A sour article from The Tablet about possible reintegration of the SSPX

With my emphases and comments from the recent number of RU–486 (aka The Bitter Pill aka The Tablet) in the news section for…

FRANCE

Faint hopes on outcome of SSPX talks

Tom Heneghan in Paris
Christa Pongratz-Lippitt in Vienna

CARDINAL ANDRÉ VINGT-TROIS, the Archbishop of Paris, has expressed scepticism about the coming doctrinal discussions at the Vatican that will examine whether the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), which rejected the Second Vatican Council, can be reintegrated into the Church. [First, while I agree with "reintegrate" and not sure about "into the Church".  I don’t think anyone will say that they are "out" of the Church i a definitive way.   But whatever their connection with the Church, a far more manifest unity is necessary. Second, anyone can express "scepticism".  As a matter of fact, I have some skepticism about both sides of the talks: the talks will require great humility and clarity of purpose.  The talks must not be turned into something they are not.  Moreover, I can express skepticism and still be both positive and dedicated to the idea.  I think the editors and writers of RU-486 are perhaps not very positive.]

The cardinal, who is also head of the French bishops’ conference, recalled that a precondition of the discussions, clearly stated by Pope Benedict XVI, was the acceptance of Vatican II, which SSPX continues to reject. The cardinal noted that only about 20 SSPX priests had rejoined the Church since Pope Benedict began making conciliatory gestures towards the society, a fact that showed the split was not simply over liturgical questions.  [First, 20 is not nothing.  Second, while is a wonderful that individuals might want to come on their own, there is value is trying to get the whole group to come together.  Second, I don’t think we quite know what "acceptance" means, yet.  Card. Vingt-Trois is not a member of the theology commission which will talk with the SSPX about points of concern.  I am not sure that His Eminence is in the very best position to know what "acceptance" means, in reference to these talks.  The talks themselves are merely a step towards reintegration.  The theological talks about to begin will not be able to deal every possible question.]

Despite the uproar sparked by Pope Benedict’s 2007 motu proprio liberalising the use of the Tridentine Rite and the lifting of the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops, Cardinal Vingt-Trois told journalists, “There has not been a ‘tsunami’ in French religious practice. Some arrangements have been made here and there, but overall Catholic practice in France has not been profoundly modified.”  [That really isn’t anything to be very proud of, is it.  First, both John Paul II and Benedict XVI think that desire for the older forms is a legitimate aspiration.  Secondly, let’s admit that since Summorum Pontificum there hasn’t been a "tsunami’.  Is there a tsumani of Frenchmen rushing to churches on Sundays for the Novus Ordo?  What is the level of Sunday Mass attendance in France?  What? 2%?  Amd I wrong?  Is it more?  Of those who go to Mass, what percent of those would attend the older Mass if it were available?  Third, if priests aren’t able to offer the older form of Mass, is that acceptable?  It seems to me that a clergy ignorant of… incapable of celebrating their own Rite is not something to be very proud of.]

The German branch of SSPX this month said the Second Vatican Council had adopted the ideas of the French Revolution. In a sixpage article in their monthly newsletter they said the Catholic Church had become a “religion of brotherliness”. “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity are the [words] of enlighteners, freemasons, humanists and modern do-gooders which were first proclaimed by the raging masses at the French Revolution. This triumvirate of freemasonry was taken over by the Second Vatican Council albeit in a moderate form. The congruity is easy to spot. Equality means all religions are equal – that is so-called ecumenism,” they said.  [Surely that was a stupid article to print, given what is going on.  However, in very many cases what is passed of as "ecumenism" has in fact been much as was described.  I think that is rarer and rarer now.  The old generation of ecumaniacs is passing and a smarter form of ecumenism is taking form, one which is more in continuity with our Church’s teachings and traditions.]

On Wednesday evening the Swedish television network that aired an interview with SSPX’s Bishop Richard Williamson in which he denied the Holocaust, was to broadcast a follow-up documentary claiming the Vatican had known about his views before the excommunications were lifted. The state-owned channel SVT says Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said he knew of Williamson’s views and was surprised that the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which oversees SSPX’s relations with Rome, did not. It also says the Catholic Bishop of Stockholm, Anders Arborelius, said he passed the information on to “the papal representation”.  [All very hard to imagine.  I sure knew when I worked there.]

+ Cardinal Vingt-Trois said the French Church was planning a campaign in preparation for the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican II in 1962, to enable the French to refamiliarise themselves with the Council teachings. He said: “In the 1970s, we thought it was enough just to apply the conclusions of the Council. Now we see the Council is a fundamental part of the life of the Church, but putting it into practice demands a lot of integration work … We now have a majority of Catholics who weren’t born, or were just born, at the time of the Council.”  

Wouldn’t it be a great way to honor the anniversary of Vatican II by urging the whole of the French hierarchy to reach out in a friendly way to the priests of the SSPX and their many followers?

If Vatican II is so great… if Vatican II is so much to be embraced… if Vatican II was such a Spirit-filled moment…. if you are convinced of these things, then why not demonstrate the great benefits of embracing Vatican II by embracing those who have trouble with some of its teachings?

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17 Responses to A sour article from The Tablet about possible reintegration of the SSPX

  1. Fr. John Mary says:

    “If Vatican II is so great… if Vatican II is so much to be embraced… if Vatican II was such a Spirit-filled moment…. if you are convinced of these things, then why not demonstrate the great benefits of embracing Vatican II by embracing those who have trouble with some of its teachings?”

    Yep, Fr.Z. These are the questions.

    I am not a follower of the SSPX, but why, oh why, are they the “boogeymen” when we have bishops, priests and religious thumbing their noses at Rome over what are, in fact,central teaching and disciplinary norms of our Church?
    Oh, sorry, I forgot; they actually believe the Creed and practice the Tradition, albeit being in an “irregular” situation.

  2. Henry Edwards says:

    … clearly stated by Pope Benedict XVI, was the acceptance of Vatican II, which SSPX continues to reject.

    What does it mean to assert that someone “rejects” Vatican II? Even if there may be some Holocaust deniers — I heard one speak to the UN yesterday –I doubt that there are any Vatican II deniers. I’ve never heard of a single human being, inside or outside the Church, suggesting that the Council did not actually occur.

    On the other hand, what does it mean to “accept” Vatican II? To accept everything that anyone alleges to be a consequence or interpretation of Vatican II? If so, I doubt there’s anyone alive who accepts Vatican II.

  3. albizzi says:

    A good part of the French bishops are OK with Luther but are rejecting the Lefebvrists with the utmost energy. Then one is wondering where is the true Roman Catholic Church.
    They are shocked and alarmed in hearing that ONE QUARTER of the priests in France will be former lefebvrists in the case the pending talks with the Vatican will succeed.
    I pray much for this to happen very nextly.

  4. Catherine says:

    “Accepting” the products of Vatican II and any other ecumenical council approved by a pope with the obedience of faith is a requirement of every Catholic. An ecumenical council is an exercise of the Extraordinary Magisterium of the Church. Therefore, every word in its final documentation is infallible. No exceptions. Additionally, there is no difference in infallibility between a “dogmatic” and a “pastoral” council (see Donum Veritatis). The SSPX denies the validity of the Second Vatican Council, among other obligatory Catholic positions. However, it is important that we study the actual documents of the Council, as many crazed liturgists and dissenting clergy have hijacked our parishes over the years and made all sorts of “reforms” in the “spirit of Vatican II,” most of which were seriously erroneous, some of which were outright deceitful misrepresentations of the Church. Catholics must accept and obey the actual teachings of Vatican II, as well as every other official teaching of the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals, but not every person who merely claims to embrace the “spirit of Vatican II.” Church documents are free and widely available on-line. We must do our homework!

  5. FranzJosf says:

    I’ll tell you why I think we’re hearing panic from the left, though I might be wrong. Jesus Chrust said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father except through me.” So the SSPX will ask, “Did the Second Vatican Council overturn the words of Christ?” Of course, the answer will be No. Then, they will ask, “Is is permissible that we disagree with the current practice of Ecumenism and remain Catholics is good standing?” The answer will be, Yes, you may disagree with the practice or application. That is what the left fears.

  6. Vilallonga says:

    The Sunday Mass attendance in secularized France is 16%. Only half of french population is baptized. In Catholic Spain, the Sunday Mass attendance is 5%, where 95% of the population is baptized. I don’t remember the source, but I think is the European survey about religion…

  7. Jack Hughes says:

    The one worry that I have is that +Williamson and +Tisser De Mallrais will break away and create their own ‘true’ Church if an agreement is signed, one gets the feeling that sedevacatists within the sspx are about to unmasked, still the Society is writing to Rome and its not to enquire about the new manaples on display :)

  8. ssoldie says:

    Is tradition excommunicated, I don’t accept what went on at Vatican II, judging the fruits of Vatican II, we have Pope Paul VI’s own evalution of the aftermath of Vatican II: We looked forward to a flowering, a serene expansion of ‘concepts’ which matured in the ‘great’ sessions of the council…[instead] it is as if the Church were destroying herself.-Address to Lombard College, Dec 7,1968.
    We have the impression that through some cracks in the wall the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God…doubt, uncertainty, questioning, dissatissfaction, confrontation…We thought that after the Council a day of sunshine would have dawned for the history of the Church. What dawned ,instead, was a day of clouds and storms, of darkness of searching and uncertainties.- Address on the ninth Anniversary ofn his Pontificate June 29 (feast of St Peter and Paul) 1972. I myself have never believed that the Holy Ghost guided the Council, I believe there was an agenda by a group of ‘periti’s that were going to slam thru every bit of modernism they could and they did. Right down to a whole New ‘Mass’. Then the Church’s Bishop’s priest’s and the oh! so knowledgeable liturgist, shoved it down the the oh! so docile laity’s throat and told us how wonderful it all was for us. Our Lords injunction given at the close of his Sermon(homily) on the Mount “every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.”

  9. Just as a matter of perspective, it should be noted that Cardinal Vingt-Trois himself celebrates the extraordinary form of the Mass.

  10. pelerin says:

    Patrick Thornton – more information please. Where, when, how often? Was he not the Cardinal who said he did not like altars to be ‘cluttered?’

  11. Pelerin,

    I have seen photos of him at NLM celebrating in Paris and also at the ICRSS website. If I have time later I’ll try to post links.

    Thx

  12. pelerin says:

    Patrick Thornton – yes indeed. Cardinal 23 made news by celebrating Mass in the Extraordinary Form on one occasion in Paris (I think it was at the church of St Eugene-Ste Cecile) but I have not learnt of any other. That was why I was surprised that you said that the Cardinal celebrates the EF implying that it is a regular occurrence.

  13. Supertradmom says:

    We must just pray really hard that this “union” comes about. I think the bad news from the “Pill” is really good news, as it points to progress in talks, etc.

  14. asperges says:

    The church is France is split between extraordinary holiness (eg the monastic tradition etc) and the really awful. The practising number of the faithful in France is well below 16% quoted above (it’s nearer 6%, I am told) and of them many go to SSPX chapels in preference to enduring the dreary new liturgy a la francaise.

    The french hierarchy are as a body have been a disaster since the 70s. They made huge efforts to oppose the Pope in Summ Pont pointing out how they had been in the forefront of liturgical reform (and look where it got them). How they have allowed the oldest daughter of the Church to be brought so low under their protection beggars belief.

    I don’t know about Card 23 as an individual. I do know that St N du Chardonnet which declared UDI in the 70s (under Mgr Ducaut-Bourget) 5 minutes’ walk away is much better attended on Sundays than Notre Dame Cathedral. I shall be most disappointed if the SSPX talks break down and they are on the wrong side of the fence. They trouble with Continental religion with its concepts of “right” and “left” is that they are invariably political and extremely polarised. Not so in the UK, but then, we are cursed with the Anglo-Saxon disease of galloping indifference and experts in fudge.

  15. irishgirl says:

    My hope and my prayer is that the talks will bear fruit and that the SSPX will be integrated fully back into the Church.

  16. MichaelJ says:

    Catherine,
    Would you mind explaining what this statement means: “Therefore, every word in its final documentation is infallible.”?

    The only way I can make it true is to insert so many qualifiers as to render it virtually meaningless. I’d be interested to know what you mean by it.

  17. Jordanes says:

    Catherine said: “Accepting” the products of Vatican II and any other ecumenical council approved by a pope with the obedience of faith is a requirement of every Catholic.

    No, it’s not. Not every document or declaration or decree that comes out of an ecumenical council is of the same level of authority, nor necessarily infallible or irreformable.

    The main thing the Council of Vienne did was suppress the Templars, an action now generally seen as unjust and unnecessary. Catholics are free to disagree with the decision to suppress the Templars.

    An ecumenical council is an exercise of the Extraordinary Magisterium of the Church. Therefore, every word in its final documentation is infallible. No exceptions.

    Wrong. Not every act of an ecumenical council is necessarily an act of the extraordinary, infallible magisterium. Catholics may not impute to a conciliar document greater authority than the council says it has.

    You may be interested in reading Pius XII’s 1947 Sacramentum Ordinis, which corrects a statement of the Council of Florence.

    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius12/P12SACRAO.HTM

    Additionally, there is no difference in infallibility between a “dogmatic” and a “pastoral” council (see Donum Veritatis).

    True — but that still doesn’t make everything a council says and does infallible.

    The SSPX denies the validity of the Second Vatican Council, among other obligatory Catholic positions.

    Do they? I believe there are adherents of the SSPX who deny Vatican II’s validity, but I’m pretty sure that is not the SSPX’s psition. The SSPX’s objections to certain teachings and acts of Vatican II are rather more subtle than a blunt denial of the Council’s validity.