Can “Rome” be trusted? SSPX questions and beyond

I have smart friends who think that – things being as they are – the SSPX should NOT at this time accept terms offered by the Holy See. It’s hard to see what that might entail… things being as they are, and all that.

Related to this point is a post from Fr. John Hunwicke at Mutual Enrichment:

Summorum Pontificum

Bishop Schneider has called for the SSPX to be given the justice they were denied in the 1970s. I do wonder, with great respect to his Lordship, whether things are now any longer quite as simple as that.  [The answer is, obviously, no.]

For a decade or two, we have been told that regularisation must wait upon the acceptance by the Society of the teaching of Vatican II and of the post-Conciliar Magisterium. But given the way things are now, might it not be fair and equitable for the Society now to insist that Papa Bergoglio manifest a proper and unambiguous submission to the post-Conciliar Magisterium of S John Paul II and of Benedict XVI? And, in particular, that he enact (perhaps as part of a deal with the Society) a solemn reconfirmation in his own name of Veritatis splendor, Familiaris consortio, and Summorum Pontificum?

The Roman Pontiff, suspiciously, has already declined to to give the very simple answers requested of him to the effect that Veritatis splendor and Familiaris consortio still, as it were, apply. And on November 20, I expressed a fear that a regularisation of the SSPX might be accompanied by a cancellation, or evisceration, of Summorum Pontificum. Indeed, on 21 September 2016 Sandro Magister had reported somebody called Andrew Grillo (Alcuin Reid’s sparring partner??) as opining that the next Synod would discuss “the collegial exercise of the episcopate and the restitution to the bishop of full authority over diocesan liturgy”. It was pretty obvious to me what the nasty little phrase I italicise was code for, as I wrote a few days later on my blog. In the event, we were reprieved; a different topic was to be selected for the next Synod (Youff, I think), possibly because Bergoglio is decent enough still to have some reticence about too overt a public humiliation of Joseph Ratzinger while he is still alive. But Grillo’s expectations are unlikely to have been entertained by him alone.

There has always been a practical certainty that a certain sort of bishop, for whom ‘subsidiarity’ means I Must Be Free To Ban Everything That Isn’t To My Personal Taste, would not easily abandon his hopes of (at least) limiting and controlling worship according to the Old Rite. In one of the Ordinariates (not the British one!) a local bishop put pressure some years ago on the Ordinary to prevent the use of the Extraordinary Form within that Ordinariate. Readers will not need to be reminded of the savage humiliations inflicted, and by a Roman Dicastery, upon the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate; humiliations which are still, as far as I know, in place. There was an American bishop who required clergy to pass a test in Latin to prove that they were idonei to celebrate the Old Mass … typical piece of Liberal nastiness, isn’t it … you arrange for your clergy, contra canonem, to be ordained without having been taught Latin, then you jeer and sneer at them for not knowing it. [EXACTLY!] At the jollier level, English clergy may remember how Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor acquired, for a year or two, the nickname of “The Envisager” because he attempted to circumscribe Summorum Pontificum by issuing a whole lot of comically panic-ridden rubbish making use of the phrase “It is envisaged that …” [NB good example of Management-talk using the impersonal passive construction]. [This construction is usually covered the day before study of the episcopal subjunctive: “It would seem that it might be…”.]

Bigotry still abounds.



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  1. Thomas Sweeney says:

    It is beyond my comprehension, the mental gymnastics, that any priest or bishop would have to exercise, to make invalid, the most sublime, majestic and dignified expression of our love for God. Keeping in mind that the whole tradition of the church is bound up in this expression of sacrifice, love and forgiveness.
    Years ago, while reading the life of St. Joan of Arc, the most severe punishment inflicted upon her, prior to her execution, was the denial of mass attendance, and holy communion. This denial was ordered by the bishops who judged her. I am at a loss to understand the denial of a ritual that produced so many saints like her, because of a personal liberal bias.

  2. JustaSinner says:

    And so crashes and burns the Humanity controlled part of the Catholic Church. At the hands of liberals, of course. But God’s Word is Immaculate and Christ’s Church is Incorruptible, so as my ex-mother used to say: ‘offer it up. This too will change.’

  3. Mike says:

    To answer the question in the title: Under current management, not by a long shot. That’s why there’s a perennial Magisterium whose guidance perforce outlives any particular set of managers.

  4. Prayerful says:

    I certainly think the moment the SSPX entered full Communion with Bergoglian Rome, Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio on the Mass of All Time would be in the crosshairs. Pray for the Pope Emeritus. It mightn’t change much in Dublin when Abp Martin was supportive of Indult Masses operated by the LMSI before Summum Pontificum. Dublin very nearly had Micheál Ledwith (onetime President of Maynooth Seminary, hyper-modernist and homosexual sex pest) as Archbishop, and it would be certain that the Latin Mass chaplaincy and the fine high altar (with sometime pink and Star Trek inspired installed instead) would be on borrowed time, and back to a nomadic existence.

  5. iamlucky13 says:

    His argument about SSPX being wary of a bait and switch makes sense, but what about this part?

    “Accordingly, the entire point of Summorum Pontificum was to call their bluff by giving precisely what they had demanded”

    Maybe I’m ascribing too global of interpretation to Father Hunwicke’s statement, or maybe I’m simply naive, but I never had the impression Pope Benedict XVI issued Summorum Pontificum mainly out of expediency for the sake of regularizing SSPX, but rather because he believed the regular availability of the TLM had real value for the Church, with improving relations with SSPX then being a secondary benefit.

    Or was Pope Benedict favorable to the TLM but satisfied with indults?

  6. rmichaelj says:

    I think an acceptance of the terms would of course depend on the terms. If it is a personal prelature granted without demands- I believe they would accept it. If on the other hand they see it as a trap in which local bishops can make demands or confiscate property, they will not agree.

    From what Bishop Fellay has said, I think there may likely be the outline of an agreement. The problem will be if there is a last minute change in the agreement which the SSPX will not accept.

    If there is an agreement- I wonder what the relationship will be between the SSPX and the FSSP. I could certainly see the SSPX continuing as a “missionary” organization in Novus Ordo land while being supported by the FSSP. The SSPX has done much with very little and they make every thing they have cover a lot of ground (especially in regards to providing the mass). I was impressed with how far some diocesan priests travel to parishes in rural Texas. Then I learned how far many SSPX priests travel EVERY WEEKEND (airline flights are involved). It made me feel ashamed at how annoyed I used to get at having to travel an hour for an FSSP mass.

  7. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Reading of “the restitution to the bishop of full authority over diocesan liturgy”, I am reminded of my astonishment in reading in Fernand Cabrol’s 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia article, “Breviary”, that “in 1791 eighty dioceses had rejected the Roman Liturgy and had fashioned special liturgies for themselves; in 1875 Orléans, the last French diocese which had retained its own liturgy re-entered Roman liturgical unity.” (A striking context for Saint-Saens’ construction of his 1858 Christmas Oratorio using – as far as I know – Roman text selections.)

  8. THREEHEARTS says:

    Talking about the UK, growing up there I remember priests had different names for some dioceses. Red See, the Black See, the Dead See all very appropriate titles.

  9. THREEHEARTS says:

    Mike Hurcum writes.
    Sorry I forgot. I mentioned it before. In order to make ecumenism work the Council of Trent must be destroyed. The Novus Ordo is something that the group of Rome today will sacrifice the church and our souls before it is given up. Wake up Catholics and make note the end view of what ecumenism wants is the loss of “Catholic”. I feel it will not be long before the new roman curia will start saying christian and nary a mention of catholic.

  10. zama202 says:

    While I often speculate how much good the SSPX could do if they were regularized – there is no doubt about the very great good they have done (and continue to do) the Church in their current state.


  11. HighMass says:

    seriously , if I was the SSPX I would hold out until an new Pope is in charge.

    I have always wondered since S.P. by Pope Benedict if another Pope can come along an suppress the Mass of 1962….lets face it the current pontiff is sending out messages how he feels about those of us who prefer the Mass in The E.F. Just look at his track record with the Cardinals who oppose him!!!!

    Fr. Z is it possible for the Mass in the E.F. be suppressed again???

    We pray it is here to stay

    [I’m never sure what to do with all those ????!!!!???]

  12. ASPM Sem says:

    Regardless of content, I think it rather disrespectful to refer to Pope Francis as “Pope Bergoglio” or “Papa Bergoglio” or just plain old “Jorge Bergoglio”. Like it or not, he’s the Pope, he has a regnal name and people should refer to him as such.

    [In some places there is a custom of referring to Pope FAMILY NAME, even in journalistic circles, and it isn’t disrespectful.]

  13. TimG says:

    Can Rome be trusted?
    Absolutely not (if you are “rigid”.)

    Should SSPX accept the terms?
    I don’t see why not. If the terms get broken, they can keep doing what they are doing today. I suppose I am oversimplifying.

  14. Ben Kenobi says:

    “To answer the question in the title: Under current management, not by a long shot. That’s why there’s a perennial Magisterium whose guidance perforce outlives any particular set of managers.”

    I’m reminded of a friend who had a long and serious crush on a beautiful lady. He invited her to lunch only to be rebuffed. He kept his feelings, and kept after her. Time passed, and he found himself in quite some difficulties. Work was not going well and he wasn’t sure how he was going to get by. Then – he finds the lady in the local shop and she walks up to him and asks him how he is.

    He says, “I’m miserable”. She goes onto him and asks if he would share lunch with her. He takes a longer look. She’s put on a few pounds. She herself has aged some.

    Do you walk away from the invitation? Or accept it? That is the question that you’re putting to the SSPX. When will be the *right* time? There is never a *right* time. Someone can always come and say, “look, the Church has difficulties”. By Glory, we have had difficulties. If we were *not* the True Church those difficulties would go away.

    The beautiful lady has invited SSPX in for coffee. SSPX can choose to decline the invitation or accept. Which will it be?

  15. stuartal79 says:

    Tim G, I don’t think you’re oversimplifying, but rather stating the obvious.

    Yes, his influence has been weakened, but Cardinal Sarah is still in charge at the CDW. You will not see the E.F. suppressed while he is in his current role. Frankly, the E.F. has become too popular to suppress, regardless of how the powers that be feel about it.

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  17. Prayerful says:

    @ASPM Sem Papa Bergoglio Francisco is the opposite of the opposite of disrespectful, a form that might be employed in Hispanic contexts. And Bergoglian seems a good shorthand for the Holy Father’s modus operandi and outlook.

    A no strings attached personal prelature seems something that could be taken. If Rome then acts deceitfully, it will be Rome walking away, not the Society. There would be no thread to the chapels, priories, schools and seminaries. Now there is the issue of SSPX priests breaking off, but thus far an alternative ‘Resistance’ Society has yet to arise as a living alternative – I know Bp Faure formed one in Avrillé, but early days and all that.

    We can only pray for Pope Francis, Pope Emeritus Benedict and for the SSPX. Hopefully, all parties will act prudently.

  18. Phil_NL says:

    The SSPX should not make demands of the Pope. If that’s a starting point, even a mental one, it’s pointless. However flawed, however uncaring about those things they care deeply about, however he might get under their skin, Pope Francis is still pope. Based on that fact alone, the society cannot make demands, as if reconcilliation is a negotiation of equals. It isn’t. When it comes, it will be offered, graciously or not, and accepted, graciously or not, and hopefully with apologies for and forgiveness of past injustices, but not with a change in doctrinal positions. Either side can merely declare that the other is, in fact, Catholic and not out of bounds, however it my have sounded like that since the 70s. And of the two declarations, the one from the Pope will have authority, and the other will not.

    To repeat: the only realistic way this Gordian knot will ever be cut is when the society recognizes that they will simply have to make do with whatever pope the cardinals elect, and that the pope has supreme authority to interpret the magisterium any way he wants, right up to the edges of mental gymnastics; and when Francis, or (one of) his successor(s) recognizes that the Church is better of with the SSPX onboard, and able to live and preach their venerable tradition.

    And yes, that includes a deference to proper authority, and has seen that under worse popes than the 20th or 21st century could ever throw at us. Yet both sides are extraordinarily preoccupied with fighting internal battles, while there are plenty of external ones crying out for more attention.

  19. jaykay says:

    Prayerful: “It mightn’t change much in Dublin when Abp Martin was supportive of Indult Masses operated by the LMSI before Sumum Pontificum.”

    Yes, and that should always be to his credit. That parish would be really struggling – if not dead – without the chaplaincy, as so many inner-city ones.

    High Mass: “is it possible for the Mass in the E.F. be suppressed again?” Well, SP clarified that it was never “suppressed” in the first place, anyway. The correct word is “abrogated” (SP Art. 1). But it would certainly be a massive disrespect to HH Benedict XVI were a future Pope, after the death of B. XVI, to abrogate it – and also to all those who agree with this wisdom: “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”

    Not that that has stopped them from issuing such slaps in the past, of course. After all, only 3 years after “Veterum Sapientia”, St. Pope John XXIII effectively got a posthumous backhander with the wholesale rush to vernacular, despite all the sweet and utterly insincere lip-service about not abandoning our sacred patrimony blahdy-blah ad nauseam.

  20. Gilbert Fritz says:

    Yes, they should come in; should have come in long ago. They are doing lots of damage to Church unity, whereas they could be witnesses to the truth against modernism if they were inside. Not to mention the fact that they are sinning every day they stay away.

    Many saints have submitted to morally inferior superiors with never a word; Padre Pio comes to mind, as does Louis de Montfort. In fact, that can be a sort of test for apparitions and saints in general; are they obedient even when their superiors are wrong?

    Now, being ordered to sin is another thing; but I hope nobody reading Fr. Z is loopy enough to think that the O.F., reverently celebrated, is a sin. And as far as A.L. and other current controversies, nobody is being ordered to sin as of yet. And if one was, the proper thing to do would be to refuse to obey . . . IN that ONE thing only. And we know this will not happen in any case, since the church can not fall into error.

    If being united with the Church is a sin, then, folks, our hope is in vain. Its all over.

  21. The Egyptian says:

    Gilbert Fritz, I sort of agree, no one is loopy enough to think that the O.F., reverently celebrated, is a sin, this is true, however it is a sin the way many “celebrate” the O.F.

  22. Ann Malley says:

    What is truly loopy is pretending that signing on the dotted line to ambiguity — when one is a teacher — as if it is clarity does not represent sin. Or pretending that sanctity doesn’t come in all manner of forms.

    St. Athanasius didn’t become a saint because he submitted to Arianism out of false obedience.

    It is statements like, “And as far as A.L. and other current controversies, nobody is being ordered to sin as of yet,” are fully locked and loaded. “As of yet.” So it’s all okay so long as the water temperature is turned up slowly so as not to notice the breaking point between hot and cold.

    Good teachers, however, understand that whatever their students become accustomed to is what becomes acceptable. So a teacher saying 1+1 can equal whatever one feels it means is dangerous. That’s why others, whose responsibilities are not the same as your average layman, reject being forced to accept ambiguity as doctrine.

    Perhaps a review of CCC 675 is in order for one and all in light of ongoing surprises and silences. That and the understanding that what “you” are being asked to do is not necessarily what others are being “told” to do. Like deny the ambiguity that has already given rise to souls being misled and potentially consigned to hell for a lack of knowledge.

    Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I also will forget thy children.

  23. Gilbert Fritz says:


    Correct. But the point was; even if the SSPX priests were ordered to say the N.O.; they would be bound to obey. Now, if they were ordered to say it irreverently, that would be another matter. Considering that there are plenty of reverently celebrated N.O. Masses around, this would probably not happen.

    Even if the whole order were suppressed, their property confiscated, and the priests and bishops sent into retirement, they would be bound to obey; many saints have obeyed similar orders. God will sort everything out at judgement; one’s duty is simply to obey.

  24. HighMass says:

    [I’m never sure what to do with all those ????!!!!???]
    Sorry Fr. Z, my way of addressing unknown and concern. Like many am truly worried of what lays ahead….

    I know God is in charge

  25. paulbailes says:

    Dear Gilbert Fritz,
    (i) May I respectfully enquire how much actual acquaintance you have with the SSPX? From my experience they are (at least) arguably the best witnesses to the truth against modernism we have today.
    (ii) Re. “I hope nobody reading Fr. Z is loopy enough to think that the O.F., reverently celebrated, is a sin”, well seeing you ask, I do (at least from an objective point of view). I think you will also find that is the SSPX’s position also (not that I speak for them in any way, but I have the clear recollection of Bp Fellay being quoted as describing the Novus Ordo alias O.F. as “evil in itself”). You would do yourself a favour if you were to research the SSPX position (which the antics of P.Francis seem almost daily now to vindicate) with an open mind and without hasty recourse to abuse (“loopy”).
    (iii) Exactly how is accepting the legitimacy of the Novus Ordo necessary for being united with the Church? I think you have a too-sensitive approach to the notion of the Church falling into error. The highest authorities can do lots of bad things that merit resistance (pardon the expression), e.g. the illicit suppression of the TLM alias E.F. by Paul VI and the effective perpetuation of same by JPII (as if an “indult” to celebrate the TLM was ever needed, a falsehood well and truly exploded by BXVI in Summorum Pontificum).

    A final thought – can you really think the Novus Ordo was the work of the Holy Ghost? Such a perversion of the Mass can only come from one (opposite) source, whose works we are bound to reject by our Baptismal promises.

  26. Gilbert Fritz says:


    Much better that they come in and join with Burke and crew. Burke is, as far as I know, not planning to leave the Church. When the ship is in a storm, and the leaders are corrupt, is the LAST time for people to smugly jump ship.

  27. Gilbert Fritz says:

    I’d also like to clarify something that I think some people miss.

    Either, being in union with Rome is a sin, or it is not. (Objectively, that is!)

    If it is not a sin, it is every man’s duty to get in union as fast as possible, because legitimate authority must be obeyed in all but sin.

    If it is a sin, then its game over; we don’t have a Church anymore and God’s promise has failed.

    There are no other alternatives.

    Even if the SSPX were told, ” You can come in, but you must be silent about A.L.” they would be obliged to come in and then disobey the second part. (And they have not been so told, and I really can’t imagine them being so told. Just think of the PR waves. )

  28. Ann Malley says:


    What it is not time for is throwing out inflammatory adjectives. Smugly much?

    The SSPX, whether you agree with their position or not, object to valid issues. (The danger of ambiguity and the slippery slope of replacing doctrine with “pastoral” possibilities.)

    You state that “as far as you know” +Burke isn’t planning on leaving the Church. Reality. The SSPX didn’t leave the Church. And Cardinal Burke, should he proceed as duty requires, may very well be continued to be smeared publicly by officials who will, and already are, doing everything in their power to lead the sheep into perceiving him as a trouble making heretic who dares to defy the humble men intent on promoting peace. (Look back to the realities surrounding +Lefebvre, not just what you hear.)

    In other words, “as far as you know” doesn’t account for reality – with all due respect. That’s the point.

    Learn more, root cause and understand that AL is not the first trial balloon.

  29. Ann Malley says:

    @Even if the SSPX were told, ” You can come in, but you must be silent about A.L.” they would be obliged to come in and then disobey the second part. (And they have not been so told, and I really can’t imagine them being so told. Just think of the PR waves. )


    So, in essence, you’re saying that there is a compulsion to LIE in order to serve God, that is agree to remain silent about error in order to obtain union with the Church? Sorry, friend, but that is not true. Scripture tells us plainly that there will come a time when those cleaving to the truth will be put out of the Temple.

    Again, basing your recommendations on what you can imagine is dangerous and misleading. That is why we have the assurance of God to uphold/defend “His” Church. He knew and predicted that She would be reviled, scourged, led through the gambit of hate and summarily crucified. And not just by outsiders. Review who turned the Truth itself over to the gentiles for certain death.

    So, yes, we have a Church. The Church is Christ’s Bride. US. And He will protect us, most especially if we bear witness to Him. Not lie to avoid trial and seeming death. And those advocating like St. Peter that we should just avoid Jerusalem should be met with, “Get behind me Satan!” Because man’s ways are not God’s ways. And thank God for that ;^)

  30. Gilbert Fritz says:

    Ann, I don’t have any power over anything, so it is not like my opinions will mean much in the grand scheme of things.

    And I admit I might be wrong about things.

    About the SSPX; if the Bishops had not been consecrated, they would not be in the position they are. If they were told not to consecrate, they should not have.

    And again, I really doubt the condition for reentry will be “Keep your mouth shut.” Even if it was though, it would be no different from a priest being told he couldn’t preach; or, incidentally, hear confessions. A priest in that situation could get his situation regularized; and then retire, if he felt he couldn’t abide by the decision.

    Such things have been imposed on many saints by mean-spirited superiors, and accepted humbly.

    In fact, what about the ultimate; let’s say a given priest was laicized without a good reason. He could of course refer the matter to Rome, but, if in the end he could not get justice, it would be his duty, however painful, to submit; not go off and set up an independent shop, as has a laicized priest I know.

    God does not need our disobedience to save his Church. He just needs our prayers, our good works, and our obedience to lawful authority.

  31. Ann Malley says:

    Gilbert, we are called to witness to the Truth.

    The truth is that you don’t know that the Society in ’12, at the last minute, was hit with a preamble as a condition for “regularization” that called for them to agree not to speak to the novelties within Vatican II documents. Novelties that have been spun as binding.

    God does not need our disobedience to save His Church. He doesn’t “need” anything from us. But He does require our loyalty, even when those in positions of authority seek to eject the truth out of the temple.

    As for, “…if the Bishops had not been consecrated, they would not be in the position they are. If they were told not to consecrate, they should not have,” you may want to review the situation as it was in truth.

    Emil Kapaun stole food. The soldiers in the Korean prison camp were starving. You may not accept the comparison, but +Lefebvre understood that Tradition (the TLM to be specific) was being systematically choked out and acted accordingly to save it. Without bishops to consecrate priests the order would have died out.

    So, God bless you for your obedience. You’ll receive your reward. Others will, too ;^)

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