Msgr. Bux to SSPX: “Come take part in this blessed future in which we can already foresee dawn, despite the persistent darkness. “

Monsignor Nicola Bux, a consultor to the CDF and to the Office of Pontifical Ceremonies, etc., (originator of what I call the Bux Protocol – which every priest and bishop should remember that people may invoke!) has written a letter to the Superior of the SSPX, Bp. Bernard Fellay and to the priests of the SSPX (a “priestly society”, after all). The letter is in Italian at Scuola Ecclesia Mater and in the French original. Our friends at Rorate have an English translation and I don’t feel like do it over again (though I am tempted). Visit them, but here it is, just to make it more visible.

My emphases and comments.

To His Excellency, Bishop Bernard Fellay, and to the Priests of the Society of Saint Pius X

Your Excellency,
Most dear Brothers,

Christian brotherhood is stronger than flesh and blood because it offers us, thanks to the divine Eucharist, a foretaste of heaven.

Christ invited us to experience communion, this is what our “I” is made of. Communion means loving one’s neighbor a priori, because we have the one Savior in common with him. Based on this fact, communion is ready for every sacrifice in the name of unity; and this unity must be visible, as the last petition addressed by Our Lord to his Father teaches us – “ut unum sint, ut credat mundus” [“that they be one (thing) – “that the world might believe”] -, because this is the decisive testimony of Christ’s friends.

It is undeniable that numerous facts of Vatican II and of the period that followed it, related to the human dimension of this event, have represented true calamities and have caused intense pain to many great Churchmen. But God does not allow His Holy Church to reach self-destruction.

We cannot consider the severity of the human factor without having confidence in the divine factor, that is to say, in Providence, who guides history and, in particular, the history of the Church, while respecting human freedom.

The Church is at once a divine institution, divinely protected, and a product of men. Her divine aspect does not deny her human one – personality and freedom – and does not necessarily hinder it; her human aspect, while remaining whole and even compromising, never denies her divine one.

For reasons of Faith, but also due to the confirmations, albeit slow ones, that we are able observe at the historical level, we believe that God has prepared and continues to prepare, throughout these years, men who are worthy of rectifying the errors and the ommissions we all deplore. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] Holy works already exist, and will appear in still greater numbers, that are isolated ones from the others but that a divine strategy links at a distance and whose actions add up to a well-ordered design, as it miraculously happened at the time of the painful Lutheran rebellion. [Interesting parallel.]

These divine interventions seem to grow in proportion to the complexity of the facts. The future will make it clear, as we are convinced, and it seems dawn is almost at hand.

During some moments, the uncertain dawn struggles with darkness, which fades slowly, but when it appears we know that the sun is there, and that it will invariably pursue its course in the heavens.

With Saint Catherine of Siena, we wish to say: “Come to Rome in complete safety,” next to the house of the common Father who was given to us as the visible and perpetual principle and foundation of Catholic unity.

Come take part in this blessed future in which we can already foresee dawn, despite the persistant darkness. Your refusal would increase darkness, not light. And yet the sparks of light we can already admire are numerous, beginning with those of the great liturgical restoration effected by the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum”. It stirs up, throughout the whole world, a large movement of adherence from all those who wish to increase the worship of God, particularly the young. [Do I hear an “Amen!”, brothers and sisters?]

How to ignore the other concrete gestures, full of meaning, of the Holy Father, such as the lifting of the excommunications of the bishops ordained by Abp. Lefebvre, the opening of a public debate on the interpretation of Vatican II in light of Tradition, and, for this purpose, the renewal of the Ecclesia Dei Commission? [What is it doing, by they way?]

Perplexities certainly remain, points to be deepened or detailed, as those regarding ecumenism and interreligious dialogue (which has been, for that matter, already the object of an important clarification given by the declaration Dominus Iesus, of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, of August 6, 2000), or regarding the way in which religious liberty is to be understood.

Also on these matters, your canonically assured presence within the Church will help bring more light.  [“canonically assured presence” – keep in mind that Msgr. Bux is a real insider. He isn’t talking out of his biretta.]

How not to think of the contribution you could give to the welfare of the whole Church, thanks to your pastoral and doctrinal resources, your capabilities and your sensibility?

This is the appropriate moment, the favorable time to come. Timete Dominum transeuntem: let not the occasion of grace the Lord offers you pass by, let it not pass by your side without recognizing it.

Will the Lord grant another one? Will not we all one day appear before His Court and answer not only for the evil we have done, but above all for the good we might have accomplished but did not?

The Holy Father’s heart trembles: he awaits you anxiously because he loves you, because the Church needs you for a common profession of faith before a world that is each day more secularized and that seems to turn its back to its Creator and Savior hopelessly.

In the full ecclesial communion with the great family that is the Catholic Church, your voice will no longer be stifled, your contribution will be neither ignorable nor ignored, but will be able to bring forth, with that of so many others, abundant fruits which would otherwise go to waste.

The Immaculate teaches us that too many graces are lost because they are not asked for; we are convinced that, by answering the offer of the Holy Father favorably, the Society of Saint Pius X will become an instrument to enkindle new rays from the fingers of our Heavenly Mother.

On this day dedicated to him, may Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patron of the Universal Church, inspire and sustain your resolutions: “Come to Rome in all safety”.

Rome, March 19, 2012.
Feast of Saint Joseph

d. Nicola Bux

Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.

WDTPRS kudos to Msgr. Bux.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, Ecclesiae unitatem, Four Last Things, Fr. Z KUDOS, Mail from priests, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Pope of Christian Unity, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The future and our choices, Universae Ecclesiae and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Very powerful. When he says it like that, it seems foolish to choose any other path. I hope everybody involved make the right choices.

  2. JLCG says:

    The difficulty is a very material one. That association is a going concern, it has its modus credendi that is its modus operandi which is its modus vivendi. It has clergy, institutes, propaganda system in a word the lives of many people depend on it. Were it to fold the lives of those people would be greatly affected in a material way.
    I suspect that there will be great resistance about giving up the perks that many people enjoy at this moment.
    Certainly it would be a miraculous fact if complete abnegation from them would follow an exhortation from the Holy See.

  3. Jason Keener says:

    Wonderful letter. I agree that the Church needs the influence of the Society as we move more in the direction of traditional liturgy, etc.

    I also hope the Society will learn to put more trust into the prudential judgments of the Supreme Pontiff with regards to ecumenism. For example, Pope Benedict XVI is sometimes criticized by traditionalists of the SSPX for praying in public with non-Catholic Christians like Dr. Rowan Williams. It is a historical fact that the Church has allowed Catholics to pray with heretics and schismatics for various reasons, and such public prayer in common was not always strictly and uniformly forbidden. The history of relations between Catholic missionaries and the Eastern Orthodox Christians contains several examples of Popes allowing for common prayer and even encouraging it at times. Also, the Church has long given permission for Catholics and Protestants to partake in sacred things together for a good reason as is the case between a baptized Catholic who enters into a sacramental marriage with a baptized Protestant. If a Catholic and Protestant can legitimately administer an actual sacrament to each other as in the case of a mixed marriage, they can certainly, for good reason, pray Vespers together. In short, the topics like ecumenism and religious liberty that the traditionalists often harp on are not as simple and clear-cut as they would have us believe.

  4. Joseph-Mary says:

    Very beautiful. The Holy Father is doing all he can. He will take a backlash for granting a canonical standing to the SSPX but he would take it.

    To snub this final offer would be a huge mistake and leave the SSPX in ‘protestant land’.

  5. Giuseppe says:

    Now that’s an invitation!

  6. chcrix says:

    I don’t know about ‘perks’ but there is resistance.

    I understand the objections to the V2 innovations – particularly those that weren’t even authorized. I attend an exclusively Extraordinary form oratory. But, I can’t agree that it is necessary or even desirable to eliminate the mass of Paul VI altogether. That would be a deed similar to what was done in the attempt to eliminate the Extraordinary form.

    There can be a certain almost ‘protestant’ cast to some of the SSPX – „Hier stehe ich und kann nicht anders!“ indeed.

  7. AGA says:

    It is a very powerful letter, indeed.

    This whole drama strikes me as the unwritten, 2nd part of the Prodigal Son story. This time the Father (Pope Benedict) works his mercy to his older, dutiful son (the SSPX). I pray that the older son is granted, from Our Lady’s loving abundance, the necessary grace of humility, to accept the father’s mercy.

    “And he was angry, and would not go in. His father therefore coming out began to entreat him. And he answering, said to his father: Behold, for so many years do I serve thee, and I have never transgressed thy commandment, and yet thou hast never given me a calf to make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son is come, who hath devoured his substance with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.”

    “But he said to him: Son, thou art always with me, and all I have is thine.”

  8. Ambrose Jnr says:

    A great letter! Thank you Fr Bux.

    When one sees Fr Fellay giving interviews etc., it’s clear he’s an intelligent and reasonable man…I’ll pray his heart will be moved by this letter. Williamson is another story though…what about the 2 other SSPX bishops? What are the odds they are in favour of a return now? Could any SSPX affiliated people give us some insight in this?

  9. Flos Carmeli says:

    How could anyone not be moved by such words?

  10. pfreddys says:

    What a beautiful, heartfelt letter!
    Unfortunately, I don’t think it will do any good. I read of a talk Bp. Fellay gave at the beginning of Febuary, in which he indicated that “Rome” is still filled with modernists, and you can’t trust dealings with modernists as the meaning they assign to words is contantly changing.
    This is one of those instances where I wouldn’t mind being wrong, in fact I hope I am.

  11. Not that I see it this way, but I could see some taking this line the wrong way: “Come take part in this blessed future in which we can already foresee dawn, despite the persistant darkness.”

    Perhaps this will be interpreted as a “drink the kool-aid” sort of line: “take part in this blessed (and foreign and strange and new) future…” In other words, some “new future” of Catholicism.

    Not that I take it that way, mind you. Just that some skeptics or pessimists might.

  12. Maltese says:

    The problem is we don’t know how much the “doctrinal preamble” tried to strong-arm SSPX vis-a-vis Vatican II and its novelties.

    Intransigence exists btw Rome and Econe on a few pastoral areas of Vatican II.

    Personally, I think Rome, ala the Fr. Feeney affair, should leave SSPX be, without making them ascribe to non-dogmatic, pastoral, and novel non-dogmas, imposed by the likes of Rahner!

  13. discerningguy says:

    I hope the SSPX accepts. They can do a lot of good for the Church.

  14. Mary Jane says:

    I am really encouraged to see the Msgr reaching out to Bp Fellay and the SSPX. I pray they reconcile. Unfortunately I think that the SSPX (clergy and laity) are confused about a lot of things…and this may affect their decision to accept…but I hope I’m wrong. Prayers!

  15. muckemdanno says:

    Flos, I’ll give a shot to explain why some people might not be moved by such words. The words, like much of what we hear from the authorities of the Church, are vague.

    For one thing, as Maltese points out just above, we don’t know what is in this “doctrinal preamble” that they have to agree to. How can any of us say what someone else ‘should do’ when we don’t even know what is being asked or demanded?

    Msgr Bux writes that “numerous facts of Vatican II” have “represented true calamities”, but he does not state which “facts” or what the particular “calamities” are. He writes of “rectifying the errors and omissions we all deplore” but does not state which errors or which omissions. Probably, Bp Fellay has been informed of the specifics, but the rest of us have not.

    I wonder if the rest of us Catholics will ever be told specifically what in Vatican 2 we have to accept and what we don’t have to accept, and which of the reforms we have to participate in and which we don’t. It sure would be nice to know.

  16. Chrysologus says:

    The unity of Christians is always to be sought and prayed for, so I hope they accept the offer, but I confess that I think it extremely unlikely. The schism has lasted many decades and I think that the SSPX is unwilling to compromise because they think to do so would be to betray Catholic teaching somehow.

  17. FXR2 says:

    Father Z,

    This is truly a wonderful invitation from Monsignor Nicola Bux. Who would have dreamed that Latin would be being used in parishes all over the world? Who would have dreamed that the TLM would be being offered in so many parishes? Who would have believed that the lifting of the excommunications would take place?

    It is truly the Holy Father’s will that the FSSPX be reconciled. I believe it is God’s Will also. Imagine the first deanery meeting where ‘Father Joe Trad’ of the recently reconciled FSSPX is speaking his mind and venting his frustrations! Even those of a certain age will have to consider his opinions.

    My Prayers have been redoubled!


  18. Virgile says:

    This is really a wonderful invitation from Mgr Bux.
    It is not exactly that numerous facts of Vatican II and of the period that followed it, related to the human dimension of this event, have represented true calamities. It is more that they still represent true calamities. And they still cause intense pain to many Churchmen and Lay people.
    It will take many years to destroy these calamities…


  19. James Joseph says:

    I am speechless! That was like a love letter.

    I cannot believe my eyes. Did someone in the highest-reaches of the Church actually use… I mean, really use the title ‘The Immaculate’ and then whole-heartedly say, ‘She teaches us’?

    Again… I am speechless. Was St. Joseph the Redemptoris Custos whispering in his ear?

  20. Clinton R. says:

    There is much on both sides that we are simply not privy to. That being said, let us all pray that Our Lord’s will be done. May Our Blessed Mother pray for the Church Militant. +JMJ+

  21. JonPatrick says:

    This paragraph caught my attention: “The Holy Father’s heart trembles: he awaits you anxiously because he loves you, because the Church needs you for a common profession of faith before a world that is each day more secularized and that seems to turn its back to its Creator and Savior hopelessly.”

    While the SSPX and Rome debate the finer points of Dignitatis Humanae, the world proceeds on its destructive path of increased secularization and pushes its new sacraments of abortion and euthanasia. I pray that this division will end and we can all be working together as the challenges are numerous to put it mildly.

  22. Bryan Boyle says:

    This beautiful letter (approved and issued no doubt, with the imprimatur of the Supreme Legislator of the Church…can’t see such a thing being done otherwise) is, I think, the final plea. It’s gentle, it’s welcoming, it’s pastoral, but it carries with it, unsaid but still there, the implication that ‘we’ve done all we can do…we’ve removed the canonical punishment of excommunication, we’ve had talks, we’ve been willing to talk, we’re willing to set up a structure for you to work within the barque of Peter, we admit that there are issues…and we’re open to clarifying and fixing the mistakes…with your help and witness…but, it’s time for you to make the decision…either you’re with us…or you’re not.’.

    +Bp. Fellay’s intelligence or not (Luther was also quite intelligent and insightful, too…look where that took him….), there is still the iron fist in this velvet glove. I’m a traditionalist who loves the Church and trusts her, through fallible and stumbling mankind, to do the right thing in HER time, not ours. To me, this 24-year temper tantrum on the part of the SSPX is getting a little old. Have people charged with making decisions in Rome made mistakes or said things on their own or implied that new teachings suddenly appeared to suit their own agendas? Certainly. Has “ROME” (ie the Church) changed? No. So, to me, someone who holds fast to tradition but accepts the disciplines properly applied, it’s not ROME who must change to suit the SSPX, but the SSPX who must either accept and work within the structure or join the 30,000 dissident Christian sects for whom the sole arbiter of authority and teaching is they themselves.

    Msgr. Bux’s letter is what is needed at this time. Hopefully, hearts will be softened to see the reality of what is not only being said, but what is not said.

  23. PA mom says:

    Very much a love letter, and really even a betrothal. A proposal not of two fresh faced youth heady in love, but between two older, more worldly ones. Eyes open to how badly things can go, aware of conflict between them, but desiring commitment and the growth that can perfect each of them through the living out of that commitment with God’s grace.
    It feels like being in that part of the movie were the guy has just proposed, and the friends are calling out to the girl, “SAY YES!”

  24. Legisperitus says:

    AGA: I think you nailed it.

  25. Supertradmum says:

    I put this on my blog earlier. This is an important letter and very significant that so many people are reading it. I love priest and he is wonderfully eloquent.

  26. Glen M says:

    Thank you Msgr Bux for such a sincere and inviting letter. Both sides need each other. It’s indeed time to reconcile and work together for the greater good.

    My analogy of this situation is that of a great cathedral that recently suffered damage. There is much to rebuild. The side chapel wasn’t damaged at all. Sadly, when the damage was being done to the cathedral a small group of very devoted went into the chapel and locked the door. They don’t want to help rebuild the cathedral and say they won’t enter it until all the work is done.

    Please Lord, help bring the SSPX back into full communion with your Church. There is much work to be done.

  27. Centristian says:

    @Bryan Boyle:

    “To me, this 24-year temper tantrum on the part of the SSPX is getting a little old. ”

    I enjoyed that.

    Monsignor Bux is obviously very well meaning and very sincere and his letter is really quite beautiful and touching. It shows perfectly the upright sincerity on the part of the Holy See in this whole regrettable affair. But it also shows, I think, the Holy See’s naievte’ concerning the character of the Lefebvrist organization. Monsignor Bux approaches Fellay and the rest as if they are all normal Catholics of goodwill with their heads screwed on straight. I’m sorry to be a “Debbie Downer” about this, but, in my experience, that’s just simply not the case.

    If Monsignor Bux could join the “Society of St. Pius X” and immerse himself in the Lefebvrist culture for a decade–as I did–he would see very clearly what he is not “getting” about the “SSPX”. He views the Lefebrist organization as a benign force championing Catholic tradition, orthodox teaching, and traditional Latin liturgy, which is, indeed, precisely how they brand themselves to the outside world. And so alot of people look upon the Society of St. Pius X in that light. I did, too, when I joined them.

    What Monsignor Bux cannot see, however, because he has never been on the inside, is the dark side of the “SSPX”: the racism, the anti-semitism, the bitterness, the uncharitable sniping at everyone from the Pope to other non-SSPX traditionalists, the insititutional paranoia, the siege mentality of the organization, the embrace of conspiracy theories by its leaders and by their followers, the bitter hatred of the “Novus Ordo Mass” and of “Novus Ordo clergy”, the astonishing disrespect for the popes since Pius XII (who are suspected by many Lefebvrists of being Freemasons or worse), their disordered reliance upon private revelations (and the place they imagine themselves to hold within such revelations), and their endless flirtation with the idea that it might just possibly come out in the wash, after all, that the Chair of Peter has been vacant since Pius XII’s death. And then there are the really ugly things. One recalls, for example, oft expressed regrets regarding the fate of the former Confederate States of America (and all that it represented), and even sympathetic words for Hitler, amongst other things.

    It’s easy enough for people to say, “Well, there’s Williamson…and then there are the rest of them.” No. No. Williamson is not exceptional, but typical of the Lefebvrists. Williamson is revered within the “SSPX”. He is not an embarrassment to Lefebvrists; he is a hero to them. The only difference between Williamson and other Lefebvrists is that he blurts out in front of cameras and microphones that ugly things that Lefebvrists think, whereas the rest haven’t got his nerve.

    Are there good people within the Lefebvrist organization, “sparks of light” as Monsignor Bux puts it? Yes, of course there are. And I pray that they one day leave it and shake off all the lunacy of it, as others have managed to do across the decades, readmitting themselves into the living community of the genuine Church. I pray that even Williamson does that. If the Lord were to take a 2X4 to his head (to borrow one of his own favorite expressions) and knock the crazy of Lefebvrism out of him, he would, I have no doubt, be a great man and even a great churchman. He would be, perhaps, the brightest “spark of light”. There certainly are bright elements within the “SSPX”. But the organization, itself, is sick…and when the Holy See invites the Lefebvrist organization to take its place within the official Church, I wonder if they really understand what they’re proposing. I wonder if they would buy the car if they could somehow take it for a test drive. If fear that they’ll only see after buying it that they’ve wound up with a lemon. I’m a little surprised that they can’t see that yet, to be honest.

    I would worry, sincerely, if I had any expectation at all that the Lefebvrist leaders would be swayed by such a touching letter as this. I fully expect, however, that they will read into it hidden meanings that aren’t there, twisting it around in their paranoid minds, and rejecting it, finally, as “modernist Newchurch sentimentalism” or something to that effect. That thought consoles me, as I don’t think it would be at all good for the Christian Church to embrace and endorse an organization that, as I see it, has degenerated into something akin to a disturbing cult in many respects.

    I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what happens. In the meantime, I continue to pray for individual departures of upright souls from the Lefebvrist organization and its affiliates.

  28. Johnno says:

    Excellent letter, but of course a lot depends on the details behind the scenes.

    If much of Vatican II was simply pastoral and non-binding, then the SSPX should be allowed to have the Tridentine Mass without having to say the novus ordo, and be free from directives in Vatican II with regards to ecumenism and tolerance of modernism. Likewise they should be allowed freely to talk and seek reform for the entire Church especially in light of abuses encouraged by liberal attitudes with regards to reception of the Eucharist etc. etc.

    But what is not up for discussion are schismatic attitudes that defy the authority of the Pope and to divide Christ’s Body. God works His providence when we show obedience to Him and His authority, even when His authority on Earth happens to be in the wrong opinion. But humility and submission are the first steps whereupon hearts can be moved.

    We know many in the SSPX are devoted to the message of Fatima. They ought to see the right example in the attitude of Sister Lucia, where despite that great movements were made to suppress and ignore Fatima and the 3rd Secret and the Consecration, Sister Lucia always obeyed Church authority and maintained her silence even when it pained her to do so and despite how powerless she was to do anything about it. But Heaven will work its wonders despite all this. Such examples do not go unnoticed! God’s ways are mysterious, but it shall be in the end result where we will look back and see precisely what He intended. If the Church is to reform and change and reorient itself towards the right direction, it will require the courage and fortitude of good men within it. If they all go away, who then will be left to fight the remnant of the evildoers who remain? It is true that the Church needs them. But likewise they also need the Church because they will not accomplish Christ’s divine mission on their own by situating themselves outside His Church.

  29. Suburbanbanshee says:

    It’s got more metaphors than the love letter. Bux is also saying that, if the SSPX comes back now, they will come home as leaders and even heroes.

    And he’s certainly not kidding about the Holy Father’s heartbreak about this. He was there when it all started, and it probably eats at him every day. If the SSPX comes home, he’ll be able to die easy when the time comes.

  30. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Centristian — I’m pretty sure the Holy Father and Co. are perfectly aware of the dark side. But the man’s job is to gather the flock, no matter where he finds them.

  31. Cavaliere says:

    I think this quote from Msgr. Bux is most appropriate,

    Come take part in this blessed future in which we can already foresee dawn, despite the persistant darkness. Your refusal would increase darkness, not light. And yet the sparks of light we can already admire are numerous, beginning with those of the great liturgical restoration effected by the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum”. It stirs up, throughout the whole world, a large movement of adherence from all those who wish to increase the worship of God, particularly the young.

    In the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis last year we had the first Confirmation in the Extraordinary Form in over 35 years with over 20 students receiving the Sacrament and it will continue into the future. This happened without any assistance from the local SSPX chapel. [That’s right. Where a bishop is positive and supportive and fatherly, the SSPX can’t get traction. Catholics want to be with their bishop. They really do. Some bishops make it hard and others make it very easy.] We also have the Extraordinary Form Mass in 4, and soon 5, different parishes. All this has happened since Summorum Pontificum. Things are not perfect and it would be nice to be strengthened by the SSPX being restored to full communion but we are not going to sit and wait for them. They can be a part of the reform or they can sit and wait for that day when they believe the Church is worthy to receive them. Too bad that day will never arrive and they will end up being just another in a long line of denominations that believe they are the true Church.

  32. Cavaliere says:

    @Centristan. I have to agree with your assessment. As someone who spent a few years around the SSPX myself I think you nailed it about their ‘siege mentality’ among other things. There are ultra rigid views not only about liturgical matters but others as well. Just as the level of immodesty is abhorent at many Masses I don’t want overly scrupulous people measuring the length of hems on dresses to make sure they are sufficiently below the knee.

  33. q7swallows says:

    Dear SSPX, Having lived 40 of my nearly 50 years in the liturgical breach, I am afraid that any words of mine may give unintended offense. So let my own heart filled with love and gratitude for you find eloquence in the deeds and words of our Holy Father–especially Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae. The harvest IS great . . .

  34. sparksj3 says:

    @Centristan. Like you, I too spent many years attending SSPX Masses. My family took refuge with them starting in the early 80s, so all of my formative years were impacted in one degree or other by priests and clergy of the SSPX. I also spent a few years in their North American seminary, so my experience is not merely limited to a view from the pew. Though I now attend chapels in regular canonical status, I remain extremely grateful for the formation I received at the hands of the priests within the SSPX.

    I have no way to contest your personal experience–but I can only offer my own to contrast with yours. After more than twenty years of experience with the SSPX, I saw that the vast majority of adherents were simply good Catholics trying their best to make their way through a time of darkness and confusion in the Church. By far, the majority of the clergy that I knew were simply priests who wanted to do their best to save souls. Your description of a great horde of less vocal Bp. Williamson clones is so astonishingly foreign to my own experience that I really have a hard time knowing where to begin.

    Sure, there were times that I saw behavior or heard ideas that were less than edifying–sometimes downright scandalous. But this is hardly peculiar to the SSPX. I do not think that Msgr. Bux speaks out of naivete, but out of a sort of pastoral understanding. Let’s be frank: every group has its bad eggs and every movement has its embarrassing overzealous figures. As I mentioned above, I now attend chapels that are in incontestably regular canonical status, but I’ve still witnessed problems much like those seen at the SSPX chapels I used to attend. Local diocesan chapels might not wrestle with members flirting with sedevacantism–but they do wrestle with members flirting with heresy. Msgr. Bux, being from Europe, specializing in Liturgical Reform, and working in the CDF, certainly knows the political, theological, and cultural wrestlings that often get tangled up with traditionalism. I’m sure he wrote the letter with full awareness of this dynamic. He’s also certainly aware of some of the hard line liturgical or doctrinal positions of the SSPX that may be problematic, but doubtless he’s aware of countless other religious orders that sustain forms of dissent far more dangerous. Who can possibly deny that from a doctrinal and liturgical point of view there is more health and vitality in the SSPX than in up-and-coming movements like the NCW? Again, its not naivete that inspired the letter of Msgr. Bux, but more likely a pastoral awareness of the struggles and tragedies that transpire within a dark night of the Church.

    Right now, the time is not for raising up past spectres and insinuations from one’s past–but for praying and doing penance that this awful situation is rectified in the best way possible, according to God’s Will. [Good.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  35. sparks: “Right now, the time is not for raising up past spectres and insinuations from one’s past–but for praying and doing penance that this awful situation is rectified in the best way possible, according to God’s Will.”

    I hereby bequeath to you the gold star that was wasted on me the other day.

  36. AnAmericanMother says:

    Prayers, prayers and more prayers! We need the good men of the SSPX – and they need us.

    “There is no time . . . . There is no other day. All days are present now. . . . This moment contains all moments.”

    -C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

  37. Centristian says:


    Thank you for sharing your perspective. It’s always a source of fascination to me when two individuals who have walked the same path come away with two very different perspectives or recollections of that path. I suppose, however, if one man travelled the path in Winter and another in the Spring, that could happen. Perhaps that’s what happened in your case and mine.

    My seminary years were in the late 80s and early 90s, whereas yours must have been later. The powers that be in my experience were Richard Williamson and Pierre Delaplace at Winona, Ramon Angles at St. Mary’s, and Jean-Luc Lafitte at Ridgefield, with Peter Scott, first as a professor, then as the US District Superior. Franz Schmidburger had succeeded Lefebvre as the international kahuna. Those were the top guns in my day; those were the personalities that ruled the roost and therefore dictated the atmosphere, at least in the places at which I found myself. Being an American Lefebvrist at that time, then, was rather like drinking a tall refreshing glass of vinegar, tobasco sauce, gasoline, motor oil, and horseradish.

    While I understand that the personalities which followed that particular cast of characters could hardly have been any more dismaying, I do find it hard to understand how they could have been so very much better, having been formed by such men. It would only have been the guys who towed the line that went on to succeed them, of course, as dissent and diversity had no place within the Society. If one ever publicly dissented from the powers that be, he was done for, being declared everything from a modernist to a liberal to a homosexual to a Communist…you name it. And by “dissent” I don’t mean with respect to doctrine. By “dissent” I mean expressing, for example, a notion that Father Angles shouldn’t denounce people from the pulpit or show off his Nazi memorabilia to students, or complaining that Bishop Williamson goes too far when he says that husbands should be allowed to beat their wives into submission, or opining that one believes that democracy is a better idea than absolute monarchy and that the United States is a more Christian nation than France. Those are the sorts of dangerous ideas that would get a guy booted and mercilessly savaged thereafter.

    If things have so significantly improved since my time with the Society, I have to marvel at how such a turnabout might have come about. Such seems to be your perspective, however. I do note that you seem to speak of your experience with the “SSPX” in the past tense, though.

    “Your description of a great horde of less vocal Bp. Williamson clones is so astonishingly foreign to my own experience that I really have a hard time knowing where to begin.”

    That misrepresents my observation. My observation was not of a great horde of Williamson clones, but rather that Williamson was typical of the rest, only more public.

    “As I mentioned above, I now attend chapels that are in incontestably regular canonical status, but I’ve still witnessed problems much like those seen at the SSPX chapels I used to attend.”

    Oh, believe me, I don’t imagine that the problems that plague the Lefebvrists are unique to Lefebvrists. My issue isn’t that there are oddballs in Lefebvrism of the same variety that can be seen amongst traditionalist enclaves, in general (or amongst Catholics, in general, for that matter). My issue is that the oddballs of Lefebvrism are running the show, and that such men are being offered official status and recognition and regularization by the Holy See. From my own perspective, I see cult leaders being offered positions of power within the official Church, and that is what disturbs me. I’m not concerned with the eccentricities of certain people in the pews. My concern is that an embrace of the Lefebvrist organization will damage the Church, not help the Church. I think the Church would regret the action in time (and probably not in much time).

    “Right now, the time is not for raising up past spectres and insinuations from one’s past…”

    I don’t think it’s the right time to ignore the poison within the pie, either. Offering these men power and official status within the official Church will have consequences that will impact the whole Church. It is not wrong to express concerns and to offer honest perspectives on the Lefebvrist organization that aren’t necessarily rosey. From my perspective, there is a danger, here.

    “…but for praying and doing penance that this awful situation is rectified in the best way possible, according to God’s Will.”

    On that point, at least, you and I are in full agreement.

  38. Bea says:

    The Holy Father’s heart trembles: he awaits you anxiously because he loves you,

    What moving words, It reminded me of Matthew 23:37

    “Jerusalem, Jerusalem,! Thou who killest the prophets and stoniest those who are sent to you. How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings,but thou wouldst not!”

  39. cheekypinkgirl says:

    I have heard whispers that many SSPX are moving to Kansas – on purpose – in order to be a more concentrated, unified community, given that they know the SSPX will never accept. If true, very interesting.

  40. NoraLee9 says:

    It has been my pleasure to have acquaintance with both Bishops Williamson and Fellay. I think the sea-change came after HE Fellay transferred HE Williamson out of the US. HE Bernard Fellay is one of the smartest, and most gracious people I have ever had the pleasure of dining with.
    HE Tissiers de Mellerais doesn’t speak much English…. And De Galleretta I have never met. Despite some of the weirder stuff that has come out of the American SSPX camp, most of the clergy are extremely solicitous for souls.

  41. Msgr. Bux: “the opening of a public debate on the interpretation of Vatican II in light of Tradition, and, for this purpose, the renewal of the Ecclesia Dei Commission”

    A most interesting “aside”–if the translation is correct– that I haven’t seen elsewhere. That the renewal of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei is expressly for the purpose of facilitating the interpretation of Vatican II in the light of Tradition.

  42. Panterina says:

    Now, if this letter only came from the Holy Father himself… I think it would have made all the difference! It would be very hard for the SSPX to snub an invitation from the Pope, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bp. Fellay didn’t pay attention to Msgr. Bux. I hope I’m wrong!

  43. Glen M says:

    How can we get sparksj3 into the negotiating room?

  44. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    Beautiful and brilliant.

    Every garden has its own share of fruits and nuts. Full communion with the Apostolic See will serve as a corrective to various tendencies both in the Society and God-willing the Latin Church at large. But the focus ultimately should be Jesus Christ.

    “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature be thus minded; and if in anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”

    – Philippians 3:12-16

  45. acardnal says:

    Nicely written sparksj3. You deserved that Gold Star!

  46. Centristian says:

    Maybe I’m the last person on the earth to read about this, but…

    Wow. I had no idea. I suppose I’m compelled to re-evaluate my idea of the monolithic nature of the SSPX hierarchy. The (endless) comments to the letter, however, serve to remind me of the weird Lefebvrist culture that I am so happy to no longer be a part of.


  48. James Waters says:

    My own experience, as a formerly SSPX-aligned layman (who still attends SSPX Masses owing to delicate family circumstances), lies somewhere between that of Centristian and sparksj3. Of course, I never attended their seminary, so my experience is much more limited.

    I do believe that many, if not most, people in the SSPX are decent, traditionally-minded Catholics looking for a place to weather the storm – and yes, there are “fruitcakes” everywhere – however, long-term exclusive attendance at the SSPX and isolation from mainstream Catholicism – indeed from any non-SSPX Catholicism – has led to a deep psychological dependence on the SSPX. The SSX narrative has been taken for granted for so long that it would be very difficult to start questioning it. Departure from the fortress is seen as imprudent at best, apostasy at worst. A sectarian “them and us” mentality is very common and non-SSPX clergy (even those who offer the EF) are commonly seen as tainted or compromised.

    I hope and pray there is a reconciliation soon – it is highly unlikely to include the likes of Bishop Williamson – but there are real deep-seated issues in the mindset, subculture — and even official positions – of “mainstream” SSPX – which will make this very hard.

    How can one permit a group to tell its faithful that attendance at the Ordinary Form is a sin? Or to miss Sunday Mass rather than attend an “approved” EF? Or that the Church has officially taught error for 50 years? Or that priests ordained since 1968 in the newer rite *may* need to be conditionally ordained in the older rite? Tough questions…

  49. dspecht says:

    (James Waters:) “How can one permit a group to tell its faithful that attendance at the Ordinary Form is a sin?

    How? – well, by considering f.e. the Five wounds inflicted on Christ’s Mystical Body through our liturgy according to Bf. Ath. Schneider
    1.Mass versus populum.
    2. Communion in the hand.
    3. The Novus Ordo Offertory prayers.
    4. Disappearance of Latin in the Ordinary Form.
    5. Liturgical services of lector and acolyte by women and ministers in lay clothing.


    Or when Alcuin Reid qualifies the NewMass as rupture (expressely the intention of the reformers, but that amounts to the same) :
    “I can say that there is evidence that those responsible for the reform intended rupture – ritual and also theological…. This is an historical reality…”

    Or when Card. Ranjiht says implicitly that the NewMass/NewLiturige is NOT a true liturgical tradition and more: not a true liturgy of the Church!

    A also prefer to pray at home instead of participating in something that those men of the Church qualify as not real Catholic, as rupture with tradition, as wounds that hurt the Mystical Body!!

  50. robtbrown says:

    Sparksj3 wrote,

    Local diocesan chapels might not wrestle with members flirting with sedevacantism–but they do wrestle with members flirting with heresy.

    The contemporary tendency in the most of the dioceses is not toward sedevacantism. Rather, it is that they consider the Pope to be a figurehead.

    I had contact with the SSPX in the early 70’s, and it was of a different mentality than now. The Society changed with the suspension, thanks to the pastoral genius of Paul VI.

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