Card. Ranjith reported to be open to the SSPX running his seminary

There are time on this blog when I have openly day-dreamed about what it would be like to have priests of the SSPX involved with local diocesan presbyteral councils, deanery meetings, other diocesan entities and events.

I was not nearly ambitious enough in my day-dreaming.

I picked this up from Catholic Church Conservation and thence from and Messa in latino:

Cardinal Archbishop wants his seminary run by the SSPX

Kardinal Ranjith will sein Priesterseminar der Piusbruderschaft übergeben › Katholisches:

The Archbishop of Colombo, Albert Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith Patabedinge would be ready to entrust the management and training of the seminarians of his Archdiocese to the SSPX. Such a step, according to the Cardinal would be possible if the SSPX is accepted and canonically erected. The The Cardinal expects this project to improve training of future priests. The reports come from the Roman Rite website Messa in latino.

The District Superior of the SSPX in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, Father Benoît Waillez made this known in a sermon last Sunday. He stressed that the motives, concerns and arguments of tradition begin to spread in the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Ranjith Patabedinge was appointed by the Pope as Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments of the Roman Curia. Since June 2009 he is the Archbishop of Colombo in Sri Lanka and was made Cardinal in November 2010.

At the time of this writing the National catholic Fishwrap had no comment.

If this report is true, and we take it with a grain or two of salt since it is coming at us by at lest second hand, then this is at the very least a gracious thing to say!  Talk about winning gesture.

The sermon mentioned above is HERE.  Start listening at about 12:30.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Arieh says:

    Long live His Holiness Benedict XVI, and may Cardinal Ranjith be his successor!

  2. Andrew says:

    This is interesting! I have been thinking lately: why isn’t there a lot more mutual cooperation with the SSPX? Or is there? There could be schools, pro-life work, liturgical and musical workshops, all sorts of areas where cooperation might be very natural.

    You want to put a couple of lions in a cage together? First you have them in adjacent cages. When they get used to each other you open the gate.

  3. Centristian says:

    Well, I wouldn’t necessarily get too carried away with those daydreams, Father, to be honest. [Have I? Have you seen me posting about it all the time? No, it only pops up occasionally, and as a matter of fact always in terms of the anguish it would cause liberals. o{]:¬) ]

    Keep in mind, that the SSPX clergy have been formed and educated by each other, not by renowned professors, theologians, and scholars with vast credentials. Their guest lecturers will have included various conspiracy-theorists and revisionist historians. The formation of SSPX clergy may be “traditional”, but that doesn’t mean their formations do not suffer from significant deficiencies. There are, of course, alot of SSPX priests running around out there who were formed, selected, and ordained by Williamson and by others like him.

    I think that alot of the clergy of the SSPX could use some re-tuning from (solid) Catholic academia once they return to the fold, to be honest. [I agree wholeheartedly. The point I made, above, is that if Card. Ranjith said that, it was – at least – a nice gesture. Even if it doesn’t actually happen, it is a signal that he would welcome greater unity, and must surely be encouraging. It was encouraging enough that the SSPX preacher, thinking it was true, mentioned it.]

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Centristian: “not by renowned professors, theologians, and scholars with vast credentials. Their guest lecturers will have included various conspiracy-theorists and revisionist historians. The formation of SSPX clergy may be “traditional”, but that doesn’t mean their formations do not suffer from significant deficiencies.” And this you know, how…?

  5. Centristian says:

    Because I was an SSPX seminarian, Elizabeth.

    [Our friend Elizabeth left that one hanging over the plate. o{]:¬)

  6. Liam says:

    I was an SSPX seminarian at Winona in the late 1980s and I can concur with Centristian’s claims.

    Many clergy of the SSPX will need remedial academic formation and some even a detoxification and remedial priestly formation following a reconciliation. This is not meant as a snarky attack on the SSPX, but simply a fact of reality. They are good guys and will need help adjusting.

    Pray! Pray! Pray! for ecclesial unity!

  7. RichR says:

    A very bold gesture of support for reconciliation. Then again, Ranjith is known for speaking boldly on delicate matters. I, for one, find it refreshing. Committed Catholics tend to flock to the banner of strong leaders.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Cool..why not day-dream…such is the stuff of creativity and the human spirit….

  9. cyrillist says:

    “Many clergy of the SSPX will need remedial academic formation and some even a detoxification and remedial priestly formation following a reconciliation.”

    I really hate to go the facile equivalency route here, but since this one also hits my sweet spot on the lower outside corner…

    Wonder how many long-standing non-SSPX clergy need it just as bad? or even lots, lots, LOTS worse?

    Just… sayin’.

  10. Phil_NL says:

    A lot would depend on the actual persons involved, no doubt. Obviously, there are plenty of bishops around who wouldn’t make the offer to begin with, but one can only make such an offer if the other side is in fact able to deliver. That’s in terms of academics (out of 500 or so priests, I suppose a few seminaries could be staffed, but the majority of priests isn’t qualified for that, and that won’t be any different in the society), but also in terms of temprament and judgement.

    And that last point will be the rub. While in terms of reconcilliation, its ‘the more the merrier’ (ut unum sint…), there are quite a few SSPX guys who you would not want involved in running anything, let alone a seminary. The Williamson-mold, so to say. Concern for their salvation is one thing, but that doesn’t mean anti-semites, conspiricay theorists, holocaust deniers and so on should been seen as fit for ecclesiastical office, since they’re not. period.
    Sadly, the SSPX is known to harbor a couple of those. I won’t pronounce on their numbers, and pray they’re small, but they’re clearly not zero either. It would be good to thread very, very carefully indeed – any bishop making such an offer would have to be very sure about the character and judgement of the other side. And we know that isn’t, in general terms, their strongest suit, as we can see from many blunders large and small in fairly recent history…

  11. cyrillist says:

    “…there are quite a few SSPX guys who you would not want involved in running anything, let alone a seminary.”

    Absolutely. No question about it. We have to be really careful about that. Excellent point taken.

    But… oh no, here we go again… considering the caliber of some of the folks in good, nay, great standing in the Church, who are currently running things and have been for years… you see where I’m going with this, right? Sigh.

  12. dominic1955 says:

    Along the lines of what cyrillist said, how many regular priests in dioceses and religious orders all over the world are in need of a complete overhaul “re-education”? I’d say much more severely than the SSPX. Rarely does one find a diocese, parish or priest who is at least not someone touched or wounded by neo-Modernism or the nouvelle theologie at the minimum. Not a few are past holding opinions that smack of such positions and go above and beyond to full on espousal. When we brought the Traditional Anglicans in , we didn’t run around suggesting we run them through the ringer. To suggest we need to be so very vigilant about the SSPX priests when we have so many more serious problems of belief and practice among people who are ostensibly in the Church is laughable.

    While I certainly do not deny they got some screwy formation as far as some of the conspiracy theorists and other radtrad types go, it cannot possibly a tenth as bad as the hell that often was regular seminary throughout the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and even today. Being “anti-semitic” (and that’s often used as a discussion killing inflammatory buzz word) et al is silly, but its not near as bad as being a Modernist or a Marxist.

    Along those lines, where would we send the SSPX priests for their “re-education”? I personally know of (and that doesn’t mean that there are none) no institution that has its own ducks in a row well enough to even do the priestly training they are supposed to be doing let alone give a spit shine to people who (by and large) have their heads probably screwed on tighter than their potential teachers.

  13. Jim of Bowie says:

    “[Our friend Elizabeth left that one hanging over the plate. o{]:¬)]”

  14. Supertradmum says:

    Maybe the Davenport Diocesan seminary would like a few SSPX teachers…starting with required Latin classes and sexual morality classes. Day-dream…

  15. cyrillist says:

    Dominic1955, you’ve fleshed out my little quip to my complete satisfaction. Exactamundo!

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Fr. Z: What was wrong with my question to Centristian, asking him how he knew what he was stating? Why did my question warrant your comment?

  17. ContraMundum says:

    I’ll admit that I don’t understand the ins and outs of how various religious orders interact with the secular clergy, but no matter how you slice it, if they are going to be involved in this kind of ministry, along with that will come some loss of independence. That’s how it is at any job.

    I’m not sure how many SSPX priests will be willing to trust any “NO” bishop, or of those willing to trust some, how many bishops they would consider trusting. I get the impression SSPX is very very nervous about its independence (not without reason), so I don’t see things like this taking off very quickly.

    Maybe they shouldn’t. It might be best to let feelings heal and trust build slowly at first.

  18. jm says:

    RE SSPX seminarians, I’d have to say I prefer the way they do it to the way far too many mainstream priest right now don’t do it, “it” being preach, teach, or hold up the church’s controversial teaching.

  19. Lamentably Sane says:

    If Father Benoît Wailliez (not ‘Waillez’) said it, he’s telling the truth. Take it from me. I know this man and the idea of him making up a story for some dramatic effect is totally unthinkable.

  20. Centristian says:

    Fr. Z:

    “Have I? Have you seen me posting about it all the time?”

    No, I apologize. I overstated my expression of caution. And to the point some have made that a number of mainstream clergy could use some re-tuning as well…yes, indeed. Point well taken.

  21. Son of Trypho says:

    It would be interesting to see if there is a divide, (similar to the Anglicans) between north-south and east-west Catholics i.e. the developing world is more conservative and would find greater appeal in the SSPX’s “product”, rather than say the Europeans/Americans who would find them reactionary and backward?

  22. BobP says:

    At least Cardinal Ranjith is thinking constructively here. May not be the ultimate solution for everyone but at least he’s encouraging.

  23. Centristian says:

    Lamentably Sane:

    I have to know…is your user ID meant to be a play on Pius X’s encyclical “Lamentabili Sane”? Really clever, if so.

  24. pfreddys says:

    With this Prelate it’s about completly different with most prelates: everytime he opens his mouth he seems greater and greater in my eyes!!

  25. paulbailes says:

    Don’t forget it was “renowned professors, theologians, and scholars with vast credentials” who helped get us all into the current mess.

    I further wonder, dear Centristian, to which group of “renowned professors, theologians, and scholars with vast credentials” you would have referred St Peter & co. to for guidance once Our Lord ascended?

    [Irony on …]
    Maybe Our Lord himself should have just left things to the contemporary “renowned professors, theologians, and scholars with vast credentials” rather than undertaking His own work.

  26. Phil_NL says:

    Of course many of the non-SSPX clergy are also deficient in various departments of their formation. I run into one on occasion, and despite his good intentions, he manages to annoy me time and again. I wouldnt be overly surprised that some seminaries produce priests with deficiencies (not to mention totally unqualified men) much larger than is typical in the SSPX. “many blunders large and small in fairly recent history” referred to that, in part.

    The problem is that there is something like the “law of conservation of misery”. If you put two people together, one of them off in the left ditch of the road, and the other in the ditch on the right side, the car isn’t suddenly going to remain on the road. It will skewer from one ditch into the other and back.

    Therefore, getting the society, of whom we know that some can only be described as lunatics (and that’s the friendliest I can manage vis-a-vis Williamson), involved is risking increasing the current problems. That’s why it is necessary to doublecheck who a bishop is dealing with. Past mistakes are no excuse to make new ones.

  27. cyrillist says:

    “Past mistakes are no excuse to make new ones.”

    Right, conceded. But if the Church is going to deal with hopefully-returning SSPXers with the iron hand and hermeneutic of suspicion that is being advocated by some, there would be absolutely no excuse for those in the left ditch to be treated with any more lenience. tolerance, or, heaven forbid, approbation. Past mistakes need to be corrected.

    Problem is, many of the latter are firmly in the driver’s seat, and are not at all well-intentioned as far as passing on the true deposit of faith is concerned. I fear that, since reining them in would pose a much more difficult problem, there might be a inclination to “take it out” on SSPX returnees, since they will be in a position of radical weakness upon their return. And those in the left ditch don’t want the SSPX back anyway, since they rightly fear that their return would be an indication that “the jig is up”.

    Then again… if members of the SSPX are going to suffer unfairly, they would be sharing that fate with many of our greatest saints, to say nothing of the Greatest Exemplar of All. Historically, such suffering has been a source of great graces, so maybe I shouldn’t squawk too much.

  28. robtbrown says:

    Centristian says:

    Keep in mind, that the SSPX clergy have been formed and educated by each other, not by renowned professors, theologians, and scholars with vast credentials.

    Most seminarians have not been educated by “renowned professors, theologians, and scholars with vast credentials”.

    For eight years in Rome I lived with priests from all over the world. I was stunned at what I saw in men who had no doubt entered seminary with good intentions. Not many had a basic grasp on the doctrine of the Church. Most didn’t know a word of Latin, not even the Salve Regina.

    One Australian priest, a disciplined, serious minded man who became a friend, once said that he couldn’t understand death bed Baptisms–“the Sacraments are for the living”. That’s how bad his seminary education had been.

    When Monsignor Purcell was rector at NAC (where US seminarians live), he wouldn’t permit kneeling during mass. Further, he once reprimanded a recently ordained priest for wearing a cassock to a papal mass. After 6 disastrous years, he was replaced by Edwin O’Brien, then Timothy Dolan, both of whom reformed the place–they are now Cardinals. Purcell never was made bishop.

  29. Bryan Boyle says:

    Out of all the bishops/cardinals in the Church…+Ranjith is one (well maybe Bruskewitz too…his prohibition of the SSPX due to their irregular status notwithstanding…it was medicinal in nature, after all…) member of the hierarchy that they SHOULD trust, since out of many of the men who are charged with the charism of the episcopacy, he’s sympathetic to their goals (at least as I can see it).

    We need he SSPX back inside the sheepfold. Period.

    It’s funny (in a sad way) that that the most vocal proponents of ‘tolerance’, ‘diversity’, ‘accommodation’, and the like are the least tolerant of the diversity that is needed to accommodate the SPPX. By your fruits you will know them. We stand in greater danger in accommodating the fruitcakes in the Magisterium of Nuns than of an order of priests who, for all their faults, are probably closer to the Catholic Faith in practice and belief than not.

    As Fr. says many times…don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. We have had enough of the former (the Currans, Berrigans, Polka Masses, Jesuit dissidents, Notre Shame, Georgetown, Fordham, LA Eucharistic Congress, Call to Action, etc). Maybe it’s time to encourage the latter (SSPX, FSSP, cloistered habited sisters, Extraordinary Form, communion on the tongue and kneeling, perpetual adoration, rosary altar society, men’s sodality…). The former is like eating sugar free jello with cool whip on top. I’m thinking the latter is more like a medium rare filet mignon, bacon wrapped with a demi-glace drizzled over it, a side of garlic mashed and broccoli , a fine cabernet in the glass, topped off by a Montecristo and Port afterwards. One has absolutely NO nutritional value…the other can power you for hours.

  30. ContraMundum says:

    What reason is there to believe that SSPX priests want to teach in diocesan seminaries? If they are hired by a bishop, they can be fired by the same bishop. I don’t sense a great deal of trust from that community; it seems destined to prevent some from being fully reconciled, and even those who are reconciled may choose to play it safe and stay in their own chapels, subject only to their own bishop. That would prevent them from picking up habits from the “Novus Ordo priests” — and vice versa.

  31. leonugent2005 says:

    I think that Cardinal Ranjith sees it as a real possibility that he could become pope at the next conclave and wants to insure that he has a restful retirement. I can’t blame him

  32. JARay says:

    I would disagree with leonugent2005. I am quite sure that Cardinal Ranjith did not make his statement about wanting the SSPX to run his seminary in order to scupper his chances of the Papacy. I am sure that he means what he says simply because he can see a genuine value in the SSPX imparting a solid Catholicity on his seminarians.
    I am also staggered but not exactly surprised to read Centristian say that an Australian priest did not favour death-bed baptisms because baptism, in his opinion is only for life. I am aware of some of the deficiencies which have resulted in strange outcomes in priestly formation in the past here in Australia. I think that things have improved here. I am minded of Cardinal Pell being delighted at being offered the resignations of his seminary staff when he was in Melbourne. I believe that his comment to those staff went along the lines of “Thank you very much for your resignations. You have saved me the trouble of sacking you”.

  33. JARay says:

    I’m sorry, I got that wrong, it was not Centristian who wrote about the Austrailian priest, it was robtbrown.

  34. ivan_the_mad says:

    @Bryan Boyle: “We need [t]he SSPX back inside the sheepfold. Period. ”

    No. The SSPX need to hie themselves back inside the sheepfold for the good of their souls. Period. The Church will perservere with or without the SSPX.

    This is not to say that I disagree that an infusion of more priests and laity enthusiastic for orthodoxy is a good thing in general, and that hoped-for reconciliation of the SSPX with the Church to be a cause for much joy.

  35. cyrillist says:

    Brian/Ivan: Nope, I disagree with you both. Not period. Semi-colon. This should be win-win. If it’s done right. May God’s will be done by all concerned. Pray hard.

  36. ivan_the_mad says:

    @Cyrillist: You are right.

    I am sensitive to comments that emphasize the SSPX’s virtues against the problems of the Church (of which there are no shortage in the comboxes of this blog), and therefore wished to emphasize that it is with the Church that SSPX must reconcile itself, not the other way around (this is not to imply that no efforts are needed on the part of the Church to aid said reconciliation).

  37. ContraMundum says:

    Ivan is right.

    The Church “needs” SSPX the same way a car “needs” to be washed. It is good for the car to be washed, and it will make the car more presentable. It is not, however, necessary for the car to run.

    On the other hand, SSPX needs the Church the way a car needs gasoline. Without gasoline, the car is unable to do what it was built for.

    So yes, reconciliation is win/win, but the win for SSPX is of a qualitatively more significant nature than the win for the Church.

  38. cyrillist says:

    ContraMundum: Whatever. I don’t go for the car/wash, car/gas analogies – I see it more as dough/leaven, heaven help me. An organic reaction, by which both reagents are transformed. Absurd.

    But whatever. If it’s win-win, we can argue afterwards about who the biggest winner was. Pray hard. For God’s will.

  39. ContraMundum says:

    I’m sorry, but it really does make a difference which is the vine and which is the branch.

  40. cyrillist says:

    Point taken. Pray hard.

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  42. cyrillist says:

    Slept on my last response, wasn’t content, decided to make it 42 posts. The Holy Father wouldn’t be taking all this trouble for a car wash (especially since the Church is already getting a free one from the FSSP et al.). And it’s not merely out of concern for the one lost sheep either – there are plenty of lost sheep who never actually left the fold, to say nothing of undercover wolves. The vine isn’t exactly flourishing these days, and a scraggly vineless root can easily be mistaken for an errant branch. Or, as I still prefer, the dough and the leaven have genuine need of each other, regardless of their respective mass. (As it were…) So I’m sorry too, but I guess I don’t really take your point after all.

    In any case, time spent wrangling is time spent not praying hard, so I’ll leave it at that. If God’s will is truly carried out, we might both be surprised at what results.

  43. ContraMundum says:

    No, it’s not that you don’t get my point, it’s that we disagree.

    If it comes to the effort exerted, the Church “needs” the Church of England much more, and the Eastern Orthodox Churches inconceivably more. It may be that one day the schism with the East will be healed (and certainly would if it were within the powers of Pope Benedict and Patriarch Bartholomew had the authority to sit down and work it out between them). However, what is left of the Anglican Communion (those groups that still refuse to come back to the fold) is becoming a ratty old thing that will be no good to anyone. The Church goes on but the Church of England appears to be headed quite literally to Hell. That can only mean that the Church doesn’t really need the Anglican Communion, and that means that the argument from exertion is erroneous.

    On the other hand, there is no question what will happen to any part of SSPX that refuses to reconcile. This is something that has happened before. Go look at the “Old Catholics”; they’re as loopy a group as you could find. Or look at Tertullian. He had many gifts that could have benefited the Church, and in fact some of his writings have been, with care, used with profit throughout the centuries. In the end, though, he separated himself from the Church, joined the Montanists (though he never moved to Montana), then eventually separated from these, too, and formed his own sect.

    Frankly, when I pray for conversion, I pray mostly for my family. When I pray for reconciliation, I pray for the Orthodox; I have Orthodox friends, but don’t know anyone in SSPX.

  44. cyrillist says:

    My dear ContraMundum, I didn’t say that I didn’t “get” your point, I said that I didn’t take your point. So I already know that we disagree. Surely we can agree on that much at least.

    I’m in a wonderful FSSP situation these days, I have immense sympathy for the SSPX’s plight (however self-inflicted it may have been), and I get a bit peeved when they get sniffed at, especially given the current state of the Church at large. I know that they aren’t at all where they really ought to be, and I get peeved about that, too. I sometimes suspect that they get criticized the most by orthodox Catholics who are overwhelmed at how messed up the Church-on-the-ground is these days, feel helpless to do anything about it, and so go looking for a problem they can deal with. “Bad disobedient schizmatists!”

    Please – the Church needs the (unconverted) Anglicans like a car needs a mud bath – let’s go, Orthodox! I stand by exertion, given that the SSPX is the lowest-hanging fruit out there. I welcome your implied admission that they (cf. Tertullian) have a lot to offer the Church – that’s all I’m really asking anyone to acknowledge.

    I constantly pray for my family’s conversion too (don’t get me started), but I can’t help thinking that the SSPX will be able to do the Church more immediate good. And I know some SSPXers, but no Orthodox, so I guess we both have our marching orders. My end should be easier, God willing, and I’ll be glad to pitch in on yours once things are a bit more sorted out.

    (“Movin’ to Montana soon… yippee-i-o-ti-ay…”)

  45. ContraMundum says:

    Consistent with the Catechism, I have more sympathy for those whose ancestors went into schism 1000 years ago than with those who chose to go into schism themselves.

  46. Anakin87 says:

    Contramundum, I’ve been reading your posts on this blog for quite a while now, and i must say you’re extremely biased vis-a-vis the Society. You only want to see the bad, I sometimes think, forgoing all the massive good they have done for the Church, by keeping the doctrines untouched. And the SSPX never went into shism. And it were only the bishops who were (falsely and thus invalidly) ‘excommunicated’. Not a single priest was ever ‘excommunicated’, they were simply not given faculties to preform their priestly ministry. Luckily, the diocesan clergy filled that void in real nicely… Anyway, all I want to say is that you should broaden your perspective. I live in Belgium and the bishops here do absolutely nothing for the Faith, except when they can hinder an EF-parish. As a consequence, only the FSSPX can offer the Mass at regular intervals in a proper surrounding. It’s only the Society that’s keeping the Faith, so excuse me if I find your ranting sometimes quite aggravting.

  47. Lamentably Sane says:

    Bingo. Glad to see someone spotted it!

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