal. Also, most people want a reverent Mass and sound preaching. They care little for the loftier theological arguments. They need the spiritual nourishment neccessary to get through their days and weeks according to their vocations.
Second, were Bp. Fellay to say that he was considering accepting these conditions, the pressure on him would ratchet up beyond what it must be now. Frankly, I think this is probably a mirror of what happened to the late Archbp. Lefebvre that night after he signed the concordat in 1988 in Card. Ratzinger’s office at the CDF. I imagine the pressure on the old man was tremendous. It could be that these young men, perhaps Bernard Fellay, desired that it go the other way and the old man finally caved it. Speculation on my part, perhaps. But it seems just about right. So, what goes around comes around. Now it is Fellay’s turn, though he is not in the same role that Archbp. Lefebvre had in the SSPX as its founder.
I really don’t envy this poor chap. He must be under tremendous stress, hounded by a hundred shrill voices.
He needs our prayers, friends.
I will say Mass for Bp. Fellay’s intention this afternoon, as a matter of fact.
The identity of the SSPX is at stake now.
What do they stand for? Who are they?
I think they could by their reunion send a magnificent message not only to many on the left in the Church, but also many non-Catholics who in their hearts look to the Church with hope.
Also, within the Church I think they could be an incredibly effective leaven. I always call to mind what our good friend His Hermeneuticalness says, Fr. Finigan. He looks foward to the SSPX men joining their deanery meetings! Their integration into the fuller life of the Church, with all its strains and factions and problems, will be real pastoral work, friends.
The setting of a broken bone is painful, as is the knitting – tedious, inconvenient and worrisome. But Holy Church needs the strength his knitted bone will have. A broken bone can wind up a stronger.