Sensible examination of SSPX/Rome talks

Over at The Sensible Bond, which I have recommended before, there is a very strong entry about the SSPX and who gets to judge what Catholic doctrine is.

Here is something of what you can find at The Sensible Bond, [edited] and with my emphases and comments.

SSPX methodology: a question for Bishop Williamson

[…]My view is that what Bishop Williamson and the SSPX confuse are the teachings of the Catholic Church and their own theological arguments (which deploy those teachings). […] Indeed, the results of their analysis and the dogmatic premises on which they are constructed are what Bishop Williamson calls ‘Catholic Truth’. When he says that Rome must recognise Catholic Truth and be faithful to it, what he clearly implies is that since there is no questioning of the dogmatic premises on which the SSPX build their criticism of the New Mass, the edifice of their analysis is itself absolutely sound.

But this position is both logically and methodologically unstable.

i) Logically, the authorities on which I base an argument are only part of my final analysis. All the minor premises of my argument must also be sound: my observations, my interpretations of data, the way in which I categorise and conceptualise the problems I am trying to study, etc. In addition, my handling of the major premises must be sound. By way of comparison, Protestant criticism of the Church cannot be justified simply by being based on Sacred Scripture, however Sacred it is. Likewise, the traditionalists can arrive in various ways at a theological view of the New Mass, or of other issues – indeed, one must arrive at the conclusions contained potentially in one’s premises – but they are wrong to treat that view as definitive, however theologically weighty their major premises are. No Council has found the New Mass to be unCatholic; that view is the result of a theological argument. In other words, the fact I bang a big bass drum doesn’t mean there is a brass band following behind me!

ii) Methodologically, this position is also weak because the theologians who have generated it, and their elders who promote it, appear ultimately unwilling to be moderated either by the criticism of their peers (in spite of some contacts in France, are any of the SSPX’s theses being published and discussed in theological journals?) or by the judgment of the Church’s authorities. In the recent doctrinal discussions, there was no sense in which the SSPX took their position to Rome for it to be assessed. They took it to Rome to convince Rome that it was already fundamentally sound, so fundamentally sound in fact that, for the SSPX, it has become the measuring stick for Rome’s orthodoxy (or has put the SSPX in the driving seat, as Bishop Williamson says). Such a conclusion is only possible because the SSPX’s methodology has become, as it were, invisible to the minds of its experts. [Note that.]

We have a crisis in the Church and lots of grave problems. Not everyone agrees with this view, but a lot of sensible people do. The problem is, then: whose reading of the problems should be our guiding light? And which experts can we trust? In the end there is no escaping the conclusion that every expert who is not willing to have his position moderated by Rome is not in fact serving any truth but his own; in the end, it is ironic that making the pastoral Magisterium of the Hierarchy {especially that of the chief pastor} subject to the Magisterium of the Experts involves exactly the kind of modernist assumption that the SSPX has declared itself opposed to. [This is why, HERE, I wryly suggested that the SSPX and Fr. Kung had a lot in common.  That proposal is absurd at first glance, but perhaps not at the third glance.] If Bishop Williamson cares about the Truth, as indeed I believe he does deeply, he must ultimately admit that there is a real distinction in re between the teachings of the Church and the results of the analyses by SSPX theologians. Sadly I see no sign of this distinction starting to dawn on him or on any of his colleagues. Let me hereby challenge him respectfully to address the argument.

Unlike a lot of people, I happen to think there is a place for Bishop Williamson and the SSPX in the mainstream, banging their big bass drums for all they are worth. They just have to realise that the percussion section cannot be a law unto itself, and that moving from a march to a waltz does not constitute the abandonment of rhythm. [Great analogy.]

This says well many of the things I have thought for a long while.

When the talks between the SSPX and Rome were going to begin, I made the observation that both parties had to come into the talks with a good attitude.  While there is no question of these theological discussions being “negotiations” (“negotiations” might be right concerning juridical structures, etc.).  The folks on the Roman side of the table had to be open to discuss points of the documents of Vatican II.  Those on the SSPX side of the table had to give up their position that they were there to instruct Rome.

If there has been a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture when it comes to Vatican II towards the left (in the manner of Fr. Rahner and Fr. Kung), it is also possible to have discontinuity and rupture the other direction as well.

Like The Sensible Bond I have hoped that there would be a place within the mainstream Church for the SSPX.  I have mused that it would be great to see some of these guys elected to diocesan presbyteral councils and going to deanery meetings, sitting on priests personnel boards….

I think that the theological issues which the SSPX and Rome are talking about are so difficult that, the documents of Vatican II being what they are, it is possible to cede to the SSPX a great deal of leeway.  I have in mind how some followers of Fr. Feeney were reconciled with the Church concerning “no salvation outside the Church” without having to abandon their position.  Issues such as “religious liberty” are even less clearly spelled out than the doctrine of “no salvation outside the Church”.  Why could there not be a meeting of minds when it comes to a point like that?  Of course “religious liberty” is not the only issue and that debate touches on even deeper theological questions about the theocentric/anthropocentric starting points of some of the teachings in the documents of the Council.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Our Catholic Identity, Pope of Christian Unity, The Drill and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Jucken says:

    I believe the Fraternité won’t be reconciling with Rome in the foreseeable future because:

    important theologians within the Fraternité openly preach that it is a mortal sin to be even in remote communion with anyone in communion with the Pope (especially the local ordinary);
    her current leadership has a monarchist/maurrasianist political agenda to carry on;
    as became particularly evident at the split of the SSPV, she inherited Abp. Lefebvre’s belief that they have magisterial authority equating themselves with the Church (extra fraternitatem sallus nulla).

  2. JARay says:

    I have long been a follower of “Ches” (The Sensible Bond). He has sat at the feet of Bishop Williamson (I’m relying on my memory there, of him saying that) and he has a real liking for the man. That said, he knows his foibles as well as his strengths and Ches has a wonderful analytical mind. I have never met him but I do admire his reasoning.
    By the way, “Ches” is not his actual name but it is a name, to which he answers.

  3. chcrix says:

    I’ve read the original post on Sensible Bond, and scanned the comments there.

    I’d like to ask this forum, what do people think the proper attitude is toward V2? [ehem… ‘scuse me… but… this isn’t a “forum”. It is the combox of my blog. Right?]

    From my point of view, and according to my best understanding, V2 was pastoral and did not teach new dogma. So this makes it hard to understand how one ‘rejects’ it. Since there is no defined ‘something’ to demand assent to. (True the SSPX is almost to the point where they are saying that if you accept the council documents that means you are heretical. But their argument rings hollow as their own patron signed most or all of those documents.)

    I do think that the council resulted in theological license that was (and is) wildly abused.

    I do believe on the basis of information gleaned from sources like “Iota Unum” that this abuse was planned by some of the individuals associated with the council. Essentially, it was similar to the kinds of shenanigans one sees in the U.S. Congress. Congress passes some over-broad or ill-defined law. Then the activist groups and the federal agencies and courts proceed to ‘interpret’ the result to gain the ends sought when they proposed the sloppy language to begin with. It is true that this is not just a failure of the administration but also a failure of the council (i.e. in our analogy Congress).

    I also believe that John XXIII was unwise to call the council – and cite Pius XII in support of that position. Pius predicted exactly what would happen – a circus that passed out of effective control due to the nature of modern media.

    But, when all is said and done, I don’t see that the council did much if any good. And it appears to have (inadvertently on the part of most of the council fathers) done quite a bit of ill.

    So to me the council looks like a bust and it is difficult to imagine that not holding a council could have resulted in any more damage than was actually sustained. I know I’m sticking my neck out here by passing judgment on things that I’m not expert on. But I’m too much a child of the enlightenment to just salute the authorities when we are not talking about matters of fundamental to the understanding of the faith itself. (Bishop W. would not approve of me I fear.)

    The long pontificate of JPII was needed to last through the ‘fever’ brought on by the council. Now, under Benedict XVI the fever has broken (I hope) and the weakened patient is trying to mend. But it will be a long time happening.

  4. JARay: By any other name he would be as sensible.

  5. shane says:

    Didn’t Rome expressly allow the IBP to make ‘constructive criticism’ of the Vatican II documents?

  6. PaterAugustinus says:

    Once, while travelling Eastwards from Arizona, I spent a night in the SSPX Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Silver City, New Mexico). The abbot presumed my friend and I only wanted a bunk for the night, and so was surprised to see us present for Matins, etc.

    He came by later, and we had a chat. He was interested to learn that I was Orthodox, and tried to bring me around to see the light of Catholicism and the need for the Pope. I asked him how our situations were substantively different, since the SSPX was also standing apart from Rome in the name of a supreme Tradition. It was somewhat amusing to watch all the wires get crossed as he proceeded to tell me of my need for submission to Rome, while justifying his own schism!

    It does also bring up interesting questions. There are many times in Church history when Popes have taken fairly public, fairly wrong positions. The fifth Ecumenical Council, far from being convened or ratified by a Pope, was held in spite of the very pointed objections of one Pope Vigilius, whom it anathematized. And no, I don’t bring this up to drag out the tired old quarrel between Orthodox and Catholics about when and how Papal Infallability developed, but because in the end the dispute highlights one thing… at least, this is what seemingly sober and traditional Roman Catholics tell me: though the Pope may be infallible when speaking ex cathedra, it is not possible to know, infallibly, when he is doing this. Hindsight will clarify things later.

    Anyway, the point is not to rehash Orthodox/Catholic baggage, but to ponder the nature of Tradition and authority. Surely a “magisterium of experts” cannot be opposed to the Church’s Magisterium. But there have been times when that Magisterium was ambiguous, both in terms of the Chief Pastor (yes, the Pope, even the Orthodox acknowledge), and the chief pastors (i.e., the college of bishops). St. John the Wonderworker, and some other Orthodox saints, have said that this is precisely the kind of real danger that we face as Christians: we must cleave to the Truth as we’ve received it, and even though we have the Lord’s promise that the Church will never be vanquished, we sometimes have very difficult and adult decisions to make about where the Church is. Arianism was once an almost ubiquitous position even in the magisterium. When Monophysitism was anathematized, with all the complexities of that dispute, with large parties of opinion on either side, do you think it was immediately plain to every Egyptian merchant or Calabrian farmer, which side was in the right?

    I have a lot of sympathy for the “Athanasius contra Mundum” position of some in the SSPX – in the wake of Vatican II, it seems an understandable position to develop. But, usually the lone wolf is more of a “Luther Contra Mundum,” than an Athanasius. If even the Infallability of the Pope can be vague, and if the Apostolic Tradition of the Orthodox seems at times to differ from Catholicism’s Magisterium (showing that the Magisterium seemed to be fairly broadly and evenly divided in 1054!), we can have some sympathy for how difficult and dangerous the path of Tradition can be to tread. It’s not always as easy as just “continuing to do what we’ve always done,” or “blindly obey each ‘developed doctrine’ handed down by the bishops/Pope.” We each have to take personal responsibility for understanding the Tradition as well as we may, placing our faith in the Lord and finding a balance between recognizing that, though the Tradition may need to be personally possessed, it is not yet our private property! For those in the SSPX making an honest attempt at this, may the Lord show His mercy.

  7. Denis says:

    I’m troubled by this analysis on two counts.
    1. It seems to assume that the theology of the SSPX is expressed by the often erratic writings of Bishop Williamson, even though it is quite clear that Bishop Williamson has been marginalized within the SSPX.
    2. It assumes that the SSPX is proposing a new theology. In fact, teh SSPX deny that their theology is new. They claim that their theology is simply the theology of the Church up to the changes of Vatican II.

    The fundamental problem is that the doctrines of Vatican II were dangerously unclear and, by their very nature, perhaps intentionally, open to a multiplicity interpretations and hermeneutics, most of which have been revolutionary. That multivalent character of VII might, at some point in the future, be addressed by something like a syllabus of errors of Vatican II, as proposed by Bishop Schneider. But, at present, no such syllabus is in the works.

    Here’s one example of this V2 problem. Recently, Cardinal Schonborn said that Vatican II fundamentally changed the symbolism of the Mass. According to the Cardinal, “the people’s altar of the Liturgical Reform has now pushed the altar space in the foreground and posited another symbolism…We gather around the altar, around Christ.” If Cardinal Schonborn is right, we should no longer worship ad orientem, and the TLM should be suppressed. Is he wrong? It’s not clear. After Vatican II, anything is possible.

    So I would ask the critics of the SSPX: what exactly is the second Vatican Council, which the SSPX must accept? Is it the Vatican Council as read by Pope Benedict XVI, or the the Vatican Council as read by the majority of Priests, Bishops, and Cardinals in good standing?

    The Holy Father has had many things to say about VII that, in the long run, the SSPX might even accept. However, he has also refrained from using his authority as Pope to enforce any sort of definitive interpretion of the Council. At the moment, he is content to be just one bishop among many with an interesting and promising interpretation of VII. Unfortunately, as one bishop among many, he is in the minority.

    Ironically, Cardinal Schonborn and the SSPX would probably agree in their interpretation of VII. The SSPX are less in harmony with Father Kung than with the post-V2 Catholic mainstream.

  8. becket1 says:

    The crisis in the Church as viewed by a Swiss priest.
    I know this is an SSPX video, but please let our readers here watch this. Very sad!.

  9. Denis says:

    …a short addendum…

    What I wrote above about the problematic multivalence of VII as a reason for the SSPX’s dissent isn’t just speculation on my part. The SSPX have explicitly stated that this is at the root of their inability to affirm the Council. I It is expressed, for example, in Fr. David Pagliarani’s “Hermeneutic of the Hermeneutic of Continuity”, which can be found at SSPX’s St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary website, and is linked at Rorate Caeli. If you want to critique mainstream SSPX theology, Father Pagliarini is more representative than the eccentric Bishop Williamson.

  10. Maltese says:

    Fr. Z: great post and discussion points!

    Though there isn’t such a thing as a “card-carrying” member of the FSSPX, I do find myself in their chapels from time-to-time. It’s a really tricky thing: between obedience to Truth, and obedience to the Church. One mustn’t obey an unjust law, whereas one must obey the Church! You see the dilemma of FSSPX!

    The writer writes: “No Council has found the New Mass to be unCatholic; that view is the result of a theological argument. ” Well, true, but there hasn’t been a Council since, so that’s a disingenuous argument. The writer keeps repeating the refrain of “methodology” about this and that argument, without proposing novel arguments of his own. We all know there have been bad periods of Church history (Cf. when St. Athanasius lived, and was excommunicated by the then Reigning Pope).

    I guess we are all informed by our experiences. I used to disdain the FSSPX (I even laughed at them as the “Fraternal Society of Extremist Protestants”) how things come full circle! Now I’m an ardent defender of them. They aren’t perfect, but they are imperfectly responding to a watershed diminution of Catholicism 101 even among the heirarchs in the Church (who were also, of course, fed the fodder of Vatican II’s new model of thought for the Church).

    When I go to the Sacrifice at their chapels, my Catholic faith is rejuvinated, instead of watered-down. Really, this author, though smart, offers nothing that can’t be debated, and ultimately quashed, vis-a-vis the FSSPX.

  11. Summers says:

    I would disagree with you Denis on your point that the SSPX’s theology is “simply the theology of the Church up to the changes of Vatican II.” That is simply not true. The SSPX priests know next to nothing in regards to the first millenium Church apart from St. Augustine. I’ve asked a few of them. The Angelus Press sells practically nothing from the early Church Fathers. Zip. The SSPX studies Scholasticism, i.e. St. Thomas Aquinas. That’s pretty much it. Contrast that with Benedict XVI who is thoroughly versed in the entire history of the Church including the first millenium, and the theology of the East which the Church openly embraces now since Vatican II. So it is not only the SSPX’s methodology that is lacking it is their theology as a whole, for they are only bringing to the table a small portion of that theology, a period roughly from 1225-1962.

  12. Denis says:


    How well-versed was St. Francis in the history of the first thousand years of the Church’s history? St. Theresa of Avila? How about St. Thomas Aquinas? There was his Catena Aurea, to be sure, but it’s a very selective bunch of passages which probably represented what the average theologian knew of the Church Fathers in Aquinas’ day. It was hardly a thorough knowledge of the history of the Church in the first millenium. Besides–what’s wrong with Scholasticism and St. Thomas? You seem to be proving Father Pagliarini’s point–there has been a rupture. Even when V2 documents appear to tell us that Aquinas is still important, we should interpret that to mean that he is obsolete.

  13. muckemdanno says:

    Fr Z is exactly right. Some on the “left” view the Council with a “hermeneutic of discontinuity” or “rupture.” Some on the “right” or the “trads” view the Council with a “hermeneutic of discontinuity.”

    Both of these groups see the great changes in the Church since the Council as having occured as a result of the Council. The one side says “the Council changed everything…great!” The other says “the Council changed everything…terrible!”

    The third group that is interested in these things insists on a “hermeneutic of continuity.”

    One part of this group insists that there has been no rupture in the Church over the last 50 years. These people are quite obviously insane.

    The other part of the “continuity” group admits to the radical changes throughout the Church over the last 50 years, admits that they are for the most part, terrible, but refuses somehow to attribute these changes to the very Council which was called to reform the Church.

  14. wchoag says:

    Ches and I are both former Winona lads. His time in the SSPX North American seminary was immediately after mine. Ches did the English translation of Msgr Tissier’s biography of Archbishop Lefebvre. We have both known Msgr. Williamson up close. Does Ches have an affection for him as one claims above? Anyone who has spent private time with RNW cannot help but develop a certain predeliction for him–his surreal erudition and eccentricities and all. He is fascinating and captivating. Of course, one must take RNW “cum grano salis!”

    To the heart of the matter though, RNW does not see the inherent problem in his and, by extention, the SSPX theological method whereby they, as private theologians, place their opinion in judgement over the authentic teaching of the contemporary Magisterium. They assume a priori that they are right in all matters, have alone preserved the Catholic Faith, and this assuption is self-evident. It is amazing how this attitude is pervasive in the SSPX and so easy to embrace in that milieu. It is a Magisterium of “experts”–I use that term very relatively–set up against the Magisterium of Pastors, exactly as done by the progressives. One does not recognise this when inside the Society machine. I only came to grasp this when engaging progressive dissenters in grad school. In seeking to defend the perennial teaching of the Church from their innovations, I found that their methodology and that of the SSPX, though seeking opposite outcomes, was fundamentally the same. The SSPX goes a step further though in that it practices a peculiar form of theological positivism that isolates and elevates particular expressions of the Magisterium made during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

    Everyone must redouble their prayers for the reconciliation of the SSPX. RNW is wont to say often that “humanly speaking” nothing can be done to end the crisis of faith in the Church today. In one sense he is right–no pelagian human work will change anything. However, for RNW and the SSPX the defect in faith lies with Rome and the “Conciliar” Church. They never see the other side that they themselves need an interior conversion in docility to the Holy Father and the authentic teaching of the Church expressed in the V2 documents.

  15. NCtrad says:

    What was once Truth is now a lie. What was once condemned is tolerated and promoted. Those who hold to the Faith as it was held to and believed for 2000 years are the “rebels.” The SSPX holds no strange doctrines, only the Catholic Faith as every pre-Conciliar pope would have understood it. The sad fact is that Rome no longer does.

    I’m really starting to believe that neo-catholics suffer from the same neurosis that political liberals do.

  16. muckemdanno says:

    Nice call, Denis!

    Summers says the Church now “embraces the theology of the East”…since Vatican 2. Clearly, there is a rupture which is impossible to deny.

  17. paulbailes says:

    Thanks Fr Z for your helpful closing para.

    But may I respectfully disagree with a few other points:

    1) Generally, it must be remembered that the SSPX didn’t start the trouble by changing things: the Church authorities did (e.g. when they tried to replace the TLM with the NOM; and it seems that what divides SSPX-ers from others in “full communion” is not that the NOM was a bad idea, but rather how bad); thus the SSPX claim that the Church authorities are the ones who need to explain themselves and justify their innovations against prior Church teaching seems not unreasonable.

    2) In particular, the SSPX-style of what looks to some people like dissent (which wants things to stay the same) vs. the dissent of those who want to innovate should not really be represented as similar.

    3) And while we’re at it, re. your assertion the other day of the SSPX not being in communion with the Pope (and so we shouldn’t attend their Masses): since when did disobedience in itself make one “not in communion”? If so there’d be a lot of “authorised” Masses you’d be wanting people instead to avoid. Seeing how the Pope said the SSPX bishops were not excommunicated, I don’t see how you can say the SSPX is excommunicate (isn’t that what not being in communion is?)

    God bless

  18. Summers says:

    Sure there was a rupture it happened in 1054. There is no denying that there is a definite difference in theology from the East to West. I can think of one biggy…St. Anselm’s theology versus St. Anthansius’ theology you bet there is a difference. Some would call that a rupture, some would say it hermeneutics. I’ll let the Popes sort that out as they have throughout history (well before Vatican II). The Union of Brest comes to mind (1596) as one such instance.

    And Denis, the fact that St. Francis could have known little of the early Church is a non-argument. He lived in the 12th century. We live in the information age. How difficult is it to look this stuff up especially for so-called “learned men” (SSPX bishops) who are trying to convince the Church AND the Holy Father that the SSPX is “right” and everyone else has it “wrong.” How embarrassing for them and their followers. It is willful ignorance. That is all it is.

  19. Gulielmus says:

    wchoag, your experience echoes the exact problem I have often had with the arguments put forth by the SSPX and its many apologists. Ultimately, most discussions come around to some version of “the SSPX is right because the SSPX says it’s right.” I’m perplexed (and admittedly, a bit amused) by how often defenders of the Society respond to an argument with a link to the SSPX website as if that proved that any criticism was disproven.

  20. Denis says:


    Your premise is that one cannot affirm the pre-V2 teaching of the Church unless one is familiar with the first millennium of Church history. My point was just that it follows from this premise that St. Francis and other Saints didn’t affirm the pre-V2 teaching of the Church. That is obviously false, and absurd. It’s a reductio argument. The fact that we now have the internet doesn’t address that reductio.

  21. Denis says:


    Father Pagliarini’s argument is not that “the SSPX is right because the SSPX says it’s right”. That’s not even a decent caricature of his argument. He may very well be mistaken, but you’re not going to show that he is by missing his point.

  22. Gulielmus says:


    Thus the words “often” (twice) and “most” in my comment.

  23. Summers says:

    My post was unclear. A lot of Vatican 2 teachings come from what John Paul II termed as “a rediscovery of the early Church Fathers”, i.e. the first millenium. Contrary to what a lot of SSPX priests, bishops and their followers may believe, Vatican II was not just made up. It does have roots…deep ones that go way back. Why these roots weren’t acknowledge prior to Vatican II…I don’t know. You would have to ask the popes that one. I guess the differences and out and out disdain on both sides, East and West, just ran too deep for too long (some might say they still do).

    Here is an example of what I mean…When Bsp Tissier called Benedict XVI a “heretic” for his book “Introduction to Christianity” it had to be because Bsp Tissier had no idea what the majority of the early Church taught (the majority of the early Church population and culture was in the East, not the West as the West was still mostly barbaric). Had Tissier known early theology he would have known full well that it was from this very premise that the then Fr. Joseph Ratzinger was writing from. Benedict XVI doesn’t just make stuff up. He is a scholar and theologian. It is examples such as this that I am referring to when I state the SSPX has no knowledge of theology other than Scholasticism or second millenium Catholicism. If they do, I have yet to see it, hear it, or witness it, but I would welcome it.

  24. paulbailes says:

    When The Sensible Bond asks “whose reading of the problems should be our guiding light?”, he’s asking us to trust the Pope. But the problem is that the Pope can’t always be trusted. It was/is
    – the Pope (PaulVI) who tried to steal the TLM from us
    – the Pope (J-PII) who wouldn’t give the TLM back, unless with lots of restrictions
    – the Pope (BXVI) who doesn’t condemn the above two, and rather praises J-PII.

    Who says that to be Catholic you have to believe everything the Pope ever says? PaulVI denied that V-II was being dogmatic, so why can’t the SSPX be allowed to dispute some of it?

    It looks to me that just as there was a misrepresentation (by Rome!) that the TLM was forbidden, there’s a misrepresentation of the dogmatic status of “religious freedom” etc.

    God bless

  25. Tradcarlos says:

    Sadly all these debates and arguments come about because we all claim to have the truth. The fact of the matter is when it all comes down to it they are all opinions. Not til Peter comes out and speaks, as he did in the Council of Jerusalem, will all these debates and arguments cease. Until then we can all continue to debate and argue that are opinion is the the truth!

  26. paulbailes says:

    Quite so, Tradcarlos – let Peter come out and speak. But “Peter” (qua Peter, as opposed to the non-infallible statements of the holders of his office), has been silent for a long time.



  27. Denis says:

    Yet again, you seem to prove the SSPX’s point. You see V2 as an effort to surgically remove from Catholic consciousness the latter half of the Church’s history and tradition. According to you, everything that happened in the second millennium is misguided, because it’s too “Latin”, or something. That sounds more than a little revolutionary to me. I don’t think that the SSPX would be comforted by your view of V2. I’m not comforted by your view of V2. It reminds me of the Reformation’s perception of itself as returning to the good old days before the bad old days, which consisted of nothing less than the most recent one thousand years.

    Again, the problem with V2 isn’t that it’s too obviously Eastern or Patristic but that it isn’t obviously anything. It has been the Rorschach blot onto which liberal bishops, priests and theologians have been projecting their views of what the Church ought to be.

    Bishop Tissier can say what he likes about the Holy Father’s book. He may or may not be mistaken. His views on that book are not the theology of the SSPX. In any case, what Bishop Tissier has said about the Holy Father is pretty tame in comparison with what liberal clerics in good standing have said about him. Do they need to brush up on the patristics?

  28. Summers says:

    I should have just summed it up by saying that I agree with Fr. Z. That both sides (the SSPX and the Rome delegation) need a little humility when approaching these talks. Both have been less than “intellectually honest” when it comes to the “truth,” Church history, and theology. Both sides. [How do you know that? Were you in the meetings?]

    And yes, liberals most certainly should “brush up” on their patristics and a lot of other things!

    I wouldn’t worry about the SSPX. They seem to be doing quite well…assest management companies and all. :-)

  29. Summers says:

    Fr. Z
    I’m referring to in the past. Not the meetings now. I wasn’t clear.

  30. MichaelJ says:

    The biggest disappointment I have found with the SSPX’s detractors, is that none seem willing to address the arguments put forth. All seem to invariably attack the “methodology” where ” private theologians, place their opinion in judgement over the authentic teaching of the contemporary Magisterium”.
    When one begins a discussion or argument by stating that “A” is wrong because of “B” and “C”, how on earth can there be any progress if the only response is “You do not have the authority to opine what A, B and C mean”.
    Sorry, but this sounds very gnostic to me. We as lay Catholics are incapable of understanding what the Church has taught?

  31. Jucken says:

    Not to mention the fact that the positions defended by the Fraternité do not represent traditionalism, but rather a modernist distortion of it.

  32. Brian2 says:

    When posters on this topic say that SSPX theologians don’t know the tradition as well as they think they do, insofar as they are deficient in their grasp of first millennium church fathers, a number of people have defended the SSPX not by showing that they do in fact have an adequate understanding, but by saying ‘Well, those guys were Greek and we are Latin and it is OK, more or less, for Latins to be ignorant of Greek theology’ — these people are wrong on both counts. First, there were many important church fathers and pre-scholastic theologians who are not ‘fathers’ who wrote in Latin, i.e. Augustine, Ambrose, Tertullian, Jerome and so on, later one might point to Bernard. Second, it is impossible to really understand even someone like Aquinas without an appreciation of Greek works, in particular Dionysius the Psuedo-Areopagite and John of Damascus. A glance at the Summa will show how often they are cited; to say nothing of Aquinas commentaries on the Dionysian corpus

    This brings me to my last point, which is more of a question than a point: is SSPX theology really based on Aquinas and scholasticism OR is it based on the neo-scholastic revival of scholasticism. A revival that, many scholars argue, imported some of the basic modern categories (a focus on epistemological certainty, a minimalization of prudence in favor imperatives and so on) that it was meant to combat? I don’t know, but I have my suspicions.

  33. Torkay says:

    Let’s not jump on this allegedly sensible bandwagon quite so fast, Father. I’m throwing out a red flag: slippery conditions on the race track. Slippery, as in, disingenuous and sly. In fact, there are several red flags in this article. Red Flag #1: “Bishop Williamson and the SSPX.” Since when is Bp. Williamson representative of the SSPX? He is quite brilliant, quite eccentric, and somewhat daft, and has caused the Society numerous problems to the point where Bp. Fellay has had to threaten to discipline him. Is Bp. Williamson involved in the Vatican discussions? No. Does Bp. Williamson speak for the SSPX? No. So is this guilt by association? Attacking an Achilles heel straw man instead of addressing the real issues? Red flag #2. ”No Council has found the new Mass to be unCatholic.” Very devious. First, would it really take a Council to make this finding? No. Second, do actual facts have any bearing on this allegedly unsubstantiated theological argument – like the Great Apostasy, like Catholics who have remained in the Church who now think and act like Protestants, demanding “active” roles where they are forbidden, like clergy who no longer see any substantive differences between Catholics and Protestants or who actually celebrate events like the Protestant Reformation in Scotland? Third, how about all the Catholic theology that was stripped from the TLM in order to avoid offending heretics? Fourth, is the SSPX alone in denouncing the new Mass? No – ever read Latin Mass Magazine? Ever listen to priests of the FSSP? Read The Remnant? Red Flag #3: “[what] the SSPX confuse are the teachings of the Catholic Church and their own theological arguments.” Apparently this writer is unaware that the “arguments” used by the SSPX are nothing more than Magisterial documents in place before Vatican II. For example, a reading of Mediator Dei would give one a pretty good idea of how “Catholic” the new Mass is. But this writer now attempts to drive a wedge between the Magisterium and those who are faithful to it, by claiming it is all a matter of questionable interpretation. That is downright scandalous. Red Flag #4 “making the pastoral Magisterium of the Hierarchy {especially that of the chief pastor} subject to the Magisterium of the Experts…” This is a patently ridiculous exaggeration: there is neither a real or pretended “Magisterium of the Experts,” but a frank discussion of the grave problems created by Vatican II – problems which the SSPX condemn openly, and regarding which, Rome mostly keeps her head in the sand, babbling on about the “great renewal” and the wonderful changes wrought by the Council. Finally, also notice that this article raises not one peep about any of the issues being discussed at the SSPX-Vatican table. Why is that? I suggest it is because Bp. Williamson is much easier to attack than the fidelity of the SSPX.

Comments are closed.