Rorate Caeli

Castrillón speaks:
On the SSPX: "Discussions may take place inside the Church"

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, spoke today to the Vatican daily, L'Osservatore Romano, on the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and related matters.

Castrillón has some stern words for those who have used wrong terms without clear knowledge of the matter and, then, his most important answer, regarding future events.

[L'Osservatore Romano:] How is a return to "full communion" possible for excommunicated persons?

[Castrillón:] The excommunication applies only to the four bishops, because they were ordained without the mandate of the Pope and against his will, while the priests are only suspended. The Mass they celebrate is undoubtedly valid, but not licit, and, thus, participation is not advised, unless there are no other possibilities on Sunday. Certainly, neither the priests nor the faithful are excommunicates. I wish, speaking of this, to repeat the importance of a clear knowledge of things in order to be able to judge them correctly.

[L'Osservatore Romano:] Don't you fear that the attempt to wish to bring back to the Church men and women who do not recognize the Second Vatican Council may provoke an aversion among those faithful who instead see Vatican II as a compass for navigation in the barque of Peter, particularly in these times of continuous changes?

[Castrillón:] First of all, the problem regarding the Council is not, in my opinion, as grave as it might seem. In fact, the Bishops of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, headed by Bishop Bernard Fellay, have expressly recognized Vatican II as an Ecumenical Council and Bishop Fellay reasserted it in a meeting with John Paul II and, more explicitly, in the audience of August 29, 2005, with Benedict XVI. Nor can it be forgotten that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre signed all Council documents.

I believe that their criticism of the Council is related mostly with the clarity of some texts, in the absence of which the path is opened to interpretations not in agreement with Traditional doctrine. The greatest difficulties are of interpretive character and are related even to some gestures of the ecumenical level, but not with the doctrine of Vatican II. It is a matter of theological discussions, which may take place inside the Church, where, in fact, there are several interpretive discussions of the Conciliar texts, discussions which may continue even with the groups which return to full communion.

The second phase of the One-Two-Three Strategy seems to be taking shape.


  1. Anonymous9:09 PM

    This is good news and bodes well for the future. The more that the official stance of the SSPX is reiterated, the better: that they acknowledge Vatican II as an ecumenical council, that they recognize the Pope as a true Pope, that they profess the validity of the Novus Ordo Mass and the Sacraments, particularly the priesthood. The extremities of some of the members of the SSPX, certain clerics included, are one thing but the official stance is another that must be reiterated for the sake of clarity over and over again.

    Also, if and when they are reconciled, the discussion over interpretation that the Cardinal speaks about would be the healthiest thing. Part of the Hermeneutic of rupture seems to be forcing a kind of "given" that Vatican II and everything after has been a great "renewal"; how could any intelligent Catholic think otherwise? But with a healthy debate that is not afraid of acknowledging the painful failures and harsh realities, the Church may actually be able to begin to move forward in the direction of real and ongoing reform.

    I think that the more that the very Benedictine starting point of the "Hermeneutic of Continuity" the healthier it will be for many aspects of Catholicism.

  2. Anonymous9:45 PM

    John, There are more "extremists" in the Novus Ordo camp than there are in the FSSPX camp, ratio wise.

    And the extremism of the Novus Ordo world far outstrips the extremism in the FSSPX world, what with certain Los Angeles Cardinals and NO bishops who outright dissent from many, many articles of the faith.

    I do not know of a single man woman or child that assists at an FSSPX chapel who denies Transubstantiation, but I know many NO priests and bishops who do.

    The FSSPX have never denied the validity of the Second Vatican Council as an ecumenical council.
    They have never denied that the Pontiff is the Pontiff.
    They have never denied that the Novus Ordo Mass is the unbloody Sacrifice of Calvary represented on the altar.
    They have never denied that Novus Ordo priests are validly ordained.

    If the correct form and matter are used. And the correct intention is present

    Ut Prosim,
    Dan Hunter

  3. Anonymous9:59 PM

    "It is a matter of theological discussions, which may take place inside the Church, where, in fact, there are several interpretive discussions of the Conciliar texts, discussions which may continue even with the groups which return to full communion."

    It seems to me a call to return to full communion notwithstanding possible theological discussion that are already going on in the heart of the Church regardless. These ongoing discussions will "continue even with the groups which return to full communion."


    "John, There are more "extremists" in the Novus Ordo camp than there are in the FSSPX camp, ratio wise."

  5. Anonymous10:15 PM

    If what John and Dan have said is true, and if the theory of the "One-Two-Three" strategy mentioned by Rorate is also credible, then, in theory, all it would take for the SSPX to return to full communion is the lifting of the excommunications. Do the three of you agree (John, Dan, and New Cath). I ask sincerely, because every time I hear of some good news in this regard, it is usually followed shortly after by Bishop Fellay saying not to hope for anything soon, because there are many doctrinal discussions to ensue, and I have always had a problem with this. There is nothing wrong with doctrinal discussions within the Church. We have been having them for 2000 years, so I think that the Cardinal's point is very important, because if the doctrinal discussions have to be solved before the SSPX can return, they will never return. ANd that would be abnormal in the Church. Theologians can and should discuss things and when the discussion has gone on enough, the Pope, through his Curia, should arbitrate clearly and end the discussions. And it is obvious that the Curia that elected BXVI will never have a problem with SSPX doctrinal issues, simply because Tradition has a priority when it comes to correct interpretation of texts, conciliar or otherwise theological. Therefore, I am left with 2 problems:
    1-Why is there so much talk about how there aren't any substantive issues remaining and the excommunications have not been lifted? What is preventing their being lifted?
    2-If those excommunications were lifted tomorrow, do you really think the SSPX will return so willingly?

    Lastly, I would not worry about Novus Ordo clergy being extremists, presumably against Tradition. They should not be counted; they are not a threat to the SSPX. What can they do? Disagree with SSPX priests? So. Let them. With the Motu Proprio, no priest can be forbidden the right to say the Extraordinary Form. Those who are in dissent from the Church are not in the Church, in reality, and the Pope knows it. He is not counting on their cooperation anyway. Sorry for rambling.

  6. Anonymous10:45 PM

    Therefore, I am left with 2 problems:
    1-Why is there so much talk about how there aren't any substantive issues remaining and the excommunications have not been lifted? What is preventing their being lifted?
    2-If those excommunications were lifted tomorrow, do you really think the SSPX will return so willingly?

    1. Excomms will be lifted when the SSPX gives sufficient signs that they are ready to submit to the Holy See. I think Cardinal Castrillon recently said..."with a little humility" reconciliation can be reached. The Holy See is still waiting for a sign of humble submission.
    2. No...and hence #1.

  7. "discussions may...."

    With all due respect to the cardinal discussions MUST take place since the councils & some of its documents are not above reproach on doctrinal grounds - ambiguity was never a Catholic virtue until after the councils. The objective outcome of those councils which we can easily admit were ecumenical are the christendom we witness today which is fundamentally dechristianised. For this, the post-conciliar church has to accept responsibility. The ecclesiastical map of western christendom has been devastated and this process continues throughout. It is time to wake from sleep and return to the divine mandate so unambiguously expressed by Our Blessed Lord in today's Gospel - to go to all nations & baptise in the Name of The Blessed Trinity. There is no room for ecumenical excesses but these continue unabated.

    It is time for a full, candid and open discussion on the ecumenical councils & their disastrous pastoral aftermath AND the sooner the better.


    "Did you not sign and agree to the resolutions of this council?

    No. First of all, I have not signed all the documents of Vatican II because of the last two acts. The first, concerned with "Religion and Freedom," I have not signed. The other one, that of “The Church in the Modern World”, I also have not signed. This latter is in my opinion the most oriented toward modernism and liberalism.

    Are you on record for not only not signing the documents but also on record to publicly oppose them?

    Yes. In a book, which I have published in France, I accuse the council of error on these resolutions, and I have given all the documents by which I attack the position of the council - principally, the two resolutions concerning the issues of religion and freedom and "The Church in the Modern World.”

    This interview is found here:

  9. Anonymous1:25 AM

    br. Pio, take a read of Bishop Tissier's Biography where he confirms that the Archbishop did indeed sign all 16 -- the records themselves give witness to this.

  10. Anonymous2:15 AM

    This is an old canard, I think. The Archbishop certainly signed the records to indicate that he attended the vote on the documents. Of course, he voted against them, along with other Council Fathers.

    Is there actually another signature from a later stage, perhaps when the documents were promulgated? If so, does it indicate any kind of assent to the final version, rather than simply acknowledging the promulgation?

  11. Schoolman,

    In the grand scheme of things, it does not really matter, in my humble opinion, whether the good Archbishop signed all the documents of the Council. What is important that Archbishop Lefebvre spent the rest of his life fighting the errors and ambiguities emanating from that same Council - errors and ambiguities that became the doctrinal foundation for a new religion.

  12. Anonymous2:32 AM

    My dear brothers, I think there is significance to this. In the work cited the Archbishop himself explained to his seminarians why he signed all of the documents: "I cannot separate myself from the Holy Father: if the Holy Father signs, morally I am obliged to sign." (Op cit, p. 312)

  13. Well this is certainly promising. Being a former SSPX supporter it pleases me to see that I was not in schism from the Church. Hopefull the SSPX Bishops can be forgiven of their disobediance to the Holy Father and normalization of relations can occur. The Church is in need of all the defenders of orthodoxy possible and the sooner the SSPX is regularized the better for everyone.

  14. This is why I have stated elsewhere, once Archbishop Lefebvre understood what was happening he took the line he did. Only three council members actually refused to sign the final documents but I have lost their names. Some traditional clergy such as Fr Gomar de Pauw (RIP) who was an independent traditional priest opposed from the beginning but, of course, he was not involved directly in the conciliar process. So did others such as the Abbe Georges de Nantes - they could see clearly the hand of The Devil working insidiously at the councils. The point is that anyone who could see through the councils as un-Catholic at best and downright diabolical at worst, were then ostracised in one manner or another. Similar processes happened in various dioceses and parishes to bring everyone into line. I have witnessed a few milder incidents of this nature myself. Of course, there exist the immortal words of Pope Paul VI (RIP) on the results of the councils themselves much later - the smoke of Satan and the auto-demolition of the church by itself. He ought to have known as he was the pope directly responsible for the whole affair.

    Therefore, Archbishop Lefebvre was correct to resist once he was fully aware and so were all the others. This is why it is insufficient to suggest that the councils are above criticism and beyond reproach because they are not. Otherwise this web site and a plethora of others would not have existed discussing the disastrous post-conciliar mess that exists. And, SSPX would never have been founded.

    In conclusion, the Archbishop signed, then reconsidered his position in the light of the eventual circumstances and set about building necessary orthodox structures, with The Vatican's permission, to preserve traditional Roman Catholic norms, values and mores. He should be applauded for this. What happened thereafter can only be understood completely in the context of what has unfolded in the church since and not as a set of incidents in isolation. Anyone who studies seriously the current condition of the modern church, accurately nominated Novus Ordo, can only be horrified at so much destruction and devastation in the 40 years since the councils. Particularly as Catholics were sold the illusion of "springtime".

    Furthermore, the NO itself is inherently divided against itself as its "vernacular only" liturgy symbolises: Neo-Catechumenal Way [who see the NO as schismatic in effect], so-called Charismatics, Focolare, Opus Dei, pro-SP, anti-SP, pure NO, in fact almost every permutation. Thus, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos should reevaluate those words that SSPX Masses are valid but not licit since increasingly more NO services are certainly illicit in nature and some even invalidated by lack of proper form, matter and intention. This is a fact that grows in importance by the day - the Trent Councils and Pope St Pius V were absolutely right on the mark to have anathematised "vernacular only" liturgy. Thank God some of the Catholic clergy & laity have had the courage and moral fibre to resist it face to face.

  15. Anonymous11:09 AM

    The firts paragraph: "Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman liturgy before the reform effected in 1970 is causing to return also some non-Catholics into full communion with Rome."


  16. Anonymous11:34 AM

    Oh, yeah... I think the non-catholics refered by Cardinal CAstrillon are the modernists bishops and Cardinals that now accept the 'extraordinary form'.

  17. Anonymous11:58 AM

    Thank you, Schoolman for your answer, though it is worrisome, because it implies that ultimately the issue is not the Council, nor any longer the Mass, nor even probably the excommunications, but humility and obedience, and this is the weakness of the SSPX.

    Could anyone give an example of a "sign of humility" or of "submission" to the Holy Father that the Church would conceivable accept as sufficient? What kind of sign must the SSPX give?

  18. I have to say what I have said before and that is there is nothing that prevents the SSPX bishops, priests and faithful attached to them from expressing their views on doctrinal issues or, for celebrating the sacraments in the traditional manner. However, they cannot be marginalized in the sense that no bishop will allow them to function in local dioceses; they cannot be refused incardination; the bishops cannot continue to be called excommunicates when they profess no heresy and recognize the legitimate authority of the Pope and bishops and when they do not attempt any movement towards establishing a parallel church. This so-called crime of disobedience is mitigated by the state of emergency perceived at the time of the illicit consecrations and canon law states this very clearly. It's long past time with the state of the church today to get on with it and put up a united front against the moral evils of the day.

    I'll tell you what I would do and neither side would like it. I'd lock up the protagonists in a non temperature-controlled room in the Vatican with only breaks for bread and water and necessary bodily functions and tell them when they agree on doctrine and juridical matters, i.e., the framework, the locks will be removed and all suspensions and restrictions vacated. It's called the "put them in the tank approach" folks and, believe me, it works. But, as long as both sides can continue to function without the help, assistance, agreement and, yes, the tolerance of the other, the deadlock will continue. At least, that's how I see it. Give 'em a few days closeted in a room like that and the barriers will begin to disappear and bridges towards cooperation will emerge instead. Full communion requires the desire for same else it is nothing but blowing smoke or beating a dead horse.

    I might also say that a friend suggests nothing, not even bread and water be given and they will come to their senses much more quickly. Actually this is a technique used when warring factions of family-type group will not make any move towards reconciliation and the fact that the cardinal states that this is all within the church(sic) makes it even more embarrassing. How long will this scandal continue?

  19. Anonymous12:27 PM

    Sorry for my limited english.
    I think that is impossible to reach an agreement that will not suppose a canonical structure, this would signify a legal vacuum (Mons. Fellay spoke on the "patrotic chinese" example, that is in my opinion unfortunate).
    I have sustained a thesis that considers the "state of necessity" as being the lack of a Bishop in order to pursue Tradition.
    The lifting of the excommunications of the four Bishops would therefore imply the cessation of the state of necessity of Mons. Lefebvre because the former would have full jurisdiction.
    The crisis on the Church probably will continue but it also existed before the consecrations of 1988 and it wasn't the immediate cause.
    In brief, the issue Card. Castrillon is proposing is canonically acceptable.

  20. Anonymous2:57 PM

    "Could anyone give an example of a "sign of humility" or of "submission" to the Holy Father..."

    Yes, go visit the Blog of the traditional Transalpine Redemptorists where you will find a great example of humility and generoity in the best sense.

  21. Anonymous3:05 PM
    is the proper site

  22. Anonymous4:13 PM

    Beautiful blog I had never seen before. But as a "sign" of humility and submission, were you referring to the general tone of the blog, or to something specific, like the Good Friday prayer?

    And are the Transalpine Redemptorists in full communion with the Church? I didn't think so.

  23. Anonymous4:39 PM

    Well, see their response to the new Good Friday prayer:

    Also, there is another interesting post that responds to questions from a "William of Norwich". This small order has been affiliated with the SSPX, however, in my opinion they represent (along with others) the future of traditionalism.

  24. Anonymous5:19 PM

    I see what you mean, Schoolman. Thank you!

  25. The SSPX need to steer the discussion towards the flaws in the COuncil, not merely freedom for the old mass and lifting of excommunications. Otherwise, their whole crusade amounts of nothing but a matter of taste; they'll be ghettoized into a 'personal prelature' or something like that and the Church will continue to collapse. Unfortunately, numbers do matter and the SSPX's strength is in their numbers... all others taking shots at the Council are shrugged off as lone gunmen.

  26. schoolman, you seem to be correct, the Archbishop did sign the documents my mistake, the discrepancy was on my part due to the interview sourced above.

    As Br. Anthony stated, his (Archbishop's) position is clear on VII and the Council nonetheless. Its true that he wished always to be faithful to the Pope and Eternal Rome, but in conscience he could not endanger his faith nor those of his seminarians or the faithful. Deo gratias.

    God Willing one day his heroic life will be publicly acknowledged by the Sovereign Pontiff and raised to the glory of the altar. God Willing it will be in Benedict XVI's Pontificate!

  27. Anonymous2:40 PM

    You pit SSPX priests against Vatican-chosen NO priests in a disciplinary contest and I'll take the SSPXers and give 1000 to 1 odds.

    Bring it on.

  28. Anonymous11:51 PM

    Nobody should hold their breath that any of the loudmouth calumniators hurling years of accusations of "schism," James Likoudis, Pete Vere, and their ilk, will ever apologize as publicly as their accusations.


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