Proposal and Counter-Proposals for Pope Benedict and the SSPX

I was sent a link to an article in The Remnant on the SSPX situation.  The article contains the following statements:

Instead of harassing Bishop Fellay to sign a doctrinal preamble, the Vatican should require every superior, university president and ordinary to sign the above quoted statement to remain in office.  I sense there would be quite a few vacancies as a result!

First, the Holy See is hardly “harassing” Bp. Fellay to sign the Doctrinal Preamble.  But I do like the idea proposed.

If the SSPX has to make some sort of Adhesio Fidei, then let’s have everyone make one if they have some office or position in the Church or her institutions!

I remember when I was in seminary in 80′s and the Holy See determined that seminary faculty would have to take an oath which involved little more than the Creed, one prof, a rather unstable and less than intelligent heretic actually burst into tears in front of our class and raved about “the Kremlin on the Tiber”.  Thanks be to God, those days are pretty much over now.

Another statement:

If Benedict XVI really wants to foster restoration of the Church from the post-Conciliar crisis he should simply accept the SSPX’s beautiful declaration of Faith and unilaterally declare the Society in communion with the Church and on his own authority grant to them jurisdiction directly from himself throughout the world to continue their work.  That may sound impossible but recall that the Society has just offered up a twelve-million rosary crusade for the Church.  Nothing is impossible for God and He can refuse no request of His Blessed Mother.

Of course it is not impossible.  The Supreme Pontiff has complete and universal jurisdiction.   I, too, would rejoice if the Pope simply did that and resolved the situation.  But he isn’t going to do that.  Pope’s don’t submit to renegades.  For all of their solid doctrinal statements and their zeal for souls, they don’t obey the Roman Pontiff whose authority they say they uphold.

What I would like to see, and I think Benedict would like to see, a demonstration that the bishops and priests of the SSPX will actually submit to his authority and obey him and those to whom he gives his own authority in the Roman Congregations and work with local bishops who are tasked with the pastoral governance of dioceses.

Here’s my proposal.  Let’s set all the Preambles and Declarations aside for a moment.  For the beginning of the Year of Faith, let the SSPX, the whole shootin’ match, gather en masse in Rome.  Let them ask for an audience with the Holy Father.  Let them – one by one – kneel before the Pope.  With their folded hands between Holy Father’s hands as if at an ordination, let each one of them promise to obey him and his successors.

I’ll be that would do it.

Of course on my planet, they would then go in solemn procession into the Basilica of St. Peter, with the Roman Pontiff raised on the sedia gestatoria, and celebrate Pontifical Mass, the SSPXers serving, their choir showing the Sistina how its done, etc.

“But Father! But Father!” some might be saying.  ”Kneel down?  Grovel!  Never!”

When I worked in an office of the Holy See I heard stories from the old timers about how when the Pope’s secretary would phone, saying that the Pope was coming on the line, they would kneel down just to take his phone call.  I remember watching how, during an audience with John Paul II, the great Msgr. Luigi de Magistris knelt down the moment the Pope entered the room and would not rise until the Pope raised him.

Yes.  Kneel down before the Vicar of Christ and promise to obey him.  I would.

As a matter of fact, I did.

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Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "But Father! But Father!", "How To..." - Practical Notes, Benedict XVI, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood, SSPX, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to Proposal and Counter-Proposals for Pope Benedict and the SSPX

  1. AndyKl says:

    We could also have that bastion of Catholic orthodoxy, the Jesuits, follow suit!

  2. Finarfin says:

    I like that proposal Fr.!

  3. TheAcolyte says:

    How does the SSPX not obey the Holy Father?

    For not following his private teachings which encompass the errors of Vatican II which contradict former Popes (you know, like St. Pius X).

    That’s not disobedience – that’s “obeying God before men”.

  4. The “statement of faith” for superiors and bishops proposed in the article is the following paragraph from the SSPX declaration:

    [W]e reaffirm our faith in the Roman Catholic Church, the unique Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, outside of which there is no salvation nor possibility to find the means leading to salvation; our faith in its monarchical constitution, desired by Our Lord himself, by which the supreme power of government over the universal Church belongs only to the Pope, Vicar of Christ on earth; our faith in the universal Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of both the natural and the supernatural orders, to Whom every man and every society must submit.

    Why not every priest? Every Catholic?

  5. lelnet says:

    Honestly, I’d have a hard time bringing myself to “rejoice” if the pope did, in fact, just unilaterally declare the SSPX to be in full communion. “Popes don’t submit to renegades” indeed. They do not _and SHOULD NOT_.

    Some of the arguments of this or that set of renegades might have merit and be worthy of serious contemplation. But so long as we claim to worship the original Source of all Truth, we cannot allow ourselves to submit to a lie. If the SSPX is outside the Church (and they are), then the correct solution is for them to _come back inside_, not for us to simply declare where they are to be part of the “inside”. The Church has done far too much of that already, in recent decades, and ironically the history and consequences of doing so (although mostly for the other side of the political and liturgical aisle) is a large part of what gives the SSPX’s arguments appeal.

    Praise be to God for a pope who, for all his apparent and laudable desire to reconcile with those outside the Church, will not undermine Truth for the sake of illusory unity. And in the meantime, may all our prayers continue, for _genuine_ unity.

  6. Tom Piatak says:

    Excellent!

  7. heway says:

    I like your idea, Father. Should every practicing catholic have to make a statement of faith designed by disobedient ‘faithful’? I think not!

  8. Texas trad says:

    Bishop Fellay and all those under him will kneel to Pope Benedict without reservation. But they will never agree to any agreement that puts them under local jurisdiction. A Diocesan priest friend, with whom I have been discussing all the events of this summer , put it this way. “The SSPX must guard never to be put under local bishops. It would be the end of them!” The SSPX has been offered this deal for decade. Will not happen. Let the chips fall where they may…it will not happen.

  9. anilwang says:

    TheAcolyte said “How does the SSPX not obey the Holy Father? For not following his private teachings which encompass the errors of Vatican II which contradict former Popes (you know, like St. Pius X).”

    You do realize that apart from Sacred Scripture, Pope Pius X was the most quoted text in Vatican II? Bishop Fellay has stated that the SSPX agrees with 95% of the documents of Vatican II. The 5% he doesn’t agree with which mostly involve Ecumenism, which is more a change of approach than a change of doctrine. Rather than getting into an endless yelling match with Protestants where each yells to the other “You’re going to hell”, Vatican II attempted to focus on diplomacy. You might think its incredibly stupid, suicidal, and may lead the faithful to apostasy, and some statements may make you cringe, but you have to admit that the Anglican Ordinariate and the Evangelicals and Catholics Together statements along with co-operation between Protestants and Catholics in the pro-life realm likely would not have been possible before Vatican II. In any case, as with the case of the death penalty, neither approach is inherently heretical even though there are hard liners on either side of the fence.

    WRT to the NO and nuns out of habits, you can’t blame the NO on Vatican II. What we got after Vatican II directly contradicted Vatican II in many cases. The NO has to be fixed, but it will take a long while to unscramble this egg. Thankfully, the current Pope is restoring tradition, and the liberals who took advantage of the confusion of Vatican II are a dying breed and people are actually able to read the Vatican II documents so priests have a harder time pulling a fast one on the laity.

    Quite simply, the SSPX can be part of the solution (prove that tradition involved loyalty to the Pope) or part of the problem (prove that its okay to be Catholic if you reject some Councils and disobey the Pope). I like Fr. Z’s solution but unfortunately I don’t think it’d fly since Bishop Fellay has stated that the SSPX is already in obedience to the Pope, even though they aren’t (hopefully that will change).

    I’m a bit puzzled by Fr. Z.’s comment on the Adhesio Fidei. According to Canon 833 ( http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2R.HTM ), such an oath is already required. This seems to be the English form of the oath ( http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdfoath.htm ).

    Have people be given positions in Catholic institutions in violation of Canon 833 or are people simply ignoring their oaths?

  10. Ed Mechmann says:

    Most if not all of the people referred to (ordinaries, seminary professors, heads of clerical religious communities) are already required to make the profession of faith and oath of fidelity under Canon 833.

  11. St. Rafael says:

    @Fr. Z

    What do they have to obey? You keep talking on and on about obedience, but obedience to what? The SSPX recognizes the Pope and his authority. What doctrine do they have to obey? They don’t dissent from a single Church doctrine. Obedience is not the problem. All they need is the right canonical structure. The oebedience to the Pope is already there.

  12. BaedaBenedictus says:

    “Of course on my planet, they would then go in solemn procession into the Basilica of St. Peter, with the Roman Pontiff raised on the sedia gestatoria, and celebrate Pontifical Mass, the SSPXers serving, their choir showing the Sistina how its done, etc.”

    If only the Holy Father were not avoiding the TLM like the plague, it could happen! [I don't think he is avoiding it "like the plague".]

  13. Imrahil says:

    Anglican Ordinariate and the Evangelicals and Catholics Together statements along with co-operation between Protestants and Catholics in the pro-life realm likely would not have been possible before Vatican II.

    No disrespect to the Concil intended, but yes they would. Catholic priests were martyred side by side with Protestant pastors under the Nazi regime (I have a specific instance in mind but do not remember the names), at the same time when Bl. Clemens of Münster favorably cited Protestant authorities in his very famous sermons.

    Dear @lelnet, no, the SSPX is not outside the Church (at least since January 2009; were they, not even the Pope could have declared their bishops’ excommunications lifted). What is true is that it is under the canonical censure of suspension (tolerated suspension, which under the Council of Constance’s directives is a very very mild restriction). And while the Pope should indeed not submit to renegades, the Pope should neither be anxious not to submit to anything that could possibly called a renegade by someone else (I won’t further expound on the matter), nor be anxious not to do anything that could possibly look like submitting to someone else.

    Whether or not it be desirable, converting the SSPX to total obedience won’t work, and I for one would love the Pope to be generous. Which is a different thing that give away the foundations of Authority.

    For that is the point: Of course anybody in the Church must want to solve the situation in theory; of course the Church could in theory demand any sort of, say, “obediences”, which they just will not deliver. In between this is the less dogmatic than political problem: will the Authority be generous or not?

  14. muckemdanno says:

    Fr Z, this is a fine proposal…except…

    The SSPX may have a different notion of obedience than you or some others. Certainly, the SSPX acknowledge the necessity for all people to obey all superiors in all areas of their lives. But, they acknowledge as well that all fallible human beings can issue unjust commands, or commands that violate the command of a higher authority. In such a case, obedience to the higher authority is necessary, and “obedience” to the lower authority is prohibited.

    The American bishops recently have (correctly) applied this principal of obedience regarding the Obama health care bill. I believe one of their statements was “we will not obey this unjust law.” They do not deny the right of the Congress to make laws, they do not “rebel” against the authority of Congress, they do not say that people don’t have to obey the laws of the state. They say that this law violates a higher law, so it is void, and we need not obey it.

    The SSPX will certainly obey the Pope, but if any Pope should ever issue an unjust command, they will have to “obey God rather than man”, as our first Pope commanded all of us.

    There may be a theologial conflict between SSPX-type people, who believe that it is possible for a pope to issue an unjust command, and conservatives in the Church (along with sedevacantists outside the Church) who believe that it is impossible for a pope to issue an unjust command.

  15. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Kneeling and begging worked really, really well for St. Therese. And she wasn’t exactly a frail fragile flower of frilliness.

    Plus, it would be awesome pageantry, which does wonders for making fealty moving and creates a bond.

    Plus, it would scare the behoobers out of the all the right people. :)

  16. @Anilwang No offense, but the 5% that Bp. Fellay is referring to is an incredibly critical part of the Vatican II, and it includes both the less serious presentation and the very much more serious actual Magisterium of how the Council approached ecumenism. The problem with saying that this 5% is merely a change in approach is because the change in approach is based on a change in mentality and a change in attitude, and I dare say a doctrinal development with regard to actual doctrinal matters, such as the precise definition of grace within and without the Church, and other things. Approach is based on doctrine, so it definitely matters. I myself am not affiliated with the SSPX at all, and I accept Vatican II as a valid and ecumenical Council with legitimate Magisterial clarifications to perennial Church dogmas. However, I also sympathize with Bp. Fellay, because the language and presentation that the Council used was incredibly distasteful and rather different from the language and presentation of all other Councils in Church history. I accept the Magisterial teachings of the Council, for the alternative is that Catholicism is a sham, but the vagueness of the documents combined with the approach and language employed by the Council Fathers has directly led to the situation in the Church over the last 50 years. Vatican II needs strict interpretation according to Christian common sense and Sacred Tradition, which I think the Church is still in the process of working and will be working out for awhile still into the future.

  17. Legisperitus says:

    It’s astounding how people who desperately want to consider the SSPX schismatic are quite eager to be “more Catholic than the Pope” on that issue.

  18. FrJLP says:

    @St. Rafael: “What do they have to obey? You keep talking on and on about obedience, but obedience to what?” Well…let’s start with the Code of Canon Law, which represents and embodies the legislative mind of the Supreme Lawgiver. They are, at best, suspended from ministry ad divinis from the moment of their ordinations. They know that this is the position of Rome. Every confession they hear, unless heard in the danger of death, is invalid (and some could then argue that they are sacrilegious…as a simulation of a sacrament–which carries its own added canonical penalties). They have no delegation to witness matrimony, nor to celebrate Mass, for that matter. They have no authority to ordain…on and on and on… Obedience to the Holy Father includes obedience to the Code. This would be a good place for the Society to start. Including the Pope’s name in the Canon does not obedience make.

    @Imrahil: The Authority is being extremely generous and gracious. It’s time for the SSPX to respond in like fashion.

    @Fr. Z: Wouldn’t that be a beautiful solution?

  19. Andrew says:

    Henry Edwards:
    You make a great point: everyone must submit to the Pope so how about starting with myself?

    But various parts of that statement have an odd ring to them. Words such as “our faith in its monarchical constitution” are neither biblical nor patristic. It sound like an effort to provide a counter argument to some thorny issues well known to those who have followed these things. The same goes for the “to Whom every … society must submit”.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just force everyone to submit to the truth and put an end to all struggle and live in a peaceful expectation of heavenly glory?

  20. Andrew:

    “Our faith in its monarchical constitution” may not be explicitly Patristic, but it certainly belongs to the Deposit of Faith and does exist in the Scriptural principles that the Catholic Church operates off of. Take the “Steward of the King” typology, for instance, in the Kingdom of Israel, which is spoken of in Isaiah 22 and is echoed by Christ in Matthew 16 when He establishes His Church on St. Peter. Saying that we have faith in the Church’s monarchical constitution means that we profess Christ as rightly the King of Heaven and Earth, and manifestly of the Church in this age, and that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ in whom has been entrusted Supreme Power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, and who operates as the Steward of Christ’s Throne, in St. Peter’s stead, until Our Lord returns. This is what is meant by “monarchical constitution,” and it is desperately needed as something to be remembered to counterbalance the emphasis on the Collegiality of the Bishops. Both belong to the Deposit of Faith, but I believe that if we follow the hermeneutic of continuity, as the Sovereign Pontiff desires us too and conscience compels us to as Roman Catholics, we will interpret Collegiality by the Monarchical Constitution, not the other way around.

    “To Whom every … society must submit” is also perfectly orthodox Catholicism, and something you don’t hear enough of these days. We can’t force people to submit to Christ, but nevertheless by Divine right He is lawful King of the whole world, and all the world owes Him their Faith, allegiance, and submission, as well as allegiance and submission to His Vicar on earth, the Roman Pontiff, to whom it is necessary to submit for salvation unless one is utterly ignorant of this fact.

  21. The Egyptian says:

    A question Fr Z, It sometimes seems to us outside the loop, that the wishes of the Pope get lost in the Machiavellian maneuvers of the apparatus. Out of curiosity , “IF” the Holy Father were to announce, on his own, the acceptance of the SSPX into the fold, however he decided to do it, is there anything (besides buck and drag their feet like petulant children) that the rest of the bureaucracy could do but obey.

  22. BaedaBenedictus says:

    “[I don't think he is avoiding it "like the plague".]”

    Well, Father, 5 years after Summorum Pontificum, why has he not seen fit to celebrate or even be present at a celebration of this form of Mass? He is 85 years old. As you always say, Roman rite priests should be familiar with both forms of their rite. Will the Holy Father ever celebrate this Mass and underscore that it isn’t some ghetto rite but quite mainstream? I pray he will, but you know him better than me. [He is not avoiding it "like the plague". He has not celebrated it himself, publicly at least. But he promulgated Summorum Pontificum. That's not nothing. I would be please were he simply to have the older form celebrated in his presence.]

  23. petrus69 says:

    I think thats a great idea Fr. providing all other bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals and the such do as well. Lets see how many would get in line

  24. AnnAsher says:

    I like it – for everyone!

  25. St. Rafael says:

    @FrJLP

    Catholic apologist John Salza makes the convincing argument that the SSPX confessions are valid through supplied jurisdiction, They don’t have ordinary jurisdiction, but have have supplied jurisdiction given even under the ’83 code. The cannons and arguments are found under the following article:
    http://scripturecatholic.xanga.com/703979099/10-do-sspx-priests-have-jurisdiction-to-hear-confessions/

    Further proof of the validity of SSPX confessions, is that when a few ex-SSPX priests reconciled as the Institute of Good Shepherd, the Vatican did not declare their prior confessions as invalid. They were not required to reconfess.

    A cardinal was on record in an interview as saying that the Church supplies jurisdiction in regards to the question of invalidity in SSPX confessions.

    Then there was Bishop Felllay who stated in an interview that whenever a case of a sin that leads to automatic excommunication was handled by the SSPX in confession, Rome was made aware of it for review, and they have always cleared the SSPX and stated that it was handled correctly and it was okay.

    As for the ordinations, Rome has had no problems with them. The SSPX even moved their German ordinations from Germany to Econe as requested by the Vatican about a year or two ago.

    These things have always been accepted informally by Rome for decades.

    [Okay... we have veered down a rabbit hole. That's it for this way off "confession" topic topic.]

  26. Perhaps the Pope should act in his title Servus Servorum Dei and meet with Bp. F ellay privately in order to clear up whatever problems exist. I do not think theologically speaking this is rocket science. Perhaps they could jointly work on a better hermeneutic of Vatican II. God knows one is needed after 4o years of abuse of the Council.

  27. St. Rafael says:

    The whole issue with the SSPX is simple. People just don’t want to admit that the SSPX were right all these years. They were right about the TLM never being abrogated, right about what a disaster the Novus Ordo Mass has been, right about the novelties of Vatican II, and right about a serious crisis in the Church. That is what really rubs people. That they were right. In 50 years, the history of the Church will show that the SSPX and the traditionalists were on the right side of history.

    This all got started when they were unjustly suspended by Pope Paul VI. Pope Paul VI’s pontificate ended up being a total disaster. Instead of fixing the mess of Paul VI, John Paul II bungled it, made it worse, and his shenanigans led to the ’88 consecrations. His pontificate ended up a total disaster. Two failed pontificates and two failed Popes.

    Ratzinger was also at fault for ’88 and he bungled it . He knows he made a mistake. Ratzinger knows he messed up. That is why as Pope Benedict, he is trying once and for all to rectify it. Fix the injustices and all the mistakes.

  28. Indulgentiam says:

    St. Rafael :”The whole issue with the SSPX is simple.”
    i agree but not for the same reasons. Either they believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Church and that the gates of hell shall not prevail against her or they don’t. i agree with many of their assertions concerning Vatican II. i think that the way the SSPX is getting slapped around while others who commit the most heinous acts against the Church are given a free pass is unjust. And yet as St. Teresa of Avila found out, this is how Our Lord treats His friends. Many Saints were treated as bad and worse than the SSPX but they submitted to their superiors. In the end they always found that God is in control and always, always has the last word. God is faithful we are the ones who are not and therefore doubt.

  29. robtbrown says:

    St. Rafael says:

    The whole issue with the SSPX is simple. People just don’t want to admit that the SSPX were right all these years. They were right about the TLM never being abrogated, right about what a disaster the Novus Ordo Mass has been, right about the novelties of Vatican II, and right about a serious crisis in the Church. That is what really rubs people. That they were right. In 50 years, the history of the Church will show that the SSPX and the traditionalists were on the right side of history.

    Like the Montini papacy your comment started off OK, but ended as a disaster.

    There are two problems right now: The first is that there are many who are blind to the deficiencies of vernacular versus populum celebration. They want no part of Latin ad orientem celebration, Novus Ordo or TLM.

    The second, which is I think is most directly slowing down negotiations, is that there is a tendency among some, incl I think Msgr Pozzo, to be more interested in defending the institutional Church than they are the Truth. Msgr Pozzo’s comments about VatII, which run counter with those of Prof Amerio and Msgr Gherardini, reveal someone who has read the Vat II documents as a loyal institutional man without a critical eye.

    This all got started when they were unjustly suspended by Pope Paul VI. Pope Paul VI’s pontificate ended up being a total disaster.

    Mostly, I agree

    Instead of fixing the mess of Paul VI, John Paul II bungled it, made it worse, and his shenanigans led to the ’88 consecrations. His pontificate ended up a total disaster. Two failed pontificates and two failed Popes.

    Not really. Soon after his election JPII wanted to give blanket permission for the TLM. A very prominent, very conservative Italian Cardinal advised him against such action, saying that it would be spitting in the face of Paul VI. (See above: defending the institution). Anyway, Paul VI did not get any spittle on his face, but the Church got the schismatic consecrations of bishops.

    Later, in the 80′s a papal committee looked into the desire and need for Latin liturgy in the Church. They recommended that at every parish at least one Sunday mass be in Latin, even Cardinal Casaroli wanted it. JPII, who was much interested in ending Soviet Communism and preaching sexual morals, tabeled the document. That seems to have been a mistake.

    Ratzinger was also at fault for ’88 and he bungled it . He knows he made a mistake. Ratzinger knows he messed up. That is why as Pope Benedict, he is trying once and for all to rectify it. Fix the injustices and all the mistakes.

    Incorrect. Joseph Ratzinger has led the charge for liberating the TLM for almost 30 years, during which time he has been very close to Fontgombault. He engineered the SSPX reunion. The project, however, was torpedoed by curial apparatchiks who spread disinformation that a bait and switch was underway.

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  31. BaedaBenedictus says:

    “Perhaps the Pope should act in his title Servus Servorum Dei and meet with Bp. F ellay privately in order to clear up whatever problems exist.”

    Hieromonk Gregory, I couldn’t think of a better proposal. A heart-to-heart between the Holy Father and Bishop Fellay: cut out the bureaucracy and come to an understanding! Surely this is possible?

  32. St. Rafael says:

    Anyway, Paul VI did not get any spittle on his face, but the Church got the schismatic consecrations of bishops.

    The consecrations were done without permission, but the SSPX have never been declared to be schismatic. Cardinal Hoyos was clear that there is no schism involved with the SSPX. The issues with the ’88 consecrations have already been fixed. The excommunications removed and are null. Lefebvre had a canonical defense for his consecrations, but never got his day in court.

    Later, in the 80?s a papal committee looked into the desire and need for Latin liturgy in the Church. They recommended that at every parish at least one Sunday mass be in Latin, even Cardinal Casaroli wanted it. JPII, who was much interested in ending Soviet Communism and preaching sexual morals, tabeled the document. That seems to have been a mistake.

    It was more than that. There was the 9 cardinal commmision that included cardinals Ratzinger, Oddi, Stickler, and among other cardinals that looked at the question of the TLM. The commission told John Paul II in ’85 that Paul VI had never abrogated the TLM, it was always permitted, could be said by any priest, and that a priest did not need permission from a bishop. The TLM did not need a bishop’s permission. When Pope John Paul II got their results he did nothing. He didn’t tell the Church the Truth. In fact Joh Paul II lied in ’88. He allowed the TLM to be celebrated with a bishop’s permission in the document Ecclesia Dei. However, he knew his papal commision had told him in ’85 that the TLM did not need a bishop’s permission, yet he told the Church that the TLM could only be celebrated with a bishop’s permission. It was a lie. It was only in ’07 that Pope Benedict revealed what was always the truth, that the TLM was never abrogated and permission from the bishop was not needed.

    Incorrect. Joseph Ratzinger has led the charge for liberating the TLM for almost 30 years, during which time he has been very close to Fontgombault. He engineered the SSPX reunion. The project, however, was torpedoed by curial apparatchiks who spread disinformation that a bait and switch was underway.

    Ratzinger shares some responsibility. He failed. Here’s an article from Rorate explaining his failure in ’88:
    http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2012/04/benedict-xvi-last-stage.html

    “…Just a few words from a Cardinal would suffice to make all fall apart. That Cardinal was… Joseph Ratzinger. On the previous day, he had whispered to the Archbishop the terrible idea of having some Masses celebrated in French in Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet, the historic Paris church of the SSPX. Then, lacking support for it, he had been unable to obtain a specific and definite date for the consecration of the bishop that had been granted. First foreseen for late June, the ceremony was postponed to the Assumption, then following summer, then to Christmas. Confidence eroded. Just before departure, the Cardinal handed to Abp. Lefebvre a model of a letter asking the Pope for forgiveness. It was the last straw. On the following day, May 6, 1988, as the Curia rushed to call journalists to announce the long-expected news, a young priest coming from Albano presented to Monsignor Joseph Clemens, secretary to the Prefect, a letter that he immediately folded again, since his emotion was so intense. The Bavarian monsignor was undoubtedly the only one to witness the distress of his countryman, the Cardinal, as he delivered to him the note by which Abp. Lefebvre reneged upon his signature. For years, the Cardinal lived with this burden, a burden which he still mentioned to a Central-European bishop shortly before ascending to the chair of Peter…”

  33. Jack Orlando says:

    The Remnant and comments at Rorate Caeli damage the image of the EF by giving the impression that all of us who support the EF are disobedients, pettyfogs, sophists, and cantankerous haters. This impression is false; the overwhelming majority of us are not. Yet because of this impression, the work for advancing the EF is severely set back. I know clergy who in principle like the EF but will neither learn it nor offer it because of this impression. And so we have the all too common circumstance of those who love something becoming its greatest enemies.

  34. We won’t kneel before the Pope because we reject his letter about the lifting of the excommunications — some non-spokesmen for the SSPX

    Benedict XVI to all the bishops on the remission of the excommunication of the four bishops (March 2009): HERE…

    This disciplinary level needs to be distinguished from the doctrinal level. The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. There needs to be a distinction, then, between the disciplinary level, which deals with individuals as such, and the doctrinal level, at which ministry and institution are involved. In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.

    The letter is public, on the website of the Holy See, available to all, presumed to have been noted by all. There’s no reasonable presumption of common error possible.

    The vigor with which the letter about lifting the excommunications is rejected will be same vigor with which one will not bend the knee before our Holy Father.

    Christ: “Upon this Rock I will build my Church.”

    Some non-spokesmen: “You didn’t build that Church.”

    Christ: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

    Some non-spokesmen: “We grant our own faculties. And… and… we won’t bend the knee before the Rock.”

  35. MarkA says:

    Jack Orlando – “The Remnant and comments at Rorate Caeli damage the image of the EF by giving the impression that all of us who support the EF are disobedients, pettyfogs [sic], sophists, and cantankerous haters.”
    Cantankerous haters? Your uncharitable remarks come across as projection.
    “I know clergy who in principle like the EF but will neither learn it nor offer it because of this impression.”
    Proverbs 16:18

    Holy Souls Hermitage – This is an interesting imaginary world you live in with all of these “non-spokesmen” and their straw-men arguments that you address.

  36. Imrahil says:

    Dear @FrLJP, that the Authority is generous is a matter of degree and not black-and-white, and both how generous It should be and how generous the SSPX should react is a moral and not intellectual question. And in the first case also (legitimately, in principle, I must admit) a political question; this is what I meant when I said that of course Rome has the right to just about any sort of obediences. On principle I say nothing to moral questions if I cannot (believe to) boil them down to (my little) intellect.
    I meant a real right. To, e. g., demand them to sign that the II Vatican Council did not contain any errors, or to demand them to celebrate the Reformed Mass for each six times they celebrate the Old Mass to the least, etc. etc. etc. You can actually be quite creative and always find a justifying reason, say “you have to make up for your misdeeds”, etc. etc., and I hope I gave ideas to no one.
    Noone has a right to generosity by definition; and while it’s safe to say that the Authority has been generous, it is also safe to say (and not blaming) that It actually could be even more generous. In between, there’s room for personal wishes.

    Dear @Indulgentiam, I protest against the assertion that Our Lord treat His friends whom He has promised to love in a way the normal sinner would perhaps treat his enemies whom he admits to hate. (And St. Teresa, you know, was joking then.)

  37. BaedaBenedictus says:

    “The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons.”

    And the mysterious elephant in the room is what exactly are the doctrines that are keeping the SSPX out of the official Church? I wish the Holy Father would be clear and tell us what these are.

  38. Imrahil says:

    political question. On principle I say nothing to moral questions if I cannot (believe to) boil them down to (my little) intellect.
    This is what I meant when I said that of course Rome has the right to just about any sort of obediences. I meant a real right.

    In this order, and sorry.

  39. Jack Orlando says:

    MarkA didn’t read what I wrote. I denied that most of us who support the EF are cantankerous haters. I said certain comments leave this impression.

  40. Jason Keener says:

    I do wonder how long Pope Benedict XVI will tolerate this nonsense from the SSPX. From what I can tell, the SSPX continues to slap away the Pope’s outstretched hand. For example, members of the SSPX are still talking about “Eternal Rome” as if Pope Benedict were a modernist heretic in the “New Rome.” Also, the Pope declared that the SSPX exercises no legitimate ministry in the Church, yet they continue to ordain new men to the priesthood, witness marriages, hear confessions, celebrate Mass, etc. I wonder how wise it is to continue tolerating this kind of disobedience. The Supreme Pontiff needs to crack the whip on those falling out of the boat to the right (the SSPX) and to the left (the Jesuits, etc.).

  41. MarkA says:

    Jack Orlando – My apologies. When you wrote “The Remnant … damage the image …”, I assumed you meant the author, Brian McCall, because The Remnant has no comments.
    I did read what you wrote; I disagree with your comment about The Remnant.

  42. Hello MarkA. It’s a parable.

  43. Jack Orlando says:

    MarkA: apology accepted.

  44. Jack Orlando says:

    All the comments above so far have been well-intentioned and irenic. Many of these comments have been right. Some of these comments have been wrong. My own following claims could also be wrong, and they might be less irenic than I would like. I believe Fr. Z is correct to call the SSPX “renegade”. I’ll now say why.

    It is an error to say that the SSPX has been right all these years. It has wrongfully denied Papal jurisdiction over it all these years.

    It is an error to say that the SSPX is inside The Catholic Church. Whoever denies Papal jurisdiction over himself is not inside, and consequently is not Catholic. He who say otherwise might as well say in the same breath that the Communist approved “Catholic” church in China is Catholic.

    It is an error to say that the SSPX is obedient to the pope. It disobeys this Pope by denying his jurisdiction over it and rejecting his offered regularization; and this disobedience is hardly a way to thank the Pope for the lifting of the excommunications.

    It is an error to say that the SSPX does not deny a doctrine. It denies the doctrine that the Bishop of Rome is the Universal Pastor of the Church. And it denies V2.

    It is unlettered and illogical to say that V2 is not doctrine. It is tautological that whatever The Church teaches is doctrine.

    It is the post hoc fallacy to say that the abuses which came after V2 were caused by V2, unless the causality is proven.

    It is an error to claim that the SSPX represents the Tradition and that V2 does not. The SSPX at best it knows only a part of that Tradition, the 13th Century. It shows no knowledge of the Patristics revival and the recent Catholic emphasis on Scripture.

    It is Protestant – no, it is Liberal Protestant to say the SSPX should obey God, not man.

    It is defamatory to claim that Cardinal Levada changed the text of the Preamble without the Holy Father’s knowledge or permission, unless those making this claim can produce the Pope’s Preamble, the subsequent Preamble sent to the SSPX, and an affidavit from Holy Father stating that any changes were against his will.

    It is sheer speculation to say what is in the Preamble and what has been offered to the SSPX as a canonical structure until the requisite documents are released. It also makes the cart pull the horse to demand a certain canonical structure without first resolving doctrinal concerns, chief of which is the authority of the Magisterium.

    It is misleading to tell people that it’s quite Kosher to attend an SSPX Mass. One commentator above mentioned what the Pope has said in Ecclesiae Unitatem that “it is clear that the doctrinal questions remain, and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.

    I regret to say that it is whistling past the graveyard to deny that what is now irregular will be in time schismatic if the SSPX remains renegade.

    It would be wrong for me to deny that there is much good in the SSPX. Let it do its good, and be good, inside The Church. They should stop being renegades.

  45. Floreat says:

    It is defamatory to claim that Cardinal Levada changed the text of the Preamble without the Holy Father’s knowledge or permission, unless those making this claim can produce the Pope’s Preamble, the subsequent Preamble sent to the SSPX, and an affidavit from Holy Father stating that any changes were against his will.

    Well, the options are:-

    (1) Cardinal Levada substituted a previous version of the preamble for the one that Bp Fellay had discussed with Mgr Gaenswein and, through Mgr Gaenswein, with HH. The version that Bp Fellay had been told had met with the approval of HH.

    (2) Mgr Gaenswein or HH instructed Cardinal Levada to substitute the previous version and have Bp Fellay sign it.

    Bp Fellay – who ought to know what is in every version of the Preamble so far presented – has publicly stated that he does not believe Option 2 to be the case.

    While there has been – and continues to be – much speculation on both sides of the debate, I doubt that Bp Fellay is much given to it. Anyone who knows him would acknowledge him as an exceptional priest and an excellent shepherd: gifted, honest, faithful and a true alter christus.

    I would trust his word over any other. Any day of the week.

  46. Floreat says:

    It is unlettered and illogical to say that V2 is not doctrine. It is tautological that whatever The Church teaches is doctrine.

    Absolute nonsense.

    Here’s John XXIII on the subject:-

    “The salient point of this council is not, therefore, a discussion of one article or another of the fundamental doctrine of the Church which has repeatedly been taught by the Fathers and by ancient and modern theologians, and which is presumed to be well known and familiar to all. For this a council was not necessary. [...] The substance of the ancient doctrine of the Deposit of Faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character.” (Opening Address, October 11, 1962; Walter M. Abbott, SJ, The Documents of Vatican II, p. 715)

    …and here’s Paul VI

    “In view of the conciliar practice and the pastoral purpose of the present Council, this sacred Synod defines matters of faith or morals as binding on the Church only when the Synod itself openly declares so.” (Walter M. Abbott, SJ, The Documents of Vatican II, p. 98)

    …and Cardinal Felici, General Secretary of the Council to Abp Lefebvre, who also attended:

    According to the General Secretary of Vatican II, distinctions must be made: the dogmatic definitions of the past must of course be adhered to, but “reservations” must be made regarding any doctrines of a “novel character”. Never before in the history of the Catholic Church had a council ever taken pains to declare that it was not teaching infallibly, unless it should “openly declare so”, which it never did. And that a General Secretary should confide that “reservations” must be made about its teachings of “a novel character” is quite staggering. Vatican II was clearly unlike any ecumenical council which preceded it.

  47. Indulgentiam says:

    Imrahil: “Dear @Indulgentiam, I protest against the assertion that Our Lord treat His friends whom He has promised to love in a way the normal sinner would perhaps treat his enemies whom he admits to hate. (And St. Teresa, you know, was joking then.)”
    As i have not read the “Libro de las Fundaciones” by St. Teresa of Avila, wherein she describes her long journeys through the provinces of Spain to establish houses. And where that quote is rumored to have come from, i should perhaps refrain from using it till i check it out. I have been given reason to believe that she may not have said this. Does anyone have information about this? Please post.
    Be that as it may Scripture is chuck full off references that the Lord chastises those whom he loves. It has nothing to do with treating us like enemies.

    2 Machabees 6:16
    And therefore he never withdraweth his mercy from us: but though he chastise his people with adversity, he forsaketh them not.

    Apocalypse (Revelation) 3:19
    Such as I love, I rebuke and chastise. Be zealous therefore, and do penance.

    there are many more.

  48. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Jack Orlando,

    forgive me, first, if these comments come a bit harsh. It is only the way the came to me…

    The SSPX has wrongfully denied Papal jurisdiction over it all these years.

    The SSPX have never ever explicitly denied Papal jurisdiction over all these years. Mix up as much theft as you want, you still do not get any robbery. Mix up as much disobedience as you want and you still do not get any denial of Papal jurisdiction. (And the latter would be schism.)

    Now did they implicitly (culpably implicitly, that is!) deny Papal jurisdiction? I have (surprise!) no authority in the matter (just kidding, with the surprise I mean). What I see is a couple of people who seriously claim a case of conscience. No that’s where I have no authority. What I actually venture to say (not that I’d have authority there, but you see what I mean) is that it’s not an easy question.

    He who say otherwise might as well say in the same breath that the Communist approved “Catholic” church in China is Catholic.
    I think the only description of the status in China that is consistent with the way the Vatican describes it in its bulletins is to say the following:

    1.The Church in China as such is Catholic.
    2. Some of its dioceses (and quasi-dioceses) – not, I think, all – are vacant, and some of these vacant sees are invalidly occupied.
    3. The “Patriotic Association” is not a Church and does not even claim to be one; it is an association, a club, in which to be member is forbidden to a Catholic.

    The China case, neither, is easy.

    The SSPX denies the doctrine that the Bishop of Rome is the Universal Pastor of the Church.
    Quite wrong.

    It is quite different to, by one’s perhaps bad judgment or even conscious sin, be disobedient, and denying the claim to obedience. If I’ve got a peace of pork in my refrigerator on Good Friday and fasted imprudently too much at first, get hungry and cannot hold myself and eat all of it – no: I have not denied the commandment not to eat meat on Good Friday. I have but disobeyed it; but while making myself common with all the weaknesses of man and perhaps even with the beasts who only go for sensual pleasures, I have not in any degree joined the ranks of those who organize barbecues on Good Friday for making, well, their own assertion in the religious question.

    The SSPX at best knows only a part of that Tradition, the 13th Century.
    I’m seriously interested where you get that from. 13th Century? Or was that a writing mistake? – Well, around here about the SSPX is said, in an unfriendly way, that it only knows the 1950s. Not this time not so much an attack, but that does interest me.

    It is Protestant – no, it is Liberal Protestant to say the SSPX should obey God, not man.
    Obey God, not man is the only thing for a Christian to do. Some do so in error, some perhaps in culpable error, and some say so in faking excuses, but if obeying God, not man, is Liberal Protestant, a Catholic is bound to be (in this respect) a Liberal Protestant – and this even in a time when he can fulfil all that ecclesiastical and secular authorities want, for even then he must decide first to obey God, not man.

    It is misleading to tell people that it’s quite Kosher to attend an SSPX Mass.
    Which has been said by the PCED… and St. Alphonse (with reference to the Council of Constance), given the fact that the SSPX are suspensi tolerati (which to my knowledge is not argued about). And that is including the well-known fact that they exercise no legitimate ministry.

  49. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Indulgentiam,

    neither have I read St. Teresa. But I have heard before that saying you allude to. I think it was even printed under a “Catholic jokes” title or somewhat… going along the line that she suffered some hardship and then said, “no wonder, Lord, that you have no friends – the way you treat them”. I love the saying, but from it’s very outline it is clear that, so to say, it is nothing to theologize about.

    Well, there are also quite decisive sayings that the Lord does not give stones to those who beg for fish. It has also been said often enough by those who converted or compared that our true religion makes life easier and not more difficult, more beautiful and not more ugly.

    That said, in so far as we are sinners we are enemies of God. The simple fact that He does not squeeze us like a man squeezes a mosquito that annoys him, would be the understandable mercy, were it not that we’ve been told even higher mysteries. “Put all into a sack, beat the sack: you won’t hurt one not guilty”, as the popular saying goes.

    And then there is still the mystery of the Impenetrable Counsel.

  50. Fr Jackson says:

    Riposte-catholique.fr reported that it was Cardinal Ladaria Ferrer (SJ) who played a key role in modifying the text of the doctrinal preamble. Maybe you are jumping to conclusions in saying that Card. Levada must have been the one…

    [It helps to get this right: Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., Secretary of the CDF. Not a Cardinal.]

  51. Jack Orlando says:

    Sorry, Floreat, but Pastoral Teachings are also teaching. “Doctrine” is from Latin for “teaching”.

  52. Jack Orlando says:

    Imrahil, to disobey the Pope is to deny him his jurisdiction. It is instead to set up one’s own jurisdiction. Your argument is sophistry. Private conscience must be properly informed. To argue otherwise is Liberal Protestant.

    To deny papal jurisdiction and to disobey the Pope makes one not Catholic, be it in China, be it anywhere.

    To disobey the Pope is to deny his authority as Universal Pastor. Your argument is again sophistry.

    It is Liberal Protestant to set up the false dichotomy between obedience to God vs. obedience to man. It is also the supreme presumption for someone to claim to know better the mind of Him than The Church. Your argument is also moot. There is nothing un-Godly about what the SSPX is being obliged to obey.

    If the SSPX exercises no legitimate ministry, as you admit, then for it to exercise that ministry illegitimately is therefore a sin, especially when it has been told so. No Catholic should participate in an illegitimate ministry. A wise man, known to this blog, has said — granted in a different context but still applicable — this: “We cannot wish that people sin. We cannot help them sin. We cannot tell them that sin is good. We cannot give them the means to sin so that they will sin. We cannot defend the sins of others.”

  53. robtbrown says:

    St. Rafael says:

    The consecrations were done without permission, but the SSPX have never been declared to be schismatic. Cardinal Hoyos was clear that there is no schism involved with the SSPX.

    As I noted above, the consecrations of the bishops were schismatic acts (cf Ecclesia Dei Adflicta). Whether the SSPX is in schism is another question.


    Ratzinger shares some responsibility. He failed.

    So did the SSPX.

    “…Just a few words from a Cardinal would suffice to make all fall apart. That Cardinal was… Joseph Ratzinger. On the previous day, he had whispered to the Archbishop the terrible idea of having some Masses celebrated in French in Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet, the historic Paris church of the SSPX.

    It was a terrible idea. An even more terrible idea is assuming that Cardinal Ratzinger in 1988 had the authority of a pope. And by 1988 Cardinal Oddi, who would have been an ally, had retired. Keep in mind that JPII and Cardinal Ratzinger disagreed on liturgy.

  54. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Jack Orlando,

    thank you for your kind answer. However, as to your first four paragraphs there remains little to say but that I oppose about everything you say. [Yes, the little factual observation that There is nothing un-Godly about what the SSPX is being obliged to obey. is an exception. However, you may have seen that these factual questions are not so important really, as compared with the principal questions.]

    I’ll give two points, though:
    1. “It is sophistry” is not an argument.
    2. It is true that private conscience is under the duty to be properly informed. But it need not be properly informed to be private conscience.

    And yes that may include some of the actual progressivists.

    Concerning the sinfulness of their Masses, if by allowance of the Council of Constance we may ask for them to spend Sacraments – as we do, given that they are not declared vitandus in their suspension – then, according to the authors, by the very argument you bring along their Masses are not sinful, because otherwise we wouldn’t be really allowed.

    I’m not saying that the Catholic should not make a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate, but it usually goes below the barrier that separates sin from not-sin.

    I’ll say one thing beforehand: “This is casuistry” is a true factual statement but no argument against the things said.

  55. Imrahil says:

    Just as a kind of quietening: I am of course not of the opinion that private erroneous conscience never may be interfered with by those who have authority. “We’re liberal [European sense of the word!] but not stupid”, as the Bavarian saying goes.

    But the Authority has said precisely “suspension”.

  56. Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam says:

    @TheEgyptian stated:
    A question Fr Z, It sometimes seems to us outside the loop, that the wishes of the Pope get lost in the Machiavellian maneuvers of the apparatus. Out of curiosity , “IF” the Holy Father were to announce, on his own, the acceptance of the SSPX into the fold, however he decided to do it, is there anything (besides buck and drag their feet like petulant children) that the rest of the bureaucracy could do but obey.
    No one has responded to this. There is so very much discussion about ‘obedience’ to the Pope here and yet no one has asked or stated the obvious. The Pope CAN accept the SSPX this very minute …BUT..that’s the kicker; the bureacracy would NOT accept it or obey him, and the Pope knows it. His most recent predecessors knew it too (including John Paul I, who strangely died on the thirty-third day). I think we all, in our heart of hearts, know it, yes? And the logical question is: WHY would the bureacracy NOT OBEY? Perhaps, if we think about that for a little while we might just come up with the correct answer. Leave out all the legal twisting of words, the citing of canon law, the running to your V2 documents….think about the enemies of Christ..who they are and have always been and their modus operandi. And think about their goals and take a look around you.