Friday, June 15, 2012

SSPX and Vatican Reconciliation Imminent?

It is official. The Vatican has offered the SSPX a personal prelature as the mechanism by which the Society of St. Pius X and Rome can be officially reconciled. The SSPX can avail itself of Rome's offer only by submitting to the much discussed "Doctrinal Preamble" that was proposed in Fall of 2011 and presumably will mean a consensus on some of key points of doctrine surrounding Vatican II.

The Doctrinal Preamble has not been made public and we have no idea what it contains, but I think we can infer that it must be very generous to the Society. If this were not the case, negotiations would have never gotten this far.  Had the Vatican's demands been too exacting, or the doctrinal conditions too stringent, or the Preamble set up in such a way as to deprive the SSPX of its fundamental charism, there is no way Bishop Fellay would have continued the talks and allowed them to go this far. An SSPX reconciliation would an impossibility were the Preamble too demanding. Thus, I think we can presume that the Preamble proposes only the most basic requirements on the Society, those minimally necessary to put them in good standing with the Church - probably an acceptance of the legitimacy and authority of Vatican II and of the Novu Ordo Missae.

If this is the case, there will still be room for discussion and interpretation of Vatican II within the Church. If the SSPX accepts the personal prelature, this certainly does not mean they are going to adopt the same outlook on everything as the mainline Church; Pope Benedict does not intend the reunion to necessitate this, nor would the SSPX agree to it if it did. As long as some basic points are agreed to by the Society, the agreement leaves in place a future discussion on the issues dear to the Society and Traditionalists.

This fact is of fundamental importance, because in essence, it means that the Pope is affirming that a valid debate about Tradition and Vatican II can take place among Catholics all in good standing with the Church. The discussion on the role and importance of Tradition will now take place within the context of the Universal Church. In allowing leeway for the SSPX to retain its charism and still be part of the dialogue on Tradition within the Church, the Pope affirms that the SSPX charism and some of their critiques of the modern Church are indeed legitimate, so long as they occur within the guidelines laid down in the Doctrinal Preamble.

Or, to put it more plainly: While we must affirm the authority and complete legitimacy of Vatican II, the agreement will signal that there is no official historiography of Vatican II.

Other opinions on the role and influence of the Council are valid. Questioning the fruitfulness of the Council will no longer equate with dissent.

But will the rest of the Society follow Fellay into union, should the personal prelature be accepted? John Allen at the National Catholic Reporter, like many mainstream commentators, treated the news and possibility of reunion with skepticism. It is amusing to me how reunion with Protestants and Eastern Orthodox are often spoken of as if they are immediate possible realities while reunion with the SSPX is usually seen as an impossibility. Even so, Allen's piece in the NCR is spot on when it says,

"The most likely scenario, therefore, is that when the dust settles, there will still be a traditionalist body on the outside looking in, presumably still led by validly ordained rebel bishops, but reduced in size and significance because some of its former members and leadership will be back in Rome's good graces."

Should the SSPX accept the personal prelature, the Traditionalist schism will still not be entirely healed. Many SSPX will refuse to reunite with Rome; my guess is that these remnants will ultimately become Sedevacantists or adopt some other bizarre heresy and drift off into oblivion, much like the Old Catholic Church.

For my part, I am of course presuming that the Doctrinal Preamble requires nothing of the SSPX beyond what is reasonable to ensure their loyalty to the Universal Church. I am presuming that the Doctrinal Preamble is going to be perceived as very generous, and by the liberals, much too generous. Assuming this is the case, if the SSPX does not agree to this arrangement - if they continue to nit-pick on minutae, or insist that Rome "convert" before they can even begin discussions, or if they continue to attack the person of the Holy Father, I will lose all respect for their organization. The fact that these negotiations are even happening was inconceivable prior to 2005. Things have come so tremendously far in seven brief years. The Holy See is sincerely reaching out and trying to bring them in, knowing that the reunion of the SSPX with the Church would mean tremendous blessing to all - the Church will have an infusion of some of the best educated and best formed clerics in the world, while the Society will obtain canonical legitimacy and all the graces that come from being in full union with the Successor of Peter.

I hope the SSPX realizes that this is a question of their very existence. If they reject this offer (or if a portion of them do), whomever remains outside the Church will dwindle in numbers, in support, and finally will spin off into formal heresy. That's what always happens. Those of the SSPX who do not take up this offer and return to Rome will cease to have any significance in the coming years.

I hope Bishop Fellay will do the right thing here and end this tragic schism. Pray for the reunion of the SSPX and the Holy See.

36 comments:

Nick said...

The biggest factor on the table at this point, and this has been mentioned by other Catholics for a few years now, is the potential danger of a Personal Prelature. Here's why.

The Personal Prelature requires getting permission from the local bishop in each area in order to have an SSPX branch in that area. Well, since there are so many liberal bishops, that would mean the SSPX would be effectively shut out, and in fact many of it's current chapels would be forced to close since the local bishop wouldn't like it. So while the SSPX would have a PP, it wouldn't be of much value.

SO, the current thought is that the SSPX would need to be able to get around these liberal bishops, which would require extra rights granted. That's the only way the SSPX would agree, and in many ways it's only fair. I don't think the Holy Father is trying to trap them, so I think he'll make a way.

BONIFACE said...

That is a great point, Nick.

Marko Ivančičević said...

on Rorate, their future canonical structure is called "Apostolic Pineapple" meaning it could bare the name but it could be anything that the Holy Father orders it to be, since he is the supreme legislator of the Church
So i think that the SSPX are likely to get some pretty good structure :)

I am not Spartacus said...

"Fair" to The SSPX? Please.

For two score years the SSPX has had its Eucharist and eaten it too all the while refusing obedience to the Holy Father and which obedience constitutes 1/3 rd of the 3/3rds (Worship, Doctrine. Authority) Bonds of Unity which is the sine qua non of Catholicism.

The SSPX is a schism that is self-righteous, self-oriented, and self-sufficient (in its own collective mind) and it has always sought to impose its own will on the Church.

I think the deal will fall through because I do not think that Bishop Fellay is humble enough to be absorbed in such a manner that he is like all other Bishops and not some super traditional uber bishop without whom Tradition is dead.

Frankly, why should the Bishops, whose Jurisdictions were invaded by this schism and who were excoriated by this schism, be made to be obedient so as to satisfy the will of the SSPX?

A rough justice for the SSPX would be for Faithful Bishops to accept them into their Jurisdictions but only as Priests.

The SSPX, which has refused obedience for forty years is anxious to force Faithful Bishops to bend to their will in a quite scandalous example of arrogant demands issued from an immoral ground;. that is, The SSPX forfeited any legitimate moral ground to make appeals to obedience after what they did for forty years - but we all know that will not be a spiritual speed bump for them.

It was a mistake when Pope Blessed John Paul II rewarded disobedience by, finally, approving Altar Girls, and I fear this reconciliation will result in a strengthening of that reward system for disobedience.

Of COURSE one wants all of the SSPX back, but, at what cost?

Dear Boniface. Thank you for accurately describing this schism as a schism

Andrew M. Greenwell said...

The Church needs the Society of PPX in the Church as leaven. PPX needs to reconcile itself with the Church for legitimacy. This is a win-win situation.

Andrew M. Greenwell said...

The Church needs the Society of PPX in the Church as leaven. PPX needs to reconcile itself with the Church for legitimacy. This is a win-win situation.

BONIFACE said...

Well, we have to be careful here. The Church does not "need" the SSPX. The Church could use the SSPX, but they do not need it. The SSPX could blow off BXVI and go off into some crazy sedevacantist heresy and the Universal Church would be no worse for it. I agree it is a win-win if they reunite, but if they don't, the Church will still prevail.

Andrew M. Greenwell said...

@Boniface: I suppose if "need" is strictly construed, you're right. The Church remains the Church, the Body of Christ, regardless of who splits from her. So in that sense, the Church is not lessened by schisms. But she suffers when part of her splits off from her. The Church would be better off, if for not other reason because she would be a better symbol of unity, if no schisms would ever have occurred.

ToS said...

“Schism... schism... schism... schism... schism... schism... schism”

http://i47.tinypic.com/2dse3h2.jpg

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear ToS. Here is a public statement addressed to the Bishop of Chile in 1998. It has to do with the fact that the Lefebvrite Schism IS a schism.

if one succors the SSPX, it is authoritative and the Cathoic Church isn't and so if the SSPX says it is not in schism it isn't. (Of course, not too many schisms confess "Hey, we're schismatics.")

That aside, here is Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect of the Sacred Congfegation fof the Defense of The Faith in Brasil:

"...And the fact that when the chips were down Lefebvre denounced an agreement that had already been signed, shows that the Holy See, while it made truly generous concessions, did not grant him that complete license which he desired. Lefebvre has seen that, in the fundamental part of the agreement, he was being held to accept Vatican II and the affirmations of the postconciliar Magisterium, according to the proper authority of each document.
...the movement led by Lefebvre has separated itself by a clean break with the Church. A Christian never can, or should, take pleasure in a rupture. Even though it is absolutely certain the fault cannot be attributed to the Holy See..,Thus we will be able to offer a place within the Church to those who are seeking and demanding it, and succeed in destroying all reason for schism. We can make such schism pointless by renewing the interior realities of the Church....If once again we succeed in pointing out and living the fullness of the Catholic religion with regard to these points, we may hope that the schism of Lefebvre will not be of long duration."

The Devil's Advocate said...

"[...] the Holy See, while it made truly generous concessions[...]"
Allowing people to live, teach, and preach the Faith as it always had been before?

"[...] he was being held to accept Vatican II [...] according to the proper authority of each document."
Pastoral and non-binding (as is the case with each controversial document and the Council in general)?

"[I]t is absolutely certain the fault cannot be attributed to the Holy See[...]"
I wonder.

ToS said...

Yawn. We can quote prelates all day long that contradict each other on this subject.

Schismatic acts don't equate to Schism itself but can lead to it.

Lefebvre was wrong to ordain priests and consecrate Bishops without papal mandate, but when you have the decay of the Church all around you scaring you to your core (not to mention JPII scaring him with help from the scandalous Assisi meeting of 1986) you feel some sympathy. This group was wrong but they were scared at what was happening all around them. Do you understand this?

This isn't Eastern "Orthodox" whom deny papal authority even exists and thus incur actual schism.
This isn't like the Protestants whom also deny papal authority and adhere to heresy.

These are priests and bishops who through their thickheaded faithlessness became frightened at the destruction of the Church since VII and thought (wrongly) that it was necessary to preserve Catholic doctrine. They don't deny papal authority or doctrines like the heretics and real schismatics do. That is the real difference, very easy to comprehend if you thought about for more than 5 seconds.

BONIFACE said...

It is not necessary to deny papal authority or any doctrine to be in schism. All that is necessary is to refuse obedience in practice. (CIC 751)

BONIFACE said...

Spartacus, do you have the source for that Ratzinger quote?

The Devil's Advocate said...

Isn't it worse, in a sense, to claim you believe in papal authority and then not follow, than to deny the infallibility and therefore not follow? There are, of course, mitigating circumstances, as "immediate danger to the Faith."

ToS: You are childish and rude. First you repeat the word schism over and over despite a quick CTRL+F: "Schism" search reveals that Boniface only used it twice in the article, and Spartacus only three (relevant) times, and you use a picture popular on certain websites for adolescents without further explaining how any of them has in fact misunderstood the definition of "schism." Then you begin your second comment with "Yawn" and end it with an immature and clearly wrong insult without yourself having brought any substantial information or argument(s) to the table but your own weak and unauthorative ramblings. Your behaviour reminds me more of neo-atheists than Catholics discourse. If you're truly trying to defend the FSSPX, and not bring ill repute to its followers, you would do better keeping your fingers off the keyboard.

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear ToS. "Yawn?" You linked to a snarky poster and then when I responded with a direct quote you yawned.

That is what I expect from individuals like you. Pope Blessed John Paul II said it was a schism and The Prefect of the CDF said was a schism and The Angelic Doctor says it is a schism but your authority is the schism itself.

FYI, Saint Augustine says that those in schism are heretics also. Put that in your schismatic pipe and smoke it

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Boniface

http://tinyurl.com/72nxynm

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear ToS. If you are interested, I am taking the time on my crummy blog to roll-out all the relevant information re the SSPX Schism. You can read Saint Augustine calling schismatic heretics; you can read Saint Thomas Aquinas on schism ; you can read the Traditional Catechism on schism etc etc.

I doubt it will do you any good for the problem with schismatics is not located in the intellect; it is located in a will suffused with an arrogant and haughty pride

Anonymous said...

http://www.scripturecatholic.com/feature-articles/Feature%20-%20Remnant%20The%20Inanity%20of%20Dr%20Moynihan%20Regarding%20the%20SSPX.pdf

...under the pope’s 1983 Code of Canon law,
illicitly consecrating a bishop is not a schismatic act.
...Even the liberal Fr. Yves Congar, a staunch
critique of Archbishop Lefebvre, correctly explains that schism involves the refusal to accept the
existence of the legitimate authority of the pope and not the refusal to accept a decision of that
legitimate authority.

Anonymous said...

I attend an SSPX chapel and must say that, at least in our chapel, most of the people who come across as strongly opposed to reunion (as opposed to approaching it with some reasonable caution) are mostly what I would call the "old guard." They are mostly folks who got involved in the movement early on, some who never once attended the NO, in the days when the destruction of the Church was in full force-- a situation which I think would make many of the younger BXVI generation traditionalists in the Church reconsider their definition of loyalty. I very much understand their concerns, having seen other trad groups reunited and then forced to compromise in various ways or be denied ordinations or other nonsense, but at least within our own little chapel I feel it is mostly an issue with the old guard who saw the worst of the worst and therefore have a much more skeptical attitude about the real intentions of the Pope.

For my part I suppose I make the position of The Remnant my own. I obviously do not consider SSPX outside the Church, and their division is clearly very different from, say, the protestant reformation or the Orthodox Schism (Lefebvre himself after all kept up contact with Roman authorities, despite the fact that his own spiritual children frequently claimed he was betraying them by doing so). On the other hand The Remnant has always been very wise in not refusing to consider the good work of indult societies, ecclesia dei congregations,etc. It seems to me that such arguments among traditionalists are fruitless. If you look at recent articles at SSPX.org you'll see that they are very positive about the possibility of reunion, and in fact have posted quotes by Lefebvre to this point as well as an interesting article about St Basil adopting a less severe language about the divinity of the Holy Ghost in order to win over heretics within the Church (obviously aimed at countering the rhetoric of the old guard who feel that any softening of rhetoric is automatically a compromise with modernists).

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Anon.. Today on my Crummy Blog I just posted info proving that the SSPX is a petit ecclesia - a Counter Church - established By Mons Lefebvre.


The Remnant has a LOT of good information but its orientation is as Protestant as is the Southern Baptist Convention; not its Doctrine, obviously, but its fundamentally protestant refusing-to-obey-the-Pope Praxis

I am not Spartacus said...

"[...] the Holy See, while it made truly generous concessions[...]"
Allowing people to live, teach, and preach the Faith as it always had been before?

Dear Devil's Advocate. That was not Mons Lefebvre's ideology. He desired to retain the liberty to publicly say the Council taught error - which is not without its own humorous irony given that he signed all of the V2 Documents he later repudiated.

Like Saint John Kerry, he was for them before he was against them....

Beefy Levinson said...

It's fascinating to me how the SSPX inspires even its harshest liberal critics to resort to pre-conciliar language. In mainstream Church dialogue, Protestants and the Orthodox are no longer heretics and schismatics. They are our "separated brethren" who are still part of the Church of Christ, which subsists in the Roman Catholic Church but is larger than the Roman Church's visible boundaries.

When discussing the SSPX however, suddenly we see red faced, spittle flecked, hell-fire-and-damnation talk about schism, heresy, and EENS. If liberals make Vatican II into a super dogma, some conservatives and Traditionalists make the SSPX into super schismatics. Of course none of this applies to those who still consider Protestants and the Orthodox to be heretics and schismatics ;)

Whether we consider Mons. Lefebvre to be a hero or a villain, he did preserve much of what was good in Catholic Tradition which otherwise might have been lost. Why is his Society the near occasion for the sin of wrath for so many people? Pray for reconciliation and conversion of hearts, and leave the rest to God.

Jim Swarthy said...

Well, if one believes they're in schism, then the only logical and Catholic thing to do is hit one's knees and prayer for them. Believe me, they've heard all of the arguments before. This group is older than I am, and probably most of us. Like some WWII vet, they've seen things we don't want to see. So let's pray for them, pray for the Pope, and the men involved on each side. With God's grace, everyone can benefit. It's optimistic, but I am praying for a win-win here. It's high time that the traditionalist movement be given its due place at the table, and that traditionalists respect the Holy Father and their authoritative acts.

The Devil's Advocate said...

Beefy:

Your observations are very true. I Am Not Spartacus may continue write as many articles as he wants about schismatics and heretics, using "Protestant" as the P-word, calling for obedience and submittance to the Pope, but the same Pope has written extensively on how Protestant can no longer be called heretics, and on our "seperated brethren" as you yourself mention. It very much disarms the opposition, makes the discussion and even the fundamental problem hard to grasp or at least to take seriously.

BONIFACE said...

*SIGH* Looks like I will just have to do an article on schism.

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Boniface. Please do. The SSOX, the modern Donatists, are as arrogant and heretical, as the original Donatists

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Devil's Advocate. Our separated brethren were born into protestant communities, y'all were not.

You are not "separated brethren" you are "schismatics" about whom 2 John 9 was teaching Whosoever revolteth, and continueth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.

Now put that in your protestant pipe and smoke it

Beefy Levinson said...

Boniface, I hope that you do write an article on schism. If refusing obedience in practice is the definition of schism, then there are many, many, many bishops, priests, and laity throughout the world who are "in schism" yet remain in good canonical standing.

The Devil's Advocate said...

I am not Spartacus

Stop insinuating that I am a follower of the SSPX. Further, there are plenty, I'd say that it is even most these days, of people who have been born into the SSPX. The SSPX would quite simply argue that the one who has revolted and is not continuing the doctrine of Christ, is not they but the Conciliar Church. On the face of it, I would agree, which, if I went by your logic, would lead me into sedevacantism. Fortunately, I'm not quite so rash in my conceit.

Let me see if I got this straight. Every Protestant since the generation after the so-called Reformation: seperated brethren. The SSPX: Protestant scum. Yes?

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Devil's advocate. Of course those born into the schism think that the Catholic Church has apostasied, just like the protestants.

If, "on the face of it" you think the Catholic Church has revolted, etc, then you are not a Catholic but just a run-of-the-millstone heretic whose life is lived in opposition to the Infallible Teachings of Vatican One - not that there is anything wrong with that for the legion of private judgment experts who sit in judgment of the Church.

I think that those protestants on the right who claim a special knowledge about Tradition will be judged far more harshly than those who are nominal protestants and as for identifying the sspx protestants as "scum," if one were to attach a dozen weather balloons to the mad man Mallerias, he might rise to that level (the liberal Lefebvre sure new how to pick 'em...a Crazy, a Sede, a kid ,and the schismatic sphinx).

The Devil's Advocate said...

I am not Spartacus:

If you dispute that, on the face of it, it looks like the Catholic Church has turned against all of its teachings, and abandoned all of its traditions, or in another word: renewed itself, then you are completely and utterly dishonest or simply tragically blind to the whole modern situation, that is, crisis. In either case, you've invalidated yourself.

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Devil's Advocate. I am a member of The Confraternitas Sancti Petri, a real Catholic Society in communion with The Pope and the local Bishops in whose Jurisdictions their Apostolates have been invited to legally exist.

The FSSP has been in union with the Catholic Church since 1988. It is too bad the news has not reached the sightless schismatic swaps where you have pitched your ideological tent.

In any event, you can put all of your preposterous claims in your protestant private judgment pipe and smoke it.

You are not only factually wrong, you are obstinately and willfully blind to the good existing and you, apparently, are also ignorant of the Prayer to Saint Michael in the Raccolta that, in part, reads: "These crafty enemies of mankind have filled to overflowing with gall and wormwood the Church..."

The only thing new under the sun is the new schism comprised of cowards who run oft when the going got tough...

The Devil's Advocate said...

You are obviously very confused, since you both tell me that I am factually wrong, and at the same time affirm exactly what I say and claim that I am ignorant of the affairs and troubles of the Church.

BONIFACE said...

Okay, knock it off you two.

BONIFACE said...

Okay, knock it off you two.