SSPX options and the Pope of Christian Unity

Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.

From the intrepid Andrea Tornielli’s Vatican Insider of the Italian daily La Stampa.  My emphases and comments.

The Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X writes to his priests: “We are waiting, an agreement will happen if concessions which touch upon the faith are not asked from us and if we are assured true freedom“

Andrea Tornielli
Vatican City

The Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X , Bishop Bernad Fellay, in the evening of the 14th of April took hold of paper and pen to send a message reserved to the other three bishops and to all priests belonging to the Lefebvrist group, confirming the state of relations with the Holy See.

Fellay, in reference to the media rumours on a possible positive outcome of the dialogue with Rome, would have explained that, for the time being, nothing of a definitive nature has yet taken place, neither in the direction of a canonical recognition, not in the direction of a rupture, and it is therefore time to wait and see.

The bishop, according to the rumours gathered by Vatican Insider, wished to confirm to the priests of the Society that which he had already written a few days ago, recalling the two principles that guide the Lefebvrians in the relations with Rome: the first is that no concessions be asked from the Society that touch upon the faith and that which derives from it (liturgy, sacraments, morals, and discipline); [A possible problem here is that if hard-liners within the SSPX insist on some "deal-killer" this whole thing grinds to a halt.  The SSPXers have been doing their own thing for a long time now. Some of them have never known unity with the See of Peter.  Such a "deal killer" could be, for example, insisting that the Holy Father repudiate the Council's documents which, obviously, ain't gonna happen, thus freezing in amber the SSPX's status.  If, however, they say that they want to have some freedom in the matter of interpretation of the Church's teaching on religious liberty, I don't see why that could not be conceded.  Fr. Feeney was reconciled over a very thorny question of salvation outside the Church without having to abjure his position.  Why not the SSPX on a question that is by no means cut and dried?] the second, that true freedom and autonomy of action be granted to the Society of Saint Pius X, which would allow it to grow and develop. [That could be accomplished fairly easily, with the provisos that somewhere along the lines they cannot just ignore diocesan bishops (who have, among other things, tribunals.]

How to interpret this message of the General Superior? Above all, it is interesting to note that the possibility of a positive outcome – which many sources, both those close to the Society of Saint Pius X and those within Vatican, consider at this moment probable and imminent – is not denied at all. Fellay, who is aware that there is a group within the Society that is outspokenly opposed to the agreement (approximately 25% of the Society, including the other three bishops, Williamson, Tissier de Mallerais and Galarreta, though with different positions among themselves), probably wanted to reassure his partners that the canonical setting and the re-entry into full communion will take place according to those two conditions already made public by him in the past few weeks.

In this time after Easter and bridging the liturgical year to Pentecost, ask the Holy Spirit to

Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.

Bend what is hard,
warm what is chilled,
correct what is astray.

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52 Responses to SSPX options and the Pope of Christian Unity

  1. Father:

    Could the SSPX be given it’s own tribunal? Maybe that’s not important to them, but if it were, why not? It seems all that is really necessary is to ask that the SSPX accept the leadership of the pope and accept that the Council was duly called by Blessed John XXIII. They don’t have to like it. The Faith didn’t change.

    Then, if reconciled (God grant it!), the pope should ask his brother bishops to be generous and welcoming. That will be interesting.

  2. MattnSue says:

    Unity is good. Unity in Truth, infinitely better. Hopefully, this will lead to all being unified, and allow people on both sides to put Truth over politics.

  3. Allan S. says:

    The current debates I have read are between the finer points of Personal Prelature vs. an Ordinariate (similar to what the Anglicans now have). I would be most interested to hear Fr. Z’s opinions and speculations on this, should he wish to share his own assessment or estimation.

  4. jhayes says:

    Has the SSPX responded to the Vatican? April 15 was said to be a deadline for a response.

  5. martin.c says:

    I mostly agree with you Fr. Z. The same thing is being discussed over at rorate-caeli, and as I said in a comment there, I see two possible deal-breakers:

    1) The Holy See to adopt an “hypertrophied” conception of “obsequium religiosum” and demand the SSPX to give “close-to-unconditional” assent to CVII. Some exceprts in mons. Ocariz Braña’s text about this were at least problematic on this regard.

    2) The SSPX to insist that (a) the doctrines they uphold are “de fide” AND that (b) there is a strict logical contradiction between them and post-conciliar magisterium.

    As you pointed out, the solution to the feeneyite affair demonstrates that “dissent” is possible even with “fidei proximae” doctrines… but this scenario won’t be possible if the SSPX insists that CVII contradicts “de fide” teachings (i.e. is heretic). As you said, if this is what the SSPX hard-liners think, the only solution for them would be, as you said, for the Holy See to repudiate the council, which will never happen.

    Then, for an agreement to be achieved two conditions would have to be met:

    -The SSPX should uphold their positions as “traditional doctrine” but not as “de fide” definitions; OR regard the CVII and post-conciliar magisterium as “problematic”/”confusing”/etc., but not in strict logical contradiction with previous definitive/infallible pronouncements. Also, they should abandon those theories that regard the Council as an invalid magisterial act or as having the same authority as a homily.

    -The Pope should adopt a definition of “obsequium religiosum” flexible enough to allow systematic (but respectful) dissent from CVII teaching. This would be perfectly possible according to Donum Veritatis.

  6. Legisperitus says:

    “Warm what is chilled”?

    But… but… what if it’s the Veuve?

  7. ContraMundum says:

    Such a “deal killer” could be, for example, insisting that the Holy Father repudiate the Council’s documents which, obviously, ain’t gonna happen, thus freezing in amber the SSPX’s status.

    I don’t think that “freezing in amber” as an association that is sort-of-in, sort-of-out of the Catholic Church is an option. The three possibilities are (1) SSPX becomes a normal part of the Catholic Church on par with FSSP or the Anglican ordinariates, (2) the “core” or “leadership” of SSPX are normalized with the Catholic Church, but the fraternity as such ceases to exist (unlikely), or (3) SSPX definitively breaks with the Catholic Church and drifts off into cloud-cuckoo land. Of course, it’s very possible that part of SSPX will accept the Vatican’s position and be normalized, but another part of it refuses to do so, and they both claim the name SSPX.

    No, they can only linger on the threshold for so long. Eventually the decision has to be made — in or out?

    If, however, they say that they want to have some freedom in the matter of interpretation of the Church’s teaching on religious liberty, I don’t see why that could not be conceded.

    Honestly, it is always good to understand the limits of what we currently know. There frankly are a number of points of important Catholic theology that need further clarification; the death penalty comes to mind, as the most recent documents are, in my opinion, confusingly and poorly worded. Like any other Catholics, though, SSPX will have to acknowledge limits to their freedom of interpretation, both in the present, and possible even more so in the future, as the doctrine on religious liberty continues to be developed.

  8. Sixupman says:

    Give us a break, Father. [A curious choice of a beginning.] ” …. unity with the see of Peter …. “? Austria, Germany, Ireland, the U.K., South America, USA, indeed far and wide, what we are informed daily – of disunity and fractures to and with BXVI – by Diocesan Chanceries and Conferences, not to mention dissident clergy. [So?] Such is a matter of record. [So?] SSPX, at least the main body thereof, are not the problem. [And? It is a matter of biting irony that the priests of the SSPX are closer in spirit and doctrine to the See of Peter than many of the dissident priests in the countries you mention. But the fact remains that those dissidents can claim good canonical standing and the SSPX priests cannot. And this is a fact that the dissidents can and do throw in the faces of faithful Catholics. Therefore, pray for a resolution of the split and don't run down rabbit holes. This problem needs a canonical resolution which reflects the resolution of any doctrinal differences.]

  9. Supertradmum says:

    I pray that the SSPX can accept whatever is being offered. I have so many dear friends I want to see completely reconciled, even though some believe they are already. Let us pray very hard for a positive outcome.

  10. digdigby says:

    Bishop Williamson will split off if there is an agreement? I can’t afford champagne but Asti Spumante will have to do. I’ll set it to chill tonight.

  11. ContraMundum says:

    regard the CVII and post-conciliar magisterium as “problematic”/”confusing”/etc., but not in strict logical contradiction with previous definitive/infallible pronouncements

    That is a totally fair assessment. But hey, problems and confusion and tension are inevitable in any serious attempt at the truth. We find them in science, we find them in Scripture.

  12. JLCG says:

    There is something farcical about all this affair.
    The lefebvrians are against ecumenism and now they are negotiating their acceptance by the Catholic church.
    The lefebvrians take Mirari Vos very seriously against indifferentism and they propose that one may be Catholic by accepting Vatican II or by nor accepting it. Really ridiculous.
    I am amazed that Rome takes these guys seriously.

  13. ContraMundum says:

    I am amazed that Rome takes these guys seriously.

    This is not just an academic debate — souls are at stake. Those are what the Holy Father takes seriously.

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  15. Bender says:

    no concessions be asked from the Society that touch upon the faith

    Fine. So long as the SSPX concedes that the Pope is the judge of what “touches upon the faith,” and the SSPX are not the supreme authority in that respect.

  16. Bender says:

    If, however, they say that they want to have some freedom in the matter of interpretation of the Church’s teaching on religious liberty, I don’t see why that could not be conceded.

    If, however, they say that they want to have religious liberty so as to deny the Church’s teaching on religious liberty, how is that not a self-contradictory position?

    No. No. The Church should not concede. The Holy Father has gone more than half-way here. It is time for the SSPX to concede.

  17. Andrew_81 says:

    The key to understanding this situation is the words of Bishop Fellay in his Candlemas sermon, he seems to give very clear details on “deal breakers”:

    1. Whatever canonical structure is proposed by the preamble seems to be acceptable.
    2. The remaining problems are on doctrine, specifically not on principles, but particulars.

    The bishop indicates that the principles given are generally to his amazement and liking, but the examples of the practical application are not. That is, the principle is that present doctrine cannot contradict traditional doctrine, and where there is such a disagreement the traditional doctrine must be upheld. The particular application is that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is an example of how these “difficulties” are reconciled.

    What he seems to say is that the SSPX is not being asked to accept Vatican II carte blanche, but instead, that the Catechism is the authoritative and binding interpretation. If one looks at the points of contention in the Catechism, there is clearly an effort to try to reconcile traditional doctrine with the statements from the documents of Vatican II, but there is still wide berth in terminology and questionable principles (e.g. that “religious liberty” exists because of the “dignity of man” and not strictly out of his duty to worship his Creator, and thus the illegitimacy of anyone restricting his right to fulfill that duty). Even mainstream theologians have begun to question these contentious points, and the Catechism does not seem to provide a solution for them. Thus it seems difficult to imagine that the Holy See is willing to allow a Msgr. Gheridini to question Vatican II (and not conclude that the Catechism provides the satisfactory answer) and yet risk a deal with the SSPX over insisting that the Catechism is the only acceptable interpretation of these points.

    Thus, if there is an agreement, it would have to deal with the matter of the Catechism. Perhaps the revision, seeing this practical application as a stumbling block, removes the references and leaves matters only on principle. There doesn’t seem to be a problem to an agreement then, if Bishop Fellay shared the major problems in that sermon and these have been removed.

    It also does not seem that Bishop Fellay is asking for some unilateral and complete repudiation of Vatican II either. Archbishop Lefebvre who signed the council documents never demanded this, and it is difficult to imagine that Bishop Fellay would do this.

  18. anilwang says:

    Sixupman, there are two different issues.

    If you use the bishops of Austria and Ireland as a standard, then there are many Lutherans and Anglicans who should be accepted into the Catholic Church without renouncing their Lutheranism/Anglicanism. The situation in Austria and Ireland has not been resolved yet and we may yet end up with a schism or a mass “firing” of priests or priests could be “reorganized out of office” (i.e. there has been some talk of reducing the number of diocese and parishes in Ireland since Catholicism isn’t what it used to be). This is in the Pope’s hands.

    The SSPX is also in the Pope’s hands. He needs to be careful. If he concedes too much to the SSPX then those concessions might end up strengthening the hands of other dissidents since it would ironically validate cafeteria Catholicism and bishops doing whatever they please without regard to the Church as a whole. Neither the Pope nor even the SSPX want that. There is a balance to be maintained.

    We need to pray for wisdom on the part of the Pope and SSPX and humility on the part of the SSPX, and most of all a love of Christ and his Church among both.

  19. mysticalrose says:

    I have been praying constantly for reunification. What a blessing it would be to the Church as a whole if the SSPX would just concede already!

    Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

  20. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    digdigby: Bishop Williamson will split off if there is an agreement? I can’t afford champagne but Asti Spumante will have to do. I’ll set it to chill tonight.

    That’s a rather interesting thought: Would a small segment of the SSPX choose to break away from the core if both sides accept some agreement and move forward together?

  21. God help us this week. :) This has been the paramount issue on my mind since mid-March when yesterday’s deadline was announced. In my simple, layman’s opinion, the first priority right now, the overriding priority, should be to get the SSPX regularized, and from there all the finer details can be worked out from a position of respectful dialogue, rather than confrontation and negotiation.
    I think it would be so great to get this whole episode behind us and then work on real, substantial healing. Both the Church at large and those associated with the SSPX need it. We all do. I think that right now the SSPX is poised to be a major agent of legitimate renewal in years to come, and it perhaps all hinges on the clarification they just submitted.
    I’m praying very hard, but my prayers are weak so please back me up.

  22. ContraMundum says:

    What a blessing it would be to the Church as a whole if the SSPX would just concede already!

    We sinners are in need of the Church. The Church, as the Body of Christ, is not really so much in need of us.

    It seems that whenever there is a celebrity conversion or reversion, that tends to be forgotten in a gush of enthusiasm over all the blessings that will flow from the conversion. Of course, blessings do flow from conversions — mostly to the convert. However, anyone who sees conversion as a way of getting his foot in the door, after which he’ll “set things straight”, is not really an honest convert, and will certainly not be a fountain of blessings for the Church.

  23. RuralVirologist says:

    Oremus.

    19 April, 7th anniversary of HH Pope Benedict XVI becoming pope.

    Orate!

  24. Legisperitus says:

    “However, anyone who sees conversion as a way of getting his foot in the door, after which he’ll “set things straight”, is not really an honest convert, and will certainly not be a fountain of blessings for the Church.”

    Well, the SSPX are not “converts” because they’ve always been Catholics. But more importantly, Bishop Fellay has always emphasized that an effective plan to “set things straight” can come only from Rome.

  25. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “…group within the Society that is outspokenly opposed to the agreement (approximately 25% of the Society, including the other three bishops, Williamson, Tissier de Mallerais and Galarreta,”

    I had not realized opposition was that marked; Is it, do you think, Pater? If so, that’s not good (but ultimately not surprising, I guess, as individuals in what start out as schismatic groups tend to end up speaking only for themselves over time.)

    Hmmm.

  26. ContraMundum says:

    You might say a revert isn’t exactly a convert, either, so you can follow the link to the whole Anne Rice farce if you want a more precise analogy. Then again, if the members of SSPX were born with the stain of original sin like the rest of us, they *are* converts, even if their heathen phase was very brief.

    If you’re talking about Bernard Fellay, you may well be right. He is, however, just one man, and I’m not sure his attitude is characteristic of the movement as a whole. Let’s hope it is. When I keep seeing comments about how “the Church needs SSPX”, though, I am not reassured.

  27. jhayes says:

    Answering my own question -Der Spiegel says there is a letter:

    For the pope’s 85th birthday on Monday, his own brother showed up in Rome empty handed. But the brothers of the controversial Catholic splinter group Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) were more generous. They sent a letter — and its contents may be the greatest gift yet to the papacy of Benedict XVI. The pope has long wanted to heal the schism with the SSPX and bring the conservative followers of the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre back into the fold. That hope may now become reality….

    The friendly letter from the SSPX to Benedict XVI arrived at the Vatican during Easter. In the Vatican’s Secretariat of State — the source of several documents that were leaked in recent months in the so-called “Vatileaks” scandal — has classified the SSPX letter as secret and the issue is being handled with the utmost discretion. It is only to be made public following the pope’s birthday celebrations.

    Sources say that the letter is currently being analyzed. Not everyone within the Secretariat is supportive of Benedict’s desire to reunite with the SSPX. Currently, talks with the St. Pius brothers are focused on several outstanding details as well as the timing of the pending agreement….

    The new letter is significant in that it seeks to tone down the conflict. Points of disagreement are no longer to be seen in terms of who is “more Catholic” than the other. The letter makes clear that conflicting positions on Vatican II is “not decisive” for the future of the Catholic Church. In short, the Society of St. Pius X is no longer demanding that the Vatican II reforms be repealed.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,827808,00.html

  28. Andrew_81 says:

    jhayes,

    This report only reinforces the lack of understanding that the media have of the situation. The SSPX and its leaders have never, and do not demand “that the Vatican II reforms be repealed”. Thus it can hardly be said that they are no longer demanding this.

  29. I have never had an opportunity to attend an SSPX chapel. I know many who are able to do so. I do not know any SSPX priests. I am often surprised at the “prodigal son’s older brother” attitude that many hold in regards to the SSPX. They are not rank heretics. Technically speaking the Church does not even view them as Schismatics. ( http://wdtprs.com/blog/2011/09/quaeritur-is-the-sspx-in-schism-or-not/ ) It is not difficult to be charitable towards them…. praying for them and the Church that these recent conversations are for the greater glory of God.

  30. ContraMundum says:

    @Timothy Ephesus

    Well, if you want to use that analogy, the younger brother didn’t stop at shouting range and try to negotiate with his father the terms under which he would consider it acceptable to return to the household, if indeed he finally decided to do so. Nor did he attempt to lecture the older brother on he had been the one who *truly* did his father’s will, and how the older brother must be quaking in his sandals now because the younger brother was going to completely outshine him. Nor did he hold his time in the pigsty as a kind of martyrdom and proof of his willingness to bear unjust oppression. If the fans of SSPX would leave off that kind of nonsense, it would be easier to be generous towards them.

  31. 5thMarianDogma says:

    I made this video earlier, i pray they come to a happy agreement.

    Lefebvrians. Reaching an agreement — Fellay replies.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqUXHD9n6B8

  32. Johnny Domer says:

    I think martin.c hits on the key question: are these points of teaching on things like religious liberty de fide, or something less? The SSPX has consistently acted like they are de fide, frequently making outlandish statements to the effect that the Holy See practices a different religion.

  33. ContraMundum… you lost me on your analogy. Are you the older brother? The Holy Father? (Am I thinking about the sophistic response to deeply?) It was not my intent to state that the SSPX was an exact analogy to the prodigal son. The most I could get from your post is that it is difficult to be generous towards people that might be found to be annoying, or because the people who like them are annoying.

  34. Geoffrey says:

    “The Church should not concede. The Holy Father has gone more than half-way here. It is time for the SSPX to concede.”

    Amen!

  35. Ambrose Jnr says:

    According to the Vatican Insider articles, it was suggested that up for legitimate discussions would be 4 articles of CVII documents, one article relating to religious liberty, one article relating to the definition of the Church, one article relating to episcopal collegiality, and one article relating to ecumenism…by allowing the SSPX to respectfully ignore these 4 articles respectively within Dignitatis Humanae, Lumen Gentium etc., the SSPX would accept the documents otherwise…fascinating to see how much more the SSPX would be catholic even from a CVII perspective than the typical theology professor in Europe at so-called catholic universities (excluding the Roman pontifical universities)…note this would be from a CVII perspective, and obviously not from a Spirit of Vatican II perspective, which I equate with the Spirit of the Prince of this World and who was a liar from the beginning…

  36. Ambrose Jnr says:

    Btw, would Der Spiegel be right that such a confidential document would be sent to the Secretariat of State first…would it not be addressed to Card Levada or Msgr Pozzo of Ecclesia Dei directly?

  37. Jucken says:

    I don’t see why that could not be conceded. Fr. Feeney was reconciled over a very thorny question of salvation outside the Church without having to abjure his position. Why not the SSPX on a question that is by no means cut and dried?

    Politics. As I said in another occasion in this very blog, to most of the Fraternité (25% is a rather optimistic figure, I’d say from my personal experience that most of the clerics of the Fraternité side with the other three bishops, so that you could sample the bishops themselves and come up with the much more realistic figure of 75%) it is not about faith, it is not about religious liberty or whatever, it is about the French maurrasianist movement, it is about French monarchism.

  38. Denis says:

    I wonder whether it is more than a coincidence that Bp. Williamson, in his latest “Eleison Comments” argues that the main problem with Vatican II documents is a ‘diabolical ambiguity’, meaning that they can be read both in a Catholic and a modernist way. That sounds like an acknowledgment that the VII documents are not openly heretical. Unlike unambiguous heresy, ambiguity, even if ‘diabolical’ can be fixed with clarifications, perhaps even a syllabus of errors, as Bp. Schneider has suggested. If Bp. Williamson can be this eirenic, something big may be about to happen.

  39. Bender says:

    by allowing the SSPX to respectfully ignore these 4 articles respectively within Dignitatis Humanae, Lumen Gentium etc., the SSPX would accept the documents otherwise

    But they do not want to “respectfully ignore” those things they disagree with. They don’t want to make even an ambiguous acceptance of the documents, crossing their fingers behind their back and quietly saying to themselves, “except for these parts.” Rather, they want to be able to publicly and loudly protest against them. They want all the world to know that these provisions are not merely incorrect, but WRONG and EVIL and DAMNABLE.

    They want to be able to always be in public opposition to the Magisterium, for all the world to see that they are above the Magisterium and, hence, masters of it, rather than being mere humble servants. Merely ignoring them quietly isn’t going to cut it for them.

    Enough game playing. But that they would stretch it out like this, even if they were to begrudgingly accept tomorrow, waiting until the very last minute, shows that they are not all that serious about coming home. They want to prolong the game. A never ending process of “negotiating.”

  40. priests wife says:

    I’m ignorant of the details- and maybe others would benefit from an answer to my question as well- Why can’t the SSPX be FSSP? It must be much more than the traditional Mass.

    For the majority of SSPX believers- who is the supreme head of the Church? Do they believe no one is?

    I say- our Pope (God grant him many more years)- who has shown a great willingness to respect the traditions of other rites (also- with the new Ordinate) is the man to bring about unity with SSPX- could they be a sub-rite (sui iuris like us but with the final word being Rome) of the Roman-rite if they cannot be incorporated with the FSSP? The SSPX rejecting Benedict is like the Orthodox who believe that the Patriarch of Moscow is the final word when in reality he should be a stepping stone to Rome’s authority

  41. Father K says:

    I have a hunch that a large number of clerics within the SSPX will not be reconciled even if Bishop Fellay and those who support him are. In fact the SSPX has had 24 years opportunity to be reconciled – by joining the Fraternity of St Peter; but they have stood aloof from that option, and condemning the FSSP as caving into modernism, watering down Tradition etc. Since that time they have established their own tribunals. Their actions seem to indicate that many of them believe that the Society is the ‘one, true Church.’

    The SSPX take on the ‘Concilar Church’ as they like to term it, is a product of its own interpretation – just read most of what Bishop Williamson says – what he is condemning is his own idea of what Vatican II says, not how the Church understands the Council – in other words they have their own ‘spirit of Vatican II.’

    I believe that the Society priests will have a very difficult time adapting to a regularised situation within the Church simply because they are used to being independent and unfamiliar with normal diocesan structures. For example, suppose they were reconciled and a bishop told them that the EF is regularly celebrated in his diocese and the SSPX priest who on a weekly basis has been parachuting himself into the diocese to say Mass for a group who refuses to attend the scheduled Mass approved by the bishop is no longer welcome and the small group is to attend the EF – what then? I know of such groups who refuse to attend the EF celebrated by a priest who also celebrates the OF. On the other hand, deanery meetings would be a lot more lively! :-)

  42. Father K says:

    An example of what I said above can be found on a comment on the Rorate Caeli blog – “The Pope and the New Order people call Low or Quasimodo Sunday ‘Divine Mercy Sunday.’” Are the ‘Pope and New Order people’ somehow not members of the ‘One, true Church?’ It’s this kind of way of referring to those who do not belong to the Society that makes me uneasy. Having said that, it is possible that the writer of this comment is not affiliated with the SSPX but this way of expressing oneself betrays a mindset which would make functioning within full communion with the Church somewhat difficult. Or am I being too pessimistic? I would, of course, like to see a reconciliation I am only articulating areas that I think would prove to be problematical unless deep seated attitudes change. With God’s help they will.

  43. Allan S. says:

    Priest’s Wife asked: “For the majority of SSPX believers- who is the supreme head of the Church? Do they believe no one is?”

    Like all Christians, the SSPX holds that Jesus Christ is the “supreme head” of the Church. The SSPX also holds that HH Pope Benedict XVI is the true Pope, Vicar of Christ, etc. At SSPX Masses, prayers are offered for both the Holy Father and the local Ordinary. I attended a special Benediction yesterday at an SSPX chapel that focuesed on prayers for the Holy Father on his birthday, with a singing of Tu Es Petrus and traditional prayers for the Pope.
    SSPX members are Catholic. Please understand that.

  44. irishgirl says:

    I keep hoping and praying for a positive outcome, for the sake of the Church’s unity and for the sake of the SSPX.

  45. Father K says:

    Then why don’t they do what the Pope says?

  46. Allan S. says:

    Father K,

    The answer to that question requires an understanding of some very complex theological and canon law concepts that I do not possess. There are different views on the subject, and proponents on both sides cite volumes of doctrine and legal precedent to support their respective positions.

    My prayer, however, is that your question becomes moot in a few days.

  47. kat says:

    Just some pondering…and this is not a “two wrongs make a right” argument–I’m not going along that line, so please don’t respond to me as if I am.

    But what I am wondering is, SINCE it is because of disobedience to the Pope and his orders that seems to be the big problem with the SSPX, and since many people feel that it puts the SSPX into schism at least informally automatically, if not formally, then why would not that SAME RULE apply to the liberal dissenters as well? i.e. Why AREN’T liberal dissenters, with oftentimes as much disobedience, and even worse, heretical acts and words, considered as schismatic as the SSPX? Why wouldn’t Rome automatically have to follow the same principle of obedience to Rome and the Holy Father, and automatically have to punish and declare excommunicated or schismatic, heretical, or whatever might apply, to the dissident liberals in the Church?

    Again, I’m not saying that two wrongs make a right, and “since the left isn’t, the right shoudn’t be.” I’m actually posing the opposite question: If obedience is the really big thing here, then doesn’t the Holy Father have to apply the same rules canonically to the dissenters on the left? If not, why not? If so, why wouldn’t he? (And I’m not referring to what HAS been done officially with the SSPX in the past with statements, etc. from Rome–that they are disobedient because Rome has said so, etc. I am referring to a general principle.) I hope I’m making sense. Writing is so different from talking, and I’m not sure the question is being phrased correctly. Sorry.

  48. Imrahil says:

    If, however, they say that they want to have religious liberty so as to deny the Church’s teaching on religious liberty, how is that not a self-contradictory position?

    The do not want religious liberty but either theological liberty or also the Magisterium’s assent. Which is a different question, though there stand about religious liberty happens to be demonstrably wrong. After all, no Protestant in Europe before 1800 wanted religious liberty. They wanted the State to foster Protestantism because they thought Protestantism to be true.

    It is not about faith, it is not about religious liberty or whatever, it is about the French maurrasianist movement, it is about French monarchism.

    If so and as long as their particular piece of Maurassianism is not contradoctinary, there is no problem because in the Holy Church there is place for every politics in accordance with natural law. The problem with Maurassianism is that while it was condemned, it seems to be impossible to find a syllabus of precisely which theory in it was condemned. Of course the Maurassian stand that religion has its ultimate right of existence in securing nationality is apostatic, but there is no sign at all that this is implied by the SSPX. That being said, the German SSPX is decidedly Adenauerian and quotes the Basic Law and 1950s’ court decisions all along the way it goes politically. Which is unproblematic from either Catholic doctrine or the German constitution; it may (sadly) be problematic from the view of Realpolitik, but this does not belong into the discussion.

  49. Bender says:

    Then why don’t they do what the Pope says?
    _____________________

    Because the SSPX, of their own free choice of the will, has chosen not to. No one is keeping them from full communion with the Church, no one is barring the door. Complex theological and canon law concepts are not forcing them to stay away. They have freely chosen not to fully join in the unity of the Church.

  50. leonugent2005 says:

    “It can’t be said that error is entitled to the same degree of freedom as Truth.” As I understand it this is the SSPX objection on the “change” in our doctrine of religious liberty. OK, fine. However John Lambert was burnt to death on November 22, 1538 by Henry VIII for among other things denying the Real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. John Lambert was clearly in error. If the Second Vatican Council proclaimed that error and Truth were of equal value I would be a member of the SSPX. As it is I’m just happy we are no longer burning the errant at the stake.

  51. Fr Jackson says:

    My understanding of the status of Personal Prelature – like Opus Dei – is that there is indeed a great independence from the local bishops.