Do the SSPXers think that Pope Benedict is so patient and kindly that he would never withdraw his outstretched hand?
Perhaps that is it. Maybe that is why they dawdle and find excuses not to accept what the Holy See has offered and have a canonical structure of their own.
It would be a mistake to think Benedict’s patience is endless.
My old mentor, the late Msgr. Schuler, was calm guy, unruffled by most things. Even in the face of drastic challenges, he was cool. I only saw him angry twice. His face changed. It was scary. Happily, he wasn’t angry at me!
My old mentor, the late Card. Mayer, was a calm guy. He was a monk, and old. He was battle-hardened. He had seen it all. He was the holiest man I have ever known. I only saw him angry once. He didn’t raise his voice. It left a deep impression on me, to be sure. Happily, he wasn’t angry at me!
I used to talk with Card. Ratzinger pretty frequently, years back. I’d pick his brains. I’d talk to him about horrible things written about him. I would challenge and disagree and demure. I never saw him angry. I haven’t really heard of him showing strong anger either. I know people who know Papa Ratzinger better than I. Everyone who knows him affirms that His Holiness is kind, and calm, and patient and sweet-tempered guy. He has the level-head and level-spirit that allows the workings of the theological virtues and the fruits of the Holy Ghost.
I can imagine, however, that if he got to the point where he was actually angry at someone or about something, there could be instant and sharp consequences.
The fact is, even level-headed and holy men get angry.
Let us turn our thoughts now to the followers of Lefebvre.
The Holy Father has offered the SSPX, through the CDF, point after point and chance after chance. He has offered them pretty much everything they need.
Some will say, “But Father! But Father! The Second Vatican Council….”
NO! He has. He really has. There are ways to work through the problematic issues raised by Vatican II within the Church and those avenues would be open to the SSPX.
I think that what the SSPX has done in regard to the “Doctrinal Preamble” and the Pope’s overtures could be quite … vexing. Their maneuvers might vex a saint.
The Holy Father is about the last man on earth who would need anger management. I fear, nevertheless, that the SSPX will manage to make him angry.
I read statements from the SSPX leadership and watch the temporizing and listen to their musings about “Eternal Rome”, as if they were the lone true ones, being truer to a thruthier Church than Pope Benedict could ever fathom, and I can well imagine Pope Benedict getting more and more annoyed.
And we know how Benedict works. He thinks through a problem patiently and then – BAM! – he moves. That’s what happened with two of the big things in his pontificate: Summorum Pontificum and the Anglican Ordinariates. There was lots of opposition, but he wanted them. He consulted, bided his time and – BAM! - they happened. In the first year of his pontificate he simply slashed several days off the schedule of the meeting of that sacred cow of collegiality, the Synod of Bishops. He just did it. In one year’s time Benedict has moved 4 bishops from their sees.
I resonate with a great deal of what the SSPX stands for and wants. I believe the priests of the Society to be zealous for the salvation of souls. They have so much to contribute! But as much as I have sympathy for most of their concerns, sometimes they remind me of a bunch of brooding Batman villains. I long to say to them, “If you vex Benedict enough - BAM! You guys are going to learn what it means to on the business end of schism.”
I hope they don’t slap Benedict’s outstretched hand away. The other hand won’t be so nice.
Please, Society, please. Don’t blow this.
In ancient times Opportunity was personified as a beautiful woman with very long hair in front but with a bald head in back. The idea was that we must catch hold of Opportunity when she approaches, because when she has passed there is nothing to hold her by.
Seize your opportunity with both hands, men.
Submit to the Vicar of Christ.
Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.