“doctrinal discussions” betwixt SSPX and the Holy See?

The formerly excommunicated SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson says on his blog Dinoscopus that some particulars of the necessary talks between the SSPX and the Holy See have been hammered out.

The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the terms that the Holy See issued to the leadership of the SSPX last year, and the lifting of the excommunications of the four bishops were necessary steps to reach the next step: theological discussions.

You can see the logic of associating the PCED more closely with the CDF.  That move, when it comes, will not be a punishment (as the liberal Catholics and their dour press wanted to paint it because they are full of fear-born hate for Catholic Tradition).  It is a necessary move to keep the process directed to a positive conclusion.

The SSPX has problems with the documents of the Second Vatican Council.  They have the right to present their concerns.  Holy See, in turn, has the right to present responses.

Let’s see what Bp. Williamson said with my emphases and comments.

From Bishop Tissier de Mallerais speaking in Paris we hear that terms have been fixed for the doctrinal discussions due to take place between the Society of St. Pius X and the Church authorities in Rome. The discussions are to be in writing, which is wise, insofar as there is less room for passion and more time for careful thinking. [It is also far safer for the SSPX since they have fewer resources.]  Also they will not be made public, a provision which at best eliminates "grand-standing" by either party, otherwise known as playing to the gallery, because there will be no gallery present.  [A good idea, since the SSPX does have a base to be worried about.]

From Rome we hear that the impetus towards a Rome-SSPX understanding which was generated by the Pope’s January "re-incommunication" [odd word play… figure it out…] of the four SSPX bishops, was seriously slowed down by the distrust generated by the media uproar  [is that what we are calling it?  Distrust?] of January-February, which is what that uproar was designed to achieve[probably] Yet subjectively speaking, there is certainly still good will on the part of the Pope towards the SSPX, [Good grief man!  Of COURSE there is!  And he took a huge hit for you guys.  Do you think for a moment he didn’t know he would have to take a hit?] and there is no lack of good will on the part of the SSPX towards the person of the Holy Father. [QED… good]

The problem for these discussions is that, objectively speaking, as on either side there may be some reluctance to admit, we are in the presence of an irreconcilable clash between the religion of God and the religion of man. [hmmmm] Vatican II mixed the two together, which was too much of the religion of man by half. Let us then say that Benedict XVI wishes to combine Vatican II with Catholic Tradition. That is still too much of the religion of man by a quarter. Let us now suppose that the SSPX and Benedict XVI were to agree to come half-way towards each other. That would still represent one eighth of the religion of man mixed with seven eighths of the religion of God, which for the purposes of Almighty God would still be one eighth too much.  [Sorry… but this is silly.  I am reminded of the futility expressed by Eliot’s coffee spoons.  But that is not how these things work.]

For just as it takes a disproportionately small amount of water mixed with a tank full of gasoline (or petrol) to stop a car engine dead, so it takes only a small admixture of idolatry to stop dead the true religion of God. [So… we can understand by that the Bp. Williamson thinks that .. well.. at least he is the arbiter of what is the True Catholic Faith.  Is this going to be the position of the leadership of the SSPX?  Thus, does this signal a break between Williamson and Fellay?] The Lord God Himself tells us that He is a jealous God (Exod. XX, 5; etc.), and will not endure any false gods beside Him. To anybody in the SSPX who might be tempted to worship with the neo-modernists, as to any neo-modernist who might wish to share worship with the Catholics, the Old Testament prophet Elias would say as he said to the hesitating Israelites, "How long do you halt between the two sides ? If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him." Scripture (III Kings, XVIII, 21) then says, "The people did not answer him a word".

Subjectively, the Israelites wanted to have it both ways. Objectively, that was impossible. For ourselves too. Kyrie Eleison.


This offering of the formerly excommunicated and now "re-incommincated" SSPX bishop –  who really ought to be living out a quiet retired life – raises a few questions.  I included a few of them above.

However… I think the way to sort this out is to remember that people of good will on both sides should be able to disagree about those things which are not able to be nailed down with clarity… and still remain in communion with each other.


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  1. Mark says:

    Sounds like a non-starter. How can there be any discussion if that is his position?

  2. Jimbo Gumbo says:

    If the SSPX were ever reconciled with the Holy See they would lose their reason for being. I think they rather like being schismatics. It’s paying off for them.

  3. His use of the fractions 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 to illustrate the results of dialogue struck me as funny.

    In fact, it reminded me of this brilliant comic strip by XKCD.

  4. FrGregACCA says:

    “Thus, does this signal a break between Williamson and Fellay?”

    That’s been simmering for a while, I think.

  5. I think that it would make sense for the Holy See
    to exclude Williamson from the negotiations. Quite
    frankly, I think that the man has proven enough
    of an embarrassment for the Holy See and the SSPX
    this last February. As Fr. Z. said so well,
    his participation in the situation would be a

    It seems to me that negotiations between the three
    other SSPX bishops and the Holy See would be
    an excellent boon for Holy Mother Church. While
    both sides clearly know what issues are on the table,
    it is time for them to get together and discuss
    exactly how to resolve them. Also, they need to
    figure out and negotiate what exactly the SSPX
    will do and how it will be administered.

    This news is good, Williamson’s commentary aside,
    and so we must continue to pray on this situation.

  6. TNCath says:

    This is simply more game playing by Williamson, and this diatribe is remarkably similar in logic as Father Jenkins’ defense of President Obama’s appearance at the Notre Dame commencement. While the SSPX does have “the right to present their concerns,” if they really want to be in full communion with the Church, they have the duty to submit in obedience to the Holy Father. Despite the Pope’s extraordinary efforts to bring the SPPX to reconciliation, I think there will always be a core group of dissenters out there who will never do so. As Jimbo Gumbo says, “they rather like being schismatics” just as I truly believe Father Jenkins at Notre Dame likes defying Bishop D’Arcy. If Williamson really wanted to further the cause of communion, he’d have completely recanted everything he has said previously and then quietly faded into obscurity.

  7. Phil says:

    The TLM is superior to the Novus Ordo, according to the SSPX.


    1. Why does the Pope respect the SSPX when the Society holds the above view of the Mass (both forms)?

    2. Catholics who assist at SSPX chapels are in communion with the Church. Said Catholics hold the above opinion of the TLM and Novus Ordo.

    Why does the Church recognize “SSPX Catholics” as being in communion with the Church when said Catholics believe that the TLM is the superior Mass?

    3. Could Rome possibly “regularize” the SSPX Rome while allowing the SSPX to hold its current opinion of the state of Latin Church liturgy?

  8. LCB says:

    I feel that Bp. W. would do well to consider that the greatest of saints often suffered in silence.

  9. southbend says:

    I had to read the math portion over a couple of times slowly in order to follow it. Perhaps because I wasn’t expecting it my mind had to shift gears. It reminded me of Bilbo’s convoluted speech at the beginning of the The Fellowship of the Ring:

    “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

    At least it was simple fractions, though. It could have been a quadratic equation, and then I would have been in real trouble.

  10. schoolman says:

    I think we can now safely say that +Williamson is no mouthpiece for +Fellay or the SSPX. God bless the discussions…may they bear good fruit.

  11. Mark says:

    I really dont understand what either side things these discussions will achieve. If Vatican II changed anything, then it needs to be changed back. If it didnt change anything, then there is nothing to discuss. I dont understand.

  12. Wyatt says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but that appears to be Williamson’s blog. While it reflects his personal views, and he’s free to say whatever he wants, it isn’t a public statement of position; he seems to be staying quiet in relation to the media. When Fellay retired him from the field, it (to me) showed that he knew of Williamson’s tendency to make inflammatory remarks and did not agree with them. I think we’ll see a further split, to be honest- Williamson will think Fellay is caving too much, and try to take a sizable portion of the SSPX into further schism.

    The fact that Fellay is opening talks means that he isn’t opposed to the idea of reconciliation. I think that, if he is convinced of the Holy Father’s position, he is willing to submit to his authority- he’s coming to the table, even if it isn’t with the best standing. Sending the rosaries was a gesture of goodwill, possibly approaching apology, in my eyes. He appears to be looking towards the discussion more as an equal, rather than the party in the right.

    Just my (fairly uninformed) two cents.

  13. michigancatholic says:


    It’s a bit more complicated than that, unfortunately. Many people, apparently on both sides (and about 1/2 the middle), think Vatican II changed more than it did.

    Vatican II was only one of 21 councils which went before it. All of them relied in the same way on the Holy Spirit speaking through the Church for their validation as ecumenical councils. Therefore it is simply not possible for one of them to have ‘trumped’ the others in the wholesale contradictory fashion many people have claimed without invalidating itself in the process. Vatican II simply didn’t have that in its power. Ever. Vatican II could have offered a new non-contradictory explanation or refinement of something already defined; it could have defined something new. But that’s it. Wholesale contradiction is, and always has been, out of the question–no matter who might have wanted it or why.

    I’m pretty sure this realization is what is being called the *Continuity Movement* now. And it’s what Pope Benedict talks about when he talks about *avoiding a hermaneutic of rupture*. Vatican II must be understood in a new light–one that avoids a rupture and does a better job of recognizing the truth. *Everyone needs to simmer down and be more precise about what V2 could have done and did, in fact, do. And this precision may be enough to bring us together again.*

    Now, that realization from the top doesn’t do much, I realize, to help the many, many ordinary people who *think* there was a rupture because they’ve had it drilled into their heads by tons of people closer to them who didn’t know what they were talking about. That needs to be addressed and it’s not being dealt with fast enough. I’m hoping that the re-union of the SSPX occurs and that it can be used to help many people get a clearer idea of what really happened at V2 and for that matter, all the other councils too.

  14. LCB says:


    Some portion of these talks will probably deal with just what teaching authority the council had.

    One reading of the council documents (in my opinion a very valid reading) can easily conclude: the Council taught nothing, except when it reaffirmed previously held Church teachings. In other words, the council gave directives for proceeding in the era (as councils often do), the council provided reflection on pressing matters (as councils sometimes do), the councils called for certain activities to take place in the future (as councils occasionally do).

    The council also lacked any anathemas. Well, that’s problematic because those anathemas often serve as the interpretation key for a council’s documents (the documents say X, and the anathemas make clear the context of X and also that Y is not being said). When one encounters a multitude of vague passages, and no interpretation key is in sight, one has a serious problem: what does this actually mean?

    If that matter could be dealt with, a great many of the issues dividing the parties could be settled in neutral and acceptable ways, and everybody can save face too.

  15. michigancatholic says:

    Another way to talk about this same idea is to use the phrase “analogy of faith” the way the Catechism of the Catholic Church does:

    *114 3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith. By “analogy of faith” we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation.*

    So you see, wholesale contradictions among the truths of the faith are simply not possible. Precision, precision, precision. Let’s get to it.

  16. michigancatholic says:

    Correct, Mark. And if Vatican II simply didn’t say something, it didn’t say it. Experts on theology and tradition need to have at this thing and define it in accord with the other councils, so that the hermaneutic of rupture is no longer the major take-away people on both sides and down a wide swath of the middle are getting.

  17. JC says:

    Here’s what will happen:
    1. It will be just like with the Eastern Churches. The leadership of the SSPX will mostly come to terms with Rome. A full-reintegration will be agreed upon, but the rank and file priests and laity of the SSPX will refuse, and the four bishops will say, “OK, we’ll stay schismatic,” just like the Orthodox bishops did in the Middle Ages.
    2. The discussions *will* be successful. The SSPX will be welcomed back into the Church. Most of the laity will *probably* come on board because as long as they’re able to keep going to SSPX churches, they won’t really care. It’s not like anyone’s forcing them to attend the Ordinary Form. Many of the priests wlil also likely follow suit. But Williamson and others like him will just create a new little schismatic group.

  18. JC,

    I hate to say this, but the only reason why unity
    was achieved between the Eastern Orthodox Church
    and the Roman Catholics during the Councils
    of Florence and Ferrara was for strictly political
    as well as religious reasons.

    The Byzantine emperor believed that if
    he achieved unity with the West then the West
    would be under some kind of obligation to help
    the Byzantine Empire out of the muck it was in
    with the Ottoman Turks.

    You are correct in saying that many of the clergy,
    monastics, and laity rebeled against this so-called
    “false union.” Many of the monks were known to
    protest in the streets and yell, “Better the
    Sultan’s turban than the Pope’s tiara.”

    In the current situation with the SSPX, I’m
    not sure whether this analogy applies. There
    is no Ottoman Empire or another political entity
    that is oppressing the SSPX or the Holy See.
    Therefore, unity must be achieved for spiritual
    reasons rather than any other matter of convenience.

    Once again, I strongly urge that we pray for this
    important intention.

  19. steve says:

    There is lots of wishful thinking from Fr. Z and his fans. The most obvious is the claim of a split between Fellay and Williamson. I see no evidence of this and I suggest that you underestimate an English public schoolboy at your peril. These men are trained to run an empires!

    The Pope “took a hit” on this? “Do you think for a moment he didn’t know he would have to take a hit?” According to Benedict, he didn’t know about Williamson’s views so the answer to the question is arguably, no. Yet Bishop Roach of Leeds predicted in his response to the SP that this reconciliation was one of its purposes, a point refuted by Fr. Z on this very blog. Fr. Z’s comments on Williamson’s blog are confused.

    He also failed to identify posturing and rhetroic which he dismissed as merely “silly”.

  20. rljfp says:

    My two cents worth,
    I am curious where everyone gets their information and how they have become so well founded in theology, church doctrine and the teachings of VII. These postings will just rile folks up by interfering in things they know nothing about! How does anyone know this or that about the SSPX and the CDF positions? Not even the good Father Z has privy information on the upcoming talks–though he does have pretty darn good connections. No one has been named to head the discussion from either side, yet. My grandson is a priest with the SSPX and gets a good laugh at how knowledgeable so many folks are here. His is saying that +Williamson will not be part of any team and that rumors of discord among the bishops is grossly unfounded. I might add that I also have a grandson in the FSSP and he says that they are to refrain from making any comments about the talks–except to pray that they are successful. Pretty good advice for all of us. I think +Williamson is less of a schismatic (which he is not) than Father Jenkins at Notre Shame and the Jesuit president at Georgetown who have publicly disavowed the Catholic heritage of their institutions. Not a single person in the SSPX community would deny or downplay anything to do with Traditional Catholic teaching. Why have their bishops not reined them in as well as their superiors? Why have they not been suspended or excommunicated? If the bishops here were to take a more pro-active stand, like Bishop Lori, in defending the Church and its teachings there might be more folks taking the VII Church a bit more seriously and who might reconsider coming back home to Rome.

  21. Kevin V. says:

    I see this kind of absolute, black / white thinking among trads I talk with all the time. In their (admirable) desire to seek the truth they demand that a certain theological perspective be dogmatized from top to bottom. Under such a regime, all the questions are settled. There would be no more need for theologians, we would all just read the old books.
    This goes too far, there is room for honest debate on innumerable subjects, just not on the basic dogmas of the faith. The mark of catholicity, I believe, is unity in diversity. There are different theological perspectives and they all have something to offer one another, we don’t all have to be neo-Thomists.

  22. JP Borberg says:

    I more or less agree with rljfp. If you think it’s fun to make predictions about things that we know very little about, go bet on horses or something. Whatever can be said against gambling, it can’t be as damaging as the lack of charity shown on both extremes of these idle speculations.

    What grounds have we to doubt that the Holy Father and Bps Felly and Williamson actually have the welfare of the Church at heart, despite what they disagree on?

    I second Br Juniper. The best we can do is pray that all parties agree with God by the end of the negotiations.

  23. Mark VA says:

    It is hard to say if this reflects Bishop Williamson’s private assesment of the situation, or if it is indicative in any way of SSPX’s remaining leadership position as well. His use of the word “irreconcilable”, a hard and inflexible word, may indicate that he’s playing a game of his own, since others in his group seem ready to talk.

    Father Z rightly mentions that in his good will efforts to reconcile this group to the Church our Pope took a huge hit – something they should humbly acknowlege and make reparations for.

    Who knows what intra-mural games are going on within this tiresome SSPX, how many factions it contains, or how they interact. I think we can only watch, pray for them, and speculate on the margins.

  24. DocJim says:

    While I attended an “independent Catholic church” for a year and read the “Angelus” for two years, I greatly appreciated many thoughts and comments of Williamson. He is a brilliant man. That said, I left that church for an old, pre-motu proprio Latin mass chapel. My later opinion of Williamson has been scarred by additional things that I have read from him.

    I believe Williamson and Jenkins are too similar. They are brilliant men who appear to enjoy grasping for the “top spot.” If that be the case, then neither have quite the humility to be the best Christian leader. So I hope that episcopal ordination is denied Jenkins and the situation of Williamson is certainly a confused one.

    Yes, it would be good for Williamson to lay low and quit making any pronouncements on the magisterium or the SSPX. On the other hand, he has many good insights to offer, if he can avoid these two subjects.

  25. bob says:

    I said it before and I shall say it again as one who spent years at the SSPX: they shall never reconcile with Rome. They are using this time to engage in dialogue to teach Rome how to be Catholic. That is all. Implicit in this doctrinal belief is the sin against the Holy Spirit: “we are in the presence of an irreconcilable clash between the religion of God and the religion of man,” says Richard Williamson. Here you have it, SSPX believes the teachings of the Second Vatican Council are not inspired by the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity and therefore must not be believed but overthrown. If the teachings of the Second Vatican Council are not inspired by the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, then they can only be inspired one other way: through Satan. Again, implicit in all the SSPX teaching against the Council is that fact, that they do not believe God inspired the Council. That is their sin, that is their heresy and it is unforgivable because it grieves the Holy Spirit. Without the rejection of this heresy they shall never be Catholic. They have the guise of “Catholic” but they are not Catholic at the heart. The “Bishop” has spoken and from his own mouth he convicts himself.

  26. Jan says:

    If you have not read Iota Unum and are interested in the specifics of a fruitful discussion regarding Vatican II, you should get past the first daunting pages to do so. It seems to me that few of the readers of this blog would disagree that the Church was shaken by the hijacking of the Council and that the consequences, of which Father Jenkins’ logic in honoring and inviting the new Prince of This World is simply another but completely compatible expression, have been devasting. Few would argue that we do not need to state clearly the role of the priesthood either in life or in the mass. Who would defend the teaching eliminating Limbo–anyone really involved in the pro-life movement who knows how this teaching supports abortion in the confused minds of women seeking abortion? If each of the several vexing questions are discussed, if clarification can be achieved, we will all benefit. There are a discrete number of items, not some general rejection of the Church, rather many to list in a post but not an impossible number to discuss, and be assured, SSPX know each one. You only have to read Angelus magazine now and then to know what they are.

    It is silly to say SSPX ‘benefits’ by the situation. SSPX must run schools, apostolic initiatives, retreats, seminaries, orders of nuns, and choirs, all without the support and often with the hindrance and hostility of the diocesan structure around them. They are in this way isolated and stressed. The SSPX communities I know are not rich, not established among the well to do, serving their parishes would be among the most difficult assignments even if they had the whole support of the Church at their disposal. And they have nothing. But they are doing it. That they are bringing all the beauty of the traditional liturgy and teaching to the people they serve ought to be admired by the readers of this blog. If you could see a scruffy little ruffian in the wilds of Mexico wetting his tiny and none too clean finger to follow better along a line of Gregorian Chant, as I have, you would add your prayers to mine for the success of these talks. The Church needs SSPX, and SSPX needs the Church, and apparently, since these talks are scheduled in spite of the world’s almost frenzied opposition, both sides, in spite of being merely human, blessedly know it.

    Of course Williamson was speaking Bilbo-esquely with his fractions! As far as SSPX’s ‘base’ being bent out of shape, their priests have been faithful in trying to build a base, a new generation, of simple Catholics. That means everything Jenkins isn’t and everything the fringe on the other side, the sede-vacantists and the like, aren’t either. Believers of all stripes do attend the traditional mass, have fled the novus ordo, both to SSPX and to indult sites. They are not a majority of the people there, in my unofficial reckoning, which still is more objectively formed, vis a vis SSPX, than some commenters’.

  27. dcs says:

    Phil asks:
    Why does the Church recognize “SSPX Catholics” as being in communion with the Church when said Catholics believe that the TLM is the superior Mass?

    Believing that one rite of Mass is objectively superior to another is not a hindrance to communion. The Church does not teach that one must believe that a particular rite of Mass is as good as another. There have been and are still many Churchmen and laymen who believed and still believe that the Novus Ordo is superior to the TLM, and yet they are in communion with the Pope.

  28. Jordanes says:

    Steve said: . . . the claim of a split between Fellay and Williamson. I see no evidence of this

    Well, we’ve seen Bishop Fellay order Bishop Williamson to keep silence about the Holocaust and the Jews, and remove him from his position in charge of their Argentinian seminary. So far Bishop Williamson is complying, and hopefully that will continue. It wouldn’t do the SSPX or the Church any favors if Bishop Williamson were to lead a faction of the SSPX away just as the SSPX is moving toward regularisation.

    The Pope “took a hit” on this? “Do you think for a moment he didn’t know he would have to take a hit?” According to Benedict, he didn’t know about Williamson’s views so the answer to the question is arguably, no.

    This is a lot bigger than Bishop Williamson and his repugnant beliefs. There was going to be a good deal of criticism and questioning about Pope Benedict’s remission of their excommunications even if Bishop Williamson had not been a Holocaust denier.

    Yet Bishop Roach of Leeds predicted in his response to the SP that this reconciliation was one of its purposes, a point refuted by Fr. Z on this very blog.

    Father Zuhlsdorf did not refute that point. He said SP is not just about helping bring about the SSPX’s reconciliation, but he did not deny that this reconciliation was one of its purposes.

    Fr. Z’s comments on Williamson’s blog are confused.

    I disagree. I think it’s your comments that are a bit confused.

  29. Michael says:

    dcs: \”Believing that one rite of Mass is objectively superior to another is not a hindrance to communion.\” Correct.

    After all, the Byzantine Liturgy, celebrated by the Orthodox, and the Byzantine Catholics (Ukrainians, Melchites etc.) is fully Catholic, and supperior not only to the OF concoction but to the TLM as well.

    But that is not the issue with Bishop Williamson. His problem is that he has never come to terms with the Catholic Faith: all he changed at \”conversion\” was a fur.

    And it is an illusion to believe that he would retire as Fr. Z would like: he can\’t stop attracting publicity.

  30. Sid says:

    Williamson is a sideshow. Focus instead on the center ring: the content of the discussions. What exactly is to be discussed? Off the top of my head, a few questions about this content:

    1. What precisely are the SSPX’s dubia? I can’t seem to find a list of them.

    2. Does the problem lie with V2, or rather with misinterpretations, perversions, and wrong developments that came in the wake of V2?

    3. Does the problem consist largely in liturgical matters?

    4. Can V2 be properly read in the light of The Tradition?

    As the talks proceed let us pray in the meantime for reconciliation with the SSPX. All authentic Catholics in general and we MEFers in particular need these fine folk with us!

  31. Henry Edwards says:

    dcs: There have been and are still many Churchmen and laymen who believed and still believe that the Novus Ordo is superior to the TLM, and yet they are in communion with the Pope.

    It occurs to me that \”either-or Catholics\” may have something in common with more familiar types of \”cafeteria Catholics\”.

    Most of the Catholics I attend the EF with also attend the OF Mass regularly, and are thoroughly committed to reverent worship in both forms of the Roman rite. However, this is not true of most of the people I attend the OF with.

  32. Charlie says:

    Bishop Williamson actually confirmed a family friend of mine, who lives not very far outside of Charlotte. There is a disturbing tendency towards conspiracy-driven reactionism – and sedevacantism – among some of the SSPX. Pray for them.

  33. Jan says:

    Sid, get Iota Unum. It is quite thorough. Also you may read past issues of Angeles magazine free on the Angelus website as long as you register. Look for the Catechism of the Crisis articles. But Unum Iotam covers it very well, has its sources listed, and is incredibly detailed. The problem lies with V2 itself, not only the abuses that followed, because the wording that allows those abuses was in the documents. The disjuncture apparently came between the preparation for the Council and its execution. Here is one point: the hijacking spirit is to accomodate the Church to the world. We never are to accomodate to the world. We are the thorn in the world’s side. Our discussion of the world of today is only how to adjust the struggle to the world of today. “The world” is as screwed up as it always was. (Denial of the consequences of original sin is a mark of the consiliar spirit.) Disclaimer: I’m not a theologian and not very well fitted to imitate one. Others with better training might answer better. But I do have experience with more than one SSPX chapel, daily mass when available, take notes of sermons, and so forth.

    At issue: (1) the role of the priest, traditional take: separated from laity, role special; modernist take, merged with the laity as far as possible–incorrect application of “we are all priests” (2) new take: dominition of the earth by means of technology, which is the source of our optimism–downright hippie exhuberance!– rather than, old take: Christ’s message of renunciation and suffering. (3) Latin and all the rules needed to back up its usage–the specifics about seminary courses of study and other specifics. Old take: they did it. New take: they talk about it. (4)Teachings on Limbo and (5) who is saved and (6) whether we tolerate other religions, or whether, on the other hand we declare them equal to Catholicism.

    And more–not so very many but too many to put in a post. Thanks for asking, Sid. I hope you persist in study.

  34. Jan says:

    Sorry meant Iota Unum in that second reference!

  35. schoolman says:

    According to +Williamson the Pope heads a new “religion of man” that equates to Baal worship. Since +Williamson in his “superior magisterium” has judged that there is no possible reconciliation with the new Roman religion of man — the Holy See (“Roman authorities”) can only be “converted”. It reminds me of the firm warning issued by Cardinal Castrillon not too long ago:

    “We hope that they will come to the full communion with the Church. But some people are going too fast to schism and to the heresy, because if they begin to be teachers of the Pope, this is not schism, this is heresy. And if it is confirmed, people going with that kind of movement will be excommunicated, too, because of the heresy…”

  36. Maureen says:

    The point is that we were never supposed to read Vatican II documents in isolation. The role of a priest is not totally redefined. Everything else in the history of the Church about the role of a priest was supposed to continue to be true, with just a little note to the side from the Council to remind everyone that priests are people too, and that the laity and religious are part of God’s priestly people.

    (Although what mostly happened was that people backed away from the documents, crossed their eyes until the print turned into a total blur, and used that blur as a Rorschach blot. Whatever came into their heads while staring at the blot, they declared to be the new rule for all eternity under the Spirit of Vatican II.)

  37. Patrick says:


    Perhaps you could show where these “new takes” are taught in the documents of Vatican II?


  38. Chris says:

    Well said Your Excellency.

    Let’s get 100% of the true Faith back!

  39. schoolman says:

    Chris, the Church and the Holy See have never defected from the Faith.

  40. Mitchell NY says:

    In the end I often wonder simply which cost more souls…Out of control changes regardless of the incorrect interpretations, and Pope Paul was warned of this, or having left the Old Mass in place and letting people decide which they preferred. And Williamson, well he should just stay quiet as we all know his “opinions” generate tension and hostility in a way now that could not possibly be good for the Society and the Church. His days in the sun are over.

  41. michigancatholic says:

    It’s really important to keep all the facets of the SSPX discussions clear and distinct. Otherwise these conversations always degenerate badly. There seem to be four facets of this whole thing, from my (admittedly limited) point of view. The four facets should not be collapsed into one or reduced to perjoratives, and they do not have the same weight or meaning. They seem to be:

    1. Certain members of the SSPX, specifically 6 men, were put out of the Church (automatically) in 1988 for specific acts of disobedience (participating in the ordination of a bishop without a papal mandate). Now it appears that those events are legally behind us, since the *excommunications* (at least for the 4 living persons) have been officially rescinded. This is repaired, and no longer in question as far as my understanding is concerned.

    2. In a closely related matter, one of the chief objections made by the SSPX in 1988 was the incredible pressure to shut down the *Latin Mass* (which only a few days after the excommunications, yielded the provisions of PCED which appear in hindsight to have been some sort of expedient). Unfortunately this meant that when the SSPX was shut out in 1988 by their own illicit actions, the Latin Mass was objectified as the reason by hordes of people in both the SSPX and the Church proper. This really became the main point of the SSPX for many people. However, Summorum Pontificum has, officially at least, severed that connection so that the Mass of 1962 is once again fully legal in the Church proper without all the strings attached. (Was it ever really illegal? No. It was politically unwise and that’s about it. The joke’s on us apparently. And to my understanding, this is now repaired. Honesty is a good thing.)

    3. At the time of these excommunications in 1988, theological talks had been going on between Cardinal Lefebvre and representatives from the Holy See. Those disagreements are still the matter of the current discussions with the PCED, CDF and SSPX. They are not yet resolved, but then the interpretations of V2 which were being talked about in 1988 are not fully resolved, so one has to ask how much could then have been (or now can) be expected. Perhaps the effort to resolve the controversy over the SSPX can motivate the CDF to do something meaningful with the lousy interpretation of V2 that we seem to have been stuck with all these years. One can only hope. On the bright side, Benedict XVI has spoken out against the *hermaneutic of rupture*. This should play a big role in repairing this part.

    4. In addition, in the intervening period, a huge number of practical examples of *disciplinary decay* have occurred in the Church proper to which the SSPX members often object, and sometimes loudly. See rljfp’s post above for an example. Honestly, I find myself in sympathy with the SSPX on this part.
    For example, as far as practical behavior goes, Fr. Jenkins is behaving in a crazier & less faithful manner than 99% of the SSPX at any given time. As another example, we have hordes of Catholic people who take their little pills every night at bedtime, completely hardened to the fact that those pills have several modes of effectiveness, one of which is the fact that they are abortifacient in nature. To put it bluntly, they kill their own kids and they don’t care to even acknowledge the fact. One single case of that is worse than Fr. Jenkins and Abp LeFebvre all rolled up in one package with a gold bow and a candy cane decoration on top.
    And then we have clown masses, liturgical dancers, crazy catechists, half naked servers at papal masses, interfaith meetings complete with idols in church, yada, yada, yada. Yup we do. The people of the SSPX object. I’m Catholic, not SSPX, and I OBJECT!

    As for Williamson’s rash comments on the holocaust, I don’t think that’s a main factor in the SSPX issue., as much as some people would like it to be. One can simply remark that maybe he’s a bit of a nut on the subject, but I can assure you that finding a nut on that subject is not at all a rare occurrence. There are lots of lunatics on that subject; in fact, most of the Middle East and half of Europe is loony on that subject. He’s just being singled out because he’s SSPX and it’s something to bitch about for those who are losing their favorite topics because they’re being repaired. There are people, mind you, that don’t want the SSPX brought back into the Church proper for reasons of their own: politics, self-rebuke, mistaken notions about modernity, the reluctance to look at Vatican II in a precise fashion, and so on. They can safely be ignored, but they are loud, aren’t they?

  42. michigancatholic says:

    In my list just above this post, I think there is also a reasonable amount of disagreement about whether item #4, disciplinary decay belongs in the list proper or should be a non-factor along with Williamson’s loony view on the holocaust. There are good arguments both ways, I think.

    On the one hand, I think members of the SSPX would be more likely to see it in the list than members of the wider church. I do know that whenever this topic comes up, disciplinary decay is flagged loudly by both sides. Members of the SSPX would probably be likely to say that it’s an expected outcome of #s 2 & 3 on the list. On the other hand, members of the Catholic church in general, less so. If I may be permitted to say so, though, the birth control/abortion/divorce/cohabitation issues are less prevalent among the SSPX than among Catholics in general. Among members of the Catholic Church in the US, abortion and birth control rates are just about the same as those found in the general population. A great many Catholics cohabit & divorce as any priest/deacon can tell you. Make of that what you want. The SSPX is known for its large intact families. We are not, regardless of whatever we might say about that. And this issue’s distribution of extremes is about what you’ll see on other important moral issues in the post-V2 church.

    It’s also a fact that between the disciplinary decay since the end of V2 and the incredible amount of force with respect to the Latin Mass before, during and after 1988, the SSPX has learned a habit of distrust which must be healed. Catholics may not like that idea, but it’s real and what you see in these discussions is a reflection of that. [And before you point and scoff, we in the Catholic church have learned a habit of distrust too, mind you. I refer you to Boston in 2002, Los Angeles and its liturgy parties, Milwaukee of a few years back, Fr. Jenkins at ND, Georgetown’s IHS display all covered with black plywood, the liturgy “wars,” etc etc. I myself have learned which places are not spiritually safe in this diocese and which books I shouldn’t read. I’m sure many of you have had the same experiences.]

  43. therese b says:

    Br Juniper quotes the eastern monks:
    “Many of the monks were known to
    protest in the streets and yell, “Better the
    Sultan’s turban than the Pope’s tiara.”

    Bet they changed their mind in 1454.

  44. B. says:


    If the teachings of the Second Vatican Council are not inspired by the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, then they can only be inspired one other way: through Satan.

    Is that so? Is it not possible that amongst the non-infallible teachings of a Council, there can be things that are simply made up in the mind of the bishops (or their theologians), influenced by their times?

    The Fourth Lateran Council taught that Jews need to be visibly distinguishable by their dresses from Christians and that they may no appear in public on Good Friday. Was this inspired by the Holy Ghost? Do you assent to it? If not, then why does the SSPX have to subscribe to everything in Vatican II?

  45. John Polhamus says:

    Williamson’s letting of this cat out of the bag, and his continued sniping from the background via his blog indicates he he going to continue to stir, and to attempt to disrupt these discussions. He should be silenced formally and in toto: NO MEDIA RELEASES (and a private blog is a media outlet the same as a newspaper site – a difference the hierarchy do not yet understane). I predict here that he will create a sideshow disturbance by saying something untoward about the Jews, and will do all he can to scupper Fellay’s efforts. This man is both dishonorable and part lunitic. IMHO.

  46. LCB says:

    I have a hunch that the coming NO changes may help matters just a bit.

    A major problem currently present is that the EF and the NO, theologically and practically, are very different. The way the NO is commonly celebrated (as opposed to the way it ought to be celebrated) shares almost no resemblance with the EF. Externally, the NO is far closer to a standard protestant service than it is to the EF.

    Theologically, the EF and Eastern Rites have far far far more in common than the EF and the NO do.

    The coming translations will address both matters at least in a small way.

    Finally, the matter of rites has been discussed on this blog before. Juridically, the EF and NO are regarded as 2 forms of the same Roman Rite. To say that the NO is a new and different Rite (which is not to say it is invalid, for surely it is valid) isn’t entirely absurd. Especially when we consider the theological and practical aspects of what have come to be called the Gregorian Rite and the Pauline Rite

  47. Antiquarian says:

    “Williamson’s letting of this cat out of the bag, and his continued sniping from the background via his blog indicates he he going to continue to stir, and to attempt to disrupt these discussions”

    Indeed– his first post after being ordered not to speak about the Holocaust referred to “another 9/11” being fabricated, which seems to me to be a provocation. He is not going to go away quietly.

  48. Therese,

    Whether they did by 1454 is not for me to say. The
    historical situation speaks for itself.

    I believe that the Byzantines sorely regretted their
    decision for unity when Constantinople was attacked
    by the Ottomans in 1453 and the long hoped for
    alliance with the West did not materialize in either
    military or material aid. The second Rome fell
    because nobody was willing to come and help her.


    Vatican II was called Pope John XXIII and is a valid
    ecumenical council of the Church inspired by the
    Holy Ghost. If anything what happened after the Council
    was that the documents were grossly misinterpreted
    partially due to the ambiguous nature of some of these.

  49. Martin Jordan says:

    I have continued to respect and defend Bishop Williamson throughout the entire “affair”. I found the politically correct tyranny of the media coupled with the concern for human respect woefully displayed by so many of the world’s bishops to be so very tiresome and terribly nauseating. As far as I was and am concerned, no amount of historical inaccuracy regarding past atrocities could possibly compare with the blood on the hands of a good deal of canonically regulizarized bishops as a result of their complicity (however indirect or remote) apropos of CONTEMPORARY atrocities.

    BUT, if Bishop Williamson — presuming he remains of sound mind and body — actually thinks that HE is the appropriate outlet for divulging ANY such details, this does seem worthy of our fraternal correction and criticism!

    Indeed, and how *could* His Excellency possibly think this — *given*, that is, the unspeakable hurt and injury he *indirectly* helped cause both the SSPX as a movement AND the Pope as a leader (albeit, however so very unintentional, being *directly speaking* the result of a terribly unjust and manipulative worldwide media). At best, the decision of Bishop Williamson to divulge any of this seems woefully contrary to the will expressed by the very same man of God when he indicated his willingness to have the Pope throw him into the sea *a la* Job if this should be necessary!

    Now, I continue to respect His Excellency (and would rather have him as my Ordinary than practically *ANY* bishop within North America), but his highlighting what may be taking place in regard to the Vatican-SSPX discussions, his bringing attention to what must take place QUIETLY (away from media and episcopal tyranny) if it is to happen at all: this comes across as terribly bad form.

    In my opinion, any present lack of discipline he may display is FAR WORSE AND MORE OBVIOUS an indictment of his character and sense of prudence than *ANY* controversial historical positions (sans the latter having any intrinsic relation to the Faith) that he may happen to have held and/or have allowed himself to have vocalize several months back!

  50. ssoldie says:

    My opinion: I will let the Holy Father deal with this, as he is so much wiser and closer to what is going on, for me to speculate would be foolish. Pray for the Holy Father and pray for thr Bishops.

  51. Jerry says:

    I believe the bulk of the subject matter of the discussions can be found here. (Be aware that some of the numbering is incorrect, but all of the documents are available via the links provided.)

    About 1/3 the way down in the right column in the section “the errors of Vatican II”, 5 parts, et. al.


    The content here covers the subject matter of the 39 Dubia submitted to the Vatican by Abp Lefebvre.

    IMHO, it will be many, many years before any full reconciliation is achieved. I hope and pray that some interim solution may be found.


  52. I am not Spartacus says:

    Williamson is a sideshow. Focus instead on the center ring: the content of the discussions. What exactly is to be discussed? Off the top of my head, a few questions about this content:

    Sid. You Taki the truth here.

    What you didn’t write, but what I know you know, is that the Church, unfortunately, has slipped into the practice of what I call EAT (Ecclesiastical Anarcho Tyranny).

    The great Sam Francis coined the term Anarcho-Tyranny.

    Under anarcho-tyranny, criminals aren’t punished (which is why it’s anarchy), but the innocent are (which is why it’s tyranny).– Sam Francis

    Anarcho-tyranny describes the political reality where the law-abiding are prosecuted by the State or attacked by criminals, but flagrant criminals are ignored by the State.

    I think we can describe as EAT the policy wherein the practical existence of Ecclesiastical Anarcho Tyranny is to punish those considered traditionalists and to deny them the Immemorial Mass while they seem quite lax vis a vis crimnals – the Unauthorised changes in the Mass/Sacraaments, Communion in the hand, EEMs, Heretical Priests writing for Diocesan papers, Bishops coddling, protecting, hiding sex criminals etc etc etc etc per omnia saecula saeculorum

    The Catholic Church, imo, must abandon its recent practice of EAT and swallow the SSPX in Communion (yeah, I know that was a real reach for a pun) and we will all be the better for it.

    As you well know, I have undergone a radical change vis a vis the SSPX and for that I have Fr Z, and men like you, and Dr Zmirak, to thank.

  53. Sid says:

    I thank Jerry for his link. I’ll study what’s there. A quick glance seems to suggest that the link’s contents are still not the famous 39 dubia of 1988. I understand this is a 130+ page document, but it still would help if this document were available on-line, even in one of those pesky pdf files.

    In fact, I would welcome Fr.Z’s posting one by one the dubia over the next 39 days, his fisking each one, and then with comments from writebackers, provided that such comments are informed, reasoned, civil, charitable, and help toward reconciliation with the FSSPX.

    Non Spartacus — with fond memories of past exchanges back in a Greek Cyber Cafe, now closed — I thank for his kind words. I myself over the past 25 years have been a victim of the EAT mentality, as have been many Catholic “conservatives”. That EAT mentality, I’m glad to say, is now on the defensive. I think that the scandal that broke out in 2002 — a scandal some of us observed already in the early 80s, in seminaries — was the watershed. Now things are (pardon the phrase) going our way.

  54. Phil says:

    The SSPX bishops and priests are suspended a divinis. But desoite that penalty, are they in communion with the Church? Are they free to assist at a Mass and receive Holy Communion?

  55. Brian says:

    Prior to VC2, Garrigou-Lagrange strongly criticized the “New Theology” of Chenu, Congar, DeLubac, Rahner, etc, as riddled with Modernism. Prior to VC2, some of theological positions held by these theologians were condemned in encyclicals such as Pius XII’s encyclical, Humani generis.

    The Bishops of VC2, however, disregarded “neoThomistic” scholastic theology in favor of these very theologians. There was no real theological debate, the centuries old understanding Aquinas represented by Cajetan and expressed at Trent and by Popes for centuries was simply set aside as out of touch with modern man. Out with the old in with the new.

    SSPX favors this centuries old neo-Thomistic theology and sees the “New Theology” expressed in Vatican II as a deadly mixture of Catholic dogma and modernist elements a deadly mixture.

    Williamson’s terms are inflammatory, but so were those of Garrigou-Lagrange and pre-VC2 popes. Garrigou-Lagrange and neo-Thomists, in turn, are disparaged and disregarded by those who favor De Lubac et al.

    Garrigou-Lagrange and prior popes have criticized the New Theology in terms similar to Williamson; then suddenly, with VC2, this very theology has become orthodox post-VC2 theology. It is all very confusing.

    It seems to me that Williamson is signalling that these issues will be front and center in the discussions between Rome and the SSPX.

    Isn’t this the crux of the matter?

  56. LCB says:


    The unlawful innovations post-V2 are clearly incorrect. I feel that reference the Spirit of the council isn’t effective, we must deal with the documents themselves.

  57. Kate says:

    Some here seem overly eager to promote the Novus Order Mass and the Vatican II council. I think there is really only one phrase we have to remember – “By their fruits you will know them.” The Novus Ordo and Vatican II have produced zero good fruits.
    The SSPX clings to the Mass and the Magesterium of the ages, not a new mass and a new magesterium for just this age. Look at all the vocations the SSPX has. Look at many of their faithful – people who know their catechism, who live a Catholic life, who defend the principals of the faith. I can’t find a single Novus Order catholic (people who go to Sunday Mass every week) who can explain what the Catholic Church and Catholic faith are about. Many can’t tell me about the basic elements of the faith. They don’t know that abortion is wrong. And I live in a majority Catholic area of the U.S., so this isn’t just a handful of people. It’s most of the people I know (outside of my traditionalist friends).
    Tell me one good thing, one fruit of the Novus Ordo Mass and Vatican II.
    Thank God there are people like Bishop Williamson, who can see that the Novus Ordo Mass and Vatican II were a product of the Devil and not the Holy Ghost.

  58. Jordanes says:

    Kate said: Tell me one good thing, one fruit of the Novus Ordo Mass and Vatican II.

    My conversion from doctrinal error to the Catholic faith.

  59. dcs says:

    Is is really correct to say that general councils are “inspired” by the Holy Ghost? Wouldn’t it be more correct to say that they are “protected” by the Holy Ghost? And since the infallibility of a Council depends on the infallibility of the Pope, is it not subject to the same restrictions? That is, could not a council err when it teaches matters not pertaining to faith and morals or when it does not intend to bind the whole Church to its teaching? The Council of Florence taught that the three major orders were subdeacon, deacon, and priest and that the form of Holy Orders was the handing over of the instruments. These we now know are errors but since the Council did not intend to bind the whole Church to this teaching they don’t contradict the infallibility of the Church. Similarly, there is no reason to think that there are no errors in the Second Vatican Council.

  60. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Bishop Williamson is using terms without defining them. I’d really like to know if I’m a neo-modernist or not. I’d really like to know if I have to be worshiping God at an SSPX chapel (rather than a parish that celebrates both the O.F. and the E.F.) in order to not be in league with Ba’al.

  61. LCB says:

    “I can’t find a single Novus Order catholic (people who go to Sunday Mass every week) who can explain what the Catholic Church and Catholic faith are about.”

    You’re not looking hard enough. That level of hyperbole is unhelpful and detracts from your other very good points.

    “the Novus Ordo Mass and Vatican II were a product of the Devil and not the Holy Ghost.”

    This makes the same mistake as the liberals who abused the council. It assumes some spirit of change that allows for new unlawful innovations. I don’t think that’s fair. Let’s deal with the documents themselves (which do have their problems) and not the “spirit” of the documents.

  62. mpm says:

    There is a disturbing tendency towards conspiracy-driven reactionism – and sedevacantism – among some of the SSPX. Pray for them.

    Comment by Charlie — 19 April 2009 @ 9:11 am


    One of my take-aways from the recent national elections (USA) is that the SSPX has no corner on the market for conspiracy theories, and other forms of neo-gnosticism, which I find a more cogent descriptive name of what unfortunately is universally called “progessivism” culturally (Catholic or profane).

  63. Mark says:

    You’re simply wrong. Contrary to popular misconception, the Church teaches that neither Vatican II, nor any ecumenical council, nor the ex cathedra statements of the Popes, nor the elections of Popes…are positively “inspired by the Holy Spirit”.

    Infallibility is a negative protection, not a positive inspiration. All it does is prevent a Pope or Ecumenical Council from universally promulgating a heresy.

    And I think everyone involved, SSPX included, would agree that Vatican II didnt promulgate any heresies. That even the religious liberty statement, while possibly wrong, does not contradict anything de fide (nor did it, in turn, claim de fide status for itself).

    Especially in merely disciplinary or liturgical matters, there is no guarantee of anything except, again, that it wont be heresy. Vatican II didnt teach heresy. But talk about damning with faint praise!

    Even, for example, Pius IX declaring the Immaculate Conception to be divinely Revealed…he wasnt positively “inspired by the Holy Spirit” in doing so. Rather, he was negatively PREVENTED by the Holy Spirit from being in error when he spoke ex cathedra on such matters, and hence we know it is true. But declaring that was still totally his decision. He was under no positive imperative or impetus, save all-encompassing Providence itself, to say it when he did. It is a negative protection, not a positive inspiration, for both Pope and Councils.

  64. Mark says:

    Vatican II didnt happen in a vacuum LCB. We do have to consider the spirit that went into the documents.

    Again, I dont think anyone (besides some sedes) claim that Vatican II taught any heresy strictly speaking. But at the same time, the documents are indeed the products of very imperfect men. It is a common misconception, but they are not inspired like Scripture, merely prevented, in a negative fashion, from containing heresy.

    As such, we do need to consider the motives and attitudes of those who wrote them, and they are clearly modernist just by the very fact that the men who WROTE them were also largely the men who IMPLEMENTED them, and we see how they did that!

    ANY text can be “interpreted” in a traditional way, even if the hermeneutic used to do so is highly contrived. But, again, Council documents ARENT SCRIPTURE. We do not need to preform exegesis on them in the same way (ironically, many of the very people who would treat the Vatican II documents that way…dont really even treat Scripture that way anymore).

    While we cant say they commit any heresy, we can indeed simply say some are bad, or way off base, or imprudent, or imperfect. Council texts do not have God as their author. They are very much the products of men, guaranteed merely not to promulgate heresy.

    Those bishops may not like to think it, but they COULD be simply wrong on non-de-fide issues, and could be simply discarded. I dont think any defined an article of Faith. As such, it could be wholesale ignored and one would not be a heretic. After all, the post-Vatican-II era Church has wholesale ignored pretty much everything from all the other councils except the dogmatic definitions strictly so-called. Was that prudent? No. But it certainly is possible without contradicting the faith.

  65. mpm says:

    What was not available when the whole “spirit of vatican II” ethos was being foisted on the Church were the Acta of the Council. These, published in Latin, which was the language used at the Council, for speeches and records, began to come out in the late 1970’s. They provide a contextual and historical background by which theologians, or historians, or anybody who can read Latin can determine for themselves “what the documents really say”.

    So, if nobody is being trained in Latin any more (a hyperbolic statement on my part), these official records are in a kind of limbo. Since the SSPX clergy (and others) as well as some in Rome are able to read Latin, I am sure the Acta will go a long way to dispelling the idea that Vatican II was being “unorthodox” or “heretical.”

    I have, in fact, used the Acta to concretize a specific section of Gaudium et spes that deals with economic matters in the social teaching of the Church. One of the things that many people felt about GS was that a) it embraced the gobbeldy-gook of Teilhard de Chardin, and b) was very sympathetic toward socialism, even communism. In fact, because many “theologians” of the 60s-70s were, in fact, leftward-leaning (even sober), and came from European and South American countries where there was a significant leftist political movement, it was not unknown to actually find in the media views of said “theologians” claiming that GS supported their politial views. (Obviously hogwash.)

    What I found in the Acta of the section I was studying was that there was a certain “pater” from Poland, who consistently offered amendments and objections to make the paragraph or sentence smack less of “sic dictae <> et <> doctrinae”. Together with others Archbishop Wojtyla worked to make that document focus on the Incarnation of Christ. When you read GS after assimilating the Acta, you can see much better how its statements are more Christological than Teilhardian or socialistic.

    Similarly, GS often has language expressing what (today) appears to be very naive sentiments about how the Church and the secular world are coming closer and closer to the same realizations, etc., etc., ad nauseam.

    I don’t think such expressions of sentiments, naive or otherwise, are binding on anybody, then or now. If it’s that sort of expression that the SSPX would like to eschew, why not?

    I’m hoping for good things to come out of these doctrinal discussions, and not just for the SSPX!

  66. Jan says:

    I have been thinking about a commenter’s question, is it the council itself, or the subsequent interpretation, the ‘spirit of Vatican II’ movement. And it seems to be, after years of listening to arguments on both sides, very persuasive ones!, that it really is the Council itself. I say that because on issue after issue, from the role of Latin in the Church to priestly formation to the tone of the thing, the documentation collected by Romano Amerio in Iota Unum shows that the preparation for the Council was thoroughly traditional, yet the Council itself bent those directives, and bent them enough that each issue needs to be re-defined in light of tradition. That is what SSPX is asking for, not a condemnation of the council, by the way. On page 28 of the April 2009 Angelus magazine, in an interview with an assistant to SSPX Superior General Fellay, in answer to the question, ‘Is it possible for your Society to recongize the Council, as you have been asked,’ he replied, “As I mentioned, we do not deny the Council as a historical fact, but we ask that ambiguouis texts and decrees be explained and revised if necessary.”

    How could anyone oppose this, knowing how deep the completely un-Catholic spirit of religious relatavism has become in our people? How could anyone oppose this, knowing that the stated basis for the spirit of optimism, that saccharin optimism that seems de rigeur for every subsequent official Church statement, that idiotic optimism that is continually pushed down our throats as we stand, on the ground, among closed seminaries and closed churches and communities wasted by birth control and abortion that once were thriving and Catholic, is based, in paragraph 218 of the Council, on technology, not on Christ? Can you BE more passe? Isn’t it time it was revisited????

    Yours in Christ,

  67. mpm says:

    Comment by Mark — 20 April 2009 @ 9:31 am


    IMHO, your posts on the nature of infallibility of the Church, Councils and the Pope are
    excellent, and succinct. Well done.

  68. Banjo pickin' girl says:

    Kate, You, Madam, are a bigot, pure and simple.

    “I can’t find a single Novus Order (sic) catholic (people who go to Sunday Mass every week) who can explain what the Catholic Church and Catholic faith are about. Many can’t tell me about the basic elements of the faith. They don’t know that abortion is wrong. And I live in a majority Catholic area of the U.S., so this isn’t just a handful of people. It’s most of the people I know (outside of my traditionalist friends).”

  69. Mark says:

    To simply discard Vatican II would probably as much of a rupture as the people who, after Vatican II, discarded the other 20 councils, the other 1900 years.

    As the SSPX says, we must recognize it as a historical fact, and I think we should salvage what we can from its general pointless and sloppy nature.

    But at the same time, we must recognize that we COULD discard it totally if we wanted to. We won’t, but its big defenders must be made to acknowledge that its not a super-dogma. That, in fact, it didnt say anything particularly binding at all, and if it had couldnt have “changed” the Church’s teachings, and that what it did say was inspired by a naive optimism and, yes, secularism. A clergy that got too comfortable with The World. A little too bright eyed about the promises for happiness in this life that seemed to be being offered by liberal democracy, technology, etc (unfortunately, it turns out, only for the imperial core itself, not for the exploited countries).

    We must avoid this idea that somehow a council could come along and trump everything before it simply because it came later in history, as if there is cumulative “progress” in the Deposit of Faith, as if “we know better now”. We dont.

    Maybe if there had been some anathemas, at least we could point to those and say, “Okay, here is the binding substance of the council.” But there werent, so we’re left with vague documents on telecommunications and such, written in an incredibly bureaucratic manner (it’s as if the whole thing was a big GAME for the participants, just some academic exercise), with certain statements on religious liberty and ecumenism obviously inspired by a very pluralist-sympathetic American-protestant-inspired ecclesiology.

    The whole thing could be condemned, even while recognizing it as a valid council that, as such, didnt teach heresy (again, damned by faint praise). But, though we COULD, we shouldnt reject it outright. We should try to rehabilitate or salvage as much as we can, regardless of original intent, because we dont want to make the same mistake the modernists did in adopting a wholesale revulsion for [a period of] our past.

    We have to come to terms with it, like all periods in the Church history, as a mix of good and evil. Still, I think we can and should very much reduce its significance in the life of the Church. As Ratzinger himself said, “Not every valid council in the history of the Church has been a fruitful one; in the last analysis many of them have been just a waste of time”. We should accept Vatican II as a valid council, affirm it didnt teach any heresy, issue a STRONG “clarification” of the Church’s teaching on religious liberty and ecumenism (ala Pius IX!) and then just…let it die a quiet death.

    Then go on living Catholic life as it was before the council, not denying the documents exist or revoking them or anything like that, but just letting them slip into obscurity instead of trying to make them cause some sort of new springtime that they obviously arent going to.

    The Council was valid but like certain others in history, like Vienne for instance…was basically a huge failure ultimately. Oh well. Ce la vie. Let’s GET PAST the council. Let’s move on. There is no need for a hermeneutic of continuity, really. The documents very well MAY contradict past attitudes in their attitudes. And instead of using tortuous “interpretation” to try to interpret continuity into existence where there isnt any…let’s just admit there was a clear rupture when it came to non-dogmatic issues and discuss what we’re going to do about that. The Vatican II documents dont have to be reconciled with tradition if they contradict it (non-dogmatically, of course). They just need to admit the contradiction, and a discussion needs to be had on if such changes in prudential matters were really a good idea. When it comes to some, they might be. I, for example, support ecumenism with the Orthodox to a degree. Other things…might not be. This embrace of the Protestants (and Jews) and wholesale alliance with Western classical liberalism and democracy and such…probably werent a good policy shift. And the bishops need to have the humility to lose face and say, “Okay, that was an imprudent decision”. Have to rethink their “No going back now” rhetoric and say…you know what, New Coke isnt doing so well, let’s bring back Coke Classic.

  70. Kate: “Tell me one good thing, one fruit of the Novus Ordo Mass and Vatican II.”

    Mmm. How about submission and obedience to the authority of the Holy Father?

    I can relate to the anguish of the SSPX as they see ignorance of the Faith everywhere. Knowing the Faith better than ‘everybody else’ doesn’t make you a catholic. Obedience does. And charity.

    Also, I understand your prejudice against the Novus Ordo Catholic. Unfortunately your generalizations fall short of the truth. I know many OF Catholics who know and love their faith, say the rosary with devotion, etc. And are the thousands that show up at the March for Life in DC all SSPXers? who knew…

    Would it be fair to say that because SSPXers only talk among themselves, they remain aloof and unaware of the millions of devoted Catholics outside of the SSPX?

  71. dcs says:

    Tina in Ashburn suggests:
    Mmm. How about submission and obedience to the authority of the Holy Father?

    I very much doubt that submission and obedience to the authority of the Pope is greater since the Council than it was before, so I don’t think it can rightly be called a “fruit” of Vatican II, except perhaps in the negative sense.

    I do not think that Catholics who assist primarily at the Novus Ordo are necessarily lacking in orthodoxy (and, indeed, they might even be more charitable than their TLM-assisting counterparts), but I would hesitate to conflate Catholic orthodoxy with attendance at the March for Life.

  72. cathguy says:

    I am not one to mince words. I hope this doesn’t betray a lack of an ability to self-edit:

    Bishop Williamson may be insane. All who would follow the SSPX may be insane.

    He really ought to be living a life of quiet retirement. Every time he opens his mouth he says something outrageous.

    How can one paint oneself as the defender of the Catholic faith against the Magesterium of the Church? The Pope is still the Pope. This is simply over-the-top.

    We all should remember a simple maxim:
    “Flee the crazy.”

    In religion if we get carried away we can get a little crazy. (Look at extreme fundamentalists, look at the Fundamentalist Mormons, look at the Sedevacantists).

    “Flee the crazy.”

    True sanity is found in full communion with the Bishop of Rome. Ultimately, after much hand-wringing and reading I have come to the conclusion that Rome loses nothing f the SSPX stays outside, but the SSPX loses much. If the SSPX returns, it will gain full communion with the Church of Christ, so it will gain much. However,it needs to be with some humility and acceptance of the Magesterium, or else Rome may lose something….

    Moral authority.

    And yes, Rome DOES has the moral high ground. Not the SSPX.

    I am interested in how many of us who read and frequent blogs like this actually read outside the blogosphere. According to recent polls on this site, not many.

    Has anyone out there READ “Religious Liberty Questioned” by Marcel Lefevbre? Is there ANYONE who publicly wants to defend the notion that “different races of people” are saddled by the fall of man in “different ways.” That some “races of people” are inferior because of how sin effects their “intellect.” That different races of people need to be treated differently under God’s law because of the effects of sin effect them?

    Those are direct quotes (from memory) of my recent reading of Lefevbre’s “work.”

    He is defending apartheid, ghettos, and possibly slavery.

    “Flee the crazy.”

    If the Successor of Peter, the Holy Roman Pontiff, starts treating those who refuse to “flee the crazy” as his equals in doctrinal discussions regarding the Catholic faith, then we are on dangerous ground indeed.

    READ. THINK. Just look at Williamson’s silly game with fractions. Can ANYONE who has their head screwed on tight take this sort of stuff seriously?

    Check out “Religious Liberty Questioned” for yourself. These people may be defending what is evil and wrapping it up as a defense of Catholic tradition (see Williamson and the Nazis). Yes, the Nazi’s are evil. For those who consider this comment controversial I say:

    “Flee the crazy” and READ.

    Rome is the heart of the Church.

  73. “Has anyone out there READ “Religious Liberty Questioned” by Marcel Lefevbre?”

    I have.

    “Those are direct quotes (from memory) …”

    Get the book and quote each paragraph from which you’ve extracted
    those quotations (none of which is more than four words).

    And suppose that Msgr. Lefebvre was wrong on ethnic matters. What would that do to detract from his core thesis?

    “Just look at Williamson’s silly game with fractions.”

    I’d prefer to look at the substance of his argument. Same with Msgr. Lefebvre. You, however, seem fixated on peripherals.

    Reginaldvs Cantvar

  74. katie says:

    >>>>[ “We have to come to terms with it, like all periods in the Church history, as a mix of good and evil. Still, I think we can and should very much reduce its significance in the life of the Church. As Ratzinger himself said, “Not every valid council in the history of the Church has been a fruitful one; in the last analysis many of them have been just a waste of time”. We should accept Vatican II as a valid council, affirm it didnt teach any heresy, issue a STRONG “clarification” of the Church’s teaching on religious liberty and ecumenism (ala Pius IX!) and then just…let it die a quiet death.”]

    Amen to that! The sooner the better. And if the RCC is serious about ecumenism, and with only the Orthodox Church, then let’s get on with abolishing the Novus ORdo, like the vatican ii crowd wished the TLM would’ve been abolished. The Orthodox have no respect for the Novus Ordo and would respect the church much more with TLM being the ‘ordinary’ rite in the church. The RCC will survive but not at the pace She is going at this time, but see a great hope in the joining of the Eastern Church with Rome.

  75. hollingsworth says:

    I would have to conclude, after reading several of
    these comments, that I am in a distinct minority among
    the readers of Fr. Z’s blog. I am an SSPX member, and
    quite involved in my local chapel. I am in almost 100%
    agreement with Bp. Williamson on almost every issue.
    A hardcore, rightwing TLMer as some of you might call me.
    Not only is the TLM superior to the Novus Ordo, any
    comparisons are ludicrous, unless one thinks that a
    dandelion may be compared favorably with a rose. V2 will
    eventually be trashed. It was, and is still, merely an extension
    of the infamous French Revolution, as some key modernist
    churchmen, including a couple of popes,
    recognized and readily admitted. Our Lady will eventually
    triumph over New Church and all of her ghastly accretions.

  76. For years I have loved the Psalm (145?): Place not your trust in princes. The sons of man in whom there is no salvation. When they breath their last, they return to their earth. On that very day their plans perish. This applies to ecclesiastical as well as secular princes. Be patient and grateful, brothers and sisters. I never thought I would see all THIS returning to the days of yesteryear which has been accomplished so far.

  77. Tony Weisner says:

    The sede-vacantis position is looking more reasonable and it is firmly on the horizon for anyone trying to make true sense of iof all this. The sspx has been straddling the fence for quite some time now. I should think it is time to come clean…

  78. LPT says:

    Oh my, how we pick the fly specks out of the pepper when we seek to confuse.

    The issue is a simple one: Will the Catholic Church be a church of God or a church of man.

    Which is to say, will it bend and twist to not offend this or that group of humans,and will it force Bishop Williamson to lie to be PC?

    Enough with the petty politics and childish semantics.

    Thank God for Bishop Williamson.

  79. LPT says:

    There they were, all the brightest leaders of the Church in their most expensive robes weaving arguments to prove their point with an eruditeness seldom seen among mere mortals.

    Nevertheless,when they finished their brilliant arguments proving it was so; the Earth was still not the center of the solar system and Galileo was still right.

    So is it with Bishop Williamson. Truth is truth.

  80. Michael Deere says:

    Just something to ponder:
    Fact: Prior to 1517, there was only one Christian denomination on the planet—the Catholic Church.
    Fact: Protestants maintain that the true church of “believers” formally manifested itself visably beginning in the 16th century, and that the Catholic Church is a usurper.
    Hypothesis: If the aforementioned facts are valid, and if in the second fact one assumes that the Protestants were and are correct, then if follows that after Christ founded His Church it was very soon usurped by an ecclesiastical cabal that held the reins of His Church for one-thousand-five-hundred years—that’s 15 centuries! What is more, during those 15 centuries all the known world recognized the Christian Church as identical with the Catholic Church.
    Question: Why would Almighty God allow a usurper to take over His Church for 1,500 years only to have the “real” church appear visably in the 16th century?
    Comment: If this hypothesis is untenable then it follows that the Catholic Church IS the Church founded by Christ, and EVERYTHING taught by Her is from the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity.

    -quiet beginning

  81. RBrown says:

    Fact: Prior to 1517, there was only one Christian denomination on the planet—-the Catholic Church.
    Comment by Michael Deere

    Actually, the Middle Ages had the Waldensians, who are much like Protestants.

  82. quiet beginning says:

    I can’t find any historical reference to the Waldenses as anything but a “movement” begun within the body of Catholics living during the second half of the 12th century, and continuing as a small and loosely organized following of Peter Waldo until formally joining the Genevan Reform as a Protestant church. They were originally blessed by the Holy See but were condemned as a heretical sect a few years later. So, they along with the Marcionites, Cathars, etc., etc. were heretical sects begun within the Church—extremely small in number relative to the number of Christians faithful to the Catholic Church. The Waldenses can hardly be considered a competing denomination as, say, the Methodists, Baptists, et al, who are today recognized as denominations possessing a formal and explicit apparatus that publicly declares its separation from and opposition to the Catholic Church.

  83. wsxyz says:

    LPT: Are you sure that Bishop Williamson agrees that the Earth revolves around the Sun?

  84. MAJ Tony says:

    Michael Deere: what about the Arian heretics? What about the Orthodox? What about the Oriental churches?

  85. quiet beginning says:

    The Arian heresy was condemned by the Church, and those Eastern bishops who previously espoused it formally renounced it when they accepted the Nicene Creed of AD 381, thus being fully received into communion with the Church. While Arianism has popped its head up in subsequent centuries, it has not been manifested as a “Christian” denomination, certainly not prior to the 16th century. It is with us today in the form of Modernism and Unitarianism.

    With regard to the Orthodox issue, the Orthodox went into schism (a schism which dates in its present form from a repudiation of the Council of Florence in 1472—i.e., ALMOST the 16th century!) ultimately as a result of anger and general malaise between the Eastern and Western Churches. This schism was NOT a result of Orthodox adherents’ adoption of a rival theology (which would indeed have constituted heresy). Remember, too, that the two previous ruptures—those of Photius and Cerularius—were subsequently healed and brought about reunion of the two sides.

    Finally, the Oriental Churches were dealt with by Pius XII in his encyclical Sempiternus Rex Christus in which he intimated that the original difficulties came about because of two things: differences of vocabulary and an unjust imputation of pervasive Monophysitism to the Oriental Churches. John Paul II echoed those sentiments in June, 1984.

  86. hollingsworth says:

    Phil writes: “The TLM is superior to the Novus Ordo, according to the SSPX.

    Actually Phil, it gets worse than that in an Open Letter to Confused Catholics, Abp. Lefebvre wrote: “The rite of the new mass
    is a bastard rite, the sacraments are bastard sacraments..thepriests coming out of the seminaries are bastard priests…” And as long
    as that descriptive kind of language is permitted by the
    Society, I shall remain with SSPX. If, however, the
    Society starts using the word “superior” too much, I may
    move on.

  87. Desi Fogale says:

    It is of great importance that all catholics return to the fundamental principles of catholic doctrine. It seems as though catholicism of the modern world has rejected the call of repentance through confession and mortification, and has claimed the secular doctrine of “doing good deeds” as the foundation of salvation; As in the words of the great baptist preacher Adrian Rogers- “The worst form of badness, is human goodness, when human goodness becomes a substitute for repentance and faith.” May God bless you Bishop Williamson! on your mission to help bring to life the parable where Christ claims that without the vine the branches can do nothing!
    The tribulation written of by the prophets is now upon us my brothers and sisters in Christ! Indeed Pope Benedict XVI is the 111th pope in the prophecy of St. Malachy, meaning he is the final vicar of our Lord, prior to Our Lord’s coming! which is incomprehenseibly near! The Antichrist of antichrists is here. he is spreading his doctrine of world peace, and claiming that he can bring a social utopia on a global scale, a Kingdom of God with no God involved. May we all return to our Lord in sackloth and ashes, weeping in repentance and fasting, for the Day of the Lord is rapidly approaching. kryie elesion

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