Rorate Caeli

What now?

[The SSPX and the Holy See: what now?]

by Alessandro Gnocchi & Mario Palmaro

[Il Foglio, January 27, 2012]

Will the agreement be made or not? The dialogue between the Holy See and the Fraternity of Saint Pius X [FSSPX / SSPX], founded by Mons, Marcel Lefebvre, has entered a decisive phase. The outcome of this dialogue is, above all, of great concern to Pope Benedict XVI, who has personally encouraged and nurtured it; it is also of great concern to all the priests, religious and lay faithful who are with the Fraternity; it is of great concern to all of that vast part of the Catholic world which is not of the SSPX, but which is set on the part of Tradition. For different reasons, progressive Catholicism and the secular world are observing (the situation) with great attention and some nervousness.

In other words: the match that is being played is important and difficult, but an agreement is not impossible. A lot of the resistance might fall away though, if one considers that when discussing the doctrinal questions, it is done through diplomatic means, also because the Fraternity’s canonical resolution is in question. We are moving here on mixed ground where it is fundamental to distinguish the levels, a process, which objectively, is not always so easy.

This is the shaky ground on which the case proceeds. If you can understand the disorientation of Rome with regard to the hesitations of the FSSPX, you also have to understand the perplexity of the Fraternity when it complains that Rome asks of them something that has not been asked of any other in order for them to adorn that tricky ecclesial category called “full communion”.


At this point, neither of the two sides can expect the other to pay an unpayable price: on the one hand, Rome cannot ask the Fraternity of St. Pius X to disown its identity; on the other, the Lefebvrians cannot expect Rome to lose face, with an unconditional surrender and a fairytale return to form in the present Catholic world, which objectively, is an accumulation of many contrasting things.

The success of the talks requires an awareness that knows how to hold faith and realism together. On the one hand, supernatural vision: the belief that the Church is in Rome ( it is in any case) despite the fact that it is going through one of the gravest crises in Her history; on the other hand, the narrow path of realism, that aims to give the Fraternity of St. Pius X the possibility of “having the experience of Tradition” according to a formula that was coined by Mons. Marcel Lefebvre himself.

Even if it seems out of proportion, most of the responsibility lies with the heirs of Lefebvre. In the history of the Church the figure of the dwarf who carries the giant on his shoulders is a recurrent one. It is a task that, besides moral and doctrinal rigour, requires humility and charity, and the understanding that Rome is helped by staying with Rome. But as time passes, there is a greater risk of thinking that only one alternative between two (ways) exists; the siren that invites no resolution because the conditions in the Church are far too serious; and the siren that invites a resolution without discussion because in the end ‘all is well.’ In the deepest sense, neither way sits well with an institution like the Fraternity of St. Pius X, which was born as a result of the unquestionable crisis that hit the Church after the Second Vatican Council.

Besides the two alternatives mentioned above, a third alternative exists and in this case, it goes like this: the question must be resolved as soon as possible precisely because the situation is grave, for the good of the whole Church.

In this endeavor, the Fraternity of St. Pius X, cannot be left alone with such a great responsibility. Pope Benedict XVI is the guarantor of this. It cannot be denied that this Pope has characterized his pontificate by giving back honour to the Gregorian Mass, by revoking the excommunications of the Fraternity’s bishops and by initiating the doctrinal discussions on the hot issues. These are all of the conditions requested by Mons. Lefebvre’s heirs. This fact cannot be ignored by the FSSPX nor the negotiators that represent Rome. The latter are very much aware that there is more Catholicism in the Lefebvrian community (even though they are canonically irregular) than in many regulated communities within the Catholic world. The time has come to bring this paradox to an end, through an act of good will accompanied by common sense. From both sides.

[Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana. Gnocchi and Palmaro, traditional Catholic authors, wrote, "Report on Tradition - In conversation with the successor of Monsignor Lefebvre"]

27 comments:

Me said...

I hope that the SSPX can spread tradition in my city. It would be nice to have more Mass options to go to for certain reasons. I am praying this "deal" goes through with Rome.

Cruise the Groove. said...

From what I have read on Rorate, the ball is now in the Holy See's court since Bishop Fellay sent an amended version of the Preamble to the Holy Office, for them[HO] to decide on.

Lets us pray that cooler and more orthodox minds prevail in Cardinal Levadas office and that the Holy Father has his way.

Fugu said...

On one hand, Rome must clarify the level of assent required by each of the documents of Vatican II. Even after mons. Ocariz's intervention, it would seem that the Holy See is requesting the SSPX to give a degree of assent closer to that owed to "de fide tenenda" definitions instead of the "obsequium religiosum", which could range from simple "respect" to "willing not to dissent" (for non-infallible pronouncements of higher authority) but never binding in conscience.

On the other hand, the SSPX must be willing to accept a canonical structure if it can be established that the doctrinal differences are not regarding "de fide" doctrines (i.e., that Rome and the fraternity share the same Faith). I think that the burden of proof rests on the SSPX side: they must demonstrate the heretical nature of the conciliar doctrines they reject. If the previous or traditional doctrine was not irreformable, then, by definition, development is licit.

In this, father Gleize's document is very superficial… he only provides the typical enumeration "this document contradicts this other" which is found ad nauseam in blogs and webpages. I don't know if the doctrinal discussions had a higher theological level, but if they had the abstract tone of Gleize's and Ocariz's interventions... well... then they will never make any progress… the individual issues must be discussed extensively. Professor Thomas Pink’s paper regarding religious liberty is an excellent example of how each of the doctrinal problems should be treated.

Confusius said...

Very sensible article. Rome needs the SSPX. The "lefebvrians" have more Catholicism in their little finger than all the Catholic "new movements" and the "reformed" established orders posses in their totality. The ferocious opposition of the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna and his ilk to the SSPX's recognition by the Roman authorities is surely an infallible sign that God wants a reconciliation. Archbishop Lefebvre, pray for us! All ye Holy Angels and Saints of God, pray for us! And may Lucifer and his legions be confounded

Joe B said...

I actually see the third option being the right one. I don't think SSPX expects the Vatican to "lose face" and I certainly don't see SSPX accepting the wonderfulness of the Novus Ordo, among other things. Rather, I hope SSPX and the Holy Father both see that the critical question at this time need not be resolution, but protection while resolution proceeds according to God's own timing.

Because if the Holy Father crushes SSPX, he will turn the wolves lose to crush all of us, including FSSP. Is that what God wants?

It cannot be. This will end well.

JR said...

You don't "negotiate" with Rome if Rome preaches only the Truth; you simply submit. If Rome doesn't preach only the Truth which saves and instead believes that Catholicism is an admixture of truth and error, then that is not the type of "Catholicism" that anyone should assent to. If the SSPX (and every other Catholic in the world) is being asked to drink from the chalice of an unholy admixture of truth and error, then all of us, to save our immortal souls must reject such a cocktail. Asking the SSPX to sell its "soul" in order to embrace the New Catechism and the letter and interpretation of the documents of the Second Vatican Council as they presently stand, and worry about the details later is preposterous and illogical! They might as well close all the traditional parishes and chapels down, go to the Novus Ordo and let the pope fix it when he feels like it - if he feels like it.

Rick DeLano said...

@Fugu:

I very much enjoyed your post, but have a question concerning this part:

"In this, father Gleize's document is very superficial… he only provides the typical enumeration "this document contradicts this other" which is found ad nauseam in blogs and webpages."

>>I did not get the impression that Fr. Leize's argument could be adequately characterized in this way.

What impressed me about Fr. Gleize's argument was his posited distinction between the Faith as object and the Church-subject to which Pope Benedict refers in his 2005 curial address.

It seems to me that Gleize is saying that the Faith is objective, and that the magisterium cannot substitute for fidelity to this objective Faith by positing fidelity to a subject-Church.

If you think the distinction or argument is wrong, I would be delighted to learn why.

Tradical said...

Once again the 'come join us' plea.

The problem in this context is: Can the SSPX trust the Vatican?

Just a look at what happened at the FSSP when Cardinal Hoyos intervened.

Are those days over?

JWDT said...

A question for Rorate readers:
What or why is it 'so important' to our Holy Father to have this agreement buttoned up so quickly?
I do not see much movement in the Curia/Rome to clean up the mess, so I am curious, does the FSSPX create that much fear / consternation with those in power? If so why, is it a guilty conscious?

K Gurries said...

Rick, to distinguish between a teaching "subject" and the "object" taught does not imply that these can be set separated or set in opposition to each other. They go together by virtue of Our Lord's promise.

authoressaurus said...

This won't be the end of the dialogue, just as the world didn't end at either of the millennia, and won't end next December, unless one happens to die between now and then, in which case this world has ended completely for them! No, it may fall to the next pontificate to resolve this dialogue, and finalize an agreement. It is true that Rome needs the SSPX, we all do, but we need them either in or out of jurisdictional agreement. Their position "outside" the church is responsible for all of the permissions that have occurred INSIDE the church, except for one: Cardinal Heenan's indult, and for those few priests who continued saying the traditional mass - which hadn't been abrogated or officially prohibited - on an individual basis. The disease, the virus, the contagion of Vatican II won't be shed overnight, it will have to be outlived just as Arianism was outlived over a prolonged period. My prescription is to keep praying, always; find good where you can within the broader church, and encourage it; and foster the expression of and adherence to tradition whenever possible. Remember that prior to the Protestant Reformation, Roman churches did not have pews. The disposition of individuals at the liturgy was somewhat more chaotic, or shall we say, less regimented. Remember that; proper orientation doesn't depend on a pew, on a forced disposition, we have to reconvert our own church, so that we all end up in a similar disposition regarding our Romanita in all its aspects.

MJ said...

JWDT,

My guess would be that the Holy Father thinks reconciliation is going to happen during his pontificate or never. Can we think of any papabile as friendly to tradition as Benedict XVI? There hasn't been a curial reform since Benedict was elected, which means the future popes will likely be more progressive and less interested in reconciling traditionalists. The SSPX would eventually become a separate church, much like the forgotten "Old Catholics" of the 19th century.

Ivan K said...

The SSPX are in my prayers. We need them. Yes, there are wolves among 'the Romans'. When haven't there been? If they wait for every 'Roman' to be orthodox...well, is that even possible? The wolves would love nothing more than to have the SSPX remain on the periphery, stigmatized, away from the flock. Yes, by all means, work out the best deal possible, but don't tarry. The wolves are calculating; they are patient, and time is on their side. They want things to drag on until the Holy Father is too weak to do anything for you, and for all of us who are praying for you.

Stephen said...

The Allocution of Pope Paul VI to the Consistory of Cardinals on 24 May 1976

The Pope's Allocution

On the one hand there are those who, under the pretext of a greater fidelity to the Church and the Magisterium, systematically refuse the teaching of the Council itself, its application and the reforms that stem from it,
Discredit is cast upon the authority of the Church in the name of a Tradition to which respect is professed only materially and verbally. The faithful are drawn away from the bonds of obedience to the See of Peter and to their rightful Bishops; today's authority is rejected in the name of yesterday's.

And the fact is all the more serious in that the opposition of which We are speaking is not only encouraged by some priests, but is led by a Prelate, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who, nevertheless, still has Our respect.

It is so painful to take note of this: but how can We not see in such an attitude -whatever may be these people's intentions -the placing of themselves outside obedience and communion with the Successor of Peter and therefore outside the Church?

For this, unfortunately, is the logical consequence, when, that is, it is held as preferable to disobey with the pretext of preserving one's faith intact, and of working in one's own way for the preservation of the Catholic Church, while at the same time refusing to give her effective obedience. And this is said openly.

It is even affirmed that the Second Vatican Council is not binding...that the faith would also be in danger because of the reforms and post-conciliar directives; that one has the duty to disobey in order to preserve certain traditions.

What traditions? Is it for this group, not the Pope, not the College of Bishops, not the Ecumenical Council, to decide which among the innumerable traditions must be considered as the norm of faith!

As you see, Venerable Brethren, such an attitude sets itself up as judge of that divine will which placed Peter and his lawful Successors at the head of the Church to confirm the brethren in the faith, and to feed the universal flock, and which established him as the guarantor and custodian of the deposit of faith.


It is in the name of Tradition that We ask all Our sons and daughters, all the Catholic communities, to celebrate with dignity and fervor the renewed liturgy.

The adoption of the new Ordo Missae is certainly not left to the free choice of priests or faithful. The Instruction of 14 June 1971 has provided, with the authorization of the Ordinary, for the celebration of the Mass in the old form only by aged and infirm priests, who offer the divine Sacrifices sine populo.

The new Ordo was promulgated to take the place of the old, after mature deliberation, following upon the requests of the Second Vatican Council.

In no different way did Our Holy Predecessor Pius V make obligatory the Missal reformed under his authority, following the Council of Trent.


With the same supreme authority that comes from Christ Jesus, we call for the same obedience to all the other liturgical, disciplinary and pastoral reforms which have matured in these years in the implementation of the Council decrees. Any initiative which tries to obstruct them cannot claim the prerogative of rendering a service to the Church: in fact it causes the Church serious damage.

Various times, directly and through Our collaborators and other friendly persons, We have called the attention of Archbishop Lefebvre to the seriousness of his behavior, the irregularity of his principal present initiatives, the inconsistency and often falsity of the doctrinal positions on which he bases this behavior and these initiatives, and the damage that accrues to the entire Church because of them.

Ora et Labora said...

"The SSPXers had better accept the agreement with Rome (to save Rome)"

"The success of the talks requires an awareness that knows how to hold faith and realism together. On the one hand, supernatural vision: the belief that the Church is in Rome ( it is in any case) despite the fact that it is going through one of the gravest crises in Her history; on the other hand, the narrow path of realism, that aims to give the Fraternity of St. Pius X the possibility of “having the experience of Tradition” according to a formula that was coined by Mons. Marcel Lefebvre himself."

"Besides the two alternatives mentioned above, a third alternative exists and in this case, it goes like this: the question must be resolved as soon as possible precisely because the situation is grave, for the good of the whole Church."

" In this endeavor, the Fraternity of St. Pius X, cannot be left alone with such a great responsibility. Pope Benedict XVI is the guarantor of this. It cannot be denied that this Pope has characterized his pontificate by giving back honour to the Gregorian Mass, by revoking the excommunications of the Fraternity’s bishops and by initiating the doctrinal discussions on the hot issues. These are all of the conditions requested by Mons. Lefebvre’s heirs.This fact cannot be ignored by the FSSPX nor the negotiators that represent Rome."


No bragging here, but I have been saying the same thing for a long time now.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!!!

Fugu said...

Mister DeLano,

My previous criticism of Fr. Gleize's paper was directed specifically to its seventh section (Degli insegnamenti nuovi contrari alla tradizione), in which I hoped to find a deeper analysis of the concrete doctrinal problems.

Regarding the distinction you mention, it is obvious that its principles are sound catholic doctrine: The assent given to any Truth contained in the Depositum Fidei is an act of the virtue of Faith. Therefore, as theological virtues have God as their only object, assent of Faith can only have divinely revealed Truths as object.

But... I think that Fr. Gleize's interpretation of the famous 2005 discourse is tendentious... he is forcing the modernist heresy into Benedict XVI's words. To me, it's more than obvious that this address to the Roman Curia was an explicit disapproval of the infamous "spirit of the Council". The Holy Father mentioned the "one subject-Church", not as a replacement of the object of Faith, but as a contraposition to those who speak of the pre-conciliar church as something old and superseded by the post-conciliar Church. Moreover, further in the address, the Pope quoted relevant passages from the opening discourse of the CVII, saying things like "the Council wishes to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion", or "It is necessary that adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness be presented in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine", and "The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another, retaining the same meaning and message". So, I think that it would be intellectually dishonest to conclude from this address that Benedict XVI taught that dogmas aren't objective truths, or that they are subject to re-interpretation, or that the Magisterium per se is a valid object for acts of the theological virtue of Faith.

It is true that if the Pope were to ask anybody to give an assent of Faith to a non-infallible teaching, he would be actually trying to switch the proper object of the virtue of Faith, from the Depositum Fidei to the Magisterium. But I don't think that this is the situation here... as I said before, IMHO, the theological/ecclesiological problem we are facing now is that we don't have a proper (thomist) definition of the obsequium religiosum, and because of this, each time the Pope or a theologian uses the term "submission" to translate "obsequium", it’s easy to get the wrong impression that something very close to an assent of Faith is owed to non-infallible teachings, such as the documents of Vatican II.

Blessings.

Rick DeLano said...

K Gurries:

Yes, I agree.

But this cannot, I think, be advanced as a suggestion that the subject Church cannot be afflicted with a temporary, or even a permanent within a limited geographical extent, departure from the object Faith.

It is this possibility I understood the essay by Glieze to have in mind.

Knight of Malta said...

I've said this ad nauseum, but will repeat:

At this juncture I believe the Holy Father should lift the suspensions on the Priests of SSPX. That is all.

Spero said...

Stephen, thank you for the very interesting quote. This quote shows even more clearly how admirable our Holy Father, Benedict XVI was in issuing Summorum Pontificum in direct opposition to the wishes of so many prelates!!! May God grant the acceptance of the SSPX to be a similar act of courage.

Fugu, I think you have an excellent interpretation of the 2005 address. I have been complaining for a long time now that our current crisis hides a very serious ecclesiological heresy, which is widespread among simple Catholics. I don't think they hold it formally but de facto in their attitudes. Namely the attitude that the Church prior to Vatican II is a different Church than that after Vatican II, something expressed in the hymn, "Sing a new Church into being," STILL contained in many, if not most, USA "Catholic" hymnals. Thus it is a heresy denying the continuity of the subject-Church. But if the subject after Vatican II is different than before, this is tantamount to denying that the Catholic Church is the true Church of Jesus Christ. Therefore, fighting for the recognition of the continuity of the subject-Church is necessary in the face of this heretical attitude. Showing that there is continuity in doctrine and worship shows the continuity of the subject Church. Thus emphasizing the subject-Church by means of doctrinal continuity is not a denial of the immutability of dogma, but an affirmation of the unicity of the Church of Jesus Christ. This is not a modernist address about how doctrine changes, but a Catholic one about how the changes in doctrine are only accidental and thus that they do not signify a new subject Church.

I have, indirectly, benefited much from the work of the SSPX, but I do have to say that they often seem to interpret things in the worst possible light, without necessity.

May they soon be recognized by Rome and may they bear even greater fruit with full approval of the successor of St. Peter.

K Gurries said...

Rick, it could happen that some individual Bishops fall away from the truth of the Faith -- but never the Apostolic See of Rome by virtue of Peter's unfailing faith.

Josue P. said...

pray the rosary!

Ligusticus said...

Dear NC and all: the following is in German, and I found it in today's edition of German Vatican Radio's News :

http://www.vaticanradio.org/ted/articolo.asp?c=558608

"Kardinal: Zulassung der alten Messe nur ein erster Schritt"



Mind: Cardinal Koch didn't use the "first step" expression about the dialog with the Fraternity, but rather talking about "Reform of the Reform". In his opinion, I suppose, the Council had a more "traditional" stance about Liturgy than the majoity of Catholics may think today, and so, a correction of the 1970 reform should be due, sooner or later, although not yet, because in Germany -for example- liturgical questions are (still) seen in a rather ideological way..

"Die Zeit für weitere Schritte sei jedoch „derzeit wohl nicht reif“, sagte Koch am Wochenende in Freiburg. Gerade in Deutschland seien liturgische Fragen ideologisch behaftet."

Confusius said...

The liberals and neo-cons are determined that the SSPX should be kept out in the cold, because their game is perpetuating the lie that hard core Tradition has no possible place in the post Vatican II Church. If there is a reconciliation, it will be clear that it is possible to be totally Trad and Catholic, which is the last thing the libs and cons want to happen. These are the same guys who for decades perpetuated the appalling lie that the Traditional Mass had been abrogated. Summorum Pontificum didn't please them when it exposed the error of their position. Remember how the Iron Curtain came crumbling down, and the old guard communists were pumping out the same old ideology up to the last possible minute?

PEH said...

It is ironic to read how Rome has been so forthcoming to the SSPX while they refuse communion with the Holy See. The SSPX and associated traditional groups are not the problem. It is the structure that fails to guarantee that Tradition will not only be respected but mandated as the rule that is the problem.

Again, I bring up the conflict that exists in the administration of the sacraments of the new rite with those of the traditional rite (Mass of Resurrection and Requiem Mass being but one example). This cannot continue or it will only lead to more confusion in the minds of the Faithful. We did not change things; the modernists did. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the modernists to return to Tradition IMO and there is no signal that they will choose to do so.

To think that both modernists and traditionalists will use the same churches and altars and appeal to the same church authorities in matters pertaining to marriage tribunals and the like is simply ridiculous on its face. It is only my opinion but I believe only Divine Intervention will fix the problem.

Patrick said...

"Rick, it could happen that some individual Bishops fall away from the truth of the Faith -- but never the Apostolic See of Rome by virtue of Peter's unfailing faith."
As I recall, the Apostle Peter's faith failed on multiple occasions. If the Apostle Peter himself sank in the Sea of Galilee I am not at all surprised at the present turn of events.

John McFarland said...

Dear Cruise,

Orthdoxy, like pregnancy, does not admit of degrees.

Furthermore, it seems likely that in Cardinal Levada's shop, there are as many orthodox inhabitants as are there are pregnant ones.

Finally, as regards opinions in Cardinal Levada's shop, it's a fair guess that opinions run the gamut from A to A'.

P.S. As regards balls and courts, the only thing that seems definitely to have gone to Rome in reponse to the Vatican's request was Fr. Gleize's evisceration of Msgr. Ocariz's efforts to defend the Vatican's position. But if anything in Fr. Gleize's article were news to Msgr. Ocariz, the latter must have slept through the entirety of the conversations.

Old Faithful said...

I fail to unerstand the purpose of this on-goning disedifying "dialogue." The SSPX have already been regularlized and are actively involved in pastoral ministry wihout many problems. They are known as the FSSP.

Rome should charge the FSSP with the task of bringing in the contemptuous remains of the SSPX, one at a time, if necessary. The current process gives a sectarian suspected club too much attention.

If you want to know that the current "SSPX" is really like rank and file, ask a member of the FSSP who was previously involved with them.