“Tridentine” Dreamin’

Does anyone find it funny, in an ironic sort of way, that in a 48 hour period we get stories about two truly different runaway Catholic groups?  On the one hand we are into Milingo Hijinx, again, with the truly wacko heretical syncretistic group of “His Holiness” George Stallings, with its Koran and Kwanzaa.  On the other hand we have new rumors about the blogosphere’s favorite fantasy, reconciliation of the SSPX and lifting restrictions on the “Tridentine” Mass.  The latter group is at least Catholic.  The former… well… not so much Catholic, no.  Still, I find this ironic.

That said, with a serious does of skepticism and with a sturdy biretta tip to Rorate Caeli I read in Il Giornale. Here is the text: emphasis mine (skip to the red if you don’t read Italian):

Il patto è pronto, ma Fellay non ha ancora deciso

da Roma (n. 164 del 13-07-06 pagina 19)

Tutto è pronto per l’accordo tra la Santa Sede e la Fraternità San Pio X fondata dal vescovo «ribelle» Marcel Lefebvre. Il Vaticano ha inoltrato già da diverse settimane delle proposte precise per sancire la pace e il rientro nella piena comunione con Roma dei lefebvriani. Le trattative, iniziate già nel 2000, com’è noto hanno subito un’accelerazione dopo l’elezione di Benedetto XVI, che lo scorso agosto aveva ricevuto a Castelgandolfo il superiore dei tradizionalisti, il vescovo Bernard Fellay. Da Menzingen, dove risiede il capo dei lefebvriani, fino a questo momento non è però giunto l’atteso segnale affermativo.

Proprio due giorni fa lo stesso monsignor Fellay è stato riconfermato alla guida della Fraternità dal capitolo generale, per i prossimi dodici anni. La guidava dal 1994. Come suoi «primo e secondo assistente» sono stati eletti don Niklaus Pfluger e don Marco Nely. Il primo appartiene all’ala più intransigente, mentre il secondo a quella più dialogante. È possibile che nell’ultimo periodo, sapendo che il suo mandato era in scadenza, in attesa di un’eventuale riconferma, Fellay abbia temporeggiato. Ora però in Vaticano attendono dei segnali precisi. I termini dell’accordo proposto prevedono la sottoscrizione dell’accordo teologico già siglato nel 1988 da monsignor Lefebvre e dall’allora cardinale Joseph Ratzinger, [Now in the Vatican, however, they are waiting for concrete signs.  The terms of the proposed Accord require the ratification by signature of a theological agreement which was already concluded in 1988 by Monsignor Lefebvre and the once Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger] la revoca delle scomuniche comminate dalla Santa Sede dopo l’ordinazione illegittima di quattro vescovi compiuta dallo stesso Lefebvre e una struttura canonica simile a quella dell’ordinariato militare, che permetta alla Fraternità San Pio X di conservare i suoi seminari e di incardinare sacerdoti.

Contestualmente all’accordo, la Santa Sede annuncerà una forma di liberalizzazione del messale preconciliare di San Pio V. Provvedimento molto atteso anche dai tradizionalisti in comunione con Roma.

There is a list of things involved. 

First, the excommunications of the bishops would need to be lifted: piece o’ cake – the Pope can do that with the flick of a bik.  Second, a canonical structure would need to be set up: again, it’s pen stoke time – provided they can be a little creative and, importantly, pick the right guy to head it up (I have suggestions).  Third, the SSPX wants to continue to exist: – again, noooo problem. 

However, the Accord would include statements of a theological nature.  First, they would need to agree that the Novus Ordo is valid: okay… this can be done – the hardliners will demure but most will do this especially if we all see some real liturgical discipline being inplemented in the world.  Second, they will need to admit that the Second Vatican Council was vaild: yah yah… Lefebvre signed all the documents, didn’t he.

But here is where things get tough: There will be some kind of statment on religious liberty and this is where things will come to a halt with the more theologically minded on both sides.

It all sounds doable but the religious liberty issue is the real thorn here. 

Keep in mind that the SSPX reelected Bishop Bernard Fellay.  Given his past open attitude to the Holy See, he would not have been reelected if there was not sympathy in the ranks for his position.  I would say this election was a blow to Williamson and the crypto-Sedevacantist hardliners.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. I cannot help but feel that for some in SSPX not enough people are going to Hell ;)

    Official SSPX statements (sspx.com, sspx.org) say that Vatican II established a new religion (“Judeo-Masonic sect” at work..) – will they change that? and, if they do, they’ll split. SSPV is taken…maybe SSPIX ? SSPIX 1/2 ?

  2. The ironic thing is, by the way, that religious liberty made it possible for SSPX to exist – in earlier ages they’d all have met their maker prematurely.

  3. RP Burke says:

    The “flick of a bik” (actually, a Bic) refers not to a pen but to a cigarette lighter. So rather than having the pope sign something, you’d have him light something up?

  4. Boko says:

    Fr. Z, where do you get that there will have to be a statement on religious liberty? From what I’ve read, they just have to sign the 5 point plan agreed to by (then Cdl.) Ratzinger and Abop. Lefevre in 1998. That agreement seems flexible enough to work. It allows for non-polemical theological exploration of VII, including, presumably, the nature of religious liberty.

  5. Boko: The issue of the Council’s document on religious liberty is the single most contested theological point for the SSPX. Be assured that it will be discussed. After all, a lot of time and ink has been spilled since May 1988. A lot of attacks have been launched by the SSPX at the Holy See. Shall the things stated publically be ignored as if they were never published?

    I hope that the Accord includes language *ambiguous* enough so that both sides can sign it.

  6. Augustine says:

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    I wonder why anything would need to be agreed upon concerning religious liberty. I thought that Vatican II didn’t proclaim any dogmas.

  7. Boko says:

    Okay, Fr. Z, I agree with everything you said in your reply. I hope signing a non-ambiguous statement on religious liberty is not a pre-condition to regularization, because I don’t think we’ll see such a statement anytime soon. I think the Holy Spirit shall prevent unambiguity until the powers that be are ready to promulgate something that is both unambiguous and TRUE. (In other words, I think the HS has used ambiguity to prevent the Church from teaching error.)

  8. Well, SSPX says that Vatican II founded a new religion, while at the same time saying it was just a pastoral council. Which is it?

  9. Brian Mershon says:

    Father, Your blog is excellent and I enjoy your articles immensely. Any type of statemetnt in any agreement on religious liberty would cause more problems in the Church at large (Dare I suggest that many even ORTHODOX bishops do not understand that it does not eliminate the possibility of a Catholic state?)than it would solve between the SSPX and the Holy See. In fact, there is nothing “of Faith” to be discussed regarding religious liberty, as its proper theological interepretation has not been defined by the Church (and WON’T be any time soon).

    However, I like this: “NB: this is in itself a very good reason to imagine that, as part of a conciliation, there may more emphasis on LITURGICAL DISCIPLINE on the horizon; it would have positive benefits for ecumenical dialogue with the Orthodox as well]’

    The current issue of Latin Mass Magazine has an excellent article on this from a scholarly perspective. Here is another one from a journalistic, anecdotal perspective.


  10. Brian: Thanks for the comment. I agree wholeheartedly that most clerics today could not explain what the Council taught about religious liberty. However, I believe this to be true about 99% of the “traditionalists” too. Most people erroneously think that the Council said it doesn’t make any different what religion you are, or that it veered toward indifferentism.

    Do keep coming around.


Comments are closed.