SSPX USA District March newsletter

The SSPX in the USA has a monthly newsletter.  This month the US District Superior comments on the lifting of the excommunications on the SSPX bishops.

Let’s have a look with me emphases and comments.

District Superior’s
Letter to Friends & Benefactors  [Note the title]

March 2009

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

The past few weeks have been full of news concerning the Society of St. Pius X.

You have surely read the letter that His Excellency Bishop Bernard Fellay wrote to the faithful regarding the lifting of the excommunications by Rome.

You must also have heard of the huge anti-Catholic campaign that the press has orchestrated in Europe at first, then in America and now throughout the world.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, indeed, has released the so-called excommunications ["so-called"… right.  This is an interesting attitude to display to the world right now.  I wonder if this is the official position of the SSPX regarding the excommunications.] from the Episcopal Consecrations of 1988. That is the important fact. We would expect the Society of Saint Pius X to be attacked on its specificity — the defense of the traditions of the Catholic Church, the Latin Tridentine Mass, of course, but also and mostly the resistance that we have always shown to the Second Vatican Council. We would expect that we would be criticized and confronted on our opposition to Religious Liberty, [the biggest problem] or ecumenism and the like.

But no, it is easier as the proverb says, “Lie, lie, something always will remain”; [This is a common technique of liberals: say anything, no matter how outrageous.  Go ahead and take it back or back off the position later with explanations.  In the meantime, you have probably bumped the needle a degree in the direction you hope one day you can force to be the new true North.] we are harassed with false accusations of anti-Semitism. We have never been, and will never be anti-Semite, simply because of the New Testament Law, which is a law of Charity.

It is obviously manifest that behind this media operation, the aim is to discredit the Society of St. Pius X, but also and even primarily the Catholic Church and the pope himself. It is a press campaign to disrepute ["to disrepute"  You don’t see that as a verb very often.] anything Catholic and whatsoever is done, even if only slightly, in favor of Catholic Tradition.

Under this pressure, on February 2nd, the Vatican Secretary of State has stated that despite the release of the excommunications of our four bishops, the Society of St. Pius X has no canonical status (according to them). [ummm… yah… well…. I guess it is the Holy See’s view that counts.] It was then made clear that for future recognition of the Society of St. Pius X, a full acceptance of the Second Vatican Council will be absolutely indispensable.  [But we don’t know what that really means yet.  I wouldn’t get overly worked up by it.]

We are grateful to the pope for the motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum of July 7, 2007. We have always expressed our gratitude to His Holiness. [Not much obedience, but… we know that part already.] We are now also thankful for the release of the excommunications; we see these decisions as courageous and good signs. We have no fear in acknowledging that, no fear to convey our appreciation. [for heaven’s sake]  As we have already stated, we hope that the motu proprio as well as the new decree will help to clear, in the eyes of many, the invalid condemnation of Catholic Tradition.

At the same time, we reaffirm what we have always said. We refuse to acknowledge the validity of the excommunications of 1988. [There it is.] We state repeatedly that the consecration of the four bishops by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was not illegitimate. On the contrary, we are more convinced than ever, that it was an absolute necessity to maintain the Tridentine Mass and to save Catholic Tradition. It was a meritorious and heroic act for the defense and safeguard of Catholic Doctrine and Liturgy.  [Remember for whom this was written.]

Today, we express our gratitude and faithfulness to the positions and decisions of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. We declare our thankfulness also to the four bishops for accepting their episcopal consecrations, and for continuing to ordain true priests [as opposed tooooo…. ] during the past two decades in order to, and only to, preserve Catholic Tradition.

We also reaffirm that the Second Vatican Council has broken away from the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church
; in particular, but not exclusively, in the declaration Dignitatis Humanae on Religious Liberty, the constitution Lumen Gentium and the decree Nostra Aetate on ecumenism.

For years, we have asked for discussions about these doctrinal questions, for in conscience we cannot accept teachings contrary to what the Church has always taught. The only answer we receive has always been, “accept the Council!” When will the time come that we can start these essential and indispensable talks? This is certainly what we respectfully, but steadily plead for to Rome.  [That is entirely FAIR.  I add my voice to this.  Let the talks begin!]

During these days of confusion, I exhort you to remain faithfully united. [united in…. ?  What exactly?] The devil always tries to divide, to inspire some fear that “the Society of St. Pius X is giving up” or on the contrary, “the Society is getting too hard…”  [Again… they have a base they must maintain in order to survive.]

Unity in prayer and in doctrine is the only answer; [and unity with Peter….] the recent effect of offering to Our Lady so many rosaries is proof of that. Let not any attempted division undermine us; 
But let us have confidence in Divine Providence, and in the graces which our Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay receives to lead us in this time of crisis.

May God bless you.

In the Immaculate Heart,

Fr. Arnaud Rostand


The letter is touchy.  I don’t think it is actually overly paranoid.  Henry Kissenger famously quipped that even paranoids have enemies.  The SSPX has enemies, for sure. 

The SSPX leadership would do very well to SHUT UP about insisting that the excomm’s were not valid, or never took place, yadda yadda.  They would do very well do SHUT UP about how wonderful it was to violate the expressed will of the Vicar of Christ in the 1988 ordinations.

Instead, they should keep up a steady postive drum beat about TALKS TALKS TALKS… SOON SOON SOON.

That is something I think all people of good will can back and yearn for.

I’ll keep the combox closed on this to avoid all the knuckle-head stuff sure to be dumped in here without traces of an ability to self-edit.

I will take well-written, well-considered e-mail and post what is worthwhile.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. From a reader:

    The SSPX’s opposition to V2 is political in origin. Because I think the issue of ecumenism and Jewish Catholic relations can be solved easily — e.g. Dominum Iesum — , the key and remaining issue is indeed the one of religious liberty. All of us could benefit by learning what might be the roots of the SSPX in French political history on the Right, in a ideology which might be called “Classic Traditionalism”. Preceding backward in time, this ideology includes the Cité Catholique of Jean Ousset, the Maurrasians, the Orléanists, the Legitimists, the Ultras of Charles X, and the émigrés during the French Revolution. In Spain, it is represented by Carlism. Classic Traditionalism differs from the Classic Conservatism of Burke. The difference is that the Classic Traditionalist sees existing institutions or historical traditions a metaphysically “true”, either because of reason or, more likely, revelation — and he applies this “eternal truth” view not just to religious dogma but also to politics. The Classic Conservative, on the other hand, defends existing or traditional institutions because by their very existence over time creates a presumption in their favor. For the Classic Conservative, time, not truth, sanctions these institutions. Classic Traditionalism also differs from what I shall call the Leonine Tradition, that of Windthorst and the Catholic Centrum, the social teachings of Leo XIII, and 20th Century Christian Democracy (Adenauer, De Gasperi, Georges Bidault). Classical Traditionalists talk a lot about Quanta Cura and its famous appendix; they don’t seem to talk much about Rerum Novarum. And, given the Williamson affair, it needs to be stressed that the Classic Traditionalist ideology differs also from what I shall call the “Brown Movement”: Mussolini’s Fascism, Ultra Nationalism, racialism, Right-Wing forms of Antisemitism, Peronism, Evola’s neo-pagan “Traditionalism”, Alain de Benoist’s own neo-pagan French Nouvelle Droite, and Spanish Francism (though these groups are not the same thing). Regrettably, the Classical Traditionalist has often allied himself with the Brown Tradition, e.g. Dollfuß, Vichy, Antonio Cardinal Caggiano, and those in Italy called the “Clerical Fascists”. If the SSPX is able (1) to cut off any association with the Browns — and it seems to be doing so by distancing itself from Antisemitism — and (2) to see Tradition as unfolding, as coming always into a new focus, and as applied differently to different historical circumstances, then it would bring a useful perspective in the discussion of religious liberty. We at WDTPRS need to get beyond the Williamson affair and discuss — and informatively discuss — the V2 issues about which the Society is concerned. — Sid Cundiff

  2. From a priest reader:

    This letter simply underscores what I have saying about the SSPX based on my experience with them: they are arrogant, anti-clerical, and, at heart, Protestant. The arrogance is self-evident in the letter. Bishop Fellay, while he may be the “head” of the SSPX, has no direct authority over the faithful or priests. He is subject to a council of priests and rich laymen who tell him what to do; the four bishops are little more than “pairs of hands” for ordinations/confirmations and they are only permitted to speak officially with the approval of the laymen who bankroll them. To me, this situation makes them anti-clerical. They are Protestant in their ecclesiology in that they claim to respect and recognize the authority of the local bishop, yet they consistently and constantly act and work as if the local bishop’s authority doesn’t exist or apply to them. I get a little chuckle when I hear them vociferously deny charges of anti-Semitism, because one only needs to take a walk through an SSPX bookstore to find copies of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and works of Father Fahey. Perhaps these books have been removed from the shelves now, but they were certainly readily available and displayed before the recent debacle with Williamson. I am really surprised at their hypocrisy in “throwing Williamson under the bus,” when he only had the courage to say what many of them think, say, and promote privately.

  3. From an SSPX priest reader:

    Dear Father,

    I was pleased to see that when you posted your interesting comments about the SSPX US District March newsletter you turned off the combox “to avoid all the knuckle-head stuff”.  But I was unpleasantly surprised to see that you posted just such a comment yourself from a “priest reader”- very unlike your usual balanced and carefully weighed remarks.

    The “priest reader” makes it sound as though rich laymen were running the show, and then makes it sound as a criticism that the Bishops attached to the SSPX have shown such restraint in the exercise of their authority in their ministry, whereas in fact they have neither jurisdiction nor (necessarily) a position of authority within the Society, so such restraint is to be expected.  That sort of criticism is  called a “cheap shot” – you can’t have it both ways.

    Antisemitism may creep up in any number of places, on the fringes of any number of groups.  That does not mean that those groups essentially hold that position.  Pretty simple fallacy there, Father.  I have been in and around the SSPX for a while now, and while one does meet the oddball (e.g. Bishop Williamson – an oddball if there ever was one…) who might have such ideas, it would be a mistake to imagine that it is common.

    I am not a hypocrite for disagreeing with Bishop Williamson, thank you very much.

    Think before you post!

    Otherwise, keep up the good work.  I (usually) quite enjoy your blog and agree with much of your analysis of the situation of the SSPX.  Let’s pray that the Williamson affair will enable us to clean out certain elements and allow for a speedy solution with Rome!


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