Recent statements by Bishop Fellay, head of the SSPX, not only indicate that reunion talks with Rome are at an end, but also cast an interesting light on the question of the “hermeneutic of continuity”:
Any kind of direction for recognition ended when they gave me the document to sign on June 13, 2012. That very day I told them, ‘this document I cannot accept.’ I told them from the start in September the previous year that we cannot accept this ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ because it is not true, it is not real. It is against the reality. So we do not accept it. The Council is not in continuity with Tradition. It’s not. So when Pope Benedict requested that we accept that the Second Vatican Council is an integral part of Tradition, we say, ‘sorry, that’s not the reality, so we’re not going to sign it. We’re not going to recognize that’.
I realize that there are problems with the dichotomous language of “continuity” and “rupture,” since you never have one without the other. But I have also long thought that many people misunderstood Benedict XVI’s intent in using this language. Both progressives and traditionalists have taken it to be aimed at liberals who wanted to Sing a New Church into Being. But Bishop Fellay’s statement reminds us that an equally important (indeed, I’m inclined to think a more important target) of the language of “continuity” was the radical traditionalist who reject the council. Certainly Bishop Fellay is not enamored of the hermeneutic of continuity, and sees in it an attempt to get the SSPX to affirm that the Council is within the tradition of conciliar teachings..
On a more strictly liturgical note, Bishop Fellay also said:
The same for the Mass. The want us to recognize not only that the [New] Mass is valid provided it is celebrated correctly, etc., but that it is licit. I told them: we don’t use that word. It’s a bit messy, our faithful have enough [confusion] regarding the validity, so we tell them, ‘The New Mass is bad, it is evil’ and they understand that. Period!’ [Of course the Roman authorities] were not very happy with that.
Funny, I never thought that making a distinction between validity and liceity would be a cause of confusion, but rather served as a hedge against it. But leaving that aside, Bishop Fellay’s remarks make it clear that it is he who is determined to sing — or chant, in Latin — a new church into being.
Some might say, “good riddance.” And I would agree in saying “good riddance” to wooden notions of tradition and to antisemitism and to triumphalism and to quasi-Donatism. But it remains one more sad division among Christians, and in that I can hardly rejoice.