Setting things straight about the SSPX-Vatican talks:
What exactly happened in April-June 2012?
A guest article by Côme de Prévigny



A narrative has dominated the news on the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) in the past year: those difficult priests did not accept the extended hand of Pope Benedict XVI; hard-hearted people with stubborn demands, they missed the chance of a lifetime. As in the narrative created by news-creators such as John Allen Jr:

Short of standing outside their headquarters in Econe, Switzerland, in the snow and begging forgiveness like Henry IV at Canossa, Benedict XVI did everything possible to heal the split, and yet the society balked. In an Easter letter to friends and benefactors, Bishop Bernard Fellay asserted that Rome has imposed acceptance of the Second Vatican Council as a sine qua non -- a prerequisite, Fellay wrote, "to which we could not and still cannot subscribe."

Many observers believe it's now "game over," at least for the foreseeable future and barring some surprising concession on the Lefebvrist side. (Here's a prediction: Rejection of Benedict's overtures will go down as the "Camp David" moment for the Lefebvrists, comparable to Yasser Arafat turning down a 2000 deal that would have given the Palestinians basically 95 percent of what they wanted.) (Source)

We in Rorate have always stood for the regularization of the SSPX; one of our first editorials defended that "this is the time" for an agreement - and by "the time" we meant not 2006, but the Pontificate of Benedict XVI. Our readers know we have covered more extensively this matter than practically any other online source - even moments ago, on a matter reported on Sunday by the German press.

In April 2012, a probable regularization certainly seemed to be the case, and who can forget the (leaked) letter of SSPX Superior-General Bp. Bernard Fellay to his fellow bishops? On June 13, 2012, what seemed to be a meeting that would set the path for such reconciliation, following the acceptance by the Vatican of the negotiated Doctrinal Preamble, ended in flames as Bp. Fellay and his assistant met a Vatican side that suddenly came up with new demands - more stringent even than those contained in the May 5, 1988 Protocol. Why would the side that always has the upper hand in any Catholic discussion - that is, Rome - do this, that is, raise new stakes near the end if not from an interest to derail any agreement? Who in the Vatican forced the Supreme Authority's hand at the eleventh hour? Why?

We now know that, in the middle of Vatileaks (which were also made public at around the same time), the Pope's position gradually became untenable. We know that because of what would happen on February 11, 2013. We know now that his isolation, always present throughout the Pontificate, had become critical since the explosion of Vatileaks in the heart of the Pontifical Apartments - that Francis (rightly, it seems, considering what happened with his predecessor) has refused as his living quarters. And we can presume that the pressures on the Pope reached unbearable levels. Truly unbearable.

We asked our friend Côme de Prévigny to present a brief history of those decisive months: something happened in the Vatican between April and June 2012 that created the need for unprecedented demands, more stringent even than the contents of the 1988 Protocol; the "stubborn SSPX" narrative, regarding what took place in June 2012, is simply unsustainable.

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One year later
by Côme de Prévigny

Over one year ago, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith delivered to the Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) a document presenting three necessary conditions for the canonical recognition of the work of Abp. Lefebvre, a famous document that should put an end to several years of discussions.

Some weeks earlier, the entire press indicated that the regularization of the SSPX was certain. Andrea Tornielli, the famous Italian Vaticanist, predicted: "In May should be reached the end of the road leading the Society of Saint Pius X, founded by Abp. Lefebvre, to full communion with Rome." Henri Tincq, a journalist with Le Monde, not known for any indulgence with the traditional cause, has covered religious news for decades. According to him, it was merely a matter of days: "the imminence of an agreement that should be signed between the Vatican and the Society of Saint Pius X, the stronghold of integrist Catholics, is not in doubt anymore." On April 19, his fellow journalist Bernadette Sauvaget, of Libération, wrote: "Since Tuesday, some Vaticanists have affirmed that agreement has been reached." All the echoes emanating from the Pontifical Apartments allowed for the confirmation, without much second-guessing, that the doctrinal declaration proposed by Bp. Fellay had been accepted by the Pope and already the most hostile observers considered that Rome that conceded all ground to "the Integrists". On the side of the Society, however, the expectation remained realistic, by insisting on the fact that the roadmap remained uncertain. Several relevant points, both doctrinal and canonical, remained open to clarification and the discussions were not yet over.

The text sent back to Rome was a declaration dated April 15, 2012, proposed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and revised by the Superior General of the SSPX. In its great lines, it was a copy-paste of the May 5, 1988, Protocol of Agreement that Abp. Lefebvre had rejected not due to its doctrinal basis but because of its context (the points related to the Roman Pontiff or to the new Code of Canon Law are the same, for instance). The document negotiated twenty-four years later had its weaknesses, and its progresses that counterbalanced, on the other hand, those same weaknesses. For instance, the text speaks of conciliar formulations that are "not reconcilable with the previous Magisterium of the Church", while the 1988 Protocol was limited to saying that they are "reconcilable with Tradition only with difficulty". There were the document signed by Abp. Lefebvre indicated "a positive attitude of study and of communication" regarding the Council, the one that Bp. Fellay had written was stronger because it neutralized any "interpretation of these affirmations that may lead to present Catholic doctrine in opposition or in rupture with Tradition and with this Magisterium". Whatever the case may be, this counterproposal was presented, and it was said in the Roman halls that it would open the path to an imminent recognition. In order to prove that the search for unity begun by the founder was not seen as an optional point, the Superior General of the SSPX did not fear the public criticisms of his British confrere or the rebellious attitude of a friendly religious community.

However, the June 13 meeting three new points were superposed to these exchanges, which would, in a few hours, ruin the process begun many months earlier. Among these conditions was to be found the recognition of the continuity of the conciliar texts in relation with the preceding Magisterium, which contradicted the doctrinal declaration that mentioned, on the contrary, their non-reconcilable character. Moreover, the authorities introduced the need to recognize the "liceity" of the new mass, a new term that had been, it was known, the object of bitter debates. This had never been demanded, neither in 1988, nor of the different institutes regularized up to that moment. These new demands left the impression that there was a desire to interrupt the process very elegantly as well as suddenly, by the introduction of inadmissible points.

What were the motives for this about-face that was sudden and that was incongruous with the attitude adopted by Benedict XVI for so many years? Undoubtedly, the influence of certain heads of dicasteries strongly opposed to this recognition, as well as specific diplomatic pressures, had their influence on the inclination of the pope. A few months later, the latter resigned from his position in the stormy context of the Vatileaks. As a French university professor rightly remarked recently, these leaks have ceased as if by magic since pope Ratzinger stopped presiding over the fate of the Church. Does this mean that the dossier of relations between Rome and the SSPX is dead and buried and that the Traditional world will relive those days of silence that were the 1990s? It is true that Benedict XVI was very close, personally, to the matter. Nevertheless, the restart of relations in the early 2000s took place in the pontificate of John Paul II. In France, in any event, the Society of Saint Pius X had, on the ground, obtained more for its local pilgrimages from bishops supposedly far from it than from those considered conservative. Bp. Perrier, of Lourdes, opened for years his shrines, lending liturgical objects and ornaments, while the diocese of Versailles, governed by Bp. Aumônier, who knew Abp. Lefebvre well in the early years of his priestly life, never granted anything to the work that the latter founded.

Beyond these considerations, the dynamics of the traditional movement, invigorated by the liberation of the Mass and the lifting of sanctions affecting the bishops of the Society, will increasingly make clear the unavoidable character of Traditional groups. Ignoring them now seems hardly tenable.

53 comments:

  1. If indeed negotiations with the SSPX have reached dead (for the time being), I think many of us wish that all the documents of the negotiations - including the proceedings of the doctrinal discussions - could be made public, to let the wider Catholic world see what happened, and what was said.

    I realize that this is unlikely. But that doesn't make it any less desirable.

    Without this information, I can only stand by my conclusions with a tentative sense: opponents of a deal in the Holy See seem to have sabotaged a deal (or ensured that such a deal would be on unfavorable terms to the SSPX) at the last minute, and Pope Benedict no longer had the strength or support to overcome the curial opposition, which wasn't just limited to SSPX negotiations. On the narrow point, the SSPX skeptics look justified: Rome still can't be trusted; voices sympathetic to tradition are still too few.

    On the other hand, it is also true that even without Bishop Williamson and his followers, there is a sizable cohort in the Society that would prefer *no* regularization until Rome really is "converted to Tradition" in tangible ways. If Bishop Fellay (and most of his district superiors) were prepared, reluctantly, to accept a deal not far removed from that of 1988 out of a sense of filial piety to the H.F., the other remaining bishops appeared deeply skeptical at best and simply hostile at worst; and much of the clergy and laity composed a "Resistance" that increasingly distrusted the leadership at Econe and simply preferred (still prefer) no deal, even one that requires virtually nothing of the Society - certainly not until the Council, or significant texts of it, are repudiated. Some of these gravely doubt the liceity of the Pauline Mass; some - let us be honest - effectively reject its validity, lock, stock and barrel. And the Society's recent anniversary statement really seems much more directed to that audience than to any external one. Bishop Fellay's position remains somewhat fragile, which makes any future attempt at an agreement even more problematic, even if Pope Francis were minded to try.

    I sympathize with the skepticism of the Society. But I worry that its isolation (even if justified), now approaching two generations in length, is exercising a potentially unwholesome effect on it.

    Meanwhile, as Michael Ortiz notes on the other thread, a remarkable development has occurred over the last decade or so: the "traditional world" has become much larger than the Society, and more variegated. There now appear to be considerably more "authorized" TLM's than those in the Society, and there are other measurable indices for the advance of tradition, especially among younger clergy (at least in the English-speaking world). This is not to overstate the matter; liberal opposition remains powerful, and conservative bishops remain vested in the Council, and traditionalists have yet to find a way to square the circle that could recognize the legitimacy of the Council while engaging in critical examination (and where necessary, revision) of its most problematic texts in a way that could command sympathy from such prelates. But this expansion of traditionalism represents a new factor that simply was not present in 1988, or even 2000.

    And perhaps it needs more time, and more generational turnover, to reach a maturity that could open doors that remain closed for the time being.

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  2. This is very interesting commentary. I would like to see more from this observer.

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  3. The matter of "liceity" may be complex or not, the problem is that not even the May 5, 1988, Protocol (the one linked in the post, at the FSSP website) demanded that. That Protocol mentioned merely the "validity" of both rites, and this was what was repeated in all negotiations regarding this matter. Then, all of a sudden, on June 13, 2012, "licéité" was mentioned as a condition. So we are not trying to explain theological details, but merely to present how things developed. It should not be expected that was not demanded in 1988 would have been suddenly demanded in 2012, if there had not been a desire from some quarter to derail the negotiations.

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  4. Reading this, I feel all the more sorry for Benedict XVI. He tried to do what he felt was right, but powerful men in the Curia seem to have forced his hand, indeed. And now that Francis has rejected staying in the papal apartments, perhaps I can see him in a new light now--that this might be signs of a true reform of the Curia, instead of a mere selfish preference on his part. Yet, we still do not have a clue about his views w.r.t. the SSPX (at least I don't). I now look upon developments at the Vatican with greater interest.

    Thank you for this important information.

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  5. Truth Will Out,

    "do not have a clue about Francis' views of the SSPX?"

    Come again? Have you been reading Rorate since Francis' election? Just because there are not direct quotes from him concerning the SSPX does not mean his views are unknown.

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  6. Since the new Holy Father has shown an inclination to gather experienced men to assist him on certain matters, one may at least pray that he might assemble a small group to advise him on this matter at some point, including a man like Cardinal Burke or Cardinal Ranjith.

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  7. I don't think it's that simple. If it were, then let the SSPX publicly submit an offer to Rome begging to be reconciled on the doctrinal terms of the 1988 Protocol.

    Rome's made that doctrinal offer before, so they can't and wouldn't renege now.

    However, that recent statement by the three bishops isn't compatible with the 1988 Protocol. It's far more hardline. The leaked doctrinal declaration of +Fellay's one year ago is compatible with the 1988 Protocol. I wonder what's changed.

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  8. The Vatileaks by a butler had an effect on the history of the Church. Amazing. And this creep is free, forgiven and still employed by the Church.

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  9. Benedict invested his Pontificate in bringing the SSPX back. A great opportunity was lost. When the SSPX ordains new bishops, as they will have to, they will be excommunicated again.

    There is great resistance to the EF. The liberals do not want Catholics to see one so they do not know what they have been missing. There are almost no EF masses in Latin America and the Far East, and the bishops want to keep it that way.

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  10. You must read this article of Vatican Insider. It reveals things like this:

    "En los casi 8 años de reino de Benedicto XVI –cuenta un prelado vaticano– sucedió en más de una ocasión que sus colaboradores usaban “dos velocidades” para poner en práctica las indicaciones papales. El Pontífice, a veces, daba por cierto un cierto nombramiento y, en cambio, se sobreponían dificultades sobre dificultades. Y el mismo Ratzinger descubría la práctica permanecía en el limbo, suspendida...». Incluso se llegó a la publicación de nombramientos en las Acta Apostolicae Sedis (en las que aparecen todas las decisiones oficiales) que nunca fueron anunciados a los interesados porque el cardenal titular del dicasterio no estaba de acuerdo y, tal vez, intervenía en la Secretaría de Estado para bloquearlos y suspenderlos, a pesar de la firma del Papa. "


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  11. Sorry, the font:

    http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/es/reportajes-y-entrevistas/dettagliospain/articolo/francesco-francis-francisco-26293/

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  12. We all know what happened! Right when the SSPX was ready to sign the Doctrinal Preamble. Levada threw a wrench in the whole matter and came up with new demands. Demands he knew full well the SSPX would not accept. Levada and Mueller did not want the SSPX reconciled as the Society was a threat to their own heretical modernism. I said it then and I say it now, the SSPX should sign the Doctrinal Preamble and then do like Levada and Mueller. That is accept Vatican ll with their lips but reject the whole Council in practice and invent their own Council or rather the SSPX put into effect the Council in the Light of Tradition. The problem is not with the Society of St. Pius X but with the modernists in Rome. His Excellency Bishop Fellay told Mueller that he being head of the CDF, would at one time had himself been under investigation for heresy. Mueller himself had publicly rejected the Resurrection of Christ and spoke of his non belief in the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is a case of Heretics in control of Catholics faithful to Christ and his Church.

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  13. Wear a blessed Scapular, and miraculous medal, and go to a Latin Mass, if you can.

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  14. Michael Voris stated on his "Vortex" slot that a Cardinal has very recently said that "Rome has lost the faith".

    Can anyone tell me who this Cardinal was?

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  15. Jeff:

    What's changed?

    Things have got worse, that's what.

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  16. Same objective, different tactics to suit different times/popes: Jean-Paul II club them to death, Benedict XVI cuddle them to death, Francis club them to death. We are re-experiencing the old tactic. Nothing changed. Not Rome. Not the SSPX.

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  17. Bishop Muller, you should break all contact with protestants and "orthodoxs" first. Why only the SSPX? Where is the ecumenic spirit, Seine Exzellenz?

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  18. Clearly this whole business is very complex and it is possibly unwise to judge it when many facts are not in the public arena. That said, commentators do well to remember those things we can confidently ascertain:

    - this is not a dialogue of equals, the representatives of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church are in discussion with a group that stands in opposition to its authority.
    - polemics do not replace the content of faith. When we identify a problem in the Church, we must necessarily see ourselves implied in the solution to that problem.
    - living outside the communiion of the Church and its structures for 40 years has brought about a situation where the SSPX have come to accept their anomalous status as normality.
    - the Church would have been greatly strengthened in its capacity to address the many difficulties raised if a reconciliation had been effected during the reign of Pope Benedict XVI.

    Always presuming good faith on the part of those engaged in the discussions and avoiding crass generalisations that characature the position of either side, it is only with great regret that we have a sense that an immense opportunity has been squandered and the timeliness of a reconciliation lost, at least for the present and forseeable future.

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  19. Wise words. Msgr.

    Thank you for this realistic, rather than optimistic view on the SSPX and Rome situation.

    On a side note, Monsignor, I saw you offer the beautiful Mass at Mary Mother of God in D.C., for Christ the King last year.

    Will you be offering Mass in the North Carolina area any time soon?

    God bless.

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  20. Mgr Wadsworth....

    Valid sacraments illicitly brought about.....how is that outside communion...???

    Brother Roger of Taize received communion from the very hand of Cardinal Ratzinger.....are you going to tell us Roger was in full communion...???

    What of the guys who chucked Pope Benedict from the windows of the Papal Ppartment.....are they in communion..??

    What about the gay mafia....are they in communion..??

    Was Pope John Paul II in full communion with himself when he was entertaining to a spot of Papal liturgical dancing the ghastly Marcial Maciel.....and his various illegitimate offspring......not to mention his cadre of molested priests and seminarians.....??

    Grow up Mgr.

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  21. " ... living outside the communiion of the Church ..."

    The SSPX is not "outside the communion of the Church". Their situation is merely one of canonical irregularity.

    Your post implies that the SSPX is schismatic. How could it possibly be, when Cardinals praise their seminaries, say Mass in their seminaries and when they are allowed to say Mass in St. Peter's itself?

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  22. It is only natural that the head of the CDF should want to break all contact with the SSPX, which must seem an unrecognizably alien world to him, in as much as the Society chapels have no charismatic "miracles," girl altar boys, Eucharistic battalions, liturgical ballet, interfaith fests, Buddha statues, banjos, clowns, balloons, or chimpanzees. We sure will miss you, Gerhard. Feel free to drop by any time you visit planet earth.

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    1. Chimpanzees.......

      I wouldn't mind one or two chimps just occasionally. ....female reader chimps......just to keep us on our toes.....!!!

      Delete
  23. Jeff says:

    "However, that recent statement by the three bishops isn't compatible with the 1988 Protocol. It's far more hardline. The leaked doctrinal declaration of +Fellay's one year ago is compatible with the 1988 Protocol. I wonder what's changed."

    The answer is: nothing has changed.

    The May 5, 1988 protocol was drafted by Rome and signed by Archbishop Lefebvre holding his nose. He explained what happened and his thinking about it in a conference at St.-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet on May 10, 1988, which can be found in Fr. Francois Laisney's collection of documents, "Archbishop Lefebvre and the Vatican."

    The protocol was not a profession of faith; it was as much of a positive nature on doctrinal matters, as the Vatican could extract from ABL.

    For the Archbishop, it certainly did not reflect any backpedaling on his critique of the conciliar coup and its aftermath, which never ended, and has never ended since.

    As everyone can see, Bishop Fellay's doctrinal declaration was inspired by the protocol. Since the Society did the drafting, it adds a few more things that the Society can agree with Rome about, and toughens up the squishier elements of the protocol. But it was no more intended to cut back the careful, trenchant, radical (and on ABL's lips, sometimes fire-breathing) critique of the conciliar revolution than the protocol was.

    ABL was a man of great spirituality, intelligence and prudence. So is +Fellay. Those of us who have gone to school to them know that those who criticize them are generally not a step or two ahead of them, but more than a step or two behind them.

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  24. Mgr Andrew Wadsworth said
    - living outside the communiion of the Church and its structures for 40 years has brought about a situation where the SSPX have come to accept their anomalous status as normality.

    Isuggest you have a look at this Monsignor.
    http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2011-0205-ferrara-gnostic-twaddle.htm

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  25. Although I have my opinions I'm finding it better not to state them out loud because there is confusion on ALL sides.

    In all objectivity I think the problem can be condensed as:

    One side has solid doctrine but lacks submission to authority. The other side has solid authority but lacks submission to doctrine.

    Seeing how you cannot disregard either doctrine or authority I think the FSSP has the proper balance in this situation.

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  26. "...this is not a dialogue of equals."

    That is the truth. Mueller can't even formulate a clear statement of objective truth without drowning it ins post-conciliar blah blahs, whereas Fellay is incapable of BS. How anyone can even begin to equate the two men is beyond me. One is a party man, the other a man of doctrine. The contrast could not be clearer. Only in the modern Church could the CDF be headed by such a smoke and mirrors guy posing as Mr. Tough. Hey, check ou the faculties of any Catholic college. Tough guy> Gotta be kidding me.

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  27. Valid sacraments can be found outside the communion of the Catholic Church - in the Orthodox Churches, for example. The fact that clergy and religious leaving the SSPX to return to the full communion of the Catholic Church have to be canonically reconciled suggests to me that their status is not that of full communion.

    This is further emphasized by the fact that when the penalty of excommunication was lifted from the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre, it was also stressed that they had no mandate of canonical mission in the Catholic Church.

    The fact that many regrettable and scandalous situations endure within the Church's communion does not change the canonical reality of the situation of the SSPX.

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  28. Here we go again from Mgr Wadsworth - the old "full communion" chestnut.

    One is either IN communion with the Catholic Church or one is not. This "partial" communion your use of the term "full communion" presupposes doesn't exist.

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  29. Father,

    Thank you for your comments. They give a sense of realism and charity to this discussion.

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  30. "It is only natural that the head of the CDF should want to break all contact with the SSPX, which must seem an unrecognizably alien world to him, in as much as the Society chapels have no charismatic "miracles," girl altar boys, Eucharistic battalions, liturgical ballet, interfaith fests, Buddha statues, banjos, clowns, balloons, or chimpanzees. "

    A priest here in Qld Oz brought in a large snake for a Confirmation Mass. It became agitated and attacked its handler during the liturgy.

    It seems odd that Benedict was so keen to get the SSPX fully regularized and then Muller was appointed to deal with them, someone who despised them. Fellay said during negotiations at one stage he received word from someone high in the Vatican that they were to be brought straight back in pretty much, then someone else with authority would say things won't be so easy. There was regular conflicting information. It is clear there was war in the Vatican and the Holy Father lost control of the process and satan intervened through apostate churchmen.

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  31. As someone who was intimately involved with the SSPX for many years, I pray deeply that the circumstances in Rome and in the SSPX will prevail in which there may be a reconciliation and the work of the SSPX regularised. They can do so much good for the Church.
    Yet I saw a disturbingly dark side to the SSPX - a bitter, sectarian spirit which sees itself as the last and only bastion of true Catholicism and rejects as non-Catholic anything non-SSPX. For them, they and they alone are the Church. Any criticism of the SSPX provokes hysterical reaction. Truly, they see their situation as normal and desirable - especially the younger generations.

    Perhaps my own experience of the SSPX was particularly egregious and others witness less of cultish spirit - if that is the case, then Deo gratias. Nonetheless, I think a reconciliation between the SSPX and the Holy See will never happen.

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  32. Having read the latest declaration of their excellencies on the occasion of their 25th. anniversary, I find it difficult to see on what basis Bp. Williamson, Frs. Pfeiffer, Hewko, et al. would have to continue their resistance. That declaration seems to have stated everything the "strict observance" crowd wanted.

    That said, this discussion has to be kept to the doctrinal. Perhaps, in hindsight, it's better that no regularization happened without a firm doctrinal accord. Yes, the Mass is "freed", but that is the not crux of the issue. By the SSPX remaining as it is, the discussions surrounding problematic points about religious "liberty" et al. can continue among the "inside" Trad groups and Church at large, rather than the TLM devolving into a matter of aestheticism (Fr. Cekada has a good point about "Latin Massism" here).

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  33. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (838), citing documents of the Second Vatican Council and of Pope Paul VI, states:


    "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honoured by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter" (Lumen gentium 15). Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church" (Unitatis redintegratio 3). With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist" (Paul VI, Discourse, 14 December 1975; cf. Unitatis redintegratio 13-18).

    According to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church partial or impaired communion does indeed exist.

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  34. Meanwhile ( a bit off topic - or is it?), today at Lampedusa the Vicar of Christ asked forgiveness for both the Church and the whole wide world because of their indifference to the plight of the immigrants and the subsequent deaths by drowning of hundreds of these poor souls. He finished off his homily by wishing the Islamic people present at the Mass that they benefit from the spiritual fruits of Ramadam which begins tomorrow.

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  35. Regarding Archbishop Müller, Marxist Liberation Theology has never been successful at combining Catholicism with atheistic communism. Looks like the Archbishop is about ready to give up. Praise be to God!

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  36. What Bishop Fellay has essentially said he wants, in the long run, is for things to improve in the Church to the point where the SSPX will no longer be necessary. This could theoretically happen regardless of the Society's regular or irregular status in the Church.

    However, the fact that so many highly placed Churchmen actively thwart the Society's regularization is a sign that this improvement has not yet occurred.

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  37. The Poles have a saying that nothing happens, that doesn't turn out for the best.
    Having said that, I think that B16 was in no position to restore the True Faith after 50 years of abject heresy by the Concilliari. The greatest gift that B16 could have given, and in fact gave to the Bride of Christ is the Summorum Pontificum. The SP was nothing short of revolutionary, and has taken the fight straight to the heart of Satan.
    But the SP would have lacked the impact it is presently having, (e.g. think about it, EF is being offered in Space Ship Churches) if it was not for Archbishop Lefebvre and the SSPX. The impact of (and the outright obsession in some old liberal circles with) the SSPX can also be guaged by the desperate attempt at "sheep snatching" that is being carried out by a certain fraternity that shall remain nameless. On an aside, can’t stop wondering how much better the position of the Church would be if this nameless fraternity would have went after converting the lost souls threatened with eternal damnation, like those of the old liberals, instead of going after the ones who will be saved. Talk about a waisted effort. But I digress. That notwithstanding, the fox is in the proverbial conciliar chicken coop and that's all she wrote sport fans. It you don't believe me, just check out this clip:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96i2d428us4
    If I am not mistaken, the good Reverend in the clip not only criticizes the old liberal bishops (bites the hand that created him), but also gives a short history lesson that could serve as the basis for a homily at St. Gertrude the Great Church. (Psssst., Father Anthony, maybe you should offer an invitation :-)).
    Suma summarum, can't shake the notion that the Holy Spirit is at work. Maybe the hell that the Church is going through was the punishment for not taking the Modernist heresy seriously. The resulting competing LTM venues brought about by VII, like any other form of competitive activity is a very good thing. And if this situation forces the true People of God to revisit their grade school Catechism texts and return to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, it might not be that bad after all. They do say that God works in mysterious ways. Hope I am correct, and in the mean time, I for one will be praying for the conversion of those perfidious liberals.

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  38. The SSPX has chosen schism. They can claim to the 'true church' all they want--get in line-- but they will continue to drift and split as do the protestant communities.

    Meanwhile the FSSP grows and more young diocesan priests are offering the TLM and other sacraments in the former rites.

    The angry, bitter, and elitist attitude will not attract more adherents except in places that are really bad and heretical.

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  39. Magdalene:

    " ... angry, bitter, and elitist attitude ...".

    ANGRY - never heard of righteous anger? Our Lord showed it.

    BITTER - yes, this is an all too human response to a beautiful building being deliberately destroyed and its remaining half-walls turned into a latrine and covered with graffiti by its tenants.

    ELITIST - the SSPX in my many years' experience IS an elite. What's wrong with elite, by the way? Does not Christ Himself call us to be an elite?


    Benedict Carter

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  40. Dan Hunter says,
    "Wise words. Msgr.
Thank you for this realistic, rather than optimistic view on the SSPX and Rome situation."

    What's wrong with proper optimism?,,,
    In any case, I don't think Msgr Wadsworth offers a particularly 'realistic' viewpoint in his comments on this thread. They are his opinions, that is all. In one fell swoop, he cautions that 'the whole business' (sic) is very complex and it is 'possibly unwise to judge it' since every conceivable detail is not known, then proceeds to judge it profusely, but not profoundly, anyway. Particularly irritating to me is the comment "the representatives of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church are in discussion with a group that stands in opposition to its authority." Uh-huh. IF the SSPX stands in opposition, its opposition is, and has always been, towards an authority succumbed to a demonstrably Modernist ecclesiology. With respect, if you cannot understand that, Monsignor, I'll take your commentary with a grain of salt. Moreover, stop talking about 'full communion'. You clearly do not understand what that term means.
    I detect once again the foul smell of open season on SSPX, not that it ever abated among the apologists, indeed enthusiasts, of the dross that spawned the 'we are Church' mentality.

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  41. Mgr. Wadsworth:

    "According to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church partial or impaired communion does indeed exist".

    Fair enough.

    But where does it stop? It's all so vague as to mean nothing.

    And what is the relevance to the SSPX? Protestants of all stripes are kow-towed to, despite their rejection of the Mass, of papal supremacy, of the priesthood.

    While poor bloody Catholic priests who want to remain Catholic are treated like dogs or cattle, and the laity who share their stance are persecuted and villified on all sides.

    Communion my bunion.

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  42. I'm coming late to this thread, but wonder why "liceity" is a stumbling block? I'm no canonist but that term simply means that something is "lawful" in the strict sense, not necessarily something "good" or "desirable". As a parish priest I'm often asked by sincere parishioners questions that involve that we might call "liceity": eg. Communion twice a day, Commmunion in the hand. My response is that is "lawful" to do so, even though one might wish both these "concessions" would end tomorrow.

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  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  44. I honestly don't understand how this oculd happen if Benedict really wanted reconciliation. Why let underlings control the situation? Why not just meet personally with +Fellay and hammer things out between the two of them, then announce it?

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  45. Hello Mike,

    Are you talking about Mueller's office, Magdalene?...

    With respect, Mike, two wrongs do not make a right.

    We all know how badly traditionalists (including those in the Society) have been treated by those in authority over the years. We know it's unjust. We know that real injuries have been done. We also know how the flagrant disobedience of liberal dissenters is passed over in silence, or even rewarded.

    But we have to work extra hard to make sure that it does not transform us into vicious people, unable to exercise charity toward others. Charity is a struggle for some of us - sometimes, even toward fellow traditionalists.

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  46. “Who in the Vatican forced the Supreme Authority's hand at the eleventh hour? Why?”

    It is clear to anyone that there are forces in the Vatican at work which still seek to progress the “Hermeneutic of Rupture”.

    The SSPX must come back into the Church. They are perhaps technically schismatic but not heretical, however pig-headed they may be. On the other hand there are major heretical forces still at work in the Church, the liberal/Modernists or Neo-Modernists, call them what you will, against which the faults of SSPX pale into insignificance. These forces thwarted the efforts of Benedict and possibly caused him to resign.

    Anyone doubts that such forces are still at work in the Church should read separate papers on this subject of Modernism by Fr Thomas Crean and Fr Aidan Nichols

    Clearly the Modernists are hoping that they will be able to operate more freely under Pope Francis. We shall see.

    The main thing for us often confused and bewildered Catholics, is that the Mass of Popes Gregory the Great and John XXIII has been fully restored as a co-equal valid Rite of the Western Catholic Church – and that cannot now ever be reversed!

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  47. James said...
    ...Yet I saw a disturbingly dark side to the SSPX - a bitter, sectarian spirit which sees itself as the last and only bastion of true Catholicism and rejects as non-Catholic anything non-SSPX. For them, they and they alone are the Church. Any criticism of the SSPX provokes hysterical reaction. Truly, they see their situation as normal and desirable - especially the younger generations.


    I would concur to a certain extent
    with James's commentary. The Ecclesia Dei commission has warned of imbibing a 'schismatic mentality' by attending Mass at SSPX Chapels. While some scoff at this, as did I, I feel the warning needs to be taken very seriously - because there is a real and objective lack of submission to the duly appointed authorities in legitimate requests and recognition of fellow Catholics as Catholic. I was once warned by an SSPX Priest about the 'dangers' of attending Mass at the Fraternity of St. Peter and told that the faith my children was at stake. They warn of "mixed" marriages between a traditional Catholic and a Novus Ordo Catholic. These are areas of concern.

    Pope Boniface's Unam Sanctam needs to be realized in all this: "we declare, state and define that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of all human beings that they submit to the Roman Pontiff."

    Sure the SSPX has a lot to offer but I fear that they are inching their way to a complete rejection of legitimate authority.

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  48. Thomas tucker wrote: I honestly don't understand how this oculd happen if Benedict really wanted reconciliation. Why let underlings control the situation? Why not just meet personally with +Fellay and hammer things out between the two of them, then announce it?

    In a speech in Canada last December, Bishop Fellay said hat he had received a letter directly from Benedict confrming that he had authoriized tne final "changes" (as Bishop Fellay calls them) to the Doctrinal Statement

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  49. I can't help but grow frustrated with all of the harsh, minute criticism of the SSPX. After years of suffering horrendous catechism and outright scandalous 'liturgies', I helped to bring the SSPX to my city and have never regretted it. Are there quirky characters present? Are there bitter, former NO people? Yes. There are also plenty of intelligent people who know how to read and comprehend, and take their Faith very seriously.

    What is at stake is very serious, and those who have made the choice to attend should be treated to as much charity as the bizarre characters I've endured here in 'full communion' churches on the liberal west coast, USA.

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  50. Mgr. Wadsworth:

    "According to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church partial or impaired communion does indeed exist".

    I think you make the Society's case for it. The whole problem with VII is neatly encapsulated by your quote from the new catechism which is quoting UR. UR would appear here to contradict the previous teaching of the Church on the issue of who is and is not a member of the Church.

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  51. But, Mary, these "'full communion' churches on the liberal west coast, USA" don't represent a threat to the revolution that has taken place in the Catholic Church. That's why they will never be subjected to the opprobrium lavished on the SSPX.

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  52. Someone mentioned "all the present confusion" when it comes to the SSPX. There is no confusion. The problem is the fact that there are those with bad intentions who have succeeded in deliberately blocking the regularization of the SSPX. What is there to regularize? The ones who need to sign a Doctrinal Preamble are the Mueller types. It is they who have completely rejected the whole Council for their own heretical "spirit of Vatican ll". One of the requests made by the SSPX has been to point out those Bishops in grave error and to correct them. This would mean all the Mueller's in the Church would face excommunication for heresy if they refuse to reform. Mueller himself would be investigated and if he does not recant his errors, then Canonical action would be taken against him. The SSPX should just go ahead and start pointing out the heresies of those Bishops in the Church who are in the state of Formal heresy. The Theological experts of the SSPX would not just accuse, they would give Doctrinal proof and make them answer for their betrayal of Christ's Church. Its time to really Reform Christ's Divinely Instituted Church. The Mueller's in the Church must be made to understand that this is not their personal Church, but the Church founded by Christ. They must stop stifling the Holy Ghost. Modernists need to stop pretending to be in good standing in the Church and face reality and consequences.

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