Rorate Caeli

Tying Together a Few Mysterious Strands with the SSPX


As noted below by my colleague, Brian Mershon has published an interview with Bishop Rifan. Having just read, within the past few weeks, the texts that DICI published (story on this blog here), and especially the interview with Cardinal Ricard, a few phrases used by Bishop Rifan stick out.

I think that, tying these two interviews together, we may get a better idea of what the Holy Father is planning to do by way of SSPX reconciliation.

Cardinal Ricard had said:

"I think the pope wishes to make a gesture to show that the door is not closed, a gesture of good-will. In the coming months, we will see what concrete expression that will take. Then it will remain to be seen whether the Fraternity will take the next step."


That this "gesture of good-will" is probably not going to be the liberation of the Tridentine Mass is suggested by Bishop Rifan's remarks

Q. One of the two preconditions the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) have requested since 2001 was a public affirmation that the Classical Roman liturgy has never been abrogated. If this first step is eventually granted, what do you predict will happen next?

A. I think that it is very true that this affirmation of the cardinals that the Classical Roman liturgy has never been abrogated. The continuation of this usage, allowed by the Holy See, is a proof. But this universal indult has nothing to do with this precondition of the Society of St. Pius X; it will be a realization of the personal will of the Holy Father, independent of this good request.


That leaves us with the second probable option: the mysterious "gesture of good-will" that the Pope will make will be the lifting of the SSPX excommunications.

Bishop Rifan says:

Q. Do you think there are sufficient grounds for the Pope to grant the second precondition — lifting the decrees of excommunications (or declaring them null and void) against the bishops of the SSPX and Archbishop Castro de Mayer?

A. The Pope can lift the decree of excommunication, as a sign of benevolence, in order to facilitate the conversations with the SSPX. That was my suggestion [to the Pope] during the conversations.


Here, Bishop Rifan uses the same exact phrase used by Cardinal Ricard: the Pope will make a "gesture of good-will (geste de bienveillance)," says Ricard; lifting the excommunications will be a "sign of benevolence," says Rifan.

Cardinal Ricard's second statement, that after this "gesture" is made, "it will remain to be seen whether the Fraternity will take the next step," corresponds to what Bishop Rifan says next:


After this lifting of the decree of excommunications, they will be in the similar condition of the Greek Orthodox, from whom the Pope [Paul VI in 1964] lifted the decree of excommunication too. Afterwards, they will need the canonical regularization and the correction of doctrinal mistakes.


I think we can get a pretty good idea, from these two interviews, what will take place after the Society's General Chapter and the election of the new Superior-General. In all likelihood, if the odd similarity between Cardinal Ricard's "geste de bienveillance" and Bishop Rifan's "sign of benevolence" is not just coincidence, the Pope will lift the SSPX excommunications as a preliminary first step; it will then be the expectation of the Pope that the SSPX will "take the next step," that is, accept "the correction of doctrinal mistakes."

26 comments:

Tim said...

That this "gesture of good-will" is probably not going to be the liberation of the Tridentine Mass is suggested by Bishop Rifan's remarks

Q. One of the two preconditions the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) have requested since 2001 was a public affirmation that the Classical Roman liturgy has never been abrogated. If this first step is eventually granted, what do you predict will happen next?

A. I think that it is very true that this affirmation of the cardinals that the Classical Roman liturgy has never been abrogated. The continuation of this usage, allowed by the Holy See, is a proof. But this universal indult has nothing to do with this precondition of the Society of St. Pius X; it will be a realization of the personal will of the Holy Father, independent of this good request.


With all respect to JAM I read this a bit differently. His Lordship seems to be implying that a "universal indult", of whatever form, may in fact be coming (not holding my breath), but if it so happens, it will not be due to the demands of the SSPX, but a unilateral move by the Holy Father. I think it is safe to say that this subject would not be nearly so much on the minds of our Bishops had it not been for the SSPX, however. Presumably the Holy Father has a strong attachment to the TLM and probably already wishes that it be freed, although he is taking his time in doing so (not a criticism, just an observation).

sacerdos15 said...

I also believe the indult is coming because this Pope is on record for saying that you cannot suppress a rite which has been used for so long.Remember it was JPII who told the monks of Barroux that the allowance of the Tridentine mass is following the will of VII,which said that all rites of the Church were to be preserved. Could it be that the gesture which Cardinal Ricard (who is a member of the Ecclesia Dei comission) alludes to will be a public mass in the Classic Roman rite celebrated by the Pope?

JAM said...

With all respect to JAM I read this a bit differently.

I read and re-read your comment, and for the life of me, I can't see how what you're saying is anything different from what I said.

Can you be more precise? I said the mystery "good-will gesture" probably won't be the liberation of the TLM, precisely because Rifan speaks of that as having "nothing to do with this precondition of the Society of St. Pius X."

That sounds exactly like what you just said: His Lordship seems to be implying that a "universal indult", of whatever form, may in fact be coming (not holding my breath), but if it so happens, it will not be due to the demands of the SSPX, but a unilateral move by the Holy Father.

What am I missing?

Iosephus said...

JAM, you're an attentive reader . . . and, given the way things have gone heretofore, it's easier to believe that the Holy Father will adjust the canonical situation of a few bishops rather than promulgate a decree possibly effecting the life of the entire Roman Rite world.

And, in the short term at least, whichever one is coming down the tracks will be exciting.

Jeff said...

Well, let me remind everyone that Al Trovato and I have been predicting that the Holy Father would do both of these things since last summer!

I never lost heart when the Holy Thursday deadline passed and I have always stood by those predictions and I still do...

Tim said...

My apologies JAM, I misread what you had written. On first glance, it seemed to me that you had stated that the granting of the "universal indult" will not happen, when you were in fact saying that it may happen in and of itself, but will not be the gesture of goodwill towards the SSPX, per se.

S.H. said...

vigilate et orate

Br. Alexis Bugnolo said...

I am at a loss to understand why any Catholic Bishop would equate the SSPX and the Greek Orthodox: the cases are in no way similar.

The SSPX are not in schism, the SSPX do not hold heresies, and the SSPX have never held the Apostolic See or all in communion with it as excommunicates or heretics. Nor have the SSPX usurped jurisdiction. All these things have been done by the Greek Orthodox.

JAM said...

The SSPX are not in schism, the SSPX do not hold heresies, and the SSPX have never held the Apostolic See or all in communion with it as excommunicates or heretics. Nor have the SSPX usurped jurisdiction. All these things have been done by the Greek Orthodox.

Nevertheless, it is somewhat foreboding to put two-and-two together:

1) After the "gesture of good-will" is made, the SSPX will be expected to make their own "next step"

2) This "next step" will probably in some way include submitting to correction in "doctrine"

One can only wonder what that might mean. Will Benedict insist on having the SSXP renounce their position vis-a-vis Vatican II? Or just the New Mass? Or both, or neither? What "doctrine" of the SSPX does Rifan (and presumably the pope) think stands in need of correction?

Jeff said...

jam:

Don't Catholics submit to correction in doctrine by the Holy See? What was the Holy Office doing all those years if not correcting people in doctrine? What does the CDF do today?

It's one thing to attempt to harmonize the teaching of the Second Vatican Council with Tradition in a "conservative" direction, as a Fr. Brian Harrison does. It's not okay to simply say, "Vatican Two teaches error."

That will never be okay. The Holy See will never consent to allow it. Nor could it. In order for a full regularization of status by the SSPX, they will have to recognize the authority of the Pope and Councils to bind conscience even in matters of ordinary teaching.

Williamson and those who have decided that there will be a wait of perhaps hundreds or thousands of years, into some misty, half-imaginary future, before the Popes "come round to sense" have hit the nail on the head. It's a way of saying "Never," without actually realizing you're saying it.

But...if the Pope lifts the excommunications and frees the old Mass without asking anything from the Society beforehand, he puts the discussion fully inside the Church. The SSPXers say, "We're not in schism; the excommunications are not valid; we're in the Church."

It's checkmate. Game, set, and match. You're back inside the Conciliar Church; people in unquestionably good standing, at least formally. Everyone agrees on THAT; the Pope declared it. Now: what are you going to do about it?

I mean, if Tradition could get along for hundreds of years without a Pope to defend and explain it, what on earth would we need a Pope for anyway? At worst he's a Persecutor of the Faithful; at best a Fifth Wheel. The Orthodox would be right!

Simon-Peter said...

Can I ask a question?

[silence]

Good:

Archbishop LeFebvre was excommunicated, IS THAT RIGHT? I mean is it?

He died.

Do we know where he is then? And what effect would lifting it have? If one's particular judgment is immediate upon death, and he was excommunicated, what does that mean and what effect would lifting it have?

I know I have missed something. The subjective? Mystery?

thanks.

Screwtape said...

Oh Jeff, love means never having to say never.

I will now relieve S-P of the misery of his tongue in cheek.

Lefebvre was NOT excommunicated. Some guy whose name ends in a vowel has admitted it. I even think some guy whose name ends in a Roman numeral has admitted it.

You raise an interesting question, though.

Quit it!

I have enough headaches just contemplating the universe, which I, too have decided to accept.

Dust I Am said...

So when and where will the necessary discussions take place on differences between Rome and the SSPX? Will Rome agree to joint study of the doctrinal difficulties of Vatican II? How will a rapproachment between the parties affect the current divisions between local Latin Mass centers? May I suggest that you see my new blog at http://www.dustofthetime.blogspot.com/ for a review of the many different Latin Mass centers in Kansas City.

Screwtape said...

"Will Rome agree to joint study of the doctrinal difficulties of Vatican II?"

Yes! Right after you shoot down your first flying pig.

Dust I Am said...

I used to be on the Women's Rifle Team at the University of xxxx, but even then I don't think I could hit a flying pig! The point I was making is that whatever happens, an unknown box of questions and new options will open, especially for traditionalists at the local level. We in Kansas City have some interesting history ahead of us because of our diverse Latin Mass centers (semi-independent, SSPX, FSSP, and the Institute of CTK)

AmemusAthanasium said...

What "doctrinal mistakes"?

It is clear, that this is not the Rev. Fernando Rifan S.S.J.V. who in 1988 actively assisted at the Operation Survival Episcopal Consecrations at Ecône (Switzerland).

Also, to presume the SSPX is in doctrinal mistakes ("mistakes" Rifan himself previously held, at least outwardly), is offensive.

Even more offensive is it, that Bp. Rifan compares the SSPX to the Greek Cerularian Schismatics ("Greek Orthodox"), and compares the SSPX excommunications of 1988 (which he until 2002 held were INVALID and NON-APPLYING) to the just and justified excommunication of the rebellious and schismatical Patriarchs of Constantinople.

Is the SSPX "reconciliation" a Council of Florence and Ferrara reconciliation? Absolutely not.

The SSPX is as Roman in its liturgy and prayer as it gets, yet it is portrayed by their former Associated Priest, now Bishop, Fernando Rifan as a group of schismatics, filled even with errors.

You can say what you want, but thís interview, along with the interview at Angelqueen.org a few months ago, is hard proof, that Bp. Rifan has switched sides. Everyone who did not do as he did, is now portrayed as schismatical. It is saddening, to see Bp. Rifan bashing fellow (or "fellow") "traditionalists" and being very embittered about the SSPX.

It is also proof, that, while Bp. Rifan might be a good person to intercede with Benedict XVI to lift the 1988 "excommunications'" decree, the SSPX discussions with the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei are better done between Bp. Fellay or Fr. Schmidberger and Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos alone, without the Campos Bishop in them.

It is Rifan who has changed thoroughly.

AmemusAthanasium said...

And the use of "Classical" for the traditional Roman liturgy, unblemished by the experiments of the hyperliturgists, implies, that Bp. Rifan sees it as a preference, not as a (better or best) guarantee defence of our Roman Catholic Faith in the Holy Eucharist.

When has Rifan (since his consecration and elevation in 2002) ever criticized the scandalous ecumenical activities conducted with active assistance or passive allowance of the modern-day Vatican? When did he criticize the Brasilian bishops for engaging in the sacrilege of giving Holy Communion in the hand, which is a danger for the Faith (see Mysterium Fidei, 1965, and Memoriale Domini, 1968, both of the hand of Paul VI!)? When has he ever criticized the infiltration of Neomodernism in the seminaries, when did he condemn the moral laxity and liberalism pressing its ugly way through the corridors of the Roman seminaries since 35 to 40 years?

Or has his purple biretta made him silent? Who will accept thirty pieces of silver to be silent whilst the Mystical Body of Christ is being crucified right in front of our eyes, with the cooperation of the (blinded) Church hierarchy?

No, I am not a rad trad, just wondering. May God continue to bless all of Roman Catholic Tradition, including Bishop Rifan, to continue His Church and to restore the communion in His Church, to rigidly cleanse it from the true errors of our days, from the real sacrileges, which took away Faith from my parents and all of the generation which was young around the Council.

Sixtus V said...

After looking at some of the blogs of of those who proclaim adherence to SSPX (including Stephen Heiner's) I am troubled by the crypto-protestant (nay early Lutheran) diatribes against the papacy and the See of Rome. I do not indict the SSPX, but I am troubled by some self proclaimed apologists who laud tradition while ignorining Unam Sanctam, the the Lateran Councils, the profession of the Tridentine Faith "Injunctum Nobis," Vatican I, and (gasp) the Dogamatic Constitution of the Church. They proclaim adherence to the papacy, while running down the occupant of the chair of Peter. What gives?

JAM said...

It's one thing to attempt to harmonize the teaching of the Second Vatican Council with Tradition in a "conservative" direction, as a Fr. Brian Harrison does. It's not okay to simply say, "Vatican Two teaches error."

That is precisely where I think this is heading: the SSPX will have to publicly admit, "Vatican II can be reconciled with Tradition, and we accept it as non-heretical."

Except that Bishop Tissier de Mallerais just declared in his interview for the Remnant that the only solution now is to wipe the slate clean and forget the council ever happened.

About the excommunications ... just based on the disagreements here in this thread, you can see what issues this is going to raise. Should the SSPX accept a "lifting" of the excommunications, or should they insist that - instead - the excommunications must be declared null and void and invalid from the start?

Will their acceptance of such a "lifting" of the excommunications amount to a tacit acceptance of their validity? I can certainly foresee this being used against them on that point.

Sixtus V said...

If the view of the SSPX is that the Council should be "voided" (as if that were possible, let's annul Nicea while we're at it), then they are farther down the road then I thought.

Screwtape said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Screwtape said...

"That is precisely where I think this is heading: the SSPX will have to publicly admit, 'Vatican II can be reconciled with Tradition, and we accept it as non-heretical.' "

Response: You're nuts!

"The point I was making is that whatever happens, an unknown box of questions and new options will open . . . "

Response: Ever hear the story of Pandora?

Sixtus V said...

My dear Samizdat,

That position would place you outside the Church. Do you really want to be in the equivalent of the PNC, Old Catholics or the final end point of all such ventures - the Anglicans?

Sixtus V

Screwtape said...

Sixtus:

I'm a convert, but not to the Church you adhere to - the non-Catholic Conciliar one.

If your idea of "Church" is somehow correct, which would necessitate prescinding from the truth of the ages and stretching imagination beyond the snapping point, then I join Ivan in turning in my ticket.

Now let it go. We are never going to be walking down the same side of the street.

MacK said...

If SSPX admits to the authenticity of VCII "in the light of tradition" or whatever formula, there will be a division into two camps. Surely, Fellay & his supporters must know that they are walking on thin ice, in this regard. They will just be following Rifan, and many of the same ilk, into behavioural duplicity - when I'm at the NO service I am only there physically ..........etc.

There are some Catholics these days who have a genre of spiritual schizophrenia: when they are at a Latin Mass the orthodox sense of the Roman Catholic character predominates. When they attend the Bugnini service (or take part in some other way) they feel they are participating more fully, as it were, in the life of the contemporary church.

It is impossible to sincerely reconcile two entirely different characters into a unified personality,in this case. One is clearly traditional and the other is patently modernistic. It is evident that since the modernistic trend has predominated there is a crisis of identity in the church - what is she? is she modern or is she traditional? SSPX must confront this reality and the implications that run concurrently.

Plenty has been stated by our noteworthy predecessors in the faith concerning compromises with secularist philosophies and countercurrents. There actually is no place for protestantism, anthropocentrism and paganism in the Catholic liturgy. What stems from this can be witnessed in trends in belief within the two systems. One can accuse modern and traditional faithful of many similar sins but one cannot accuse them of the same errors of belief, particularly in what concerns essential core doctrines. Transubstantiation and the sacrificial nature of The Mass are but two of them. Indeed, ultimately, one will be coerced into making a choice. We can argue semantics and relativise the arguements at will but the essential nature of belief is not negotiable from a doctrinal perspective.

"Gestures of good will" are futile if they are mere politico-diplomatic postures. What is called for now are gestures of doctrinal clarity and correctness. This is a phenomenon we have not been able to comprehend from Rome in recent years. I doubt if this is what the situation will receive in actual fact since the ambiguity has become so entrenched that even the hypocritical modernists flagrantly disobey the Pontiff while perenially accusing the traditionalists of being in schism.

It is in this environment, I would suggest, "lifting" the so-called "excommunication" is a meaningless virtual exercise to which Bishop Fellay and his supporters have attached too much importance since the state of excommunication has no real legal status. Just as the "indult" is a type of optical illusion meant to distract our attention from the real issues of The Mass of All Times as codified by St Pius V, and no other, and the modernistic deviation from doctrinal norms. SSPX should be focussing on these issues and defending them without making diplomatic compromises.

Frankly speaking, the Holy Father has so far acted with the customary equivocation suited to the conciliar temperament. He was a Rahnerist at the Council yesterday and he made it clear he intended to follow through his predecessors programme, today. This is tantamount to the 'status quo ante bellum'. The Latin Mass provides the Trojan Horse and I'll leave the reader to make their minds up about who plays the role of Achilles.

Screwtape said...

Mack (ngb here; formerly Samizdat):

Very good explanation, although I might cavil at the "guilt" of Bishop Fellay and the SSPX in putting too much emphasis on lifting a prohibition that never was.

I say this on the basis that I know I've heard Bishop Williamson state as much and I'm fairly certain that in some of his long speeches so has Bishop Fellay. They certainly and unequivocally have made it clear that doctrine and Dogma are the issue.

Also, the powers that be at the Society have made it equally clear than there shall be no dialogue or reneging regarding V II. Lumen gentium, Gaudium et spes, and, above all, Dignitatis humanae alone render any accommodation impossible. It has been duly noted that the acceptable parts merely served to hide what Michael Davies termed the "time bombs."

Those highest in the Society also realize, and have so stated, that any Compos-like compromise would send the entire Traditional movement, insofar as it can be said there is one, "whirled beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear in fractured atoms."

Also, as you intimate, it is amazing to me how many feel they can get by without knowing the zoological attributes of the leopard, let alone the wolf.