QUAERITUR: Is the SSPX just being stubborn?

From a reader:

Why is the SSPX still not in union with Rome? Especially with groups
like the FFSP what problem do they still have with us? They could
unite with Rome, and still basically continue as usual. Am I missing
something big? Are they just being stubborn?

Well.. yes.  They are being stubborn!

It is of the essence of being traditional and being a Christian to be stubborn, by the way.  We have some other, fancy words for “stubborn” when speaking about fidelity to doctrine and our identity, but “stubborn” will do for the sake of this entry.

StubbornnessChristians are stubborn in the face of all sorts of things the world has to offer.  And the SSPX would say they are being stubborn about those very same things, for they fear, or think, or have the suspicion that some of those worldly things have been embraced by the Church in a way that is contrary to her God-given mission.

There are various concrete issues over which members of the SSPX and formally manifest members of the Catholic Church will dispute.  And I use that distinction of “manifest” in there because I believe SSPXers are members of the Church who are to one degree or another either separate from formal unity with the Church’s duly appointed shepherds (including the Bishop of Rome) or who are progressively getting closer or farther from that unity.  But that is another discussion.

There are various concrete issues they will want to discuss.  Some of which could be resolved with the stroke or two of a papal pen (such as the lifting of the excommunications incurred by Archbp. Lefevbre and the SSPX bishops in 1988 or the expansion of the use of the Roman Rite as it was in 1962).  Other issues are thornier and will take hard work and humility to resolve.

For the sake of putting it in a nutshell, the people in the SSPX think or wonder (sometimes very strongly and out loud) or simply assert that something bad happened during the Second Vatican Council.  The documents produced by that Council – along with everything that followed from those documents – were tainted which modernism, or immanentism.   To make that even more concise, they think that the spirit of and even the letter of the documents of the Council may be more man-centered than God-centered or Christ-centered, anthropocentric rather than Christocentric.

They are stubborn about having it out with authorities in Rome over a whole raft of questions that eventually go back to whether or not the documents of the Second Vatican Council caved into modernity, lack a focus on God, and, thereby, stray from a proper understanding of Tradition.  The SSPX wants to work out theological problems before there can be other questions about formal unity within the structure of the Church.  They are being stubborn about that.

In trying to work things out with the SSPX, Rome has undertaken some theological discussions which will have to touch on the essential questions behind the other issues, such as that of “religious liberty” and to what extent the Council’s document on religious liberty may have changed the Church’s teaching.

In some ways the stubbornness of the SSPX is laudable.  It is laudable if they are really interested in getting at the truth and not just in getting their way, as if they alone are arbiters of what is Catholic.    But there are ways in which their stubbornness it is not laudable.  Otherwise their priests and bishops would not be suspended from acting as priests and bishops and there would not be discussions with the view of their reconciliation. The separation is stretching out and there is an increasing danger of a real schism.

When you can’t hear Peter say you are in unity with him, and when that is a question on the table, then you may be in serious trouble.  Be stubborn all you want, but at the end of the day Christ entrusted his Church to Peter and Peter’s successors.  We can’t both remain Catholic and remain separated from Peter for a long time.

That said, the SSPX has hammered away at some theological questions that really do deserve attention and answers!  In the interest of the truth, one way or another, we need to have clarity about some aspects of the Council’s documents which over the years have proven to be troubling and controversial.

My view is that when it comes to most of the theological questions that the SSPX wants to raise about the Council, since the Council never intended from the beginning to issue any new dogmatic statements, and since some of the things the Council dealt with (such as religious liberty) are really hard questions about which people of good will can disagree, there are very few reasons why some structure could not be provided for them within the Church.  After all, the followers of Fr. Feeney, who held to a very strict interpretation of the difficult to understand extra ecclesiam nulla salus, were reconciled without having to recant their positions.  If they, why not the SSPX?

The question that looms, however, is this:

Have they gone their own way for so long that they simply don’t want to obey? Are they actually willing to submit to the Vicar of Christ?  Or will they be stubborn?

On the side of the Church, of course, there must be a genuine openness to receive the questions the SSPX will want to raise and then work through them to find answers.

Popes, by the way, are the most stubborn Christians of all.  It is their special role in the Church to say “No.”, all the time.  Thanks be to God.  Don’t be surprised when you propose something against what he wants to happen if he says “No.”.

Moreover, consider when the SSPX is trying to defend over an opposed to what dissidents in the Church are trying to accomplish… rather… trying to tear apart.

Dissidents, and you can make your own list, will tear at the Church’s cult, code and creed very often with impunity in schools, parishes and in dioceses.  Meanwhile, people who want nothing more than to uphold the tradition we have received from our forebears regarding cult, code and creed are often identified by duly appointed pastors as being the dangerous ones, they who must be repressed, they who are making trouble.  Sometimes they bring this on themselves by being jerks, but that is an issue for a different entry.

Never mind that while in parishes far and wide there is crazy preaching from pulpits, poor catechism, and wacky liturgy, it is the SSPXers or other traditionalists within the Church who are regarded with suspicion even though they stick to the liturgical books and virtually never depart from what you could find in the Roman Catechism, the Baltimore Catechism or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In the final analysis liberals and dissidents will always give ecclesiastical authorities far more headaches through their heterodoxy and disobedience. They, however, get and keep parishes and schools and top notch positions while the more traditionally-minded occasionally get a handful of dirt.

I have in mind, for example, a diocese in which the more traditional Catholics and their priests would quite literally go to the wall to back the bishop in good initiatives for which he is taking heat, but liberal priests actually attack him in public, even in newspapers.  One of these days, bishops are going to figure this out and start going to the wall for the faithful in their flocks.

That will be a grand day indeed, on which I shall sing Non nobis.

Thing are going to change.  It is a matter of demographics and the inexorable grace of God.

Benedict XVI is. furthermore, the Pope of Christian Unity.

Technorati Tags: ,

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ASK FATHER Question Box, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Pope of Christian Unity, The future and our choices and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

73 Responses to QUAERITUR: Is the SSPX just being stubborn?

  1. Geoffrey says:

    What I still don’t understand is the lifting of the excommunications. It was my understanding that excommunication is like a “wake up call” to the party in question, that their actions are damaging to the universal Church and to their own souls. The purpose of excommunication is repentance. I have not seen the SSPX repent of the illicit episcopal consecrations. Was the Holy Father’s mercy so great that he didn’t require their repentance? I still cannot wrap my head around this…

    [When the medicine doesn't work, change the medicine.]

  2. Andrew says:

    Fr. Z:

    If I could I would have given you an unhasitating “star of the day” for the above comment. I hope some SSPX members take notice. I hope they hurry home soon.

  3. Flambeaux says:

    Thank you, Father. I have repeatedly tried, and failed, to explain this to several priests I know who just don’t understand. I hope they read this and are enlightened.

    And I pray that the talks reach a conclusion soon so that the Faithful may know how Vatican II’s pronouncements ought to be received.

  4. moon1234 says:

    The argument from the SSPX is that they never incurred the excommunications in the first place so why would there be a need to repent? Their argument was that the situation was so grave/dire that the actions they took were legit, which is allowed for in Canon law. [Now irrelevant.]

    Where hair splitting starts is who decides what is a grave situation and what is not. Canon law seems to favor the person taking the action and what the disposition of their mind is. [Canon law was issued by the Lawgiver, who alone is the final authority in its interpretation.] If they truely believe there is a necessity, that they are in the right, then the amount of punishment due to the action can be mitigated. [now irrelevant.]

    So you will never see the SSPX “repent” for the excommunications since they believe the action was necessary to save tradition. To a degree they are correct. [Which is now irrelevant. They are not excommunicated. That means they are free to go to confession again.] The Tridentine Mass would be lost to history if not for them. [We don't know that, and that is a RABBIT HOLE.]

    You do realize that the FSSP was started by four SSPX priests who were offered a place in Rome if they did not argue the theological points that Rome did not want the SSPX voicing. The SSPX want Rome to explain how certain documents of VII harmonize with tradition since there are many seemingly contrdictory statements/teachings come from Rome that the SSPX believe are incorrect.

    That is what the talks are about. I think there are MANY of us who WANT TO SEE the discussions, talking points, responses from both sides. We want to see how Rome explains some of the seemingly contradictory teachings within Church history. [You "want to see", huh? Too bad. These are matters for behind closed doors, and rightly so.]

    Truth is revealed not adapted to the changing times. If what the Church taught in the past was incorrect (regarding revealed truth) then the Church is not divinely inspired. If what came later is not revealed truth, but rather an attempt by men to conform the Church to their wishes, then we all benefit by what the SSPX is trying to force Rome to do. That is to confront those seemingly contradictory “teachings of VII” with the tradition of the Church.

    [You had your say. I suggest now reading what others have to say.]

  5. danphunter1 says:

    I just hope and pray, along with many of my brethren, that the Holy Father unilaterally either acknowledges or grants faculties to the Society for Marriages and Confessions, for the salvation of souls.
    The Church most assuredly needs our “stubborn” priests and bishops in the FSSPX.
    I am praying the “Irresistable Novena to the Sacred Heart” for that intention.

  6. Fr Jackson says:

    Nice entry, Father. Well said. Thanks.

    Fr Jackson, SSPX

  7. Fr. Jackson: I deeply appreciate your comment. Thank you. Oremus pro invicem.

  8. If we could just get the lions to eat the puppets…

  9. Ef-lover says:

    If we could just get the lions to eat the puppets…

    I think the lions would most likely find the puppets (dis)tastful too

  10. momoften says:

    Excellent points Father. I pray for a reconciliation. We need them, and they need us!

  11. JoannEstis says:

    “Dissidents, and you can make your own list, will tear at the Church’s cult, code and creed very often with impunity in schools, parishes and in dioceses. Meanwhile, people who want nothing more than to uphold the tradition we have received from our forebears regarding cult, code and creed are often identified by duly appointed pastors as being the dangerous ones, they who must be repressed, they who are making trouble. Sometimes they bring this on themselves by being jerks, but that is anissue for a different entry.

    Never mind that in parishes far and wide there is crazy preaching from pulpits, poor catechism, and wacky liturgy, the SSPXers or other traditionalists within the Church are regarded the suspicion even though they stick to the liturgical books and virtually never depart from what you could find in the Roman Catechism, the Baltimore Catechism or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

    Thank you, Father. I almost cried. We travel extensively and are often nowhere near a Traditional Mass. Or even a reverent Ordinary Form Mass. We have yet to see puppets of such magnitude, but we have endured photo sessions of little children returning from the abyss of Children’s Liturgy of the Word. Recently we listened to a sermon about a how a parish might scorn someone who looked shabby (standard overly-forwarded email story used as the homily). It’s been our experience that if you look shabby, parishioners will fall over themselves to welcome you. However if you wear a veil, or neglect to join the human chain of *love* during the Pater Noster, you might get icy stares or be avoided.

    Thank you for your candor and your willingness to say that things are goofy in many places. It gets tiresome hearing that most parishes are doing the best they can. Simply implementing the GIRM would go a long way to end much of the silliness. And how hard can that be?

  12. moon1234 says:

    [You "want to see", huh? Too bad. These are matters for behind closed doors, and rightly so.]

    Hi Father. I have always been of the opinion that theological discussions should be out in the open for all to see. I know that this is a matter of “internal” politics, but the topics they are discussing are relevent to all Catholics. Each of us could learn a lot about what our faith has taught, is teaching and should continue to teach by hearing both sides of the debate.

    If there was a Vatican council now, I would very much like to have all sessions televised for use to watch and see. Having something similar to this for VII would be immensely valuable for us today. Not just from a historical perspective, but also from a personal one. We would be able to see both sides of a discussion argued why a decision is made. Many times a transcript can not convey the essence of what took place.

    It would be similar to reading gregorian chant on sheet music vs hearing it sung. The essence of the discussion is harder to convey in mere words.

  13. Woodlawn says:

    A newly posted article exactly on point at the link below:

    Actions Speak Louder than Words
    New revelations regarding relations between the Vatican and the SSPX
    POSTED: Wednesday October 20, 2010

    http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2010-1031-mccall-fellay.htm

  14. Geoffrey says:

    “When the medicine doesn’t work, change the medicine.”

    But isn’t the consecration of bishops without the Pope’s permission a grave issue? How can it just be “glossed over”? Doesn’t this set a bad example for others out there who illicitly ordain bishops (Archbishop Milingo, WomanPriests, etc.)?

  15. Jason says:

    Thank you for that, Father.

    As a supporter of the SSPX, which is to say that I pray daily that they be regularized and that the doctrinal discussions bear great fruit for Holy Mother Church and the faithful, I appreciated very much reading your fair and well reasoned response to the person’s question.

  16. Geoffrey: Yes, it is a grave issue. Therefore it is all the more necessary to find the proper corrective.

    Furthermore, the reasons why the late Archbp. Lefevbre consecrated bishops are very different from the reasons why someone like Milingo would, or why the wymyn thingy would attempt to do so.

    Lastly, it is for the Successor of Peter to determine how to deal with issues of unity of the Church and remedial censures for bishops. The Pope thought it was best to handle it this way.

  17. Since the SSPX, officially, has neither canonical status nor legitimate ministry (“suspended from acting as priests and bishops”), it is, to me, a nightmarish image that a “disobedient Christ” — alter Christus acting in persona Christi — offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Which side to the discussions, by not finding a way to reconcile, is enabling what appears to be sacrilege?

  18. Terry: And yet there are all sorts of people who are in de facto schism, who hold heterodox ideas, and yet are considered to be in “good standing”.

    It is difficult to sort these things through. This is why Holy Church is careful when disciplining and applying censures.

    Furthermore, be a little careful in your image, lest you inadvertently reduce Christ to His Church. Holy Church is known to be Christ’s Mystical Body, but Christ is a great deal more than His Holy Church.

  19. M.D.R. says:

    Geoffrey wrote:

    “But isn’t the consecration without the pope’s permission a grave issue? How can it just be “glossed over”? Doesn’t this set a bad example for others out there who illicitly ordain bishops (Archbishop Milingo, WomenPriests, etc)?”

    I’ve often thought about this, too, regarding setting a bad example. I think that there was one sedevacantist group in existence before Archbishop Lefebvre ordained the four bishops. Now there are many sede groups, some of them having priests ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre, who of course left the SSPX. To my knowlegde, there were no ordinations of WomenPriests before 1988, nor any situation such as Archbishop Milingo (if I’m wrong, I hope that someone will correct me).

    While there are great differnces in the specific reason for these illicit ordinations of various persons or groups, one thing that they may have in common is that the ordainer or person doing the consecrations believes that an injustice is being corrected, and Archbishop Lefebvre certainly felt that it was unjust that he was not allowed to ordain bishops for his fraternity. But what may have compounded the penalty for consecrating the four bishops is that the SSPX was already suppressed, and Archbishop Lefebvre wasn’t even supposed to ordain priests, much less bishops. In addition, not only did he not have a mandate to consecrate the bishops, he went against a written mandate from Rome, which told him specifically not to ordain the bishops. He received this about twelve days before the June 30, 1988 consecrations took place.

    Nevertheless, it is up to pope to decide if it is justifiable that bishops or priests are ordained or consecrated. The final judgement on the matter, to my knowledge, rests with the pope, and only with the pope.

  20. Stu says:

    Wonderful summary of the situation at hand. I truly look forward to this issue being resolved and I believe the Pope will do it. We need the SSPX working for the cause on the inside.

  21. Geoffrey says:

    Fr. Z & M.D.R.,

    Thank you for your responses! I will continue to pray for understanding about all this!

  22. Jason says:

    I”m nowhere near an expert on this issue and will probably regret jumping into it.

    M.D.R. you point out that the SSPX received a written mandate from Rome not to ordain bishops days before the ordinations actually took place.

    As I understand it, Abp. Lefebvre requested permission repeatedly from Rome to consecrate bishops (as opposed to the other groups mentioned in this discussion), but received no response at all.

    Given that the consecration of new bishops was clearly essential to the survival of the SSPX, and not receiving response at all to requests for permission to do so, it was decided to proceed.

    I could be wrong on how this transpired and, if I am, I’m sure someone will correct me. If I am not wrong, however, one wonders why the requests for permission were ignored? Rome neither wanted to grant nor deny the request. Political mind field either way, I suppose. Perhaps a hope that such a group of Priests would never proceed without permission, so that the society would then die with Abp. Lefebvre and the “problem” would be solved? Admittedly my speculation.

    Then, when learning that the SSPX was going to proceed anyway, Rome’s hand was forced and a decision had to be made, at which point the mandate not to ordain was issued.

    Again, I may be all wet on some of these things and, if I am, I’m sure someone here will fix me up. Accept my gratitude in advance.

  23. Jason says:

    Political “mine” field, in case anyone was wondering. Nothing intended there. :)

  24. paulbailes says:

    Thanks Fr Z. for that positive viewpoint.

    God bless
    Paul

    PS M.D.R. – while I subscribe to the view that Abp. Lefebvre and the SSPX have been treated unjustly, I am sure it’s incorrect to cite correction of same as his motivation for the 1988 consecrations (which would make him seem a little selfish, in a sense). Rather he was (selflessly) motivated by was what he believed to be the necessity of ensuring the continuation of the SSPX and its work after his death.

  25. QMJ says:

    Moon1234,

    I strongly recommend that you read St. Gregory the Theologian’s (Nazianzen) first theological oration (Or. 27). The faith is for everyone, but that does not mean theological discussion is. These types of discussions and debates would cause great confusion and possibly even scandal for the majority of the faithful who do not have theological training. It would cause even greater damage among those who are not Catholics as well as give the Church’s enemies even more amunition. Even those of us with theological training need to discern when to take a step back from a particular topic and when not to. We should pray for the theologians involved in these discussions and be concerned for the final result, not the path they take to get to it.

    In Him

  26. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Bishop Fellay raises an important issue in the talk published in the Remnant, which is that the Pope’s efforts to bring back the Society may cause a violent reaction in the rest of the Church. The healing of one schism (or irregularity, if you wish) could easily touch off another, worse schism among the bishops who say, “now Benedict has really gone too far.” And so the Pope is in a very precarious position.

    Lefebvre’s decision to ordain bishops without papal mandate is considered by many bishops to be such a crime to the Catholic unity, that the only way for the SSPX to be reconciled is for them to show they are deeply repentent for this act. There is real anger within the hierarchy and it shows in how some of the bishops are so disdainful and contemptuous to the SSPX.

    The Holy Father, then, has to elicit from the SSPX some sense of their being complicit in the mess we are now in, that they are not just mere victims of injustice entitled to return without much humility on their part. They are not just dealing with the Pope, but with an entire worldwide episcopate some of which can barely stomach what they regard as Benedict’s kiss-the-arse approach to the Society. Bishop Fellay, I believe, gets this whole dynamic, but is not sure how to bring the Society to the point where they get it.

    There is no doubt at all in my mind. Either the Society swallows their spit and shows some repentance and the desire to collaborate with most of the bishops, or the cause of reunion is toast. There can be talks in Rome till the cows come home–ain’t gonna happen. For the moment that the Pope brings in a group widely regarded by the episcopate as implacable and unsalvageable for the Catholic unity, you can bet money that there will be a nuclear reaction.

    I would predict numerous bishops saying, “Okay Benedict, go have fun with your new buddies. But we warned you–we can also consecrate without papal mandate.”

  27. Tony from Oz says:

    “The faith is for everyone, but that does not mean theological discussion is. These types of discussions and debates would cause great confusion and possibly even scandal for the majority of the faithful who do not have theological training. ”

    QMJ – might I just endorse your comment above and add that the same might be said of the sort of speculative, heterodox theological guff that has been taught to seminarians over the past 40 years; there is a place for ‘speculative theology’ within bounds..but the place for it is not at a seminary where a seminarian ought to have the right to a clear explication of theology as ‘handed down’ from the Magisterium. Seminarians, after all, are just learners/beginners themselves and are entitled to receive the traditional theological ‘basics’. A tiny proportion of these, once ordained, might be called to explore theological avenues about, say, ‘modern dilemmas’, but even then always within the bounds of the Church’s theological patrimony. So I agree that an ‘open forum’ of the theological discussions being held between SSPX and the Vatican ought to be held in camera.

  28. annieoakley says:

    Fr. Z,

    Does it matter whether The Blessed Trinity is defined as “one God in three Persons” or “three Persons in one God”? The Baltimore Catechism and the Catechism of the Catholic Church both define it the first way; but the CCD book for third graders – “Call to Faith” – uses both of them (within the same chapter). I’m always suspicious of definitions that get changed around; but in this case is it okay either way?

  29. Monica says:

    Father Z, I must admit that sometimes your blog and commenters drive me to teeth-gnashing. And then you’ll write something like your own comment of 5:31 pm. There is good sense to be found here at times.

  30. Monica says:

    5:29pm referenced, rather, Father. But you’ve always been a help in explaining the SSPX, and my comment pertains to all your posts on that subject.

  31. Supertradmum says:

    Half of my good friends are in the SSPX, and many times I have wished I had the courage to “go over” with them many years ago. However, obedience to Rome has been my guide, so I have stayed away from the very people I love the most and agree with the most on many, many things.

    I do believe, however, that one error I have seen, even among some of my friends, is a sanctimonious or “we are better than thou” attitude, which means that they feel the Church is too tainted for them. they do not want to be indentified with the Puppet Masters. I sympathize with them, but as a consistent sinner myself, I feel that my home is in the less than perfect One, Holy, Apostolic, and Catholic Church. The SSPX still strikes me as a separate church.

  32. Maltese says:

    Arguably, without the SSPX, we would not have even a fraction of the Latin Masses throughout the world that we have now, nor traditional orders such as FSSP; in that sense, SSPX has been a grace to the Church. A renowned Thomist, Msgr. Gherardini , substantially agrees with every one of SSPXs contentions regarding Vatican II and the modernist tendencies in the Church. There is presently a virus running deep in the veins of the Church, and it is my opinion that the SSPX is the antibody She needs. Thanks be to God!

  33. iowapapist says:

    Dear Father Z:

    Thank you for your insightful entry. I think that your article is honest and forthright and puts things re: Rome and the SSPX in perspective. Although I am not a member of the SSPX, I have been sympathetic to their cause for over 20 years. I have to wonder if Church history will be more benevolent to Achbp. Lefebvre than is the media (including those entities claiming to be Catholic) should reconciliation occur?

  34. annieoakley says:

    Oops!!! Sorry if the above seems off topic re The Holy Trinity but as the “interpretation” of Vatican II is often different from the written documents, I’m trying to discover if the alternative definition that I’m supposed to teach the kids (they have it coming from St. Patrick when he’s comparing God to a shamrock) is valid or someone’s idea of “improving” on the truth.

    [We aren't going to deal with that here. It has nothing to do with the topic.]

  35. GuilhermeAraujo says:

    Dear Father Z:

    I suggest the following article published on The Remnant newspaper:

    http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2010-1031-mccall-fellay.htm

    God bless you.

  36. TJerome says:

    I trust the Holy Father in the way he is managing this. I understand and sympathize with the folks who say if we can embrace fake Catholics like Sister Chittester, Father McBrien, Bishop Gumby, then why, oh why,can’t the SSPX be be included in the Holy Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. They are far more Catholic than the loons I just named.

  37. Mike says:

    I would predict numerous bishops saying, “Okay Benedict, go have fun with your new buddies. But we warned you–we can also consecrate without papal mandate.”

    I wonder. I don’t think most bishops would have the guns for such a move.

  38. Prof. Basto says:

    Father,

    Commenting on a post above, you wrote: You “want to see”, huh? Too bad. These are matters for behind closed doors, and rightly so.

    I agree with you that the best approach to having a sincere conversation with the SSPX aimed at the restoration of their regular status, a conversation in which questions can be raised and answers posed without the problems created by media scrutiny, formalities, “playing to the crowds”, etc., is the holding of the doctrinal talks behind closed doors.

    However, it is also clear to me that some questions asked by the SSPX are of interest to the whole Church, to the whole body of Christ’s flock. For instance, questions regarding the right interpretation of the Church’s magisterium on the field of religious tolerance/religious liberty. Or on the field of Ecumenism.

    Mons. Guido Pozzo’s recent conference was an attempt to address at least part of those subjects in public, and it shows how the interpretative key indicated by the Supreme Authority of the Church for the proper reading of the Second Vatican Council can be applied in a practical to find an answer to some of those questions, by separing the true meaning of the Council from the para-Council. That approach may solve some (perhaps all) of the problems and questions that are raised when one compares the pre and the post conciliar magisterium and when one tries to find compatibility between the two in certain sensitive areas.

    So, the situation we have is: there are private talks going on, and sometimes by having access to a conference or speech pronounced by a curial prelate speaking in a non-magisterial capacity (and not by means of a formal pronouncement of the Church) we get a glimpse of the Holy See’s position in those talks.

    But the Holy See’s position is relevant not only to the enlightenment of the SSPX, but also for you and for me, so that we all, all the Church’s flock, can have authoritative answers, perhaps for the first time, to some of the problems.

    So, at some point, it would be nice if the PCED, the CDF or other body of the Apostolic See, perhaps the Roman Pontiff himself, were to issue a formal magisterial document declaring what the position of the Church is in those sensitive areas, and explaining what is the Church’s answer to the questions posed by the SSPX.

    Clearly, the magisterium in certain areas needs to be clarified. Seeking answers and clarifications is the whole point of the talks. Certainly, if the SSPX gets answers from Rome, if there is common ground, if the doctrinal talks reach a conclusion and an interpretation of the magisterium that is acceptable to both sides and that brings about the regularization of the SSPX, the SSPX will want that to see that particular reading of the Church’s docrine (and of the Second Vatican Council especially) solemnly proclaimed, with the explicit exclusion of the readings of the magisterium that are agreed as being erroneous.

    And that clarification will be profitable not just to the SSPX, but to the entire Church. That’s why, at some point, there needs to be a doctrinal declaration by the Holy See, clarifying the points that were/are the object of the doctrinal talks. [Eventually.]

  39. Jason says:

    Fr Sotelo hits it on the head (as usual).

    It still begs the question, when the Society was still “regular” and permission to consecrate new bishops was properly requested; why was there no response (if that is accurate)?

    Here we have a Society of traditionalist priests and faithful, in communion with the Church, in love with the Catholic faith and liturgy that has nourished all for almost 2,000 years. They have enemies amongst the many liberals in the episcopacy. They request permission to ordain new bishops, which is absolutely necessary for their survival. The response from John Paul II? Silence. Somebody please tell me that my facts are wrong.

    That is a crucial and pivotal point in the post Vatican II Church I would think, and the Holy See was mum?

    A matter of two churchmen; the Holy Father JPII who decided to remain mum rather than proclaim one way or the other regarding the SSPX, until he had to. And Abp. Lefebvre, who, finding himself and tradition up against the wall, chose to consecrate bishops. At that point he hadn’t chosen to disobey, because no permission had been granted or forbidden. Only when Abp. Levebfre’s decision to consecrate was made, was the mandate not to do so issued, at which point he did most certainly disobey.

    But the penalty for that has been lifted, has it not (Deo Gratias)? Even though the fallout looms as Fr. Sotelo so correctly points out.

    Very complicated, indeed. One other person involved in this that I conspicuously forgot to mention: the Holy Ghost. However this ultimately works out, He is in charge so that we all know it will all unfold according to His plan.

  40. paulbailes says:

    Dear Fr Sotelo,

    Could a key problem with your aspiration “to elicit from the SSPX some sense of their being complicit in the mess we are now in” possibly be that the SSPX sincerely does not believe it’s at fault? To help elaborate this point of view: it’s not as if the SSPX set out to make trouble, rather it formed as a reaction to others’ tamperings with liturgy and doctrine, and simply aims to restore the traditional liturgy and teaching of the Church. During his life Abp. Lefebvre endured for the sake of souls all sorts of humiliations from the Roman authorities, up to and including the 1988 decree of excommunication. It would be hard to be more humble than all that. And (speaking for myself alone) it’s very hard to see how the SSPX leadership could admit “complicity” that not only would it not believe in but would, if I understand you correctly, also involve a repudiation of Abp. Levebvre.

    Re. those members of “worldwide episcopate some of which can barely stomach what they regard as Benedict’s … approach to the Society” and the fear of their going into schism as a result of any further supposed generosity (I would call it justice) by the HF to the SSPX: that sounds a bit like blackmail to me. What might the canonical penalties be for applying duress to the Pope? (May I clarify that I am not making any such allegation, just developing Fr Sotelo’s speculation one more step).

    Enjoying the extent to which this discussion is proceeding in a civilised manner, no doubt due to fine example set by Fr Z in his leading remarks.

    Cheers
    Paul

  41. Jitpring says:

    Regarding the alleged excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre, see this extraordinary new article:

    http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2010-1031-mccall-fellay.htm

    Definitely read the article, so you’ll be ready when it gets to this bombshell:

    “At the Angelus conference, Bishop Fellay also drew our attention to a related indication found in the wording of the Vatican decree nullifying the decree of SSPX excommunication. The final paragraphs of this decree reads:

    ‘On the basis of the powers expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, by virtue of the present Decree I remit the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae incurred by Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, and declared by this Congregation on July 1988. At the same time I declare that, as of today’s date, the Decree issued at that time no longer has juridical effect.’

    Bishop Fellay pointed out what should have been obvious to us all. Notwithstanding the fact that the first sentence mentions only four of the six bishops subject to the former decree, the final sentence clearly states that the former decree ‘no longer has juridical effect.’ That means the former decree ceases to legally exist.

    If the decree claiming Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer are excommunicated latae sententiae has no juridical effect, the declaration with respect to them has been withdrawn as well. To avoid this obvious conclusion, the language needed merely to say ‘with respect to these four bishops only,’ the former decree has no juridical effect; or ‘except as regards Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer’ the former decree has no juridical effect.

    I must admit that I felt rather stupid for not having noticed at the time what was clearly but subtly accomplished by this clever wording. The declared excommunication latae sententiae against Archbishop Lefebvre and his trusted ally in 1988 was removed without mentioning either of them by name. To do so would likely have elicited another episcopal rebellion.” [Ho hum.]

  42. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Jason:

    I believe that Pope John Paul II and Lefebvre were on two different timelines. Both had agreed that the Society needed a bishop to continue, but Lefebvre felt this condition was more urgent. Of course, we know the archbishop was aged and frail. John Paul had agreed he would allow a bishop to be consecrated from the priests of the Society, so he really wasn’t “silent” on the issue (the condition is laid out in the protocol which was signed by the Archbishop). What the pope was silent about was “when?” and “who?”

    The Servant of God was fine to just take his time. Lefebvre, on the other hand, saw in the delay of consecration a papal attempt to renege on the agreement and to wait until the Archbishop died, at which time the pope might just try to suppress the Society. In other words, Lefebvre to John Paul, “I trust you as far as I can throw you, and since I can’t pick you up and throw you, I don’t trust you at all.” Ergo, the consecrations.

    In hindsight, the decision to delay the consecration of a bishop for the SSPX was an unmitigated disaster of the first order. Lefebvre would never again trust the Holy See, and probably wondered at times if the pope was not the antichrist. Poor John Paul II. What a sorrow to take to your grave–reunion with thousands in your very grasp, and you let it get away from you because of indecision and hesitation.

  43. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Paul:
    I agree very much that the Society did not set out to make trouble, and also that the Archbishop endured many humiliations (although his career in the Church before SSPX was quite illustrious and accompanied with many honors and accolades, not the least of which was being raised to the episcopacy and granted the honorific of “archbishop” in his later years).

    However, there are certain lines which in a dispute are never to be crossed. The worldwide episcopate regarded the Archbishop as an eccentric, a nuisance, or an arrogant rebel up until the consecrations. Once he ordained bishops, however, he was in a unique class of infamy, as episcopal consecration without papal mandate is seen by bishops of all stripes as an attempt to destroy the unity of the Church. Once he did that, followed with the continuous apologetic, rationalization and support of the SSPX, he caused an ever expanding wave of ill will and outright hatred to surge in the Church which was not there before the consecrations.

    This is what I mean by complicity in the “mess” of rupture in which we find ourselves, and out of which Benedict XVI is trying to lead us. This mess is not all one sided. Rome has its mea culpa to say to the Society, but the Society has a mea culpa to offer to the Church also if it is to be accepted by the episcopate as a salvageable force for Catholic unity.

    There are Catholic bishops who, like Lefebvre, may wonder if the Holy Father is always working for the good of the Church and the good of Catholic unity. If they feel that the Holy Father is a spiritual Chamberlain with the SSPX (“peace at all costs”) that could certainly push them over the edge to inflict damage upon Benedict’s governance. Yes, this is blackmail, and yes, it is wrong, but blackmail among bishops or threats to the Roman Pontiff by his brother bishops has ever been a part of the politics of the Church, with which Benedict must necessarily be concerned.

    The reality is that Benedict alone cannot effect a reunion, and insofar as the SSPX understands this, their words and actions must take into account the goodwill in the worldwide hierarchy. At present, towards the SSPX, most bishops do not have much goodwill to speak of.

  44. JuliB says:

    I’ve read most of the book ‘Against the Heresies’ from the SSPX with its focus on religious liberty. If anyone could recommend a book (or something) that addresses some of the concerns they bring up, I would really appreciate it!

  45. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Jitpring:

    I don’t agree that because the decree of excommunication no longer has “juridical effect” that therefore it never had juridical effect. The lifting of the penalty is not retroactive, as if we can go into a time machine and say that what Pope John Paul II did, is to be forgotten and considered never to have happend.

    No longer having juridical effect means simply that the penalty is withdrawn and thus, so are the consequences. Or, as Fr. Z pointed out, “now they can go to confession.” But the historical events, and their penalties, did indeed take place. If all six bishops had not incurred excommunication, it would never have been necessary for Fellay to write the Pope and ask for the excommunications to be remitted.

    I don’t know whether to be shocked or amused that after the Society bishops petitioned the Holy See for the excommunications to be lifted, and after the Pope publishes a decree lifting these excommunication, that people still want to argue that these excommunications ever existed in the first place.

    I don’t recall Pope Benedict XVI saying to the Church, “please tell Bishop Fellay that I’m not going to remit the excommunication, because it is a figment of his imagination–it was something John Paul II made up as a joke, so let’s laugh about it over a good German beer.”

  46. TNCath says:

    I believe that as the use of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass increases in usage and Pope Benedict’s “Marshal Plan” for the restoration of the Church in other areas gains momentum, more and more of those attending SSPX parishes and their priests will, in time, come back to Rome without necessarily any formal reconciliation with the SSPX. I do think there may very well always be a core group that, no matter what the Church does, will ever fully return because I believe they never really want to come back, but that doesn’t mean the Church will ever give up on them. I think the FSSP has done a great job of bridging the gap for the SSPX’ers who wish to return to the Church, and, as they grow, will continue to do so.

  47. MBinSTL says:

    I’ve been reading Msgr. Gherardini’s book The Ecumenical Vatican Council II: A Much Needed Discussion, and much of what Fr. Z. wrote in this blog post echoed loudly what Gherardini has to say. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Fr. Z. has read or is reading the same book ,and that it had an impact on how he answered the reader’s question. [I studied at the Lateran... when Gherardini was teaching. Besides... GMTA.]

  48. The SSPX bishops were excommunicated. They really did get involved in the consecration of bishops without the mandate from the Apostolic See…. rather… against the explicit admonition of the Pope himself, who plead with Lefebvre not to do it. The Code of Canon Law of 1983 was clear. The penalty was excommunication. That penalty was confirmed by the Cong. for Bishops. Pope John Paul II certainly thought they were excommunicated. Benedict XVI thought they were excommunicated.

    Now they aren’t. What is what matters. They aren’t now because of the wider vision of Benedict XVI, Pope of Christian Unity.

    What has changed for the SSPX bishops? Now they have the ability to go to confession again, and receive valid absolution from a priest with faculties to receive sacramental confessions. They have a path open to them that they did not have before.

    People who float around the edges SSPX (remember, members of the SSPX are priests and the four bishops, not lay people) can choose to wallow in the perceived slight, but I recommend that they move on.

    There are far more important things to … focus on now.

  49. robtbrown says:

    moon1234 wrote:

    You do realize that the FSSP was started by four SSPX priests who were offered a place in Rome if they did not argue the theological points that Rome did not want the SSPX voicing.

    Incorrect.

    The FSSP was started by the pope–it is unique in that fact. It was planned as an order that would reunite SSPX priests with Rome. After the consecration of bishops, the plan proceeded anyway, and certain SSPX priests became members of the FSSP.

    And I know of no FSSP priest who had to pledge not to argue certain theological points.

  50. Jason Keener says:

    JuliB,

    I’ve been studying “Dignitatis Humane” and the issue of religious liberty intensely for several years. The fairest (to all parties) and best writer that I have found on this topic by far is Father Brian Harrison, S.T.D. His book “Religious Liberty and Contraception: Did Vatican II Open the Way for a New Sexual Ethic?” does a complete analysis of “Dignitatis Humane” and demonstrates how DH is in line with Catholic Tradition. Search for the book on the Internet. If you can’t find it at first, keep looking. It is well worth it. Also, Father Harrison does a rather thorough job debunking John Courtney Murray’s liberal views in this two-part article: http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt33.html
    http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt34.html
    Lastly, Father Harrison reviews the Michael Davies book on Religious Liberty here:
    http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt44.html#II

    That should be a good start. Good luck!

  51. Jason says:

    “People who float around the edges SSPX (remember, members of the SSPX are priests and the four bishops, not lay people) can choose to wallow in the perceived slight, but I recommend that they move on.

    There are far more important things to … focus on now.”

    With utmost respect, Father, that is the most uncharitable thing I’ve seen on this blog by you. The people who “float around the edges” of the SSPX are souls who deeply love tradition and can find it nowhere else. Where are they supposed to “move on” to? A Novus Ordo parish? I can tell you personally that, without the Holy Ghost leading me to the traditional Church, a Church I was too young to even know about (how do you find yourself attracted to something you’ve never even heard about before?) I wouldn’t be in the Church at all. That’s a fact. I can also tell you that my devout mother, God rest her soul, was shoved out of the Church by the radical overnight liturgical changes and general upheaval following Vatican II. I guess she chose to “wallow in a perceived slight.” If there would have been an SSPX chapel somewhere at that time, she would have LIVED in it.

    I have the luxury, or more correctly the blessing, of being able to enjoy a traditional Catholic parish life within my diocese. Unfortunately, that’s rare. Read those last two sentences again. There’s nothing “more important to focus on” than that.

    Perhaps more priests and bishops should embrace what the Holy Father seems to be encouraging them to embrace. Then those who “float around the edges” would actually have some place where they could “move on.”

    Unbelievable.

    I’m going to pray for those who float around the edges then hit the sack.

  52. Geoffrey says:

    “With utmost respect, Father, that is the most uncharitable thing I’ve seen on this blog by you. The people who ‘float around the edges’ of the SSPX are souls who deeply love tradition and can find it nowhere else. ”

    I would have to say THAT is the most uncharitable thing I’ve seen on this blog. Fr. Z obviously has the salvation of souls in mind. Floating around the edges of the SSPX can be very dangerous, depending on the reasons. Think of the poor souls who go to confession to SSPX priests. Far too many question marks…

  53. Sixupman says:

    Trust!

    Msgr. Lefebvre was betrayed by his peers, each and every one of whom has taken the self-same views as himself – yet they joyfully abandoned the same. So who was right?

    Papa Stronsay Fathers & Brothers, attracting much opprobrium, took the steps which are required of SSPX, but the local ordinary will not give them full faculties. In humility they persevere.

    My parish priest, and his sometime stand-in, derides from the pulpit the Magisterium, the latter a convert. The diocese, de facto, eradicating the preisthood, by promoting the development of deacons to run the parishes.

    The UK hierarchies almost to a man, de facto, anti-BXVI.

    SPX have problems with the +Williamson element, gutless covert sedevacantists, but the current Superior in the USA is of a different calibre.

    Anti-SSPX rhetoric is singularly uninformed, particularly in respect of Msgr. Lefebvre.

  54. paulbailes says:

    I am one of those would fit Fr Z’s bill of being “on the fringes of the SSPX”. I shall be respectfully declining Fr’s invitation to “move on”, because there are deeper issues significantly beyond a “perceived slight”.

    The reasons for continuing to worry about the validity of the 1988 excommunications include the following:

    1. If the excommunications were valid, and thus perhaps the state of emergency used to justify Abp. Levfebvre’s actions not applicable, then many of us would indeed have been making invalid confessions and sacrilegious communions for the last two decades plus

    2. Several posts have identified as a major issue the need (or not) for the SSPX to acknowledge its alleged errors as part of its reconciliation with the Vatican; but the SSPX does not seem to believe it’s behaved erroneously (e.g. not excommunicated)

    3. If the excommunications were valid, then Abp. Levebvre died outside the Church. I think many people would be concerned by the proposition that he could be in Hell.

    God bless
    Paul

  55. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Jason: Father meant no disrespect to devoted souls of Tradition (“floating around the edges”). The point was that there is no need for us to argue about whether a “real” excommunication existed. So much progress is being made: motu proprio, canonical penalties lifted, frank discussion and a critical look at Vatican II by Rome and SSPX, etc. There are bigger fish to fry as we ponder the prospects for reunion and reconciliation.

    Fr. Z’s blog is a place where the clergy and faithful can meet and discuss these issues of the liturgy and orthodoxy, where the Holy Father is loved and respected yet at the same time where the SSPX can be defended and appreciated. Naturally, there are moments when Fr. Z is not understood well as a commentator, but the track record of the blog speaks clearly for itself that.

    What may be helpful for laity to understand is that we priests can at times toss out phrases in discussing groups of people in the Church and although these phrases might sound flippant, there is actually a note of affection in them, the way parents make flippant comments at times about their children but love them nonetheless.

  56. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Paul:

    Any time you approach a priest for sacraments who does not possess faculties from a bishop or superior, whether he is excommunicated or not, you are taking a risk with the validity of confession and marriage.

    As per the Archbishop’s excommunication, this did not place him outside the Church, but deprived him of certain right and privileges. Subjectively, God’s grace can still be with a person who is under a church penalty but is acting with sincerity under an erroneous conscience.

  57. jflare says:

    I keep thinking that Pope John Paul II must have wept when he was forced to issue the excommunication against Archbishop Lefebvre. Who else would be a strong enough voice to aid in defending the Church’s traditional practice?

    I think it quite regrettable, really, if not downright tragic. At least one faction–probably more– could not or would not challenge their own presuppositions or trust more deeply in God. The entire Church lost a good deal of her passion for an obvious line of continuity between the present day and the past.

    Hopefully my kids (should I marry) will have the chance to see a distinct connection between themselves and their grandparents and/or great-grandparents.

  58. winoblue1 says:

    Just to clarify, Archbishop Lefebvre did receive an answer to his request for the consecration of a bishop. The Vatican had agreed in the protocol that was signed to grant one bishop. So in principal they were willing to give tradition one bishop.
    Archbishop Lefebvre however eventually became suspicious because he knew that the way Rome often works is through stalling tactics and they just wait long enough until your dead.
    So he want ahead and consecrated…. and was proven right because the Fraternity of Saint Peter is still waiting for that bishop from the 1988 Protocol.

  59. winoblue1 says:

    I have never had serious scrupples about attending a SSPX mass centre, because all I think is that if clown masses and puppet shows and abortion supporters are in official ‘union’ with Rome, I don’t want to be part of that liberal NewChurch anyway.
    Most SSPX supporters make a distinction between the Catholic Church and the NewChurch.
    These two churches are different but at times are overlapping and hard to seperate – unfortunately.

  60. paulbailes says:

    Dear Fr S (I hope you don’t mind the abbreviation rather take it as a mark of affection)

    Thanks for refining my understanding of what excommunication means. But I think it still matters if Abp. Lefebvre was excommunicated, or not.

    May I revert to a couple of comments in your earlier postings.

    Re. your “I don’t know whether to be shocked or amused that after the Society bishops petitioned the Holy See for the excommunications to be lifted, and after the Pope publishes a decree lifting these excommunication, that people still want to argue that these excommunications ever existed in the first place”: from what I understand the SSPX position to be, Bp. Fellay always maintained that asking for lifting of the excomms. did not imply concession of their validity.

    Re. your kind earlier reply to me including “he [Abp. Lefebvre] caused an ever expanding wave of ill will and outright hatred to surge in the Church which was not there before the consecrations”, I quite understand that you’d have to be much better informed on this than I, so accept what you say as true. IMHO it’s quite a poor reflection upon the episcopate that they should adopt such an attitude, especially in view of the range of significant failings that can reasonably be attributed to them during this period (I think we could all easily think of a few). This is not to say that bishops shouldn’t have been very concerned about the situation, but the attitude you report (“hate”) makes them sound like a bunch of thugs. Perhaps Abp. Lefebvre’s principled stance, compared to their own behaviours to the contrary, made them feel guilty?

    So in 1988, between team Woytla (with Assisi, continued restriction of the NOM, unpunished perversion, etc. ) vs. team Lefebvre, it was easy for me to make my choice, as you may understand if not concur.

    God bless
    Paul

  61. Legisperitus says:

    I’m quite happy the doctrinal discussions are occurring in private. It’s easy to imagine all the kibitzing in the blogosphere that would be going on if we were able to eavesdrop, which would almost surely inflame tensions all around and derail the project. It brings to mind paragraph 31 of the old Rule of the Transalpine Redemptorists, which said:

    “As Secrecy is the soul of all important business, and, so to say, the life of a well ordered Community, so the opposite vice spoils the success of the one, and disturbs the other.”

  62. Andrew says:

    When was the Church not a mixed bag? Think of some saints: St. Francis, St. Ignatius, St. John of the Cross: which one of them did not suffer from within? If anyone wants to wait for the Church to look like some select society – good luck! The Church is like a net cast into the sea and you pull it up and start sorting out what was caught: and much of it is useless. And since when do we believe that ecclesiastical rank is a guarantee of piety? “Non facit ecclesiastica dignitas christianum. Attendis Petrum: sed et Judam considera. Stephanum suspicis: sed et Nicolaum respice, quem Dominus in Apocalypsi sua damnat sententia.” (S. Ierome)
    The fact is: the SSPX reunion would be a great blessing to the Church. I hope they don’t wait for the Church to look like some society of angels.

  63. robtbrown says:

    paulbailes says:

    1. If the excommunications were valid, and thus perhaps the state of emergency used to justify Abp. Levfebvre’s actions not applicable, then many of us would indeed have been making invalid confessions and sacrilegious communions for the last two decades plus

    The excommunications were obviously juridically valid.

    Re SSPX Confessions: It is certainly POSSIBLE that they were valid under c. 144.

    2. Several posts have identified as a major issue the need (or not) for the SSPX to acknowledge its alleged errors as part of its reconciliation with the Vatican; but the SSPX does not seem to believe it’s behaved erroneously (e.g. not excommunicated)

    Just because people here say that it’s a major issue doesn’t meant that it is. It has been stated publicly that the talks concern doctrinal issues. I don’t know of any public statement that those talks need to include repentance. In fact, IMHO, the talks definitely should not include that. If that door is opened, then we have returned to the SSPX accusations that Rome abandoned the liturgical tradition of the Church (not entirely untrue) and appointed bishops who did little except undermine the faith.

    And, as Fr Z has noted more than once, the excommunications have been lifted.

    3. If the excommunications were valid, then Abp. Levebvre died outside the Church. I think many people would be concerned by the proposition that he could be in Hell.

    Being in communion with the pope (and the Universal Church) is more than just a juridical consideration.

  64. Sarto says:

    @ jflare

    “I keep thinking that Pope John Paul II must have wept when he was forced to issue the excommunication against Archbishop Lefebvre. Who else would be a strong enough voice to aid in defending the Church’s traditional practice?”

    All due respect to the late Holy Father, but your comment gives the impression that the Pope and the Archbishop had a chummy relationship until this point, which simply isn’t true. The problem at the time is precisely that Rome was not pleased with the Archbishop’s efforts to “aid in defending the Church’s traditional practice”

    @Andrew:
    “When was the Church not a mixed bag? Think of some saints: St. Francis, St. Ignatius, St. John of the Cross: which one of them did not suffer from within”

    This line of thinking seems to be arriving more frequently in the Catholic world. The problem is, I can’t believe anyone really believes it. It’s convenient to say: Things were terrible before the Council of Trent (and they were) or things were terrible before Lateran IV (and they were), therefore, things are terrible now, but they’ll get better.

    I think to find any sort of fair comparison you can only return to Arianism. Because, despite all of the problems in the Church during all of history, the reality is that never before has the crisis been so bad and so pervasive. Also, the Society knows that the Church will never be made up of saints; and they don’t expect it. No sane Catholic does. To claim that their issue is with a perceived lack of holiness is to miscontrue their argument; their issue is with a manifest lack of orthodoxy.

  65. Sam Schmitt says:

    “Most SSPX supporters make a distinction between the Catholic Church and the NewChurch.”

    If by “NewChurch” you mean all Catholics except the SSPX, then this is exactly the attitude that has to change if any progress is to be made.

  66. danphunter1 says:

    “I think the FSSP has done a great job of bridging the gap for the SSPX’ers who wish to return to the Church”
    TNCATH,
    Both the Holy Father and Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos have stated that the Society is in the Church.

    There are many of us who would gladly aassist at FSSP Chapels for Mass and the sacraments but do not have access to them. They are not in our state or if they are, are 100′s of miles distant.
    But there are FSSPX chapels within reasonable distance of many Catholics.
    So for those many faithful Catholics who are attached to the TLM and not the abusive and painful drivel that goes on in many many diocesan churches, the FSSPX is our only recourse.

    I personally would take my family to an FSSP chapel in a heartbeat if there was one in our state. even if it was 100 miles away, but there isn’t, so we recieve the Sacrament of Penance at a diocesan church and assist several time per month at an FSSPX chapel.
    We pray and long for the day for an FSSP parish for we hope to recieve all of the Traditional sacraments from them as well as experience all the Traditional pious devotions.

  67. Pete says:

    moon1234 wrote: “The Tridentine Mass would be lost to history if not for them.”

    This is so true.

    The SSPX first rosary crusade (1.7 million) made this possible, just as their second (2.5 million) resulted in the “lifting” of their excommunication. Hopefully their third (18 million) for the conversion of Russia will soon bear fruit. A fourth crusade, for those stubborn/naive traditionalists who refuse to acknowledge that it was SSPX that won the MP for tradition (?? billion) – well, I think such a crusade would last until the end of time.

  68. JuliB says:

    Jason Keener – Thank You!!

  69. susanna says:

    So grateful for my FSSP masses. Some of those grey ladies in the puppet mass picture look so unhappy they might be the Christians in the Roman arena picture. Come back SSPX – rescue them.

    (If I told all the pewsitters I know that the SSPX was back with Rome, they would say “what’s an SSPX, is that another language?” )

  70. Maltese says:

    JuliB, here’s another nice treatise that you might be interested in; and, best of all, you can read it for free!

    The Problem of the Liturgical Reform

  71. “Thing are going to change. It is a matter of demographics and the inexorable grace of God.”

    Amen! In the first picture you posted, I’ve never seen so much gray hair!”

  72. annieoakley says:

    Fr. Z,

    Sorry you can’t help me. Thanks anyway!

  73. danphunter1 says:

    I have always loved that last photo of Archbishop Lefebvre offering Holy Mass at, I believe, the seminary in Ridgefield.
    Thanks for posting that Father!