William Oddie, columnist for the UK’s best Catholic weekly, the Catholic Herald, opines about the SSPX.
I have made my own comments about the talks between the Holy See and SSPX, saying that it was no surprise that a first round of talks should not produce unity. More is need on both sides.
My emphases and comments.
The current Catholic Herald debate on the collapse of the doctrinal discussions between the Vatican and the SSPX is getting a substantial response, and has been noticed elsewhere in the blogosphere. The whole debate, according to one blog, The Sensible Bond, [A sensible blog, by the way. I recommend it.] was predictable: “On the one side, high-minded papal loyalists cannot say enough about how disobedient the SSPX is, or how proud. On the other side, SSPX tub thumpers jeer about the hierarchy’s tendency to wink at all rebellions apart from the SSPX’s, and the busted flush of Benedict’s papacy which has seen him gravitate from liturgical traditionalist to Assisi tribute act in a mere four years”.
Well, I can’t say I’m neutral between the two points of view, definitely tending towards being a “papal loyalist” (despite some discomfort over Assisi, I think it’s just about defensible), though how high-minded you need to be to hold such views I’m not sure: it seems to me it’s a perfectly normal for a mainstream Catholic to be loyal to the pope. [That sounds about right.]
The real question is whether there was ever any realistic prospect that there might be any kind of rapprochement. Rome’s view is that the SSPX can be as critical as it likes about the distortions of Vatican II – what Pope Benedict calls “the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” – but in the end it has to accept the essential Catholicity of the Council itself. This seems to me entirely reasonable. SSPX actually demands that Rome should repudiate the Council and accept that the Mass of Paul VI is invalid, even Protestant. [I don’t think many SSPXers think that the Novus Ordo is “invalid”. Am I wrong? That would be, well, kooky. Most of them think that it is valid but not spiritually adequate. Any number of them refer to Protestant influences behind its genesis.]
This is grotesquely unreasonable. It is inconceivable that the Vatican would simply turn against an ecumenical council of all the world’s bishops. SSPX must have known this: so it has been playing an elaborate game whose outcome was probably clearly foreseen by Bishop Fellay. [What would that imply about Fellay? That he was not being sincere from the onset? That he was desperate? That … what?] The Pope, on the contrary, clearly had hopes that the schism [That is not the word the Holy See uses. It is perfectly normal to be guided by the Holy Father in this regard.] might be overcome. Well, he has done everything he could to explore every avenue towards reconcilation. Now it is over. [Who, exactly, says its over?]
The issues involved, however, will be with us for some time, and still have to be faced, since the casual acceptance of some supposedly “traditionalist” views has done considerable damage. One of these was summed up by one participant in the ongoing Herald debate: his view is essentially that the Novus Ordo is an invalid rite:
The rest of Mr. Oddie’s article includes a defense of validity of the Novus Ordo. You can read the rest over there.
In the meantime, I haven’t seen a formal declaration from the Holy See confirming that the SSPX is in schism. I haven’t seen any statement from the SSPX that they are no longer going to talk with official of the Holy See or delegated theologians.
But I am sure there are people on both sides who would prefer that the status quo be maintained. Some of them are kooky, too, and they get too much attention.