Rorate Caeli

Msgr. Brunero Gherardini on the SSPX

On September 29, 2010, Messa in Latino published an article from the pen of Msgr. Brunero Gherardini, containing various reflections on the Vatican - SSPX dialogue. The following is a private and unofficial translation made by some friends of Rorate.

On the Future of the Fraternity of St. Pius X

Monsignor Brunero Gherardini has been so kind as to give us the following reflections on how he sees the future of the SSPX.

During a friendly colloquium some friends asked me how I look at the future of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X upon the conclusion of the talks taking place between the Fraternity and the Holy See. We talked a long time on this subject and were of divided opinions. Therefore, I would also like to express my own opinions in writing, in the hope – if this be not presumptuous of me, God forbid! – that this may benefit not only friends, but also the (two) parties of the dialogue.

First of all I would emphasize that nobody is “a prophet or the son of a prophet.” The future lies in the hands of God. Sometimes it is possible to predict it, at least to some extent. Other times it escapes us completely. We must also take into consideration the two parties finally working on a solution to the now long-standing problem of the “Lefebvrists,” who, up till now, have remained duly silent regarding the discussions, in a laudable and exemplary manner. This silence, however, is of no help to us in foreseeing possible developments.

However, “voices” have also been heard – and not a few at that. The facts on which they base their conjectures remain unknown. I will therefore examine some of the opinions expressed on the aforementioned occasion, and afterwards I will express my own.

– There were those who judged in a positive way a recent invitation to “come out of the bunker in which the Fraternity – in order to defend the Faith from the attacks of the Neo-modernists – had barricaded itself during the post-conciliar period.” It was easy to show the precariousness of such an opinion. That the Fraternity for some decades has been in a bunker is evident; unfortunately, it is there still. However, it is not evident if it entered there of its own accord or if it was made to do so by someone else, or urged by events themselves. It seems to me – if we wish to speak of a bunker – that it was Mons. Lefebvre who led his Fraternity there on that day, the 30th of June, when, after two official warnings and one formal admonition to withdraw from his projected “schismatic” act, he ordained to the episcopate four of his priests. This was a bunker, but not one of schism properly so called, because even if he “refused to submit to the Supreme Pontiff” (CIC 751/2), there was no malicious intent and no intention to create an “anti-church.” The act was instead determined by love of the Church and a sort of pressing “necessity” for the continuity of genuine Catholic Tradition, which had been seriously compromised by post-conciliar Neo-modernism. But a bunker it was: it was a bunker of disobedience touching the limits of defiance, a deadlock with no way out in view. Not a bunker for safeguarding compromised values.

Ordinations in Econe, 2009

It is hard to understand why “in order to defend the Faith against the attacks of Neo-modernism,” it was really necessary to “barricade oneself in a bunker,” that is to say: give way to the Modernist heresy and let it flood in. No, because the inundation by heresy was constantly opposed. The Fraternity above all attends to the formation of priests, this being their special task, even if carried out in a position of canonical condemnation, and therefore outside the official ranks, with, however, the consciousness of working for Christ and for His Church, the holy, catholic, apostolic and Roman Church. Above all, they have founded and are directing seminaries, promoting and sustaining theological debates – often with a remarkably high profile – publishing books of relevant ecclesiological value, and rendering an account of themselves by means of internal and external newsletters. And all of this is done openly, thus demonstrating– though regrettably from the margins – the force with which the Church can exercise her mission of universal evangelization. The effects of the active Lefebvrist presence may be considered modest and in fact not very conspicuous for two reasons:

the canonically irregular condition in which it operates,

and its dimensions; as is said: “la mosca tira il calcio che può” (“the fly lifts whatever foot it can”).

However, I am profoundly convinced that it is just for this reason that we must thank the Fraternity: in the context of a secularization which has now reached the frontiers of a post-Christian era—an era which does not hide its antipathy for them—they have held and still hold high the torch of Faith and Tradition.

2 – During the debate which was mentioned at the beginning, someone referred to a conference during which the Fraternity was asked to have more confidence in the contemporary ecclesial world, if necessary resorting to some compromises, because the “salus animarum” demands– as a Lefebvrist has said – that we take this risk. Yes, but certainly not the risk of “compromising” our own or others’ eternal salvation.

It is probable that his words do not convey the [speaker’s] intentions. Or that the true weight of his words is not known. Compromise is something we should avoid in matters of the Faith. And the Fraternity reminds us – as does each authentic follower of Christ – that the “Yes yes, no, no” of Matthew 5:37 (James 5:12) is the only reply to be made when asked to compromise. The cited text continues: “for whatever is more than this is from the Evil One”: this involves even and especially compromise, at least when compromise means a renunciation of one’s own moral principles and one’s own raison d’être.

To tell the truth, when the discussions between the Holy See and the Fraternity started, I too heard a rumor of a possible compromise. That is to say, of an unworthy kind of conduct, which the Holy See itself would probably be the first to shy away from. A compromise on anything which does not involve the profession of the authentic Faith is possible and even plausible. However, that is never the case as far as non-negotiable values are concerned. Moreover, this would be a contradiction in terms, inasmuch as the compromise itself is the object of a “negotium” and one that carries a risk: the risk of the shipwreck of the Faith. The very idea that the Holy See could propose and accept such a compromise is repugnant to me; the Holy See would gain much less than “a mess of pottage” and would assume the responsibility for inflicting a grave wrong. It is also repugnant to me to think that the Fraternity, having taken as the standard of its very existence the Faith without compromises, should then slip on a banana peel by renouncing its raison d’être.

I add that, to judge by some indications, it may not be wholly unfounded to say that the methodology being employed by both sides does not seem to permit a very large perspective. It is the methodology of point, counter-point: Vatican II “yes,” Vatican II “no,” or at the most “yes, but ….” This requires that on one side or on the other, or on both, one’s guard is lowered. Is this an unconditional surrender? For the Fraternity to place itself in the hands of the Church would be the only really true Christian behavior, if there did not exist the reason for which [the Fraternity] exists and which made it "secede to the Aventine" (so to speak -- CAP), namely Vatican II which – especially in some of its documents – is, according to the letter, opposed to that which the Fraternity believes in and that for which it labors. With such a methodology, there is no middle way in sight. It is either capitulation or compromise.

Such a fundamental outcome could be avoided if one would follow another methodology. The “punctum dolens” of all the controversial issues is called Tradition. Each side calls attention to it constantly, while simultaneously having a totally different conception of it. Papa Wojtyla declared officially in 1988 that the Fraternity had a notion of Tradition that was “incomplete and contradictory.” One would, therefore, have to demonstrate the reason for such an incompleteness and contradiction. But what is most urgent is the necessity for both parties to arrive at a common concept (of what Tradition is - CAP), a concept which can be shared bilaterally. Such a concept would then become the instrument by which all the other problems could be solved. There is no theological or ecclesiological problem which could not be unlocked with this key. If, though, the dialogue were to continue with each side keeping to its own point of departure, then there will either be a dialogue between the deaf, or – in order to demonstrate that they have not dialogued in vain – they would give free access to compromise. This would be the outcome especially if the Fraternity were to accept the term “apparent contrasts,” apparent because they do not involve dissensions of a dogmatic character but only ever-changing interpretations of historical facts. Then the Fraternity would declare its own demise, because they would have wretchedly substituted their Tradition, which is that of the Apostles, with the flimsy, inconsistent, and heterogeneous notion of the “living Tradition” of the Neo-modernists.

– In our amiable colloquium we discussed one last question, expressing more hope than concretely founded expectations: the future of the Fraternity. This very subject has recently been treated by the web-site “Cordialiter” with an idyllic anticipation of the happy tomorrows awaiting the Fraternity: a new canonical status (new? yes, new, because up to now there has never been one); the beginning of the end of Modernism; [Fraternity] priories overrun by the faithful; the Fraternity transformed into an “autonomous super-diocese.” For my part, I too expect great things from the hoped-for settlement being worked out, with my feet, though, a bit more firmly on the ground.

I try to look at things in a more acute way in order to see what could happen tomorrow. The specialty of the Fraternity, as has already been said, is the formation of young men for the priesthood and the care of priestly vocations. Therefore, they should not open themselves up to fields of endeavor other than seminaries, this being their true “theater of operations.” In both their own and others’seminaries, more than anywhere else, the nature and purpose of the Fraternity can be given expression.

Under which canonical profile? It is not easy to foresee. However, it seems to me that since they are a priestly fraternity this ought to suggest a canonical arrangement like a “priestly society” placed under the supreme governance of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Otherwise, the fact that it already has four bishops could suggest as a solution a “Prelature,” with a juridical configuration that the Holy See, at an opportune time, could determine more precisely. This does not seem to me to be the principal problem. More important is undoubtedly both the settlement within the Church of this contentious issue, scarcely comprehensible at a time when dialogue is undertaken with everyone, as well as the emancipation of a force hitherto confined to the idea and the ideal of Tradition, so that it may operate not from a bunker but in the light of the sun and as a living and authentic expression of the Church.

Sept. 27, 2010

Brunero Gherardini


Cruise the Groove. said...

"...the emancipation of a force hitherto confined to the idea and the ideal of Tradition, so that it may operate not from a bunker but in the light of the sun and as a living and authentic expression of the Church."

And finally here is the marrow of the call to stand up in the dioceses and chancerys of the world, meeting diocesan priests in deanery assemblies and teaching the Truths of Tradition in an open manner within the diocesan structures.
The Church needs the FSSPX to do this now.
The Socirty can help to save even many more souls than they are saving right now.

Joe B said...

Right after ...

"... what is most urgent is the necessity for both parties to arrive at a common concept, a concept which can be shared bilaterally."


Anonymous said...

Cruise the Groove honed in on the very passage that caught my eye as well.
The Holy Father is the only one on earth who can make this happen for the whole Church.
May the good God fortify him, and help us all!

Br. Anthony, T.O.S.F. said...

It is in the Holy Father's hands to give canonical approval to the SSPX without any compromise on the SSPX's part. The ball is in the Holy Father's side of the court.

John McFarland said...

An interesting piece: ninety percent unvarnished praise of the Society, and ten percent praising with faint damns.

Last but not least, Msgr. Gherardini calls upon the Society to do what what Archbishop Lefebvre always said was its mission -- the formation of priests.

With critics like this, friends are practically superfluous.

But no doubt we shall see different hermeneutics applied to Msgr. Gherardini's musings.

Anonymous said...

Is the "Prelature" tied to the Holy See, the right one?

Anonymous said...

"This was a bunker, but not one of schism properly so called, because even if he “refused to submit to the Supreme Pontiff” (CIC 751/2), there was no malicious intent and no intention to create an “anti-church.”

Oddly enough, one cannot find the exculpatory (and subjective) conditions referred to by the Msgr. in Canon 751 which defines schism:

Can. 751 ... ; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

So, then, are the Eastern Orthodox to be considered 'bunkered down' and not schismatic "properly so called?" Or, would the Msgr. impute 'malicious intent' or the 'desire to create an anti-church' to eastern bishops of the 11th century?

Chris said...

For the benefit of novices like me... here is Monsignor Gherardini's biography (HT to Brother Andre Marie at Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Saint Benedict Center, NH):

Monsignor Brunero Gherardini, a renowned 85-year-old theologian of the Roman school, is the author of the recently published book Vatican Council II: An Open Discussion. The volume is published by Casa Mariana Editrice, a publishing house connected to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, and it boasts a forward by Bishop Mario Oliveri (of the Albenga and Imperia diocese) and an introduction by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the former secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, who is now the Cardinal Archbishop of Colombo and Metropolitan of the Church in Sri Lanka.

The web site of the Society of Scholastics, on whose Board of Advisors the author sits, says that Monsignor Brunero Gherardini resides “at the Vatican as a Canon of St. Peter’s Basilica, he is the secretary for the Pontifical Academy of Theology, professor emeritus at the Pontifical Lateran University, and the editor of Divinitas magazine.” Divinitas is a respected Roman journal of theology.

Cruise the Groove. said...

"Right after ...

"... what is most urgent is the necessity for both parties to arrive at a common concept, a concept which can be shared bilaterally."

Joe B,


Insertian into the mainstream of the Church comes first, like the anti-venin to the snake bite.
Then both parties can discuss common concepts.
You administer the medicine to the sick man, then, you discuss details.

Anonymous said...

He hits the nail the head, though, does he not?

Rather than bullet by bullet evaluation of Vatican II statements being pronounced on by one party and then the next, let both sides first agree to a definition of Tradition.

Then, use that definition of tradition to judge the Vatican 2 statements by.

Anyone who proposes the above is serious about a meaningful discussion. He is also serious about being efficient about it. For one would nip it in the bud if either side was more interested in hermeneutics rather than actually serving the truth.

As such, I am very impressed Msgr Gherardini and can only encourage him to popularize this proposal: Let both sides reach an agreement on what constitutes Catholic Tradition. Then against that common standard go ahead and dissect Vatican 2.

May God permit it to be soon.


Cruise the Groove. said...

"But no doubt we shall see different hermeneutics applied to Msgr. Gherardini's musings."

Mr McFarland

I do not think so.
Msgr's words are a direct and unambiguous statement attesting to the good that the Society continues to do for the Church, at large, and the imperative for them to rush forth from their bunkers and trenches and "go over the top" as it were and to charge the enemy full on with Truth and Tradition.
It must needs be that the Society be brought in to the main line of the Church by the Holy Father and administer a monster innoculation of charity to all diocese of the world.
There is no other way that I can see of reading Msgrs. words.

Disdefiant said...

"disobedience touching the limits of defiance"

I love it. I gotta get me some of that disobedience.

"there was no malicious intent and no intention to create an 'anti-church'"

Well since Lefebvre considered the the NO Church synonymous with Neo-Modernism, it seems like he was intending to create an anti-anti-church. Perhaps only touching malicious toward the Neo-Modernists.

The "pressing 'necessity' for the continuity of genuine Catholic Tradition" was also met by those who did not follow Lefebvre, namely the FSSP.

How many ordinations has the FSSP had since 1988? Have they died out? Did they ever rely upon an SSPX Bishop for any of their ordinations? It is often asked "where are the FSSP bishops"? They show up on ordination day (but sometimes their Cardinals).

Everything seems to hinge on downplaying Lefebvre's act of disobedience and creating this false impression that Catholic Tradition only survived in the SSPX bunker. Next is the argument that the bunker has been a thorn in the side of the Pope and therefore every single tittle of Traditional progress since 1988 is due to the SSPX.

By all means, regularize the SSPX so that they can join their brother (the FSSP); we can even kill the fatted calf for them. It will be a great day. We won't complain.

Anonymous said...

As a so-called Neo-Con (a term I completely reject), I think this article is fantastic.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Disdefiant's post at 19:38, and would like to mention that I know of at least one Latin Mass community in Seattle, that held out (with diocesan approval) for two decades, I think, before an FSSP priest was assigned to them two years ago.

This community, without complaining about their situation, was given a retired priest to offer the TLM once a week (and not even in a Church, but in a ballroom of an old hotel). They didn't have all the sacraments (only Holy Eucharist). Even so, they were obedient, and accepted, with humility, what they were provided. And their sacrifice has been rewarded: at least now they have daily Mass offered by the FSSP in a real Church, along with most of the sacraments. How many other unsung heroes were there, such as these, who held out, around the world, in prayerful hope, trust and faith in Our Lord and His Church?

I was a latecomer to this community, joining the parish only a year ago, but I so much appreciate the sacrifices offered for all those years by these faithful Catholics.

John McFarland said...

Cruise the Groove,

Now that I look at Msgr. Gherardini's piece more carefully, I must offer my own second hermeneutic, to go with your third.

Note that only the last two paragraphs are said to express Msgr. Gherardini's own thoughts. What goes before are the various opinions offered in the "friendly colloquium" -- though some of those opinions are presumably the Msgr.'s.

These opinions are all effectively more or less favorable to the SSPX -- and mostly more than less favorable.

The Msgr.'s own thoughts are, first of all, that the SSPX should look to continuing their task of forming priests from a new canonical arrangement.

So far, so good.

But then the wheels come off:

"This [presumably canonical status] does not seem to me to be the principal problem. More important is undoubtedly both the settlement within the Church of this contentious issue [presumably the meaning of tradition], scarcely comprehensible at a time when dialogue is undertaken with everyone, as well as the emancipation of a force hitherto confined to the idea and the ideal of Tradition, so that it may operate not from a bunker but in the light of the sun and as a living and authentic expression of the Church."

And what is this something that is more than Tradition -- and more, it would seem, even than an agreed-upon definition of Tradition?

You've got me -- although it does suggest to me that in the last analysis, the Msgr. is no traditionalist. The Faith is Tradition; it is what has been handed down from the beginning.

So Msgr. Gherardini is indeed calling for an "offensive" by the SSPX. But it is an offensive couched in language showing strong resemblance to standard neo-modernist talk of of "life" and transcendence of the old ways of thinking.

John McFarland said...


Agree on a definition of tradition?

How would they go about doing that?

The conciliar Church clearly believes in a tradition that involves change.

The SSPX rejects all change but the notion of homogeneous development.

But since the conciliar Church never talks in those terms, its view cannot very well be the same as that of the SSPX.

So how do we overcome the impasse? Flip a coin? Split the difference?

And by the way, how did some reps of the SSPX and some reps of the Pope acquire the authority to decide on the content of the Faith?

gabrielle said...

Disdefiant said...
"The "pressing 'necessity' for the continuity of genuine Catholic Tradition" was also met by those who did not follow Lefebvre, namely the FSSP. "
Have you ever stopped to think that maybe without the SSPX there would not have been the FSSP. They originated by priests from the SSPX and was setup, many believe, to try and shut down the SSPX. Have you forgotten how badly their Superior Fth Bisig was treated by Rome. As for FSSP Bishops. To show that Rome was really supportive of Tradition they should consecrate at least one. While there are many good holy Bishops in the world who can ordain priests it would be great for the FSSP to have their own. I also remind you that at the time when Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated the Bishops only a couple would speak out. That became very apparent after JPII and Assisi.

John L said...

'Even so, they were obedient, and accepted, with humility, what they were provided. And their sacrifice has been rewarded: at least now they have daily Mass offered by the FSSP in a real Church, along with most of the sacraments.'

Their sacrifice was rewarded because of the continued existence of the SSPX. Without the existence of the SSPX, the FSSP would never have been permitted to exist (a fact more or less openly acknowledged when the FSSP was set up, as it was created as an alternative to the SSPX). And the was not a reward, but an acknowledgement of a right that had always existed, as the Holy Father has now explicitly said. This kind of 'obedience and humility' is servility. Catholics have long been taught to equate virtuous obedience and humility with servile obedience to clerics; one of Archbishop Lefebvre's great virtues was that he stood up against this.

Mr. McFarland: I do not see your objection to Msgr. Gherardini's remarks about tradition, as he says that the SSPX has the correct understanding of tradition.

Disdefiant said...

"Have you ever stopped to think that maybe without the SSPX there would not have been the FSSP."

Obviously. That is the point. At one time the FSSP was the SSPX but since they decided to remain outside the bunker they are considered less important in the scheme of restoration. This is the absurdity to which I am objecting (not touching malicious, mind you).

"Have you forgotten how badly their Superior Fr. Bisig was treated by Rome."

No. This is what was to be expected living outside a bunker. What is your point? That leaders of religious societies should always be treated fairly by Rome. History is on Fr. Bisig's side not Bishop Fellay's.

"It would be great for the FSSP to have their own [bishop]."

Yes. But even despite their lack of a Bishop, they thrive. Is this also due to the SSPX?

If you must trace every tittle of Tradition to Archbishop Lefebvre you must at least realize that 1988 changed things. The FSSP and the SSPX cannot be considered equals. Some praise the SSPX for their actions others praise the FSSP for theirs. By praising one you criticize the other. To praise both is to completely miss the point.

The amazing thing is how the SSPX still point at the FSSP as proof of the necessity for the bunker-stance (no Bishop, Fr. Bisig, etc.). Lately the FSSR have taken some of the shots from the bunker.

This is why the events of 1988 must always be interpreted as a triumph for Lefebvre -- or else the whole bunker comes crashing down.

Anonymous said...

John L. wrote:

"Their sacrifice was rewarded because of the continued existence of the SSPX."

And yet, this stable group, who attend the FSSP TLM, are in full communion with Rome, with support of the local ordinary, with daily TLM, and most of the sacraments. If you want to believe that this is only due to the SSPX, then that's fine.

John L. also wrote:

"This kind of 'obedience and humility' is really servility"

How so, if you don't mind me asking? Was Our Lord just being servile when He accepted the will of the Father, and was then brutally tortured and then nailed to a cross to die? Was it "fair" that He had to suffer this?

"One of Archbishop Lefebvre's greatest virtues was that he stood up against this (servility to clerics)."

So you believe that the Archbishop would have been against the idea of this stable group of Catholics, who love the TLM, but who also preferred to stay in the diocese, and pray and hope for something better? Do you think that he would have preferred that these devout Catholics leave the visible structure of the Church, and instead head to one of his chapels?

Disdefiant said...

"Their sacrifice was rewarded because of the continued existence of the SSPX"

This line of reasoning is becoming nauseating. It seems no Traditional Catholic can merit anything without first pledging allegiance to the SSPX.

Next we will hear that Our Lady only answers SSPX Rosary Crusades (oh... maybe that is what Bishop Fellay meant by his peculiar reference to the Rosary in his latest interview).

Disdefiant said...

If the FSSP owe their existence to the SSPX, then don't the SSPV as well?

The complete extent of Lefebvre's influence remains to be seen (on the Great Day). "Disobedience touching the limits of defiance" may have lead some astray or kept some away. Tradition survived despite Lefebvre.

Anonymous said...

If the FSSP were given a bishop, would dioceses in which the FSSP exist lose authority over FSSP parishes?


John L said...

'John L. also wrote:

"This kind of 'obedience and humility' is really servility"

How so, if you don't mind me asking? Was Our Lord just being servile when He accepted the will of the Father, and was then brutally tortured and then nailed to a cross to die? Was it "fair" that He had to suffer this?'

Your example is a perfect one to illustrate my point. By servile obedience I mean the obedience of a slave, whose motivation for obedience is not the reasonableness of obedience, but the mere will to do whatever he is told by his master. The Lord's obedience was to God, who commands total obedience; doing something because God commands it is intrinsically reasonable and thus cannot be servile. But popes, bishops, religious superiors, and parish priests are none of them God. Their authority is given to them by God, and is limited by the demands of divine justice. Unconditional obedience to them, regardless of the content of their commands, is therefore servile, and indeed idolatrous; such unconditional obedience is due only to God. The community you mention had the right to the traditional liturgy of the Church, a fact that has now been recognised by Benedict XVI, since it was never suppressed. Accepting that they could only be given this liturgy as a favour, on the conditions offered by the local bishop, would be servility. Of course they may only have accepted this situation out of necessity, rather than out of a sense of misguided duty, so I would not want to say that they were guilty of this vice. To claim however that accepting this behaviour by a bishop as binding in conscience would be servility. I note that the community is in Seattle, where the ordinary was for many years an open and determined enemy of the Catholic faith. To say that obedience to such a man is virtuous is a high degree of servility. I note that I go to a FSSP parish myself, for those who would accuse me of fanatical partisanship for the SSPX.

John L said...

As for the FSSP depending on the SSPX for their existence, I read in the constitutions of the FSSP:
'7. The object of the Fraternity of Saint Peter is the sanctification of priests ...

8. The particular aim of the Fraternity of Saint Peter is to achieve this objective through the faithful observance of the “liturgical and spiritual traditions” according to the dispositions of the Motu proprio Ecclesia Dei of July 2, 1988, which is at the origin of its foundation.'

The occasion for the foundation of the FSSP is thus stated by the Fraternity itself to be Abp. Lefebvre's act of consecrating bishops, and the Roman reaction to it. It was the situation caused by this act that led Rome for the first time to permit the establishment of a traditionalist order and to accept the practice of the traditional liturgy as normal. This was a complete departure from the position of the 1984 indult Quattuor abhinc annos, which stated that 'the problem of priests and faithful holding to the so-called "Tridentine" rite was almost completely solved.' There are no grounds for believing that this departure would have happened without the existence of the SSPX. If you deny this, I would like to know on what basis.

Anonymous said...

No, sorry, Monsignor, but the canonical profile IS crucial and the S.S.P.X will not submit to a "Prelature" if, by that, you mean a personal prelature. Here we go again. Round and round the mulberry bush we go. Prelatures cannot include lay faithful or religious who are not clerics (Canon 294) and they require the permission of the local Mahonys to operate in each see (Canon 297)! Of course, the Pope could make exceptions but then the structure wuold be a prelature in name only. The prelature is not flexible enough.

Bishop Fellay has recently reiterated what was proposed at his meeting with the Pope, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos and Fr. Schmidberger: it was to be an international apostolic administration; a Campos writ large. Neither you nor any of the liberals in Rome will foist a p.p. on the S.S.P.X, monseigneur.

What is needed is a particular church--a diocese or its equivalent--that is distinguised by the rite of its faithful "or some other similar quality" and can exist in the territory of several episcopal conferences (Canon 372.2). Not the principal question? It's the only question, other that the theological matters now being discussed.

Hold fast, Bishop Fellay. No matter what, never accept a personal prelature.


Anonymous said...

Anon. wrote:

Is the "Prelature" tied to the Holy See, the right one?

No, of course not. This is meant to ensnare the S.S.P.X, unless he is referring to a territorial prelature rather than a personal one. He is careful not to specify. But I cannot see how it can be a territorial prelature. As far as I am aware, this is a missionary structure. On the other hand, Opus Dei supposedly asked for a terr. prelature but was saddled with a personal one instead.

I just don't see how a terr. prelature would fit. They are never more than a small part of a country. And a p.p. would be a disaster.

The right structure, again, is an international apostolic administration--and that is the structure menioned by Bishop Fellay. Gherardini is bringing this up because he's no doubt among those who want to stop this from happening.

If the offer were a p.p., I would advice Bishop Fellay not to take it and to remain in disobedience. Far better not to surrender the Society's current freedom.

But it's a moot point. The Society will not accept recularisation at this time. So we can talk all we want. At this point, Rome might 'recognise' the Society but the Society will not accept a juridical structure. Period.


Anonymous said...

I am underwhelmed by Msgr. Gherardini.


Anonymous said...


To answer your question, it depends whether or not a structure would go with the bishop. Were he only a titular bishop, it would make no juridical difference. He would merely be there to administer Sacraments, esp. ordinarations, with the expressed permission of the lcoal ordinary.


Carlos Antonio Palad said...

"Gherardini is bringing this up because he's no doubt among those who want to stop this from happening."

You don't know that, Mr. Perkins.

Fr. Schmidberger, in an interview last year, also mentioned that the proposed status for the SSPX is in the direction of a personal prelature. Was he therefore trying to stop an international A.A. for SSPX from coming into existence?

I have no doubt that the good Father was merely mistaken, and I'd also give the Monsignor the benefit of the doubt given that he has shown so much more openness to the SSPX than practically all of his peers.

Anonymous said...

No, Mr. Palad, we've been through this all before. The structure mentioned by Rome is an apostolic administration or something based thereon. Read the article in the January, 2008, Angelus. Also read Bishop Fellay's recent statement in which he mentions this directly as the structure in his meeting with the Pope.

A p.p. would be an absolute disaster for the S.S.P.X. This is NOT what has been proposed. In 2000, the S.S.P.X was offered (all right: 'it was proposed', since no formal offer has been made) to have an apostolic administration. That's why the Campos got one just two years later: they were made the same proposal and they accepted.

Bsp. Fellay, I admit, has contradicted himself on this in various statements but if you look at all of them, it is clearly the a.a. Please quote Fr. Schmidberger directly. To my recollection, he did not say that it would be a p.p. but that it would be 'similar to a p.p.' Am I right?'

The problem with a p.p. is that it is completely inflexible. It is for clerics only (cf. Canon 295). What on earth would you, Mr. Palad, with the religious who are affiliated with the S.S.P.X. They are not clerics. So what would you do with them? Oh, well, let's just throw them in the garbage dump.

What about Canono 297, Mr. Palad? It says that with a p.p., every time it wants to operate in the territory of a diocese, it needs the permission of the local bishop. Anyone who thinks that could work is either a fool or he doesn't know the facts. The S.S.P.X will never submit to that and nor should it. They'd have to be mad to put themselves under the local bishops. Better to just give in and accept the N.O.

And what about the faithful, Mr. Palad? Under a p.p., they'd all become subjects of the local Marxist bishops. Think, Mr. Palad.

Anonymous said...


Nothing less than a 'particular church'--a diocese or its equivalent, will work. An apostolic administration (e.g. Campos: the precendent!) consists of clerics and laics, including lay religious. The shepherd and his people share the same charism and are governed by the same rules.

This is not rocket science. Why can the people on this list not stop for one bloody minute and read the magic Canon. The 'magic Canon is Section 2 of 372:

"If ... in the judgement of the Supreme authority in the church, ... it is thought to be helpful, there may be established in a given territory [which could cover much or even all the earth] particular churches distinguished by the rite of the faithful or by some other similar quality".

A personal prelature is ***NOT*** a "particular church". See Canon 368!!! An apostolic adminisration, effectively a junior and provisional diocese, is. De facto, such a structure would be a 'personal diocese' existing internationally.

Anyone who even mentions a personal prelature is a saboteur or else is making the grave error of using the term on the grounds that others will not understand the finer distinctions. This is why Bsp. Fellay has occasionally used the wrong term. He was likely speaking non-canonically to make himself more readily understood (although he was wrong to do so). Everyone has an idea of what a p.p. is because all know what Opus Dei is but few know much about the Campos.

Campos is the way, not Opus Dei. Thanks to Canon 297, Opus Dei is barred from having Masses or priories in most of the dioceses of the world. Gee, that's all we need. We need that like we need a hole in the head.

I'm getting tired of this. No matter how clear I make it, nothing sinks in. I've spent years making the same arguments and I just have to repeat them endlessly. It's completely hopeless. I'm almost ready to give in. Thank God the incoming Anglicans did not get a personal prelature. I prayed at least twenty rosaries that they would not get a p.p. and our Lady prayed it with me and had mercy. The personal ordinariates the incoming Anglicans are getting are governed like dioceses and are NOT personal prelatures. Should the S.S.P.X get anything less? NO!


Liturgical Cow said...

Without FSSPX disobedience, there will be no FSSP.

But there will be FSSPX with canonical status, active in the Church like FSSP now, with a Bishop consecrated with Holy See approval (as decided back then by Mgr. Levebre and Mgr. Ratzinger).

A way better world I would say.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Palad:

We've gotten along very well before but I confess that I am very angry with you this evening. I am absolutely passionate, as you know, about the S.S.P.X (or the rest of us) not being destroyed by a personal prelature, a structure that woudl annihilate eveything that Abp. tried to do.

You are now spreading disinformation, probably indeliberately but I ask that you stop doing this.

Fr. Schmidberger did NOT say that it would be a p.p. Here is the quotation from the interview:

"Schmidberger: In the direction of a personal prelature.

KNA: Similar to Opus Dei?

Schmidberger: Somewhat."

Somewhat does not mean the same bloody thing now, does it? IT DOES NOT.

I admit that, in some inteviews, Bishop Fellay has said that it would be a p.p. In far more, he has said it would be an apostolic administration. In one, he said that it would be some conflation between a p.p, a military ordinariate and an apostolic administration. I think he means that it would share characteristics of some of each.

Frankly, while I really do love Bishop Fellay, even in an emotional sense, I wish he'd stop using that p.p. expression because it causes real fear among some of us. It suggests that Rome is trying to trick the Society into an Opus Dei analogue.

However, I'm confident that the S.S.P.X will not accept an Opus Dei deal. Neither Fellay nor Schmidberger look particularly suicidal to me.

I note in closing that Fr. Gherardini did say that he could not 'easily foretell' what form the structure would take. I wish he'd left it at that. Any mention of a p.p. is pure poison. We don't even want to enunciate such dangerous ideas. It's bad luck.


Anonymous said...

Disdefiant knows very little, it seems.

Point No. 1. Read "Quattuor Abhinc Annos" of 3 October, 1984. It mentions that the bishops of the world were surveyed about the success of the implementation of the reforms. They reported back that the reforms were going swimmingly and that there was no problem at all.

Then comes the deadly reply of the Congregation, something rarely seen in the diplomacy of the Holy See. It was a direct contradiction of the bishops' report:

"Since the same problem persists, however . . . . " That was DEADLY. In all these years, I have never seen such a vicious response to the world's bishops by a dicastery. It is dripping with disdain.

What were they referring to? They were obviously referring to the extremely impressive growth of the S.S.P.X in its early years (esp. 1970 to 1985) while, at the same time, huge crowds were fleeing from the Novus Ordo as fast as their Catholic legs would take them.

Without this early success of the S.S.P.X (at a considerably higher rate of growth than it has had since then), there would be no "Quattuor Abhinc Annos". Rome began the process of regularising the T.L.M. precisely because Archbishop Lefebvre's effect was formidable. This is also why John Paul II met with him in the early 1980s.

No. 2: As for "Ecclesia Dei Adflicta" of 2 July, 1988 and the foundation of the F.S.S.P. in October of that same year, they were direct responses to the consecration of the four bishops. E.D.A. actually says as much right in its text. Take a look, in particular at the third column. The principal purpose of the apostolic letter was to reconcile the S.S.P.X, not to provide Latin Masses for other traditionalists.

To argue that tradition has survived "despite" the S.S.P.X is risible and fatuous. The S.S.P.V is a tiny splinter group and there is nothing the good Archbishop could have done to prevent a few from leaving. What is incredible is not the departure of some nine priests out of 500 but that there were not considerably more. What is amazing about the S.S.P.X is precisely the unity it has enjoyed since its foundation. Millions suddenly abandoned Rome afer 1965, emptying the pews in only five years. In contrast, the S.S.P.X has only lost a handfull of priests over these forty years.

Essentially, if you want to know the truth of the matter, read dis-whatever's posts carefully. The exact opposite of what he writes will be the truth or close enough to it that we can be satisfied we have it, sit down, and brew some tea.


Carlos Antonio Palad said...

Mr. Perkins:

Yes, you are so angry that you can't read accurately, or think straight.

I quoted Fr. Schmidberger EXACTLY: "IN THE DIRECTION OF A PERSONAL PRELATURE". And I clearly state in my post that Fr. Schmidberger is MISTAKEN. If you couldn't understand that, then I guess you have no business posting comments on this blog.

What I merely pointed out is that you're wrong, utterly wrong, to assume that Msgr. Gherardini is in favor of a PP for SSPX BECAUSE he wants to constrict the SSPX. If anything, this article shows that Msgr. Gherardini is a friend of the SSPX. You have no business slandering him.