Healing of Lefebvrite schism

John Allen at NCRep reports that the Lefebvrite schism may be nearing an end.

The Lefebvrites, you recall, reject the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, but also its teachings on ecumenism and religious liberty.

Either the Holy See is carrying out a wonderful work of reconciliation, or the Holy See is instrumentalizing the far right to move the goal posts, redefine the center, and chip away at key teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

Discuss.

 

69 comments

  1. A while back, I came across the number of ex-priests in a Northeast diocese who’d been removed from service because they chose to marry. Many are in poorly payed service positions, such as out-reach to former convicts. There were more ex-priests in that one diocese than in the entire Levebvrite movement!

  2. I think it might be more likely to get a good discussion going here if the pejorative term “Lefebvrite” (akin to calling progressives “knee-jerk liberals” or something shallow like that) was avoided and a couple articles from various perspectives were included so that people have an idea of how both sides look at things. I know I had some very misguided notions about things with the SSPX when I first converted. Since getting to know some families who have members who attend SSPX chapels, I’ve come to realize that there are a variety of types of people who go to those chapels, some who would rejoice at a reconciliation, and others who think the SSPX is some sort of hideaway for sedevacantists, which the SSPX institutionally would not accept.

    Also, Williamson has always been a loose cannon, so best not (out of charity) to act like he is the voice of the SSPX. It would be better to highlight Fellay, who seems to be at least a thinker…Williamson seems rather like the yappy dog that is not getting enough attention, so he acts out. All spectrums of Catholic thought have those types, no?

    Finally, some history about Lefebvre’s seminary and movement, etc., might be good to include. Remember, they were accepted as part of the Church until the illicit consecrations.

    Those of us who were not raised Catholic are happy when any group, traditional or progressive, is brought back into the fold: unity with Peter (on paper AND in hearts) is the hallmark of our faith.

    1. Here’s your go-to:

      http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2012/04/communique-from-general-house-of.html

      There is a strong tendency in our media cycle to superlativize developments, which tendency should be strongly resisted. Often, things are much less consequential than they are made out to be. FWIW, in my neck of the woods, SSPX has a less than even marginal presence, and there’s just not a lot of demand for the preconciliar form of liturgy, and it even got a bit oversold (overselling never does good for anyone other than the seller’s ego). I remember the formation of the original SSPX chapel on Long Island (my parish was a few miles away) and even at that time, it was similarly less than marginal. I know this is not the case in all areas, to be sure, but I believe we need to be more temperate in assuming there are major consequences that will be felt widely throughout the Church. Intentionally-gathered communities – not just of the right but also of the left (Spiritus Christi et al.) – tend to think they are more consequential in the lives of the wider Church than they really are. More Christian narcissism.

  3. In response and adding comments from another post from Mr. Howard – here is a quick summary from Michael Sean Winters & John Allen:

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/welcome-back-lefebvrists

    A few comments:

    – Mr. Howard pointed out that my opinion that Rome had “bent over backwards” for the SSPX can not be documented given that the Preamble and SSPX responses have never been published. That is correct but doesn’t change my opinion
    – MSW’s brief comments are his usual shoot from the hip…..he states: “Rome has not budged to make this happen. No doctrine has been compromised to affect the reunion. As I mentioned the other day in quite a different context, diversity is a good thing and bringing the Lefebvrists, with all their lace and other quirkiness, can only add to the rich tapestry of Catholicism in the twenty-first century. It is time for liberals to stand with James Joyce who famously said that being Catholic means “here comes everybody.” And so it does.”

    His “Rome has not budged” is opinion only following Mr. Howard’s approach. MSW doesn’t really know that.

    – would suggest that there has been a significant amount of staff, resources, time spent on a very tiny group that is 80% in France. You will note that MSW ends his comments with Jordan’s scriptural reference about SP, EF, TLM, Latin, etc:
    “But, the bigger point is this. Recall the parable of the lost sheep. The Master said that the good shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to go off in search of the one lost sheep. There is rejoicing when the lost sheep, the lost pearl, the prodigal, return. So let it be if this news proves true and the reunion is affected.”

    IMO, appears that this scripture quote can cover a vast number of very conservative projects but isn’t it interesting that Rome has no patience for other issues/groups that, in some instances and if survey results are believable, cover more than 50% of the catholics in the pew – recent examples are the Irish Association of Priests calling for more lay involvement, discussing current celibacy discipline (it is only a discipline; not a dogma to pick up on the SSPX example); Austrian initiative; what happened to Bishop Morris in Australia (again, no dogma involved). So, B16’s concern about schism of SSPX or the Anglican Ordinarite appears to trump significant issues that currently impact church mission and identity. Appears to be inconsistent and ignores pastoral realities all over the world.

    Fine – welcome them but don’t buy the statement that Rome did not budge. It will be SP all over again.

  4. There is a cautionary note toward the end of Allen’s piece: there may be division within the SSPX.
    The Nation of Islam provides an example of what could happen. After Elijah M. died, his son and successor tried to integrate the group with wider Islam. Louis Farrakhan then split off and created a new Nation of Islam that is arguably more radical than the original.

    Even with that caution, this is still good news, among the best possible.

    1. I very much agree. Also remember, when the excommunication of the bishops was lifted there was a firestorm including many complaints from bishops who actually have to deal w/ these people and their clerics.
      If they are brought back into the fold get ready for another firestorm. Headlines: “Church welcomes back right wing fanatics and Jew haters.”

      I’m not a betting man but I’m betting against it happening.
      I personally feel it would create a massive headache. Every pronouncement from the Vatican and the pope will be scrutinized by the SSPX and there will possibly be some haranguing. Do we want or need the SSPX to be consulted whenever there is a pronouncement in order to ensure they are on board and receive their approval so they don’t walk? Do we want them to be continuously in the spotlight w/ all their lace and mile high miters? Do we want the tail wagging the dog?

      1. Sam, by quoting the Prodigal son parable you mean it to apply to the womenpriests group too, or just right wing fanatics…

      2. I mean to apply it to all who have broken or impaired communion with the Catholic Church and return to full communion.

        If “the womenpriests group” professes the faith of the Church and doesn’t act in ways that are contrary to it (e.g. ordaining women) that would be cause for rejoicing as well.

      3. Sam, nice try but no cigar. It’s NOT just about a profession of faith.
        You used the Prodigal Son parable. The prodigal son returned, repented and asked for forgiveness.
        The SSPX have NOT repented and they have NOT asked for forgiveness for breaking the command of Christ that He prayed that they be one.

        Rather I see triumphalism.

      4. Dr Rodriguez;

        Hello! I realize that there are some very real differences, but in the wake of Summorum Pontificum and the formation of numerous parishes under the auspices of the FSSP and ICK, one of which I attend, I don’t see how it would be significantly different in a practical sense. A year or so down the road, should such a reconciliation take place, would you be able to tell the difference between an FSSP Extraordinary Form parish and an SSPX Extraordinary Form parish? I understand the issue that the SSPX has Bishops, and so cannot simply be inserted into a diocese in quite the same way, but would there be any real paractical or physical differences? I’ve never been to an SSPX chapel, so I can’t say myself.

      5. Hello Jeffrey,
        My objection is not to the style of worship. We have the EF which is not different except for possibly a future change in the saint calendar.
        My issue is the prevailing attitude of those in the SSPX. Remember, B16 has stated that those who attend the EF must also assent to Vatican II whereas the SSPX, at least at the present time, reject VII and consider it heretical and considering their attitude toward Jews and others it could become a never ending battle “within” the Church. Practically, no difference in worship style but in attitude there is a world of difference.
        Acid can destroy the very vessel that contains it.

  5. Weren’t at least a couple of the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter formerly part of the SSPX? If so, methinks there’s room for everyone in the Catholic Church.

    Personally I’d love to have a parish nearby that celebrates the Extraordinary Form, which is the Mass that my Catholic father knew. As it stands the only parishes that offer it are in older urban areas.

  6. What interesting timing: The CDF has released a Doctrinal Assesment of the Leadership Council of Women Religious and assigned an Archbishop Delegate (Sartain). The Archbishop Delegate “will – with the assistance of a group of advisors (bishops, priests, and women Religious) – proceed to work with the leadership of the LCWR to achieve the goals necessary to address the problems outlined in this statement.” (Archbishop Sartain’s sister is secretary-general of the Nashville Dominicans.)

    I guess everyone has to give assent to ‘definitive’ pronouncments of the Magisterium. It will be interesting to compare just what exactly will be required of the SSPX and the LCWR.

    The Assesment: http://www.usccb.org/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&pageid=55544

    1. Me too Claire. If this goes through, the next pope will do everything he can to distance himself from Benedict The Bumbler.

      1. The next pope will be elected by cardinals that BXVI elevated during his pontificate, so I don’t think his successor will stray too far from the current movement. In fact, he could be even more conservative.

  7. I think anyone who thinks that “the Vatican” is somehow embracing the SSPX needs to read more: this is very far from the case. I think there is, for better or worse, a great deal of suspicion, as there is over any “family disagreement” that has lasted for 20+ years.

    I should have originally said that the John Allen article is, as usual, very good, although his terminology isn’t the friendliest.

    Finally, anyone that is concerned about “headaches” or “scrutinization”, or even the fashion sense of the SSPX (or any disaffected group) is missing the point of the Church, which as the “bark of Peter” ought to be trying to draw all things to itself. Getting more adopted sons and daughters to heaven is surely worth a headache or two, right?

    1. Bruce, is the bark of Peter in control or does the bark of Peter become controlled? If the schism is repaired and they take their place and stay there then fine. But this gang will constantly agitate against Vatican II.

      I’m sure that the SSPX would not agree w/ your statement concerning them “Getting more adopted sons and daughters to heaven”. They think THEY are correct and You and I are the ones who might not make it and if you’re Jewish you’re just plain out of luck.

      1. Dr. Dale, I’ve always been a supporter of “a good tree bears good fruit”. Following that principle in my devotional life brought me to the Church, and I like to think it helps make sense of the characters we have in the Church. If Vatican II is part of the deposit of faith, you have nothing to worry about. If not, you may be “fighting against God himself”, as the wise member of the Sanhedrin said.

        Who cares what they think about getting to heaven? The point is, that’s the best thing we can do for each other. I don’t care what they think, the point is that their chances are better if they are really in the Church.

        I suppose you could posit the question, “What is ‘in the Church’?” But if so, they are not the only people I am worried about. I don’t like litmus tests, and if I’m not mistaken, the traditional way of receiving people (or groups) back into the Church is a profession of faith. If they are willing to make that profession, then what?

      2. Bruce, during WWII both the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church underwent what the Nazi’s called “synchronisation” meaning that they were “brought in line w/ Nazi thinking”. Even the leadership of the church went to England to confront Bonhoeffer to join the “Nazi synchronised” church.
        After all, as you stated Bruce, all they needed was to make a profession of faith, nothing changed except their “attitude”.

        That attitude lead to 6 million dead Jews.

      3. Dale

        Doesn’t your argument ad Hitlerem really just prove Bruce’s point: the Church must hold fast to the teachings that we have received and shy away from externally ideologies? In any age the Church must flee from being “synchronised” with the ideologues of the culture of death.

      4. Hello Thomas,
        I think that it proves my point. Do we want the SSPX w/ their Deicide, approval of torture, etc, to contaminate what we believe? Do we want this taught at RCIA? Taught in Catholic schools?

        As you state: “the Church must hold fast to the teachings that we have received and shy away from externally ideologies?”
        Best reason yet for steering clear of the SSPX unless they have a change in attitude…

        The fallout will be too much for the church I think. That is one iceberg we should avoid, I feel I’m on the Titanic and I have that sinking feeling 🙂

  8. I think that the biggest issue here is antisemitism. People in the leadership of the SSPX still accuse the Jewish people as a whole of deicide. The current district superiors of France,Germanty and the UK have all made such claims in the recent past (i.e. 3 years). The angelus continues to publish articles where sspx priests reiterate these teachings(as recently as May 11). This could be a huge disaster for the pope and for the church as a whole if they do not publicly recant such teachings.

  9. It is certainly important, in dealing with a neuralgic topic like the SSPX, to avoid looking to third party sources such as blogs or mainstream media comments. It may also be important to avoid the work of Richard Williamson (e.g. the essay in which he asserted that Pope Benedict is ‘clinically insane’) because he may represent a fringe element of the SSPX.

    I therefore turned to their main websites, DICI and sspx.org. What follows is a compliation from posts and articles there, on a number of topics. All of the passages in italic type in this comment and the ones that follow are direct lifts from those sites.

    In general, religious liberty is not seen as a good thing.

    …Freedom from the restraint of divine law in the matter of religion obviously encourages freedom from restraint in all divine and human laws, and destroys all authority in all areas, especially in the area of morals. ….while the Church denies in principle the right of public expression of false religions, she may not necessarily persecute them in practice. To avoid a greater evil, such as a civil war, the Church can tolerate the sects.

    There are several open letters from Marcel Lefebvre and other SSPX prelates; several of these have lists of reprobated actions on the part of the papacy. For instance, the SSPX bishops condemn:

    All the reforms carried out over twenty years within the Church to please heretics, schismatics, false religions and declared enemies of the Church, such as the Jews, the Communists and the Freemasons.

  10. More from the SSPX.

    The Inquisition was a good thing…

    In the true Gospel there is nothing to be seen of that moral and doctrinal laxity which the modernists qualify as “tolerance” or as “liberty of conscience.” Christ was patient and merciful with repentant sinners, but He never recognized any right of error and He exposed obstinate propagators of error to public condemnation. The Inquisition adopted an attitude toward heretics comparable to that of our Lord. …

    …including the use of torture, which was at least more merciful than the sadistic tortures of the Gestapo or the KGB. It was relatively mild in comparison to the torments that the courts of common law were imposing on criminals at that time. Three methods were employed:

    – The Garrucha was a pulley which worked a rope tied to the wrists of the accused. By it, he was raised to a certain height, and then brutally released in one stroke or in a series of successive jolts, which inflicted intense pain to the shoulders.

    – The Potro was a bench fitted with spikes to which the accused was attached by ropes. The torturer, by tightening the ropes, would gradually drive the spikes into the flesh of the accused.

    – The Toca was a funnel made of cloth which allowed water from a big jar to flow into the stomach of the accused, to the point of suffocation.

    And if torture doesn’t work, there is always capital punishment:

    The State’s primary duty of charity is to protect the public order, to defend the physical and spiritual well-being of its subjects. If capital punishment is necessary to assure public security, the State or the Church can have recourse to it.

    1. The State’s primary duty of charity is to protect the public order, to defend the physical and spiritual well-being of its subjects. If capital punishment is necessary to assure public security, the State or the Church can have recourse to it.

      On that point, it’s almost as if they’ve read the Catechism!

      “2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”

  11. Democracy, like religious liberty, is also a bad thing, but under certain circumstances it is acceptable for Catholics to vote – even female Catholics:

    …realizing how much modern democracy is based upon the false liberal principle of human freedom, escaping from all objective divine and moral law as it does, … we might easily conclude that there is no obligation to vote at all.

    Pope Pius XII [explained that] it was an obligation under pain of mortal sin for all the faithful to use their vote, and this even for women. Although it is certainly true that in the traditional conception of democracy it is only the heads of families who vote, it is perfectly permissible for women to use the right of vote when it is granted, and in fact it becomes an obligation to do so when the common good depends upon all Catholics using their vote correctly

    Women are allowed to vote, but they are not allowed to sing in a choir. However,
    The fact that women cannot perform the liturgical office of singing does not mean that they should not sing in church at all. To the contrary, they should participate in the congregational singing.

    And then there are the Jews, who – as Mel Gibson confirmed – are guilty of deicide:

    The Jews were consequently directly responsible for the crucifixion. Deicide is the name given to the crime of killing the person who is God, namely the Son of God in His human nature. It is those persons who brought about the crucifixion who are guilty of deicide, namely the Jews.

    As a result, they are cursed forever:

    The curse is then the punishment for the hardhearted rebelliousness of a people that has refused the time of its visitation, that has refused to convert and to live a moral, spiritual life, directed towards heaven. This curse is the punishment of blindness to the things of God and eternity, of deafness to the call of conscience and to the love of good and hatred of evil which is the basis of all moral Democracy, like religious liberty, is also a bad thing, but under certain circumstances it is acceptable for Catholics to vote – even female Catholics:

    …realizing how much modern democracy is based upon the false liberal principle of human freedom, escaping from all objective divine and moral law as it does, … we might easily conclude that there is no obligation to vote at all.

    Pope Pius XII [explained that] it was an obligation under pain of mortal sin for all the faithful to use their vote, and this even for women. Although it is certainly true that in the traditional conception of democracy it is only the heads of families who vote, it is perfectly permissible for women to use the right of vote when it is granted, and in fact it becomes an obligation to do so when the common good depends upon all Catholics using their vote correctly

    Women are allowed to vote, but they are not allowed to sing in a choir. However,
    The fact that women cannot perform the liturgical office of singing does not mean that they should not sing in church at all. To the contrary, they should participate in the congregational singing.

    And then there are the Jews, who – as Mel Gibson confirmed – are guilty of deicide:

    The Jews were consequently directly responsible for the crucifixion. Deicide is the name given to the crime of killing the person who is God, namely the Son of God in His human nature. It is those persons who brought about the crucifixion who are guilty of deicide, namely the Jews.

    As a result, they are cursed forever:

    The curse is then the punishment for the hardhearted rebelliousness of a people that has refused the time of its visitation, that has refused to convert and to live a moral, spiritual life, directed towards heaven. This curse is the punishment of blindness to the things of God and eternity, of deafness to the call of conscience and to the love of good and hatred of evil which is the basis of all moral life, of spiritual paralysis, of total preoccupation with an earthly kingdom. It is this that sets them as a people in entire opposition with the Catholic Church and its supernatural plan for the salvation of souls.

  12. With the possible exception of the last two quoted sections, which were removed a few years ago, all of this is easily and publicly available. The press will find this, and more than this. My deeper concern is that the leaders of the SSPX – and not just Williamson – seem to proclaim this stuff without hesitation.

    1. Thank you Jonathan, this is a real eye opener!

      Hopefully, sane members of B16’s entourage will prevail but I doubt it. He didn’t listen when he lifted the excommunication of the bishops. Even the protestant Merkel called him to task. In my opinion he comes across at times as an intellectual elitist w/ the common sense of a gnat.
      As I posted earlier at 11:04 there will be a firestorm and the headlines will read ““Church welcomes back right wing fanatics and Jew haters.”

      1. Dale, the media also ridicules the Church for our belief that abortion is taking and innocent life, of that protecting migrants is irrelevant, etc.? Again, who cares what they think? They don’t judge us on the last day.

        Headlines from the Old Testament:

        “Jewish nation welcomes back philandering, double-talking king. God approves, and says his covenant remains with him.”

        “God’s prophet abandons his duty. Puked up by fish…smells terrible!”

        Anyhow, you get my drift. God isn’t keeping score, and we can’t either, especially as (if we are honest about ourselves) we within the Church are a motley lot!

      2. Bruce, didn’t you read any of what Jonathan wrote?

        Being ridiculed for our stance on abortion etc is a strawman augument because many if not most reasonable people can agree on them BUT when you support Torture, Deicide, Curses, anti democracy etc. then that is different. So now we have a branch or cult within Catholicism that supports this garbage?

        They haven’t repented of those things, they support them and as such until they renounce them they should remain outside.

        You know something is wrong when even the secular press knows better.

        btw, beware quoting the Old Testament, there’s plenty in there that can be used as an excuse for anything including stoning.

      3. Dale, I think we are ships passing in the night here: I am simply saying that the reconciliation of people (or groups) to the Church is always going to provoke a reaction from the media because it involves forgiveness, something foreign (or even repugnant) to the media these days.

        About the anti-Semitism et al.: I am in no way trying to explain it away (or anything else bad about the SSPX). However, if we are giving litmus tests, then where do we stop? Do those already in the Church that are anti-Semitic need to recant? Privately or publicly? Can they receive communion?

        These sorts of things are questions that need to be asked. It would seem rather hypocritical to me to make those requirements unless each individual of the SSPX “publicly professed” that they WERE anti-Semitic, etc. This is the rationale behind the whole “communion wars” business: it has to be public scandal, and even then few bishops have required a politician or public figure to publicly recant their position.

      4. Bruce, in my opinion if a “group” wants to join then yes they need to pass a litmus test called “assent to all documents of Vatican II” just as the Anglicans recently did. It’s difficult to judge individual prejudices but a group is different. They need to be scrutinized and their belief’s need to evaluated.

        As far as two ships in the night, I pray we’re not on the Titanic because the SSPX is one iceberg we need to steer clear of 🙂

  13. Are the last two the actual last two you listed, Jonathan? It appears that there is a double post. Just wondering. If so, then I’m not surprised that they were removed. That’s never been Catholic belief or teaching, which would consider “the Jews” to mean the “Jewish authorities”. In extreme groups, you can have extreme people…

    There are a lot of things in your post that need “a filter”, for example that of the role of women in the choir. I’m positive that we’ve discussed on PTB Tra le sollecitudini, which prohibits women singing “in choir” (i.e., in the manner of canons of a cathedral chapter, etc.), but was never interpreted to apply to choirs otherwise. Any number of SSPX chapel choirs would demonstrate this anyway. In any case, even female servers were not permitted in the Latin Rite until 1994, well after the SSPX’s schismatic acts, so that seems a red herring to me.

    In short, I’m not so much saying you’re wrong, as that they are speaking a different language.

    The inquisition business is weird, frankly. I’m not sure why they even went into that.

    By the same token, all your evidence is simply showing that they NEED the Church, right?

    1. Bruce,

      Female altar servers have been permitted since 1983. That is the meaning of the 1994 authentic interpretation, namely, that there has been no law prohibiting female altar servers since the 1983 Code of Canon Law became the ius vigens.

      Unfortunately your misstatement is somewhat widespread.

    2. That is the meaning of the 1994 authentic interpretation, namely, that there has been no law prohibiting female altar servers since the 1983 Code of Canon Law became the ius vigens.

      Canon 16 explicitly allows for both retroactive and non-retroactive authentic interpretations. The PCILT response “Affirmative, in accord with the instruction to be given by the Apostolic See.” could certainly be read as more than just “simply declar[ing] the sense of the words which are certain in themselves”.

  14. Let’s not rush here:
    Communiqué from the General House of the Society of Saint Pius X (April 18, 2012)
    The media are announcing that Bishop Bernard Fellay has sent a “positive response” to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and that consequently the doctrinal question between the Holy See and the Society of Saint Pius X is now resolved.
    The reality is different.
    In a letter dated April 17, 2012, the Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X responded to the request for clarification that had been made to him on March 16 by Cardinal William Levada concerning the Doctrinal Preamble delivered on September 14, 2011. As the press release dated today from the Ecclesia Dei Commission indicates, the text of this response “will be examined by the dicastery (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) then submitted to the Holy Father for his judgement”.
    This is therefore a stage and not a conclusion.
    Menzingen, April 18, 2012

    I offer one thought only. By taking the matter seriously the SSPX appears to indicate that we must consider what it is we agree to.
    I wonder if all Pray Tell contributors support all of each of the council documents. Perhaps we need to study them again before answering that.

  15. In case readers prefer the original:
    La presse annonce que Mgr Bernard Fellay a adressé une « réponse positive » à la Congrégation pour la Doctrine de la Foi, et qu’en conséquence la question doctrinale est désormais résolue entre le Saint-Siège et la Fraternité Saint-Pie X.
    La réalité est autre.
    Dans un courrier du 17 avril 2012, le Supérieur général de la Fraternité Saint-Pie X a répondu à la demande d’éclaircissement que lui avait faite, le 16 mars, le cardinal William Levada, au sujet du Préambule doctrinal remis le 14 septembre 2011. Comme l’indique le communiqué de presse de la Commission pontificale Ecclesia Dei, daté de ce jour, le texte de cette réponse « sera examiné par le Dicastère (Congrégation pour la Doctrine de la Foi) et soumis ensuite au jugement du Saint-Père ».
    Il s’agit donc d’une étape et non d’une conclusion.
    Menzingen, le 18 avril 2012

  16. Wow, I messed that last post up. Too late to edit. Maybe a moderator can delete it. Apologies to all.

  17. Jim McKay’s observation about the evolution of the Nation of Islam is quite perceptive. I also expect that a not insubstantial part of the SSPX will not join Msgr. Fellay in a swim back across the Tiber. I agree with Jim that the remainder SSPX will likely be even more virulent than the previous incarnation. Even so, no doors may be closed to separated faithful who wish to graft themselves back onto the Church.

    I do pray that Pope Benedict might offer the SSPX bishops a contemplative retirement from episcopal duties, perhaps within a cloistered religious community. Hopefully the contemplative life would help the SSPX bishops repent for the hatred fomented by their preaching and teaching. At the very least, I pray that the bishops will be forbidden from saying public Mass, from any preaching, or from hearing confessions. This is the most compassionate penance I can think of for men whose bigotry has wounded the body of Christ, Jewish people, and humanity greatly.

    ***********

    Two friends of mine currently worship at a diocesan EF which is “crypto-Lefebvrist” for lack of a better phrase. Their parish priest serves up a toxic preaching redolent of anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny, and an extreme suspicion of secular pluralism. Despite my pleadings, my friends continue to worship occasionally at this church.

    Because of them, I am reminded that not everyone who worships with the SSPX is as patently grotesque as Richard Williamson. Some, especially persons in their 20’s or 30’s like me, are simply seeking an authenticity, a sure rule of life. The greatest challenge of the mainstream Church will not necessarily be the management of the bishops. Rather, it will be the challenge to help our former SSPX brothers and sisters on the way to the justice which follows from the postconciliar teachings. This will be the greatest challenge.

    1. Jordan;

      Hello! I suspect the “return” of the SSPX would look much like that of the Traditional Anglican Communion in this sense: some will accept the invitation given the reasons that they belong to or attend SSPX chapels to begin with. Others will refuse the invitation given the reasons that they belong to or attend SSPX chapels to begin with. As is well known, they are not a monolithic group. Those who actually hold to the hard-line positions outlined above will likely take their beliefs along with a few priests and chapels and continue going about ther business. Those who are part of the SSPX for less doctrinal reasons…much like those who attend FSSP parishes now, will probably integrate into the post-Summorum church just fine.

      1. re: Jeffrey Herbert on April 19, 2012 – 7:40 am

        I agree Jeffrey. The SSPX is certainly not monolithic, and many former SSPX adherents will reintegrate into the Church well. apologize for my hyperbolic expressions. I mustn’t let negative past experiences block acts of charity.

        I am convinced, however, that the current bishops of the SSPX should not be permitted to exercise episcopal prerogatives. An Opus Dei-style personal prelature might allow a number of SSPX clergy to continue in their bigotry. Instead, I do hope that the readmitted SSPX clergy and their parishes might be placed into a priestly institute similar to the FSSP.

        I am quite aware and very saddened that many diocesan bishops are still hostile to the EF. Even so, a bishop should have the right to intervene in the case of a priest who preaches against the social justice teachings of the Council, for example. The readmission of SSPX clergy as a priestly institute would permit this level of episcopal oversight, as priestly institutes minister in dioceses by the invitation of the bishop.

      2. Jordan;

        Yes…I think I mentioned somewhere above that the issue of Bishops is what makes this a more difficult task than other similar acts recently such as the Anglican Communion, etc. I don’t even want to get into the issue being discussed above about a “litmus test” or some such idea. Those who might insist on such a thing (particularly those who are viewing this from a more progressive leaning position) are likely well aware that many of those active in the Church today would perhaps fail such a test also. Truly, the anti-semitic rantings of Williamson et al are problematic, but does anyone believe for a moment that there are not others in Catholic public life who are far from the SSPX who hold anti-semitic beliefs just as strongly? And that’s not even going down the road of other strongly held beliefs that are in conflict with Church teachings. We have a litmus test…the Credo…and for me at least that seems as though it should be enough, given that one means it when they say “I believe…”.

      3. re: Jeffrey Herbert on April 24, 2012 – 11:25 am

        Jeffrey writes, We have a litmus test…the Credo…and for me at least that seems as though it should be enough, given that one means it when they say “I believe…”.

        I agree Jeffrey that the ultimate litmus test of membership in the Church is the Credo. I also agree that privately-held anti-semitism is no less a grave sin than the public grave sin of anti-semitic catechesis or preaching. Also, a lay Catholic’s private support for abortion rights (for example) would be as grave as a Catholic’s public advocacy for a “pro-choice” organization. The difference between private grave sin and public grave sin is scandalization of the faithful through public grave sin. The SSPX clergy have deliberately misrepresented what the Catholic Church teaches to be evil as a good.

        The Church is called to, indeed must, accept souls who repent and seek to be rejoined to the Body of Christ. This reintegration is effected through a profession of faith. Even so, the Church must also safeguard its teachings and ensure the proper instruction of the faithful. I do not sense a willingness of a number of SSPX clergy, including the bishops, to put aside their anti-semitic teachings. If indeed a number of priests and bishops will not cease from preaching evil as good, then the Church, through an ordinary, might have to remove their license to preach. This is no different than a bishop’s censure of a priest or religious’ public advocacy for abortion. The Credo is the beginning, and not end, of the healing process initiated by and facilitated by the Church.

      4. I do not sense a willingness of a number of SSPX clergy, including the bishops, to put aside their anti-semitic teachings.

        How come with the LCWR you admonish us not to rush to judgment (despite the Vatican having made a judgment and announced it) and yet you freely impugn the SSPX?

    2. re: Samuel J. Howard on April 24, 2012 – 3:37 pm

      I urged caution in the case of the LCWR since the CDF document has only ambiguously outlined the heterodox positions of the organization and its member sisters. The most forceful accusation against the LCWR in the doctrinal assessment is “silence” on the abortion and same-sex-marriage issues. Fr. Z has named individual sisters which he condemns as voicing pro-abortion views or otherwise publicly speaking out against the Church’s teachings. Criticism of individual sisters should only take place iff a sister has publicly spoken against the Church’s teachings “on the record”. I am still convinced that the CDF notice does not give most laypersons enough information to draw fast conclusions about the LCWR leadership or specific members.

      On the other hand, the SSPX bishops have unambiguously supported anti-semitic ideas in the secular media, their own publications, and in preaching. There is little ambiguity as to where the SSPX stands with regard to this topic. Also, the SSPX bishops, by virtue of being valid but illicit successors to the Apostles, retain a much greater degree of responsibility for their preaching and teaching. For this reason, I am convinced that the possible SSPX corporate reunion is of a much greater gravity than the LCWR investigation. I reserve sharper criticism for the SSPX merely because of the greater influence of their episcopacy and in turn its influence on the SSPX priesthood.

      1. Criticism of individual sisters should only take place iff a sister has publicly spoken against the Church’s teachings “on the record”. I am still convinced that the CDF notice does not give most laypersons enough information to draw fast conclusions about the LCWR leadership or specific members.

        Most laypersons have no idea what the SSPX is saying either. You’re clearly working from a double standard.

      2. re: Samuel J. Howard on April 25, 2012 – 7:44 am

        You are correct Sam. My logic is faulty.

        The CDF has ruled that certain members of the LCWR have remained silent on the crucial pro-life positions of the Church. Protecting the sanctity of life is just as important as speaking out against anti-semitism or any bigotry.

        You are also correct that “lay proximity” to the LCWR or the SSPX is irrelevant. If a number of sisters in the LCWR have remained silent on pro-life issues or have indeed taken public anti-life stances (i.e. “pro-choice”), then that is a scandal to the Church regardless of the publicization of these stances. However, I maintain that bigotry from the mouths and presses of valid but illicit bishops is perhaps of a different level of gravity. Their teaching authority is higher than that of religious sisters. I am an untrained layman; I do not know degrees of guilt. Even so, bishops are successors to the apostles. Nuns are not.

        Despite my faulty arguments, one must wonder why the CDF is not as concerned about the teachings of the SSPX bishops as they are about the teachings of LCWR religious women. However, this inequity should not detract from official criticism when certain sisters have not witnessed to the faith.

  18. Personally, I continue to find it totally amazing at how the curia and the pope can bend over backwards (even though they deny doing so) to accommodate this group. In France, they also tend to be aligned with those who want to restore the ancien regime – French royalty – and return to that golden age when church and state are one. For me, that’s a real red flag (a la Les Miserables) waving in the sky. The quotes Mr. Day posted only confirm my fears – that this group is about more than simply the EF of the Mass.
    I also take issue with the comment regarding the Catholic Church – “here comes everybody.” In reality, it’s way more selective. Sure, you can come to Mass with us, but don’t you dare attempt to receive Communion unless you’re Roman Catholic is just one example.
    While BXVI’s attempts to reconcile this group is commendable, I do wish he would show as much interest and initiative towards groups that are already in the church and often feeling disinfranchised – like religious women, for one (see the post #14 above) or Voice of the Faithful, or divorced and remarried Catholics, not to mention gay and lesbian Catholics. And couldn’t BXVI be a bit more welcoming to our Reformed brothers and sisters? I mean, really, there was a time when ICEL (prior to its ‘makeover’) was in communication with the consultive committee on common texts and was actually looked to to set the standard. Then came Vox Clara, the “renewed” ICEL and the NRM and we said goodbye to working with our Protestant brothers and sisters. Despite what most say, it does seem to me that the reforms and renewal of VII are slowly being rolled back and we’re going back to a ghetto Cahtolic Church – suspicious of everyone and anyone who is not a card carrying member. If you’re going to say, “here comes everyone” then you better be ready to accept “everyone” and make room for every one, not just those who fit your cup of tea.

  19. Well, as one of the formerly “Protestant sisters” referred to in the comments above, it begs the question for me “which” Protestant” brothers and sisters?

    It is a sad fact that much of the mainline, including the Lutheran fold that I left, has redefined traditional Christian belief and practice to the point that it is no longer recognizable to me. My conscience did not allow me to remain in the ELCA when I learned that the money I was putting in the collection plate was going to pay for elective abortions, the trend to open Communion to the point that baptism is no longer required in many congregations before communing, the extreme gender inclusiveness that can no longer tolerate the image of Christ as bridegroom of his church, etc. etc.

    I also cannot muster up much sympathy for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious when they are tinkering with these issues as well. It is incomprehensible to me how they can be so supportive of social justice yet fail to defend the life of an unborn child who can be aborted at any stage in many U.S. states.

    As for the church and state thing, politically its time has come and gone in Europe but having grown up there it was a wonderful experience to see the very public manifestations of faith that reinforced one’s Christian identity. I am grateful to my Lutheran and Catholic relatives who modeled a deep and living Christian faith for me. I am also grateful for the heroic witness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jesuit Father Alfred Delp and numerous others who were shaped by that same Christian culture and yet did not succumb to the totalitarianism of the Nazi regime, knowing that as followers of Christ they must obey God rather than men.

  20. I would suspect that any agreement that is reached with SSPX would include renouncing any fascist or anti-Semitic ideologies or politics. Can they make every lay Catholic and cleric do that? The Magisterium can’t do that with those who are in full communion, can they?
    As far as those progressives who have left the Church but hypocritically stay within to change her according to their own ideologies and manipulations, they should be as bold as the SSPX group and honest about their intentions and form their own sect, get their bishops excommunicated and maybe in 40 years there might be some movement toward reconciling them to the Holy See, but I don’t think that would have a snow ball’s chance in you know where.
    I have no sympathy for the radical, feminist element in our Church who have embraced a post-Christian approach to being Christian. They need to go or repent, the choice is theirs of course. 2012 may well be a turning point on many levels of restoring and re-emphasizing the “deposit of faith” which is a term I know many here hate to hear and will have a theology to dismiss it.

  21. Sure, you can come to Mass with us, but don’t you dare attempt to receive Communion unless you’re Roman Catholic is just one example.

    Seems to me the Catholic Church is merely upholding the practice of the ancient church, east and west which is why Eastern Orthodox Christians also do not practice open Communion, along with Missouri Synod Lutherans.

    I read yesterday that the Episcopal Church in the U.S. is moving towards an “interfaith” paradigm, ready to jettison its Christian identity. Is that where we should be heading? I refuse to place the idea of reincarnation alongside the Resurrection.

  22. That this news comes to us with the announcement of the crackdown on the LCWR is a very ominous sign.

  23. I fear a scenario such as the following:

    1) The pope releases a document motu proprio – perhaps it is called Ad Instaurandam Traditionem, “In order to re-establish tradition” – without thinking through the second- and third- order communication issues. This has happened many times during the current papacy; as just one example, think of media reactions to the lifting of the SSPX excommunications.

    2) The document admits the SSPX bishops and their priests to some sort of canonical structure. It is unclear what authority diocesan bishops will have over SSPX priests and bishops within their sees. I certainly hope we don’t see a structure that, like Summorum Pontificum, effectively bypasses the diocesan bishop.

    3)The media crawl all over the SSPX and their record. As I suggested above, it is not difficult to find all sorts of apparently antisemitic, anti-feminist, anti-democratic material associated with them. A storm of controversy blows up. People won’t see this primarily in liturgical terms – the Latin Mass issue is no longer newsworthy. Religious liberty could be a primary theme. The SSPX have very recently issued a communiqué denouncing the American bishops’ statement on religious liberty. Richard Williamson’s many communications — and there are a huge number of them, many of them funny but some terribly ugly — come to the surface.

    4) The SSPX approach this in a triumphalist way: “We won”, “we have been vindicated”, “The excommunications were neither valid nor reasonable”, “we are the storm troops coming in to restore the Church”, “state of necessity” etc.

    5) The “liberals” (media, priests, even bishops) react in kind.

    6) Positions on both sides in the Church become harder and more sharply opposed.

    Not a good outcome for anyone.

    1. Jonathan, your points are all well taken. Two things I’d think about: I think your scenario in #2 is unlikely. SP just liberates the use of a form of the Roman Rite…it’s not really dealing with canonical issues like an SSPX reconciliation would. Second, about “not a good outcome for anyone”: let me play some devil’s advocate. Schisms are dangerous (and yes, I know that the Vatican has said that the SSPX are no longer considered “schismatic”), and the longer the separation lasts, the more polarized the opinions and parties become. Although the SSPX might be a nuisance around the house of the Church for a while after reconciliation, time heals all wounds, and it’s likely the succeeding generations of SSPX folks would become more integrated. That is very unlikely if they remain in the separated state. I think this would be a prime example of the “plant so that others may harvest” situation.

  24. Samuel J. Howard :

    The PCILT response “Affirmative, in accord with the instruction to be given by the Apostolic See.” could certainly be read as more than just “simply declar[ing] the sense of the words which are certain in themselves”.

    I’d be interested in your going beyond your hypothetical statement to provide what you think may possibly be non-retroactive about this 1994 authentic interpretation.

    A non-retroactive authentic interpretation may be given when the PCILT wishes to foreclose the possibility of restitution for supposed damages incurred before the promulgation of that authentic interpretation. Such does not appear to be the case here. So, once again, why would you think that this authentic interpretation could possibly be non-retroactive?

    Only comments with a full name will be approved.

  25. I don’t respond often, or ever, but I have to say something regarding the vast majority of comments above.

    “in my opinion if a ‘group’ wants to join then yes they need to pass a litmus test called “assent to all documents of Vatican II”

    Why not all documents from all 21 councils? Note that Rome has never declared them of heresy…

    What is posted on SSPX’s website is not representative of the garden variety chapel nor the opinions of most of their priests and parishoners. They are normal people, and their priests don’t give weekly homilies denouncing Vatican II (except for Bp Williamson) and calling for torture and monarchism and burning of heretics. Why? Because there are more important issues. Do not forget this is a society of pastors, not conspiracy theorists. No group is perfect, and it is a shame the comments of one bishop and the postings of a few webmasters and internet junkies has detracted the public (and their own) attention from Bp Levebvre’s original mission, namely fostering good priests. You can think all you want about the SSPX, but until you meet their priests and parishioners, and actually GO TO their RCIA, you really know little about the society. Don’t actually go, that would currently be a schismatic act, but you get my point. The media, both liberal and SSPX, WANT you to think a certain way.

    Regarding the Inquistion…the Inquisition is still around. It is called the CDF.

    That being said, I’d say the SSPX has created much more baggage and barriers than Rome has, especially in their laity. There is no way the whole society will reunite, I’d reason 50% at best, at at this point it is just the way it is.

  26. Type in SSPX cult in your search engine and see what you get.

    Be your own judge.

    One in particular is about a priest who attempts to escape from the SSPX (http://sspx.agenda.tripod.com/id21.html) and what another priest, Fr. Oppenheimer endured before leaving and joining the Priestly Society of St. Peter.

  27. Jordan,

    If the SSPX are re-integrated into the Church, their bishops and clergy will not be given any penance and will continue their present ministry, albeit in good relations with the Church. Bishop Fellay has publically stated that an agreement will only be reached if SSPX doctrinal positions are left unaltered and their freedom to function and expand is maintained.

    1. re: Adam Michael on April 19, 2012 – 9:08 pm

      Adam, if that is the case, then I can only pray that the SSPX either breaks off negotiations, or Pope Benedict only offers the Society bishops and priests individual reconciliation with the Church without any unconditional promise of active ministry. I cannot see any other way that our Holy Father can be a shepherd of souls and protect the moral integrity of the Church.

      If God, through the ministry of his Church, shows mercy to me in the sacraments, then I must pray that God, through the Church, shows a just mercy to all who seek repentance.

      That is all to be said, it appears.

  28. I cannot see the entire SSPX reconciling en bloc – I would be extremely surprised if the likes of Bishop Williamson and even Bishop Tissier de Mallerais would reconcile, except on their own terms entirely. However, it is entirely possible that Bishop Fellay and the bulk of the SSPX will “return”, with the extremists breaking off. The Church is big enough for the SSPX – but unless there is serious reform and repairing of scandal, the Williamsonite element (which is just one element, albeit a very visible one, in a very wide spectrum….ranging from folks like me, who repair to their chapels simply for the EF Mass, in the absence of an authorised alternative, to sedevacantists.) will surely remain out in the cold.
    There is a great deal of bitterness and mistrust on both sides; old timers who lived through the era, witnessing good and holy priests smeared and evicted from their homes and denied their pensions, etc, by bishops and superiors for the crime of clinging the older Mass, seeing their children lose their faith at the hands of nuns and lay teachers who imparted watered-down or downright heretical catechesis, and whose priests and bishops did nothing but bully, browbeat and patronise them, who saw their parish churches wreckovated….I could go on, but that is enough. Many turned in desperation to the SSPX for a safe haven from the postconciliar madness, and have grown deeply attached to this milieu.
    However, after up to 40 years of separation, there NEEDS to be reconciliation. The madness in *certain* elements needs to be driven out; they NEED the Church and we should rejoice in reunion. In my 15 years of association with the SSPX, I have not once heard a fascist, neo-Nazi, monarchist or whatever sermon or instruction. They preach the faith. Most of the others who attend my chapel were just as disgusted by Bishop Williamson’s repulsive views as other people. They are there for the Mass, for the faith, not for politics.
    God bless.

  29. @#61, thank you for your insightful comments. My husband is one of those “cradle Catholics” who was totally bewildered by much of what you describe. I certainly wouldn’t call him an atheist but he could not reconcile what he was taught by the nuns at his parish school prior to Vatican II with much of what was being delivered in the 70’s and onward.

    He is now a member of the second largest denomination in the U.S., the one made up of non-practicing Catholics.

    I also know a lady who, as you describe, turned in desperation to the SSPX because she could no longer endure what was happening at her parish.

    No, I don’t blame Vatican II. The problem is how it was carried out in too many places.

    1. Thank you Chris
      I differ from your comment in one quibble only. Not all of Vatican II has been carried out. The most obvious points that come to mind are that the use of Latin has not been maintained (SC 36 and 54) and the Divine Office is rarely celebrated (SC 100).
      I suspect that the call to study the texts of Vatican II is an attempt by the pope to correct this.
      Those who tried to draw attention of clergy to this sort of thing may well as you say, be filling the pews of the SSPX and FSSP.
      Once the SSPX are back on board and confident of their place the necessary work of reforming the EF and OF as apparently intended by the Council can restart.

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