A pessimistic article about SSPX and talks with Rome

In Vatican Insider of La Stampa comes this.  My emphases and comments.

Beware: Weird translation.  You might have better success in Italian.  Or else the original French, more more nuanced, here.

Before a key meeting in Rome, the leader of the traditionalists stressed that he was not prepared to make any compromises and also revealed some interesting behind the scenes happenings…
Alessandro Speciale
vatican city

“If their aim is still to force us to accept the second Vatican Council, the discussions have been clear enough in showing that we have no intention of  doing any such thing.”

SSPX Bp. FellayThese were the decisive but prudent [HUH?  “É un Bernard Fellay deciso a non cedere a nessun compromesso con il Vaticano ma allo stesso tempo prudente,…” A better word is “cautious”.] words of Bernard Fellay, who was adamant he would not agree to any compromise with the Vatican. On the 15 August, Fellay spoke openly about the talks between the Lefebvrians and the Holy See during the “summer University” of the Society of St. Pius X, fonde [surely founded rather than melted, no?] by Monsignor Lefebvre.

The transcription of the public interview with the Lefebvrian superior, held by the Society’s press agent, the abbot Alain Lorans, was published a few days ago, on the eve of the meeting in Rome between Fellay and Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which should encapsulate two years of “doctrinal talks” between Rome and the traditionalists.

The Lefebvrian superior’s judgement on the discussions was anything but friendly: “They are not beneficial right now because there is a clash of mentalities… In any case, we are certainly not in agreement. If there is one thing we agree on, that is that we do not agree on anything.”  [Sure a lot of mixed message in the last few months.]

Monsignor Fellay, one of the Society’s four bishops, ordained against Rome’s will by Monsignor Lefebvre and whose excommunication was removed by Benedict XVI in 2009, called for “extreme prudence” [“caution”] in terms of their relationship with the Vatican, especially in view of next week’s meeting, of which he said he did not know what to expert. [or even what to expect!]


“If the Society of St. Pius X i sto be recognised, the Vatican Secretary of State said in December 2009, they absolutely must recognise the Council and the teachings of John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI himself.” [Two things.  That was in 2009, not 2011.  That was Card. Bertone, not Pope Benedict XVI.]

People must not believe everything they hear,” the traditionalist superior told his followers. For example the rumours going round about Cardinal Levada making a “pro position[or perhaps a “proposition”?] to the Brotherhood [Who did this… google translator?  “Fraternity” is, I think the preferred term.] to allow it to entre [“Apres vous mon cher Alphonse!”] into communion with the Holy See once again: “On what conditions?” Fellay asked himself, “the way I see it, there must be certain conditions.” [Indeed, there must be conditions.  Let’s start with submission to the authority of the Vicar of Christ.]

He went on to say that “there are those who say that up until now, they (the Vatican, editor’s note) have always tried to shove the Council down our throats. I don’t know. All I am saying is: We are moving on. We have our principles, above all faith… Without faith God can never like you, so our decisioni s made. Faith comes first, no matter what, it even comes before recognition by the Church. We need to be strong.” [I think I understand what he is driving that, and I want to read it as favorably as possible, but does this sound like something a Donatist might say?]


Fellay also explained how the arrival of Pope Ratzinger on the papal throne “set something off” in the Vatican, changing the winds in favour of the traditionalists and opening the way for their potential reintegration: “However, thinking about it and as far asthe person himself is concerned, the mood has certainly changed. Even in the Vatican, his arrival gave courage to those who, calling themselves conservatives, were forced to hide.”

Still, with the revocation of excommunications and the Williamson case in 2009, relations “became more tense”: in June that year, Fellay claims he tried desperately to meet with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, but in vain. [That’s interesting.] The traditionalist superior was “diverted” to the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith, cardinal LevadaCard. Bertone and Pres. Obama [Why not have Fellay speak with both CDF and also receive him as Secretary of State?  What would the downside be?  To meet with him?  Sit in a room and meet with him?  After all, in 2009 they met with the most pro-abortion President in American history, Pres. Obama.  Right?  Remember all the talk back them about “common ground”?Robert Mugabe (BTW… where’s the memo?) There is far more common ground with SSPXers than with Pres. Obama.  In 2011 they permitted Robert Mugabe to come to the beatification of John Paul II and receive Communion.  Right?  Why not meet with SSPX Bp. Fellay?]

Lefebvre’s successor, underlined more than once the divisions that esiste [Are you getting a sense that this wasn’t originally in English?] inside the Vatican Curia and warned that any news arriving from Rome should be taken with a pinch of salt. Fellay used the example of  an Augustinian monk  who was excommunicated and espelle from Rome having “converted” to “Monsignor Lefebvre’s society.”

The traditionalist superior claimed he went to Rome with the monk’s excommunication letter, signed by the Vatican Congregation for the clergy and that he showed it to Monsignor Guido Pozzo, current Secretary of Ecclesia Dei and head of the Vatican “negotiating” team engaged in talks with the Brotherhood.

“This is how the letter should be treated,” Pozzo allegedly said to Fellay before tearing it to pieces before him. The secretary of Ecclesia Dei is supposed to have added: “You should tell your priests and your flock, that not everything that comes from Rome comes directly from the Pope.”

Referring to another example, fellay spoke of  a case of  “ecumenical informing,” [“delazione ecumenica”] in which he was the central figure: after some Lefebvrian bishops, who were still excommunicated, were forbidden to celebrate the eucharist in the Lourdes sanctuary, the traditionalist superior contacted cardinal Castrillon, still president of Ecclesia Dei, to “condemn” the fact that some Anglican bishops had been allowed to celebrate mass.

“I am not calling them bishops because they are all laymen, they are not real priests, let alone bishops,” Fellay added with disdain.

And yet ironically more Anglican bishops have come into unity with Rome than SSPX bishops.  And the Anglicans have been ordained as priests, and they have faculties to do what the SSPX bishops cannot.

In any event, I suggest that readers here pray to God the Holy Spirit to warm hearts and bend wills.  Pray to the guardian angels of all involved that the meeting on 14 September will go well.

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  1. priests wife says:

    with God all things are possible…but I am rather pessimistic as well when it comes to Orthodox-Catholic relations. leaving aside major theological questions such as filioque or multiple remariages versus annulments, what would we Catholics do with all those Orthodox saints who would not pass muster (Saint Constantine anyone?)

    I was at a monastery in the old country last summer which had never been Catholic (constructed in the 1600s in the east)- it was lovely to be in a place that had not been stolen from the Catholics. But when we told them about our monks who were working in the US to foster Catholic unity with a true Eastern spirituality, they were disgusted- WHY would THEY want to be Catholic even if they could retain most of their traditions? They nearly spat on the ground. It was disheartening.

    As with the Anglican ordinate, I believe unity with Rome with SSPX and Orthodox will come perhaps priest by priest, parish by parish

  2. everett says:

    It should probably be defined what is meant by accepting the Second Vatican Council, but frankly if SSPX’s position is that everything at Vatican II is illegitimate, and that they will not recognize the supremacy of Benedict as pope, then they’ll never return to full communion with Rome. Let us hope that there was something lost in translation, or that the actual position is more nuanced than this. The entire reason this is so sad is that they are so close to us that we long to have them return fully to the fold.

  3. Cephas218 says:

    As I was reading this, I naturally thought of other divisions. My suspicions were strengthened on reading of an “Augustinian monk who was excommunicated” (Luther anyone?). After witnessing the wound to the Church over the last 500 years, our Holy Father is rightly concerned for this new dissent.

  4. Supertradmum says:

    At a 1989 conference, listed here below, were given many of the objections the SSPX have of Vatican II. These objections are not only serious, but still stand in the way of many coming into union with Rome. Prayer and fasting are needed, I think. http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/Society_of_Saint_Pius_X/Catholic-Church-and-Second-Vatican-Council.htm

  5. anilwang says:

    “Faith comes first, no matter what, it even comes before recognition by the Church. ”

    The problem with this philosophy is that it walks down the path of Martin Luther. He started out as a voice for reform within the Church to correct an abuse, but because he was forced to reject a single council to stay consistent with his understanding of the faith, he moved further and further from the faith until he became an outright heretic. Martin Luther could have become rejected all councils after the Great Schism and become Eastern Orthodox, but having gone so far, pride that “he was the sole guardian of the one true faith” stopped him from turning back.

    One can say that Vatican II’s implementation was botched. It’s not the first council to be true, but lead to bad consequences that took a century to recover from. One can say that Vatican II’s language was ambiguous and could be taken advantage of by unscrupulous priests and bishops. One only has to look at the two council attempts at formulating the Nicene Creed to find confirmation of this.

    But you can’t say Pope-confirmed councils are able to declare false doctrine without also invalidating Vatican I and all councils (at least since the Great Schism). Essentially, you can’t be Catholic and hold this view.

  6. Centristian says:

    “Before a key meeting in Rome, the leader of the traditionalists…”

    This is one of the key points of the problem between Rome and the so-called SSPX. The SSPX regard themselves as the authentic representatives of Catholic tradition. If they are, they can wield the authority of ordinary bishops, abbots, and even the Holy See itself using their magic “supplied jurisdiction” argument. Viewing themselves in the light of the very representatives of Catholic tradition, they can ordain priests every year, they can raise monasteries into conventual priories, they can even disregard the authority of the bishop who dissolved them in 1975 and continue to call themselves the “Society of St. Pius X”, since his authority is as meaningless to them as their own authority actually is.

    The fact of the matter, however, is that it is the Pope who is the authentic representative, voice, and embodiment of Catholic tradition, not the Society of St. Pius X. Bernard Fellay is not the leader of the traditionalists. Pope Benedict XVI is. Bernard Fellay is the bishop of nothing, and the pretender to an office that ceased to exist even during Archbishop Lefebvre’s lifetime.

    So long as the Lefebvrists regard themselves and not Peter as the keepers of Catholic tradition, talks of this nature will, I believe, continue to be fruitless. I have to imagine that one day soon, however, the Holy See is going to see that, and begin to regard the so-called SSPX for what it is: a rather large collection of reactionary renegades who have by now become their own church.

  7. RickMK says:

    “But you can’t say Pope-confirmed councils are able to declare false doctrine without also invalidating Vatican I and all councils…”

    That’s true, but if a council does not declare any doctrines at all, then you can totally reject the council without saying that it taught any false doctrine, since there would be no doctrines there to be false.

  8. Alice says:

    Excommunicated Augustinian monk? Beware of Augustinian monks who tear up the bull of excommunication!

    I’m only half joking when I say that the reason Bishop Williamson is in such trouble in Germany is because Luther’s descendants want to sue him for copyright infringement!

  9. MJ says:

    Centristian, I don’t think the Vatican shares your opinion of the SSPX…they wouldn’t be working so hard for full reconciliation if so.

  10. Corinne says:

    It seems to me that this meeting on September 14th clearly should be undertaken in the form of a mediation otherwise it will always be two clashing views both holding to their respective hardlines and nothing every gets solved. I’m not sure who the mediator would be as he/she (yes I dared to say “she”) would, by definition, need to be “impartial.” Nevertheless, I can’t help but think this is the only way to garner real results and resolve this once and for all. Yes, mediation does require compromise from both parties but compromise is needed from both parties, because, in my view, neither party is 100% “right.”

  11. mike cliffson says:

    Donatists. You´ve said it. Sad.They were so right, and being right led them so wrong.
    Apart from beelzebub, who`s happy?

  12. RichR says:

    I think the Vatican has tipped its hand lifting the excommunications and lowering the restrictions on the TLM. Even agreeing to see the SSPX for these talks is an incredible opportunity for the Society. If these talks are simply swept aside, I fear there is no hope for reunification. The SSPX will turn in on itself and die out because they will see that they have no influence anymore on Vatican policy. They will become a ghetto that withers away in mutual excommunications and splinter groups. In the meantime, the Church will go on with EF Masses, more traditional priests, and the Vicar of Christ continuing the mission our Divine Founder established.

  13. Pachomius says:

    ““If their aim is still to force us to accept the second Vatican Council, the discussions have been clear enough in showing that we have no intention of doing any such thing.””
    Non serviam much?

    “Faith comes first, no matter what, it even comes before recognition by the Church. ”
    Surely the authentic Faith is the Faith that is recognised by the Church? The Petrine Office has authority because it articulates the Faith of the Church, not because it has authority to make it up as it goes along. +Fellay appears to be arguing for his own authority to do jut that (or better yet, +Lefebvre’s).

    “[Indeed, there must be conditions. Let’s start with submission to the authority of the Vicar of Christ.]”
    vere dignum et justum est!

    “[I think I understand what he is driving that, and I want to read it as favorably as possible, but does this sound like something a Donatist might say?]”
    Not sure about a Donatist, Fr (though in a lot of these sorts of discussion, the spectre of Donatism rears its ugly head frequently – as does it’s twin sister, clericalism [since if the power of the sacraments derives from the priest…]), but it certainly sounds like the sort of thing a Lollard might have said.

    MJ, the Church is also working hard at unity with the Orthodox, with the Lutherans, with the Methodists, with the Anglicans… that we’re working hard at unity with someone doesn’t mean that we agree with them.

    Here are two questions which are essential to the questions surrounding Vatican II:
    1. To whom are the Keys of the Kingdom of God given by Christ, the Son of the Living God? To St Peter, first Bishop of Rome? Or to the Bishop of… er, nowhere?

    2. What defines a council as ecumenical, and thus infallible?

    For surely, there have been few councils as truly ecumenical in their makeup as Vatican II! This is a truth which must be faced: The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican was attended by bishops of every Rite and Catholic Church, and by bishops from as far away as the ends of the Earth. It was solemnly opened by a Pope; it was organised, continued, an overseen by two Popes; it was closed and promulgated by a Pope. It may not have proclaimed doctrine, but it is about as close to infallible as can be assured on this Earth. As with Veterum Sapientia, so also here.

    priests wife: You may be right, but we must pray and hope. I think the best we can hope for is to keep praying and trying to show the Orthodox our care for them. I think it may also depend on which orthodox church. I have hopes that the Copts will reunite with Rome – it’s nearly happened in the past, though it won’t under the present Alexandrian Papacy, I think. We also have to keep reminding some sneering elements of the Latin Rite of the honour and reverence due the Eastern Rite.

  14. Marianna says:

    The SSPX will have to give some kind of indication that they are willing to rethink their positions on Vatican II, if the talks are going to go anywhere.

    There is no evidence right now that they are willing to do that, so I don’t expect the talks to go anywhere.

  15. danphunter1 says:

    Not to worry.
    The FSSPX will be regularised soon.

    If Father Feeney was regularised and went to his grave never changing his position on EENS the Society, which has much less of a row to hoe, can be regularised.

  16. William Tighe says:


    “2. What defines a council as ecumenical, and thus infallible?”

    For Catholics, acceptance of its definitions (if any), canons (if any) or its “pronunciations” by the pope, no more, no less. Thus, for Catholics, the ecumenical status of the First Council of Constantinople in 381 AD, an assembly that wasn’t called as an “ecumenical council,” but only a local synod of bishops from the regions of Constantinople and Antioch, was not accepted by Rome as an “ecumenical council” until 534 AD; before that date, for over 150 years Rome refused to number it among the ecumenical councils, although it accepted the Creed formulated by that council (a modification of the creed formulated at Nicaea in 325 AD) within a year or two of 381. (for the Eastern Orthodox, the “ecumenicity” of a council rests upon its general acceptance by “the Church as a whole,” but for me that criterion raises a host of insuperable problems, among them what is meant by “the Church as a whole.”)

  17. wchoag says:

    Centristian said: “one day soon, however, the Holy See is going to see that, and begin to regard the so-called SSPX for what it is: a rather large collection of reactionary renegades who have by now become their own church. “

    I think that the CDF is already well aware of this. Dealing with the SSPX today is not that same as in the days of Msgr. Lefebvre. In that generation, the psychological disposition of the Society still had residue of what it means to function in obedience to the Petrine Office. Indeed, many of the priests and seminarians then had come to the Society seeking refuge from what Lefebvrists would call “the Novus Ordo”. I can count my own family as a lay example among those who sought such refuge in those days.

    However, a different mentality now seems to prevail in the Society especially among the younger generation who have been born and baptized and raised entirely inside the Lefebvrist milieu. This is a mentality of hubris and intransigence that considers the Society to be the final authority in the Church. It engenders a behaviour that in practice treats the Society alone as the Church even if its public declarations claim otherwise. It is schismatic mentality which, even if not yet a fully consummated break from the Papacy, is nonetheless on a trajectory towards formal schism. Even Msgr. Fellay has acknowledged this problem. So too have Abbes Paul Aulangier and Philippe Laguérie who have separated from the Society and now minister in the Institut du Bon Pasteur which is in many regards an SSPX regularised in the Church, much more so than the Fraternity of Saint Peter.

    The Society has at its root the problem of the polarised French Church in the two centuries following the Revolution of 1798. Their foundation has harboured from its beginnings political, social, and religious positions that are peculiar to France and represent the hardened and alienated far Right that has refused to come to terms with any aspect of the changed situation since the collapse of the Ancien Regime. Too often those, and here I mean specifically non-French Catholics, looking from the Society from outside see a disagreement with Rome over liturgical issues, failing to understand the deeper issues that lie behind the tensions. As time has progressed and their separation from the Papacy has continued, they have mutated into their own ecclesial communion. It is the awareness of this reality that surely drives the Roman efforts at reconciliation as schisms tend to institutionalise and beget other schisms. A horror for the Church!

    I sincerely hope that a reconciliation of the SSPX can be effected. However, I think that the propitious time for that has long past. I truly fear that any reconciliation will now be found only in the distant future. May God prove me wrong…PLEASE, Lord!

  18. St. Rafael says:

    The Church finds itself completely engulfed in Modernism. That includes the hierarchy in the Vatican. It’s all a mess. Well intentioned as he is, Pope Benedict is not the man who is going to fix the problems in the Church and do something about Modernism, Liberalism, and the apostasy.

    The SSPX is not going anywhere for decades. They will continue to be inside the Church recognizing the Pope, but without a regular canonical situation and ordinary faculties. If by the grace of God, time continues on its pace, the SSPX bishops and priests are going to outlive Pope Benedict and the liberals in top Vatican posts.

    The SSPX and the Church will be better of when Peter the Roman comes. According the the vision and prophesy of St. Malachy of all the future Popes, Peter the Roman is the next Pope after Benedict. Peter the Roman is going to be the man who fixes many things and will lead a restoration.

  19. jm says:

    The comments here are to my mind overly harsh. The SSPX deserves a medal for clinging to the faith while Rome has coddled heretical leaders and ambiguities that have damaged many. Vatican II was pastoral, so it declared little doctrine. And how can a Council be right if it contradicts an earlier Council? The SSPX supports the Pope, but also thinks the Church has been ensnared in doctrinal confusion. People would have us watch our kids lose their faith at the hands of disbelieving priests rather than send then to an SSPX chapel. It is ecclesiastical allegiance taken to a level of legalism. I’ll pass, and pray they talks are fruitful.

  20. donboyle says:

    Rather than assuming that the article (to the extent that it is comprehensible) accurately reflects Bp. Fellay’s views, it seems more likely that the article is someone’s attempt to destroy any chance of a reconciliation. There are many opposed to such a prospect, for all kinds of differing reasons, and some will circulate stories to try to bring about their desired result. Whether Vatican Insider is consciously taking part in such an effort, I have no idea.

  21. JohnRoss says:

    We’ll likely have the SSPX and its heirs centuries from now if the Russian Orthodox experience with the Old Believers is any precedent.

    I might add that St. Constantine is liturgically venerated by Byzantine Catholics. Not to mention our liturgical calendar includes commemorations for St. Gregory Palamas who lived in the 14th century and has been referenced by Rome with his saintly title.

    And gasp, we even keep the feast of St. Photios of Constantinople in the Byzantine rite of the Catholic Church.

    Reunion with the Orthodox will require Rome to declare there hasn’t been a valid ecumenical council since the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 and that Lateran I through Vatican II were general councils of the Western Church.

    It’s of historical note that some canonists regarded the Council of Florence as the 8th Ecumenical Council until the Counter-Reformation. http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&catid=14:articles&id=22:which-councils-are-ecumenical

  22. Warren says:

    If the litmus test of faithful Catholic-ness is the demonstration of love for the Church by obeying the God-given Magisterium, then the SSPX (and, yes, a good deal of pew-sitters and eastern brethren) will fail that test. So be it. Saint Peter’s successor is pope, not me nor anyone other than the man who sits on Peter’s throne.

    I hope and pray for a regularization of the SSPX as much as I pray for any and all dissenting Catholics (and separated brethren and protestants…) to lay down their lives and, in humble submission, present themselves to God and His Church (not some manmade edifice) in service of our fellow human beings. Every mature Catholic understands how a faithful Catholic should behave and needs little reminder if any when to ask for forgiveness when failing to behave like a Catholic should. Let’s not wander off into speculation about motives nor entertain sentimental aspirations for unity. Such false hopes should be discarded in light of the failure of various attempts at ecumenism, notably things like ARCIC.

    What I hear coming from the poorly translated mouth of Bishop Fellay is (still!) a lack of willingness to submit to Rome. Bishop Fellay and his followers, for all their admirable qualities, sully themselves by their corporate act of disobedience. And that, folks, is what makes the SSPX more protestant than Catholic.

    Forgive me my bluntness, but mollycoddling the defiant is tedious and a waste of effort. Pearls before swine.

  23. wchoag says:

    St. Rafael said: The SSPX and the Church will be better of when Peter the Roman comes. According the the vision and prophesy of St. Malachy of all the future Popes, Peter the Roman is the next Pope after Benedict. Peter the Roman is going to be the man who fixes many things and will lead a restoration.

    This comment reflects a general apocalyptic mindset that permeates certain strains of Catholic traditionalism. It can be very dangerous vis-a-vis the indefectibility of the Church and the Petrine Office.

  24. BobP says:

    I guess I missed the part where the Anglicans accepted the Council of Trent and Vatican I.

  25. ray from mn says:

    These people of the “Catholic Right” are just like the dissidents of the “Catholic Left.” There is no advantage for the SSPX to reconcile with Rome, just as there is no advantage for the left to totally split from Rome. They won’t get their names in the papers any more.

  26. Maltese says:

    everette: I agree that it all depends on what “accept” the Council means. FSSPX believes it is a valid council, but one with error.

    anilwang: But you can’t say Pope-confirmed councils are able to declare false doctrine without also invalidating Vatican I and all councils (at least since the Great Schism). Essentially, you can’t be Catholic and hold this view.

    How would declaring there are false teachings in Vatican II, a Pastoral Council, invalidate a Dogmatic Council. I would agree that, to be Catholic, you have to believe in every Dogma, but VII declared none, as even our Pope has stated; saying that VII kept itself on the “modest level”. Well, it’s the first such “pastoral” Council–to my knowledge–in the history of the Church, so the rules have changed.

    Here is what the esteemed Vatican Theologian Msgr. Gherardini has to say on-point:

    “This [the general guidance of the Holy Spirit at a Council] does not mean that the Holy Spirit may not encounter formal or material resistance from the free-willed men who give life to the counciliar event. It is from this possibility that there arises the great risk which casts itself upon the background of the Council…namely, the possibility that it may even fail in some way. Someone has even gone further and has asked if an Ecumenical Council can fall into error in Faith and Morals. The opinions are at variance…”

    “Anyone who, in quoting it [VII], puts it on a par with Trent or Vatican I, and accredits to it a normative and binding force which it does not possess in itself, commits a crime and, in the final analysis, does not respect the Council itself.”

    “In all truth Modernism hid itself under the cloak of Vatican II’s hermeneutic…because not a few pages of the conciliar documents reek of the writings and ideas of Modernism–this can be seen above all in GS.”–Vatican II, a Much Needed Discussion

  27. Mouse says:

    With all respect to you – because I understand where you are coming from – may I gently say:
    If a council “does not declare any doctrines at all” then there is no reason to reject it.

    SSPX’s reasons for rejecting Vatican II are doctrinal. Ergo, they acknowledge that there are doctrines stated or declared in it. So if one is trying to get SSPX off the hook by claiming that there are no doctrines in the docs of Vatican II, one is making an argument that just doesn’t work. It contains a little logical flaw as I stated above.

    Similarly, some trad Catholics make the claim that Vatican II can be rejected, or at least more or less ignored, for the same reason. But this argument just really doesn’t hold water. The Pope and the Bishops in union with him clearly call us to submit to Vatican II (the REAL Vatican II, not some “spirit of Vatican II” of course). For a faithful Catholic, that is the end of story.

    By the way, this article (horrendously translated as it is!) nonetheless should make it clear to anyone involved in/sympathetic to SSPX that SSPX is indeed not in communion with Rome. No one who rejects an ecumenical council, rejects the authority of the Pope, etc, is in communion with Rome.

    It is for the Holy Father to judge the council, and to judge us, not the other way around. If we think there are problems, we must PRAY AND SACRIFICE. Prayer and sacrifice are effective. Disobedience, public criticism of the bishops and Pope, etc., are not effective…

    We must pray for bishops who will remedy problems we see, because that is their job and their charism, given them by the Holy Spirit. It is not ours.

    No matter how much we sympathize with some of SSPX’s concerns, we can’t go down that path, which is indeed, as other commenters point out, the path of Luther. I think we should all pray like mad for their reunion, not only for their souls, but because of things that are good in them that could benefit the Church and serve Her, should they return.

  28. Mouse says:

    PS – my whole post was not directed at RickMK, by the way… just general ramblings…want to be sensitive to making anyone feel like the recipient of a harangue!!

  29. Glen M says:

    The two sides in this issue need each other so they should just sit down and hammer out an agreement. One of the main criticisms of V2 is the ambiguity of the documents. Therefore, the SSPX should be able to construct their own interpretation and carry on. Call it the “orthodox spirit of Vatican II” or something like that. Just get it done. Souls are at stake.

  30. pledbet424 says:

    I spent much of my life going to a traditionalist chapel. The priest was an ex Pius X (they were too liberal for him) who I believe was kicked out from the Pius X for sedavacantist views (one of the gang of five).
    This priest, and I believe many other priests within the Pius X, believe they “are” the Church, and that the “pope” and bishops are protestant. They truly believe this, and they see no reason to compromise their positions at all…the “Church” must come to their way of thinking. It will take a miracle for the Pius X to reunite with Rome…I hope it happens, since many of my relatives are involved with them and it would be nice to see them once in a while.
    As an aside, a local paper wrote an article about our local Pius X chapel. The pastor is expressing interest in reuniting with Rome, with or without the consent of the SSPX. I hope he is successful!

  31. Pachomius says:

    wchoag, thank you for your enlightening posts on the culture of modern-day Lefebvrism, and also on its political roots (which I think explain a great deal about some of the teachings of the four Bishops of Nowhere.) I wonder if this current culture explains the predilection among a lot of the Lefebvrists you meet online for slightly… eccentric conspiracy theories?

    St. Rafael, I believe it is generally accepted nowadays that the so-called prophecies of St. Malachy are, in fact, Early Modern fakes; you will note

    Indeed, the list has been considered dubious since at least the early 18th Century, and only appears in the historical record in about 1590.

    Maltese: Yes and no. This was still a Council of the entire Church, presided over by two Popes; that it therefore might contain error is, to put it mildly, logically problematic, since this seems to deny the doctrine of the indefectibility of an ecumenical council (which, so far as I know, makes no differentiation between pastoral and dogmatic councils).

    In any case, would it be too much like trouble-making to suggest that the SSPX rejects the infallible teaching of Boniface VIII’s Unam Sanctam:

    “In her then is one Lord, one faith, one baptism [Eph 4:5]. There had been at the time of the deluge only one ark of Noah, prefiguring the one Church, which ark, having been finished to a single cubit, had only one pilot and guide, i.e., Noah, and we read that, outside of this ark, all that subsisted on the earth was destroyed.

    Therefore, of the one and only Church there is one body and one head, not two heads like a monster; that is, Christ and the Vicar of Christ, Peter and the successor of Peter, since the Lord speaking to Peter Himself said: ‘Feed my sheep’ [Jn 21:17], meaning, my sheep in general, not these, nor those in particular, whence we understand that He entrusted all to him [Peter].

    Therefore, if the terrestrial power err, it will be judged by the spiritual power; but if a minor spiritual power err, it will be judged by a superior spiritual power; but if the highest power of all err, it can be judged only by God, and not by man, according to the testimony of the Apostle: ‘The spiritual man judgeth of all things and he himself is judged by no man’ [1 Cor 2:15]. This authority, however, (though it has been given to man and is exercised by man), is not human but rather divine, granted to Peter by a divine word and reaffirmed to him (Peter) and his successors by the One Whom Peter confessed, the Lord saying to Peter himself, ‘Whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in Heaven’ etc., [Mt 16:19]. Therefore whoever resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God [Rom 13:2], unless he invent like Manicheus two beginnings, which is false and judged by us heretical, since according to the testimony of Moses, it is not in the beginnings but in the beginning that God created heaven and earth [Gen 1:1]. Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff. ”

    Emphasis mine. There is much that might be considered difficult or politically-motivated in the modern Church, but US’s teaching on the (spiritual) supremacy of the Roman Pontiff seems to me both unambiguous and thoroughly orthodox. It is also, presumably, the origin of Canon 1404: The First See is judged by no-one.

  32. Geoffrey says:

    “I guess I missed the part where the Anglicans accepted the Council of Trent and Vatican I.”

    When the traditional Anglicans first expressed their desire to “come home to Rome”, they signed a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and sent it to the Holy Father. Would the SSPX do that?

  33. Random Friar says:

    It is my impression, God willing it be wrong, that the SSPX, as a whole minus some individuals, does not want to come back. Period. It is the spirit of holding a grievance against someone, whether justified or not. It is very hard to let go of those, especially for those of us for whom it is a major part of our psyche.

    May I be totally wrong. I pray that the bridge will be crossed, and this wound in the Body will heal.

  34. servusmariaen says:

    I read this article a few days ago. I assumed that any rejection of Vatican II was a rejection of any intepretation of Vatican II that was not in keeping with tradition. I don’t think that Vatican II can be interpretated in any other way? This meeting between SSPX and Rome is a great opportunity. I’ve been hoping and praying in earnest for years that like Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s call for a new syllabus :
    http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2011/01/bishop-schneiders-call-for-new-syllabus.html that these theological discussions would lead to just that: a clarification once and for all of any ambiguities. This would be a marvelous opportunity of grace for the Church. There is a lot of confusion in the Church and disorientation (even though many would prefer not to think about it). This is something that definately needs to be cleared up. I for one shall continue to pray. I liked the analogy of the “Old Believers” even though their situation is only superficially similar to the one with the SSPX.

  35. Maltese says:

    Pachomius, Paul also wrote this:

    “But when Cephas [Peter] was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” (Galatians 2:11)

    And Saint Thomas Aquinas:

    “It is written: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’ Now sometimes the things commanded by a superior are against God. Therefore, superiors are not to be obeyed in all things.” (Summa Theologiae, IIa IIae, Q. 104, A. 5)

    I agree that Unum Sanctum is an infallible teaching of the Church, but should be interpreted carefully. There is a difference between judging the presumed error of the Pope or resisting his power, and disobeying an immoral order. Only God has the power to judge the error, and not even the SSPX resist the power of Pope Benedict XVI. +Fellay has said that when he is called to Rome by the Pope, he listens, but no one is compelled to compromise morality, even if ordered by the Pope, or a superior. So, too, St. Athanasius disobeyed the Pope who had fallen into heresy, so as to avoid heretical sin himself, because God is the highest command, not man. This does not mean he resisted the Power of the Pope.

    Let’s take an extreme example: If I were a priest and my superior ordered me to go to a strip-club to minister to the patrons there, and I argued that would place me in the occasion of sin, so I could legitimately resist this order, even if it came from the Pope. But that does not mean I am resisting the power of my superiors, or judging any error on their part.

    This is how the FSSPX feels, but in a much, much more complicated way, that I won’t get into!

  36. tecumseh says:

    Posting from a phone on an oil rig . . .have you Americans got an expresion for that . . .???

    the deal has been done between the Pope and the SSPX . . .wait and see

  37. tecumseh: That is quite a claim.

  38. RichardT says:

    Quite a claim indeed, but modern technology often amazes me.

    Oh, sorry, did you mean the claimed deal with the SSPX, rather than posting from an oil rig?

  39. Mr Ches Bond says:

    I have just posted a precis of the original interview with Bishop Fellay along with my comments.

    Here: http://thesensiblebond.blogspot.com/2011/09/bishop-fellay-on-eve-of-big-match.html
    Here: http://thesensiblebond.blogspot.com/2011/09/bishop-fellay-on-eve-of-big-match-part.html

    His remarks towards the end of the interview are quite explicit and extraordinary. Since they hold their doctrinal positions because of the Faith (so they say), they will never seek the Church’s recognition if it means abandoning this position. That seems to me pretty definitive.

  40. Centristian says:

    @St. Rafael:

    “The SSPX and the Church will be better of when Peter the Roman comes. According the the vision and prophesy of St. Malachy of all the future Popes, Peter the Roman is the next Pope after Benedict. Peter the Roman is going to be the man who fixes many things and will lead a restoration.”

    Just like the Slavic pope who “swept the churches clean,” no doubt. Relying upon solutions from Catholic fables and fairy tales (of which, sadly, there are far too many that are given far too much credence by far too many people) is not very useful. You might just as well craft a “Bat signal”, turn it on, and wait for the caped crusader to show up in an emergency. Good luck.

    These esoteric prophecies and private apparitions seem to serve only to distract Christians from the elements of their faith that are truly important. Some Christians also tend to inflate these things (even if they were true) beyond their intended scope. I recently read an essay by an author (a layman) condemning the practice of receiving Holy Communion in the hand. Fine. I don’t like it either. But in his essay the author condemned, additionally, any talking (at all) in Church buildings “because Jacinta of Fatima said…” I’m not sure how much importance we Catholics are meant to place on the utterances of a six year old girl who lived and died 100 years ago, but this author seemed to regard her words as authoritative.

    Alot of Catholics do that, though; “traditionalist” Catholics, in fact, more so than others. At St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, our rector, Richard Williamson, would frequently quote “Our Lady of Garabandal”, “Our Lady of Akita”, Sister Lucia, Anne Catherine Emmerich, and other mystics, private apparitions (approved or otherwise) or their seers in order to underscore his points. Now, this is a man calling himself a bishop putting so much importance on such things. And he was hardly alone amongst the SSPX clergy.

    I think this (forgive me) odd sort of Catholic ghost story approach to Christianity in which apparitions and obscure prophecies are regarded as Gospel (whereas the Gospels can often seem to be ignored), far more so than the Extraordinary Form of Mass, charcterizes the “traditionalist” Catholicism that is embraced within the SSPX. And I really have a hard time convincing myself that this religion and Christianity are, in fact, one and the same. But this is the religion, it seems to me, of the preponderance of the Lefebvrists.

    Please don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that if a Lefebvrist wants to marry a mainstream Catholic the officiant should apply to his chancery for a disparity of cult dispensation or anything like that. They’re both Roman Catholics. But “Roman Catholic”, I think, means something very different to a “traditionalist” Roman Catholic than it does to a mainstream Roman Catholic.

    This is one reason, I believe, that reconciliation between the “SSPX” and the Holy See is unlikely. I’m not sure how an apple can reconcile with an orange and become one with it. I wonder if the Holy See is even attuned to this alternative brand of Catholicism that so many of the Lefebvrists cling to. This alternative form of Christianity is what many Lefebvrists mean when they say “tradition”. Yes, sure, the “Tridentine Mass” is the centrepiece, but it isn’t by any means the totality of their “tradition”. They cannot see that what Pope Benedict holds fast to is, in fact, the authentic tradition of the Christian Church, just as they at the same time cannot see that what they hold fast to is actually a weird corruption of that tradition.

    There’s much more to it all, of course, and not all “Lefebvrians” are the same, but this is one factor that often goes unnoticed and unmentioned in discussions about the “SSPX”. It isn’t that there are no Catholics loyal to the mainstream Church that share this alternative approach to the Catholic religion, but a strong majority of Lefebvrists do. It’s a religion wherein the official hierarchy is given some respect but does not speak as authoritatively as bewildered shepherd girls or medieval “prophets” or “Our Lady of…”. And when “Our Lady of…” finds her wishes at odds with those of the Vicar of Christ, guess who becomes the bad guy.

    Maltese says:

    “Let’s take an extreme example: If I were a priest and my superior ordered me to go to a strip-club to minister to the patrons there, and I argued that would place me in the occasion of sin, so I could legitimately resist this order, even if it came from the Pope. But that does not mean I am resisting the power of my superiors, or judging any error on their part. ”

    Maltese, this is, I believe, just the way the Lefebvrists feel. The problem is, of course, that the superiors and the pope aren’t asking them to go to a strip club, but the Lefebvrists behave as though they were. The Lefebvrists mistake tradition for sin because they have created an alternative “tradition” all their own. Until the pope embraces their “tradition”, he will continue to be “untraditional”, and they will not be able to submit to him.

  41. Imrahil says:

    “Faith comes first” is not Donatist but Lutheran – but it is a position where Luther was right. As Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn said, a Catholic must vividly be aware of the possibility that Jan Hus, objectively heretic as much as he was, went directly to heaven from the stake. (He did say another thing: “Luther, in a sense, was the Lefebvre of his days.” If anyone’s interested.)
    Of course, it is a teaching of our faith that there is a supreme-court for what precisely is part of the doctrine of faith. But this, as a matter of fact, is part of our faith. Good-bye collectivism; yes, we are builded up to a corpus mysticum but (conceptually) only after the decision of faith. All this notwithstanding the objective fact that this faith has been revealed by God and is, hence, the, and the true, faith.

    However, the position of the FSSPX does have a specially Donatist touch. The Donatists were, as far as I know, the only strictly schismatic group that existed in the Church history. And their problem was principally a grievance (as a prespeaker said here) against the rightful Church. (The theoretical point that a sinner may have an office within the Church they had soon decided in just the same way as the Catholics. They made some weird distinction among sins, less about gravity than about publicness, which – at least in their conclusion that the rightful Church’s claim to obedience be invalid – have totally the smell of a fabrication for the sole intention of remaining separate.)

    What my impression is, is that the SSPX principally objects to what the Chinese call “loss of face”, and that they would interpret the sentence “we accept the 2nd Vatican Council” as such. Now this is plain enough a reason that a Catholic may legitimately say: “There’s the door; it is the Pope who matters for Catholicism; beg on your knees to be awarded some status, or even only evade excommunication.” However, to be said in all obedience, this is not how I would wish the competent authorities to speak. I like the SSPX attainers I personally have met too much.

    It is clear that there must be some sort of acceptation of the 2nd Vatican Council – as a legitimate Council (which to critizise is not completely impossible for a Catholic, it not having dogmatized).

    May God settle this issue.

  42. robtbrown says:

    Maltese wrote:

    How would declaring there are false teachings in Vatican II, a Pastoral Council, invalidate a Dogmatic Council.

    If it was a Pastoral Council, explain the following:




  43. Maltese says:

    robtbrown, “Dogmatic” does not mean it contains new dogma:

    “Although called a Dogmatic Constitution, the most solemn form of conciliar utterance, Lumen Gentium does not actually define any new dogmas.”–Avery Dulles, SJ. The Documents of Vatican II, American Press/Corpus Books, 1966, pg. 10.

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