The CDF/SSPX talks and a provocative observation

My friend over at The Sensible Bond has a very interesting observation about the continuing doctrinal talks between the Holy See’s CDF and the SSPX.   As you know, there will be a meeting of the SSPX superiors with Roman officials of the CDF, including Card. Levada the Prefect, this month.

The Sensible Bond has good analysis.  There is quite a bit, all worthy of your time, but he concludes with this:


I have just read another Dinoscopus letter from Bishop Williamson talking about the Vatican Insider’s view [of Andrea Tornielli] of the outcome of the doctrinal talks. Therein he [Williamson] again repeats his view that the issue is one of Catholic Truth. According to his rather threadbare metaphor, the SSPX believes 2+2=4; the Vatican believes it equals 5. [Not terribly original either.  In Orwell’s 1984 this is what torturers want their victims to admit.  That scenario was brutally ripped off for a Star Trek episode.  2+2=4 was, I believe, a slogan of Solidarity against the Communists in Poland.] Bishop Williamson repeats this ad nauseam and never seems to show the least sign of realising that he is turning the theological differences between Rome and the SSPX into a blackbox the inside of which we cannot examine.

So let us take just one example and try to explain the complexity of the issues to the good bishop and those who agree with him:

1. There is no definitive Magisterial teaching which condemns the New Mass. Fact.

2. Everyone who finds fault with the New Mass must therefore make a theological argument based on other teachings about the Mass and apply those teachings to the New Mass.

3. Where there is a theological argument, there is room for individual error and there is the potential for theological disagreement.

4. When there is theological disagreement in the Church, and this disagreement reaches critical proportions, it is the Holy See which has the final say.

5. The final say on the Catholic character of the New Mass rests with the Holy See.


It is entirely a misrepresentation of the problem to reduce it to some simple mathematical equation.

I continue to pray for the successful outcome of the dialogue and swift reconciliation of the SSPX.

Pray for Benedict XVI, Pope of Christian Unity, that when the time comes, he will not weaken under the onslaught sure to come from his enemies.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. jmgazzoli says:

    There are four lights!

  2. Glen M says:

    The SSPX needs to come fully back into the Church. Right now they are locked away in a side chapel seemingly waiting for a knock on the door from the rest of the Church admitting error and praising them for their orthodoxy. For reunification to occur, the ‘right wing’ of the SSPX may have to be left behind. Maybe they can form their own order that Bishop Williamson can lead.

  3. MJ says:

    But wait! 2+2 does equal 5!

    Here we go…

    0 = 0
    0 * 4 = 0 * 5
    divide both sides by 0…
    and you get 4 = 5
    so, 2+2=5

    There ya go. :)

    For any non-mathematical folks – the problem with this proof is the division by 0. :) This is similar to the problem with Bp Williamson’s arguments. (with all due respect)

  4. MJ says:

    Oops…for the record, I was just being funny (trying to anyway). I’m not SSPX, nor do I care for Bp Williamson.

    Just trying to put a bit o’ humor in the comments. :)

  5. Captain Peabody says:

    I believe”2+2=5″ was actually used prominently as a slogan by the Soviet Union for a time. It was meant to celebrate the implementation of the “Five-Year Plan” in only four years.

    This is almost certainly where Orwell got the idea for 1984.

    And of course the Polish WOULD know better.

    And that Star Trek episode (“Chain of Command,” FWIW) is really, really good. Patrick Stewart and David Warner are both amazing actors.

  6. JP Borberg says:

    For what it’s worth, saying Bp Williamson’s “2+2=5” is a black box is unfair.

    His Lordship’s position is that there are things in the Vatican 2 that directly contradict what was taught by the Church before Vatican 2, and the mental gymnastics required to maintain that the contradictory propositions are equivalent is analogous to MJ’s proof that 2+2=5.

    While I’m cheerfully agnostic as to the soundness of His Lordship’s argument (as well as the proximate cause of the Church’s current problems), I object to one side misrepresenting the others position.

  7. Tom says:

    Ugghh!! I wanted to post “There are four lights!”… but jmgazzoli beat me to it…

  8. jlduskey says:

    There is a problem with this point:
    “2. Everyone who finds fault with the New Mass must therefore make a theological argument based on other teachings about the Mass and apply those teachings to the New Mass.”

    Many lay people who find fault with the new mass do not do so on the basis of a theological argument or upon examination of what the Church teaches about the Mass. There are two basic arguments:
    (a) Many of the ways the Novus Ordo mass is presented, i.e., those that include inappropriate music, dancing, amateur entertainment additions, etc., trivialize the mass and make it simply unappealing to attend (not only difficult to truly participate in). These are objections to externals, not to the actual text of the Mass.
    (b) Much of the confusion about “what the mass is” is related to the actual text of the Novus Ordo mass. For example, when the priest says “we have this bread to offer” it can be interpreted to mean that we actually are offering bread to achieve eternal salvation–and this seems so useless and ineffective that a person may choose not to attend, feeling that mass is something he does not believe in.

    In both types of cases the lay person does not look at theological arguments or what the Church actually teaches. They simply lose interest in going to mass because the entertainment is bad or because the words, the actual approved text of the mass, seems to indicate something that the lay person simply doesn’t believe in. This is the case even when theologians can make (and win) arguments based on what the Church actually teaches.

    Attempts at entertainment and confusing (some would say incorrect) texts tend to drive people away, regardless of theological arguments.

  9. Pachomius says:

    +Williamson’s position is that, as the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred; so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.

    But at the same time, His Lordship concludes that the Church of Rome hath not erred after all, since she’s indefectible… except that she has. Despite not being able to.

    Naturally, the noble lord bishop would never admit this.

  10. St. Rafael says:

    The SSPX needs to come fully back into the Church.

    For the 1ooth time, the SSPX are in the Church. They don’t have to come back into anything. They are Catholics in the Catholic Church. They need to fix a canonincal situation. They are in a irregular state INSIDE the Church. The position has been made clear ad nauseam from Pope Benedict, to Ecclesia Dei, and many others.

    This isn’t 1990, 2000, or 2005. No one believes that lie about them being outside the Church or in schism anymore. Not with all the evidence to the contrary, not with reality, not with the truth.

  11. holeksa says:

    St. Rafael, you will have to sing that again.
    Just a matter of time.

  12. asperges says:

    The reconciliation of SSPX is very important for the Church. It is not a minor scuffle of the ultra-right. It’s ultimate loss, should it happen, would have very widespread and serious consequences,, symbolic and actual, for any “traditional” elements in the Church and open again the floodgates to liberals and the loony elements which are just beginning to be exposed for what they are and brought into line under the present Pope.

    Summorum Pontificum, for example, was not brought in not for the sole benefit of SSPX but it was certainly meant as part of the jigsaw of negotiations. Since Williamson’s silly, donnish, outbursts, indiscretions and general unhelpfulness seem to be one of the real dangers to any progress, it is he who needs be sidelined and quickly. He is a dangerous menace to a very important process for all of us who love the Church.

  13. Phil_NL says:

    The final say on the Catholic character of the New Mass rests with the Holy See.

    And there we have it. IMHO, at the end of the day the problem cannot be reduced to a mathematical equation or a black box, but it can be reduced to the issue of obedience / acceptance of authority. The Holy See may not always be perfect – there are people working there, after all – but it is the sole yardstick to measure Catholicy. Maybe the NO was a mistake, maybe VII was one of those councils that would better never have been held, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t part and parcel of the Catholic Tradition. Even if defective, if Rome says it’s valid (and valid is something else than perfect), it is. End of discussion; Roma locuta est.

    So at the end of the day, the SSPX have to decide whether they can accept the Pope’s authority. They don’t have to like everything coming out of the Vatican, they don’t even have to agree with everything – for those issues the discussions may prove very useful. Greater clarity would be helpful for both the SSPX and the rest of the Church. But at the end of the day, the SSPX will have to submit to the Holy See’s definitions of what is Catholic, and that, for better or worse, Rome has the right to change the Mass. It’s that, or they eventually will be just another bunch of protestants who think they can ‘pope’ for themselves.

    My guess is that bishop Fellay gets this and could reach a modus vivendi along with proper canonical structures. As for Williamson, I’m not holding my breath.

  14. ContraMundum says:

    No traditionalist worth his salt would write “2+2 = 4”. Surely it should be “II + II = IV”.

    II + II = IV
    I(I+I) = I(V)
    II = V
    I(II) = I(V)
    III = IV
    III + I = IV + I
    IV = V
    II + II = IV = V

  15. Supertradmum says:

    Sadly, there are many reasons why people join the SSPX and none are simple. Many of my friends who regularly attend SSPX Masses, send their children to the schools, and basically lived within the SSPX community are highly intelligent, sensitive Catholics, who have been shell-shocked by liberalism and not only bad liturgy, but invalid liturgy. To place a numerical label on the complicated rationales for being part of the SSPX is very bad form and insults the members. In addition, the talks at the Vatican level are complicated and sensitive, and therefore, to reduce these tentative discussions to the above equation is, at the best, insensitive, and at worst, blatantly stupid.

  16. spock says:

    Shouldn’t it be: IIeth +IIeth = IVeth ? :) ( I’ll never understand many traditionalists affinity towards the King’s English. Maybe psychologically it’s some kind of “little latin” or something. St. Joseph Missal for me thank you very much. )

    Oversimplification is a problem. I’m a math guy as well. The theological arguments are not that simple as far as I can tell. To equations need a few vectors, integrals, limits etc. to be equivalent I think. :)

  17. TheAcolyte says:

    The 1 through 5 analysis about critiquing the New Mass’s theological deficiencies is just as deficient as the new rite.

    First, the Magisterium clearly and dogmatically teaches the theology of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass through the Council of Trent.

    Second, the Ottaviani Intervention ( makes it clear that the New Mass does not fulfill, nor intend to fulfill, the theological definitions of the Catholic Mass as defined by Trent -which all Catholics must assent to.

    Third, the Magisterium has thus already condemned the New Mass theologically, via the Council of Trent as well as Pascendi (against Modernism), Mortalium Animos (false ecumenims) and Mediator Dei (antiquarianism, etc.). The fact that this has not been done from Pope Paul VI onwards is because the post-conciliar popes themselves are infected with the errors of Modernism.

  18. Mr Ches Bond says:

    Sounds like a rather circular argument to me. The Ottaviani Intervention is a distinguished analysis but its conclusions are merely applications of previous teachings; they are not the teachings themselves. It is about time traditionalists stopped dressing up such theological opinions as Catholic teachings.

    Trent is binding on the Catholic conscience; Ottaviani is not.

  19. Centristian says:


    “‘The SSPX needs to come fully back into the Church.’

    ‘For the 1ooth time, the SSPX are in the Church. They don’t have to come back into anything.'”

    For the 2+2=4th time, the SSPX are not in the Church because the SSPX was dissolved in 1975. It cannot subsist within the Church if it doesn’t even exist. And it doesn’t, according to the Holy See. What they “have to come back into” is the Society of St. Pius X!

    In order for the Society of St. Pius X to be reconciled to the Church, the Society of St. Pius X would first have to be founded. At the moment, any group of clergy could found a pious union within their diocese with the permission of the bishop and call themselves “The Society of St. Pius X” since the name is not presently taken. I think its safe to assume that the name is safe, for now, but still.

    Diocesan Pious Union – Ordinary Bishop’s Dissolution = Nothing. If Dubya wants to talk math, let him chew on that equation.

  20. Supertradmum says:

    St. Rafael, “While the priests of the Society of St. Pius X are validly ordained, they are also suspended a divinis, that is they are forbidden by the Church from celebrating the Mass and the sacraments because of their illicit (or illegal) ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood without proper incardination (cf. canon 265). In the strict sense there are no “lay members” of the Society of St. Pius X, only those who frequent their Masses and receive the sacraments from them. Msgr. Camille Perl

    Although the excommunications have been lifted, I am in doubt as to whether the above statement has been amended in anyway. There seems to be confusion as to being in schism and schismatic activities with regard to the SSPX, especially in the comments from Bishop Williamson. The SSPX may see themselves as part of the Church, but the point of the discussions is based on the fact that the SSPX is not part of the Church. The other problem is that some “members” do not want to be part of the Church as She is today….

  21. Fr_Sotelo says:


    That is a common sense point that you make. Why would the CDF engage the Society (now canonically defunct after their suppression as a Pious Union, as Centristian points out) in talks, if they are already part of the Church? To respond that we are dealing with a mere “canonical irregularity” also makes it sound as if Canon Law were not of that much importance for one’s status of unity with the Church.

  22. Supertradmum says:

    Father Sotelo,

    As you imply, these discussions involve more than an “canonical irregularity”, and to use such a phrase minimizes, as you state, Canon Law as a quantifier of Church membership. The problems we have in understanding the discussions partly rest in the lack of communication, as the SSPX website continues to only defend its stance, rather than showing any true movement in agreement, and the Vatican remains, typically and wisely, silent on the details. So, anything we can think of is really mere conjecture, as the details are complicated and not a simple equation. I sincerely doubt whether Bishop Williamson has much more information on the exact contents of the talks as well.

  23. Imrahil says:

    Some observations.

    1. A situation such as the SSPX claims in existence is not impossible by Our Lord’s promise. What the SSPX – besides using really distracting vocabulary such as the “Eternal Rome – Modernist Rome” distinction – claim is that the Papacy has actively or by inaction been part to an implicitly heretical program. In this, it must be conceded to Msgr Lefebvre that “the Pope, while not using his charism of infallibility, can err” and such a situation does not, at least in no established Church doctrine, run out of the areas of possibility.

    2. I go even so far to say that were the situation the SSPX claims in existence, the steps taken by the fraternity, not excepting the episcopal consecrations, would be a textbook model of legitimate and probably necessary action against it.

    3. However, even so the excommunication would be valid, at least after its pronunciation. St. Thomas, if I remember correctly, teaches that even unjust censures are censures; and penalties would make no sense at all if the efficacy of a judgment depends on its rightly taking the “necessity claims” of the defendant into consideration.

    4. However 2nd, I’m convinced that this situation is not in existence.

    5. If the SSPX takes the position that the present Church leadership has gone wrong (and they should really avoid schismatic-sounding vocabulary to express that point), then it is bound to say precisely what is the point where it did go wrong.

    6. The only if any (this has never been done yet; the Council of Pisa was afaik not ecumenical) competent to cancel an Ecumenical Council on the whole is the Holy See.

    7. If we want to critizise a Council or even put an extraordinary amount of minimization to some of its doctrines or regulations, or even disagree with some of these on the whole – a thing not completely inacceptable with fallible doctrines or disciplinary matters – we owe to the Council the respect of saying precisely where and in which regard.

    8. A mere tendency we may dislike is no reason for dissent. Thus if somebody says, “I think the II Vatican Council was too anthropocentric”, he has a right to his opinion, but he has no right to disagree with the Council at least as long as he does not hold a specific proposition, which he owes us to name, to be plainly wrong.

    9. As a short summary, Msgr Lefebvre said: “The Council stems from heresy and leads to heresy even if it is not heretical in itself.” I do not argue here whether he’s right, but even if he is, this is no argument against doctrinal acceptance of the Council.

    10. It seems plain to me that the SSPX fail to explain where in their view the Church has gone wrong; they also fail to point out where explicitly Vatican II (and the encyclical Pacem in terris) contradict previous Church doctrine; also, they fail to realize that as to fallible previous doctrines, lex posterior (aequalis vel superior) derogat legi priori. (If they hold, for instance, Quanta cura to be infallible, they owe us a reasoning why.)

    11. The Ottaviani intervention, on the whole, says that the Novus Ordo is not good; it does not say that it is either invalid or an outrage. (The doctrinal issue that Mass remains Mass has been cleared to Msgr Ottaviani’s satisfaction in the constitution Missale Romanum.) If the SSPX fails to see the difference, it fails to see very much.

    12. The claim that the Novus Ordo is protestantized (understand: more like Protestant forms of worship) is, even if true, neither ground for invalidity nor for justification to restrain oneself from attendance on a Sunday (one of the most outraging things they preach, in my opinion). Protestants, first of all, are Christians. Their worship is Christian worship. It is true that they are objectively heretics, but then the question is not: do we worship in a way Protestants do? but: do we, in our worship, express heresies the Protestants profess? The second only, to which the answer is plainly: no, would give us any right to speak of the Mass as un-Catholic.
    If we answer yes to the first only, we might mourn, and complain, about the loss of our own roots, with the sound sense of nostalgy and (literal) conservatism which is an attitude of practically any man, but not declare the Novus Ordo, which Catholic law prescribes as form of worship, to be un-Catholic. (Note that I haven’t said that the Novus Ordo is protestantized, which I don’t know.)

    13. However, I can’t bring myself to that attitude that speaks of “reasons why people join the SSPX” and such as if it were, say, a sect or the like. I once looked up what St. Alphonsus said about Masses by the suspensi tolerati (and they are not vitandi for all that I know) and, if you look at it, you only need a just cause (which is less than a grave utility, and much less than a necessity) and you can go there.

  24. Supertradmum says:

    If there had been no Vatican II, would there still be an SSPX? So many of the reasons given seem to be pre-Vatican II problems, like the protestantizing of the Liturgy, or the emphasis on ecumenism, which started in the 1930s in Germany. Vatican II has become a convenient “whipping boy” for the entire problem of the historical liberalization of the Catholic universities, seminaries and ergo, parishes of the world.

  25. Centristian says:

    @Supertradmum, who asks:

    “If there had been no Vatican II, would there still be an SSPX?”

    Good question. I would be tempted to posit that even with a Vatican II and with the same reformed Missal we have today–had the cutural upheaval of the 1960s and 70s not so completely captured the Church and deformed the liturgy–there would not likely be a “traditionalist” movement, at all, much less a SSPX.

    But that position assumes that the preservation of traditional liturgy is the only raison d’etre of the SSPX. We know that not to be the case, however. We know that in addition to championing the pre-Conciliar liturgical texts and forms, the organization calling itself the Society of St. Pius X also stands as a champion of a variety of archconservative ideas with respect to government and society, and that those things seem to be just as important to the SSPX as liturgy.

    In France, for example, the SSPX joins hands in a common cause with movements and organizations tied to the restoration of the monarchy and is supportive of a variety of other factions that are just generally speaking far right-wing (and those movements and organizations, likewise, support the Lefebvrists). I don’t know if I can observe that without imagining that part of the impetus behind the SSPX is a stubborn refusal of those who compose the Society or who cling to it to allow an earlier age and era to pass into time. It’s not only a liturgical concern, but a general concern to return to and maintain the “ancien regime.”

    I recall the ill-fated Society of St. John, begun by Lefebvrist priests who bolted the American SSPX because they wanted something more medieval in character than the SSPX! They were not, perhaps, to the right of the SSPX, but they wanted to lose themselves even further back in time in terms of aesthetics and liturgy.

    That comes from the general mood present within the SSPX, however, which is characterized, in general, by a strong desire to avoid the modern world and almost everything about it. To visit a chapel or priory of the SSPX is to visit the land where time stood still. The atmosphere is invariably…my apologies, it’s the way I see it…abnormal and museum-like. That celebration of yesteryear, however, is not limited to mere nostalgia but actually embraces what come to be interpreted as the means by which to achieve their end. And those means are typically wound-up in alot of social and political fringe radicalism.

    And so, frankly, the SSPX does tend to attract to it a certain sort of person with a certain sort of mentality. By that I don’t mean to paint all Lefebvrists with the same brush. Many also approach the SSPX with upright hearts and minds with sincere concerns for the Church, the liturgy, and the world. Then, unfortunately, those good people have to attempt to reconcile their good motivations and objectives with the other stuff.

    So perhaps, even if the Conciliar liturgical reforms had been implemented in a more traditional way, something like the SSPX would still have emerged. Perhaps not as a strictly priestly fraternity, however, but rather as an archconservative organization composed of priests, politicians, and alot of other people. It’s really difficult to say, given the variety of priorities of the Lefebvrists, whether they would exist today, and what the form of their existence would have taken, had things gone a bit differently with Vatican II and the liturgical reform. Which priorities came first? The socio-political priorities or the ecclesiastical ones? We know that Marcel Lefebvre was a supporter of right-wing political movements long before opposition to the liturgical reforms became his banner.

    Had Vatican II not happened, at all, but had the liturgy been disfigured, anyway, by the prevalent attitudes among the clergy and episcopacy of the era of the 1960s and 70s, the SSPX might still have emerged just the way it did. In that atmosphere, priestly formation in seminaries would likely have degenerated just as it did, and it’s not too wild to imagine that Archbishop Lefebvre would have applied to open a seminary that had the objective of training priests in the traditional way. The SSPX might well have been formed, then, but in this scenario, Lefebvre and the Holy See would not have found themselves at loggerheads, of course, and so the situation would be completely different.

    I think in that scenario, Marcel Lefebvre might have become, say, a Raymond Burke of his time, rather than the renegade that he did become. I have to absent Pope Paul VI from the equation, altogether, however, and imagine that a world without a Vatican II or a “Novus Ordo” Mass would involve a Church without Montini at the helm. I cannot imagine Paul not implementing a liturgical reform of some kind, even without a Vatican II.

    All of this is conjecture, of course, but it is, as I said, an interesting question.

  26. danphunter1 says:

    All indicators really point at a canonical mission for the Society formerly known as St Pius X.
    Even at the chapel level the groundwork has been laid.
    I have seen it first hand.
    It is coming soon.

  27. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Centristian,

    allow me what I suppose to be a Continental perspective. I do not know whether the SSPX is guilty of confusing its inherent reactionarism with religious duties. But then again you shouldn’t confuse to be as modern as possible, even as possible compatible with the Faith, with a religious duty.

    There are things to critizise about the SSPX. But if you write
    to visit a chapel or priory of the SSPX is to visit the land where time stood still.
    this is no problem at all, but sounds to me like the famous:
    In Rivendell there was memory of ancient things; in Lórien the ancient things still lived on in the waking world. Evil had been seen and heard there, sorrow had been known; the Elves feared and distrusted the world outside: wolves were howling on the wood’s borders: but on the land of Lórien no shadow lay.
    [J. R. R. Tolkien is reported to have answered “The Lord be with you” with a ennerved and loud “Et cum spiritu tuo”…]

    According to SSPX public statements, the “yesteryear” of the German SSPX is quite clear: it is the time when the Basic Law (still, next to the Peaceful Revolution and Reunification, our main and official national pride) was drawn i. e. 1949, and the government of Chancellor Adenauer. It must be conceded to them that this wasn’t the worst time of German history, nor thoroughly unmodern either.

    If the French SSPX are monarchist (I daresay they are), it is their well-deserved right as long as monarchism isn’t a sin; and coming from a country where H. R. H. our Duke the Pretender enjoys quite a couple of official positions, and the Archbishop begins an address in Parliament with “Your Royal Highness” (to somebody apparently present), I’ve got some interest to say that monarchism is no sin.

    The Church simply cannot – not even the SSPX, I think, is – be as thoroughly unmodern as the populace is. “In the old times when wishing was still helpful”, is the beginning of fairytales. And one of the most popular songs of Bavaria (though Austrian) is about a street musician from a village or little town, Fürstenfeld, who is outraged by the modern (girls with green hair and black lips, etc.) uncomfortable city and begs only for the rest money to flee back. Of course these are just examples. But they are not restricted to old people. The young share the feeling, and especially when you hear them to speak about the necessities of the modern word, you will hear the very profoundest regret. You will not hear them speak about the blessings of the modern world, even about those that exist. And what else would you expect, if the modern world has only competition and insecurity for them in share, they have a quite realistic fear of unemployment, and even the soothing thought of being exploited by “the system”, or fighting Communism by serving this same system, have come to naught with the dissolution of that same Communism which was the hope of the ones and the enemy (and to have an enemy to fight against with one’s doing is quite a soothing thing too as long as he doesn’t strike you) of the others?

    I don’t say they’re right to be unmodern. But take the heaviest words of an SSPX priest expressing regret about the modern world, multiply them by ten, and speak them out on a regular pub meeting, or in a private discussion among older schoolchildren. I daresay they’ll nod and do nothing else.

    And I suspect that among other things, it is also the prevalent Christianity – which was free from the need to be a personal decision – of the old times which has earned them the name of Good Old Times, and especially the doctrine of Providence or the Impenetrable Counsel which always had an easy, nor untrue, explanation in store for those who look for a sense in life and in its inexplainable attributes. “What for are we on Earth? – To do the Will of God and come into Heaven”, as the old Catechism said.

  28. Centristian says:


    “But then again you shouldn’t confuse to be as modern as possible, even as possible compatible with the Faith, with a religious duty.”

    I don’t. I merely state that the objectives of the SSPX–for better or for worse–are not necessarily limited to liturgical or even ecclesiastical objectives. The total and complete universal restoration of the pre-Conciliar forms of the liturgy and the repudiation of the Second Vatican Council are certainly their primary long-term objectives (and the objectives that most people who pay any attention to the SSPX are familiar with), but they have other long-term objectives as well that haven’t altogether clearly anything to do with the “old Latin Mass”.

    Since the objectives of the Lefebvrists are not limited to the Church, however, it is not inconceivable that those now gathered under the umbrella of the “SSPX” might have found themselves under a common umbrella, by the same name or another (within a common movement) even had there not been a Vatican II. Having said as much, I claim no ability to predict the past. Who knows what might have happened under different circumstances?

    I don’t fault the Archbishop and others like him for finding fault with the modern world. I, myself, find plenty of fault with it. Most of those who post on this blog find plenty of fault with it, and with good reason. Whether or not simply reaching back in time and restoring an Old Regime that once was is the solution, I’m not so sure. For one thing, you really have to gild the lily in order to hold up the old guard as something that was so ideal that its toppling was the tragedy that brought about the deluge. I kind of think that alot about the old guard was actually responsible for bringing on the deluge.

    But it doesn’t matter. As you say, the Lefebvrists have the right to imagine that the restoration of the Old Regime is the right solution to the modern world’s ills and to unite in a common cause to effect such a restoration. Fine. I don’t condemn them for that (although I do condemn dalliances with movements and with actors and ideas that flirt with ugly things like Facism and anti-Semitism). I’m just suggesting that there are other concerns beyond Vatican II that unite such people of like-mind, so much so that they may have bonded together anyway.

  29. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Centristian,

    with that observation you’re quite obviously right. As also with the observation about the old guard’s responsibility. However, the problem here is basically a problem a basical (!) dissent within the French nation.

    [I personally think that with the present Fifth republic the miracle of a compromise has once again been reached, with the common fight against the Nazi nightmare – symbolically enough under the tricolore plus Lothringian cross – as not the least contributive factor.]

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