Rorate Caeli

[Relevant update] Trying to make sense of things... the Rome-SSPX talks and of what may happen in the near future? Some interesting points provided by the Superior of the District of the United States of the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX), Fr. Arnaud Rostand:
[1530 GMT, UPDATE:] The SSPX news agency, DICI, makes public today an interview with Fr. Niklaus Pfluger, First Assistant of the Fraternity, and one of its three representatives present at the September 14 meeting:

During his visit to Stuttgart, the First Assistant of the Society of St. Pius X, Rev. Fr. Niklaus Pfluger, despite his very busy schedule, found time to answer a few questions for [the website of the German District].

The doctrinal preamble is of great interest to all concerned. Both sides agreed on confidentiality, and so we cannot expect you to speak about its contents. Allow me nevertheless to ask: What do you think of the document?

The document allows for corrections from our side. That is necessary also, if only to exclude clearly and definitively even the appearance of ambiguities and misunderstandings. So now it is our duty to send Rome an answer that reflects our position and unambiguously represents the concerns of Tradition. We owe it to our mission of fidelity to Catholic Tradition not to make any compromises. The faithful, and the priests even more, understand very well that in the past Rome’s offers to the various conservative communities were unacceptable. If Rome now makes an offer to the Society, then it must be made unambiguously and unmistakably clear that it is for the welfare of the Church and hastens a return to Tradition. We think and feel with the Catholic Church. She has a worldwide missionary task, and it was always the most ardent desire of our founder that Tradition should flourish again throughout the world. A canonical recognition of the Society of St. Pius X could accomplish just that.

Critics say that Rome is trying to set a trap for the Society with this preamble and to take advantage of it. Once it was canonically integrated, the Society might perhaps introduce its “charism of Tradition” into the modern Church, but it would also have to accept conciliar thinking and other ways of doing things for the sake of “pluralism”.

This criticism is altogether justified and should be taken seriously. For how can we avoid giving the impression that this amounts after all to a tacit acceptance, so to speak, that would in fact lead to this parallel diversity and relativize the one truth; that is indeed precisely the basis of Modernism.

Assisi III and even more the unfortunate beatification of John Paul II but also many other examples make it clear that the leadership of the Church now as before is not ready to give up the false principles of Vatican II and their consequences. Therefore any “offer” made to Tradition must guarantee us the freedom to be able to continue our work and our critique of “modernist Rome”. And to be honest, this seems to be very, very difficult. Again, any false or dangerous compromise must be ruled out.

It is pointless to compare the present situation with the talks in 1988. At that time Rome wanted to prevent any sort of autonomy for the Society; the bishop that they maybe were and maybe were not going to grant would in any case have to be subject to Rome. That was simply too uncertain for Archbishop Lefebvre. If Marcel Lefebvre had given in, Rome could in fact have hoped that a Society without its “own” bishops would someday come round to the conciliar way. Today the situation is completely different. We have four bishops and meanwhile 550 priests worldwide. And the structures of the official Church are breaking down faster and faster. Rome can no longer confront the Society as it did more than twenty years ago.

What do you think are the chances for a positive answer? Will the Society of St. Pius X agree to the preamble?

Here diplomacy plays an important role. Rome wants to save face in public. The pope has already been accused too often of lifting the “excommunication” of our bishops without preconditions. If it had been up to the majority of the German bishops, then the Society would have to sign a blank check recognizing the whole Council first. Incidentally, they are demanding that now as before. Pope Benedict has not done that. Moreover free access to the Catholic Sacrifice of the Mass [i.e. Tridentine Mass] was the second condition required by the Society. Therefore Rome complied twice with the Society’s wishes. It is clear that now they are demanding a document that can be presented to the public. The question is, whether one can sign the document. In one week the superiors of the Society of St. Pius X will meet in [Albano Laziale, a suburb of] Rome to discuss this together. Of course it has to be clear to Cardinal Levada and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith too that they cannot insist on a document that the Society cannot justify in turn to its members and faithful.

One last question: Who gained the greater advantage from the theological talks: Rome or the Society of St. Pius X?

That is a very important point, and so I will say it again: We are not that concerned about any advantage of our own. We want to make the treasure that Archbishop Lefebvre entrusted to our safekeeping available again for the whole Church. To that extent, canonical recognition would be a gain for the Church. In that way a conservative bishop, for example, could ask Society priests to work in his diocesan seminary. Of course the regularization of relations would also mean that Catholics who were perhaps kept away from the Society by the label “suspended” will now venture to take that step. But that is not what this is about. For forty-one years the Society has grown steadily, even in spite of being beaten with the “excommunication” stick. We are concerned instead about the Catholic Church. Together with the Archbishop we too would like to say [the words of St. Paul cf. I Corinthians 11:23], “Tradidi quod et accepi” – We hand on what we ourselves have received.


  1. Ferraiuolo9:50 AM

    Keep them and the unity of the Church in your prayers.

  2. Bishop Williamson has been told not to attend the October meetings.

    He has been told he will have to stop publishing his weekly newsletter.

    Bishop Williamson will be given the boot by the end of this year.

    Against this backdrop, the SSPX has been outmaneuvered by Rome.

    After approving the 'almost Catholic' agreement, Bishop Fellay will be replaced as head of the SSPX and replaced by a Liberal yes man, ala the FSSP.('almost Catholic' = 'Stop saying Outside the Church there is no salvation. It is okay for you to believe this, just don't say it. And don't say you reject the Novus Ordo Mass).

    There will be Novus Ordo Masses in SSPX Chapels.

    How can the Elitists of the SSPX cut out a large segment of the SSPX Faithful (Bishop Williamson followers) during such a critical point in time?

    It is strange the October meetings are not being held at SSPX Headquarters.

    Archbishop Lefebvre always did good for the best of Holy Mother Church.

    The current Regime is only considering what is best for the SSPX Elitists.


  3. Beautiful music by Ralph Vaughan Williams accompanying.

    Twenty four years at the head of any organisation is never a very good idea.

  4. Wow, Saint Micheel Come to Our Def.... you certainly seem to know a lot about the future of the SSPX!
    Whatever happens to Bishop Williamson, he will have deserved it. He has already admitted as much in a letter to the Holy Father.
    Yes, he may be sidelined completely in the event of an agreement with Rome, and that is only natural. He is near retirement age anyway and has proved to be lacking in the prudence necessary for a bishop.
    This does not mean that the SSPX will start saying the Novus Ordo, as you well know.
    The 'Bishop Williamson followers' should ask themselves who, in the final analysis, do they follow? Surely the SSPX must remain united and strong and accept whatever Bishop Fellay decides. The lay people can decide whatever they want - they have nothing to do with the talks in Rome about doctrine and regularisation. The SSPX has no lay members. On the other hand, lay traditionalists could just pray for the success of these talks instead of speculating endlessly about them.

  5. This discussion reminds me of the old adage "Those who know aren't talking - those who talk don't know"

    God Help Us All...

  6. "SMCTOD",

    We will keep your comment up because much of the discussion is centered around it. But, this is a request to you and all others: any comment that is even slightly depreciative of the FSSP will be deleted.


  7. Gratias5:28 PM

    May the Holy Spirit guide the SSPX back to the Mother Church. We need them and vice-versa.

    A new thought from the interview is that the SSPX could have some of its 500 priests sent to teach in seminaries of conservative bishops. That would make a difference.

    Some measure of recognition that VC2 did happen will be unavoidable. A don't ask don't tell approach may be the best solution.

    Benedict XVI has devoted his papacy to resolving this schism. Pray for him.

  8. Anonymous5:37 PM

    "No lay members"? I'm an Oblate of Saint Benedict from Our Lady of Guadalupe, NM. I sure as heck consider myself tied to the eventual decisions. I made a vow.

  9. Peter6:04 PM

    Our Lady of Guadalupe, NM is NOT the SSPX but a friendly religious order. So yes the SSPX does not have lay members unless we consider SSPX Brothers or sisters (nuns) - lay members.

  10. Anonymous7:40 PM

    That's a curious statement re OLOG. The Prior, Father Cyprian, was ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre. How can the good priests and brothers there not be part of the Fraternity? The SSPX website also lists them.

  11. Because they are not. They are what the SSPX calls a "friend community" (congrégation amie) - and certainly will be heard regarding anything of a more permanent nature; but their priests, religious brothers and sisters are not members of the Fraternity.

  12. Bernonensis8:02 PM

    Any bishop who wants to be accepted as a true pastor in the Catholic Church will have to be subject to Rome; this was true in 1988, is now, and will be forever. I hope the parties involved in preparing the response to the preamble are more successful in avoiding ambiguities than Fr. Pfluger was in his answers.

  13. Anonymous8:56 PM

    I predict that the Preamble will be accepted, with corrections made by the SSPX. The Vatican will balk, but will accept the Society in on SSPX terms.

    The reign of JP II weakened the Vatican II Church tremendously. Radical liberal men who were slick, youngish devious and underhanded bishops and Cardinals and spoke from positions of power with the SSPX 25-30 years ago are now either dead, or are burnt out, tired, liberals in their mid to late 70's. Their vision of Church is not the only vision as it was 30 years ago. Their vision of Church is a dead vision. All the progressive initiatives of JP II have been proven to have been of tremendous harm to the Catholic Church....though they might have been great for the Protestants, the Muslims, and the Jews.
    His kind of thiunking is repudiated by the younger Vatican elite, but the old men still clinging to power still hold to it.
    Levada and Bertone, Tauran and Re are among the last of their kind. When they are either dead or out of power, look for far more traditional men to walk the corridors of power in the Vatican.

    Pray that our good Pope outlasts the last of the Paul VI/ JP II liberals still in the Vaticans:

    Cardinals Sodano,83, Re, 77, Arinze, 78, Bertone, 76, Tauran,69, Rylko,69, Sandri,69, Ravasi,69, and Archbishop Piero Marini,69, and lastly the American Prefect of the Vatican Household, American Archbishop Harvey,62 who is very much against Catholic tradition.

  14. Anonymous9:01 PM

    The FSSPX has no lay members. It is a clerical congregation of common life without vows. Its membership consists wholly of priests and seminarians who have pledged themselved to the Society (engagements). However, two groups of lay persons are associated with the Society: the vowed religious of the Sisters and Brothers of the SSPX and the Third Order of the SSPX.

  15. Anonymous9:36 PM

    Anonymous said...
    That's a curious statement re OLOG. The Prior, Father Cyprian, was ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre. How can the good priests and brothers there not be part of the Fraternity? The SSPX website also lists them.

    02 October, 2011 19:40

    I think you are wrong on Fr. Cyprian. Maybe he was re-ordained? I think you need to check that.

  16. To Saint Michael Come...

    Do you follow Bishop Williamson or do you follow Jesus?

  17. Anonymous10:06 PM

    The interview revealed this all important fact: the SSPX will enter into a canonical structure if the two parties agree on the wording of a document that the SSPX will sign and make public.

  18. Anonymous10:14 PM

    Tom S. said...

    This discussion reminds me of the old adage "Those who know aren't talking - those who talk don't know"

    That is the most intelligent thing I've seen so far re: this thread. It's in the hands of those far more capable than we of making the necessary decisions. And, I do not believe Bishop Fellay will preside over the disintegration of the Fraternity if the terms of the document from CDF are acceptable to Tradition and autonomy is guaranteed. But, let's face it, folks, that's a mighty big if.


  19. "...This discussion reminds me of the old adage "Those who know aren't talking - those who talk don't know"..."


    Also true is the fact that some might be afraid of reprisals, and do not speak directly; they speak through those not afraid of, or cannot suffer reprisals.

    In such an important matter, should not the Four Bishops be commenting, and not the office help?

    Administrators administrate; Bishops lead.

    This is not happening in this very crucial point in time.

    I appreciate Rorate Caeli allowing an honest discussion.

    If Father Pluger is to be critical of those parasites like me that seek Truth, perhaps he should contact one of us directly, that we may voice our concerns to him in a respectful manner.

    His constituency knows how to contact me.

    In the interest of fairness and justice, I ask he do so.

    I have attended some FSSP Chapel Masses.

    I support their Priests as well as I support all other Priests.

    After all, we are Catholic.

    Senora Barbara Schoeneberger:

    Your comment made me laugh.


    I entrust this whole matter in the hands of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, “Mother of the Priest par excellence, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and through Him, of all priests in whom she forms her Son”.

    Santa María de Guadalupe Esperanza nuestra, salva nuestra patria y conserva nuestra Fe.


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  21. Anonymous1:01 AM

    To Anonymous @ 21:36

    Fr. Cyprian was ordained priest by Archbishop Lefebvre, but for the Monastery of Ste. Madeleine du Barroux, under the authority of Dom Gerard Calvet OSB.

    The monastery became later one of the first "Ecclesia Dei" communities, on account of which some of its monks left it, to found other monasteries which remain to this day "friends" of the SSPX.

  22. I went to a Missa Cantata today offered by Fr Rostand SSPX, and Fr said, in his sermon, that the best thing we can do is pray and sacrifice that Bishop Fellay makes the right decision in signing the Preamble.
    Fr Rostand said that this decision is completely on Bishop Fellays shoulders.

  23. gratias3:35 AM

    I wonder what would happen to the existing SSPX chapels if they decide to join Rome. Would they become something like personal parishes? If they can offer daily forma extraordinaria masses, as is likely, this would change the playing field. Currently it takes many years to establish a personal parish. I one fell swoop much would be gained by the Catolic Church.

  24. Anonymous3:46 AM

    Fr. Pfluger does not speak about regularisation--about a grant of a structure. He speaks about a canonical "recognition" that Rome is apparently planning. Sounds to me like a reversal of the 1975 suppression and 1976 suspension. Vacate those penalties and, hey, presto!, they're back.

    The issue then becomes what sort of structure to erect to embrace both the S.S.P.X and its affiliated religious orders. A personal diocese would work and a personal ordinariate might work. A personal prelature would not work.


  25. Anonymous2:00 PM

    To St. Michael Come....

    Your last comment shows how little you know about the internal structure of the SSPX - or, as it seems, of any other religious society.

    Fr. Pfluger is NOT the "office help". He is an official elected by the General Chapter to assist the General Superior and, if the General Superior were to be unable to exercise his functions, to replace him. A kind of Vice-President, you may say...

    The Bishops in the SSPX have the dignity of their consecration and the direct charge of their positions in the Districts, but in terms of the internal government of the SSPX, they are under the authority of the General Superior and of the elected officials, that is, of the First and Second Assistants.

    When Archbishop Lefebvre resigned as Superior of the SSPX, even he was under the authority of his successor, Fr. Schmidberger.

  26. Anonymous11:36 PM

    A symptom of the fundamental disarray within the FSSPX as the effects of the near-schism bore into the heart of the Society: just one example, but consider it well. I have it on good report that a humble French priest has been appointed pastor of the large FSSPX chapel in Post Falls, Idaho, USA. He succeeds a Swiss-French pastor and there was a French pastor before the Swiss. No American has been found fit to lead the American FSSPX chapel of Post Falls in a decade.

    The current French pastor of Post Falls, Idaho USA speaks almost no English and requires a translator!

    In some respects the Society is losing its mind.

    Vincent Segni

  27. Vincent Sengi said:

    "I have it on good report...

    In some respects the Society is losing its mind."

    And I have it on good report...

    that YOU have lost your mind!

  28. Anonymous1:19 PM

    To Vincent Segni,

    "In some respects the Society is losing its mind."


    Because being an international society sends its priests to foreign countries and puts them there in positions of authority?

    Because it has to deal realistically with the fact that more than half of the SSPX priests are French or French-speaking?

    Because it does not yield to that old doctrine of "America for Americans" and thinks in Catholic - that is, universal - terms?

  29. "...And I have it on good report...

    that YOU have lost your mind! ..."

    SSPX Whitened Sepulchers refer to those beneath their virtue as 'crazy' or parasites to be ridiculed.

    The Catholic response to Mr. Vincent Sengi should have been:

    Holy Mother Church dispatches her Priests at times into areas where the Priest is not fluent in the native tongue.

    In example, India has many peoples in the same community that speak several languages that make it difficult for these people to live together, but they get along well.

    God's grace and strong Faith helps their Priests extend the Kingdom of Christ in those areas.

    In the matter of Post Falls, let us pray for the Priest that is in charge.

    Cor Unum is the Motto of the SSPX; lack of Charity has caused that heart to stop beating.

    Upon witnessing how Holy Priests are hunted down and punished within the U.S. District, I opinion God has given the Sepulchers Priests they find hard to understand in order to diffuse the viciousness of the SSPX Faithful's attack upon these poor Padres.

    We are to Evangelize, teach, and gently admonish.

    We are never to call them 'crazy'.


  30. Anonymous6:34 PM

    With "friends" like Father Arnaud Rostand, SSPX saying things like:

    "the unfortunate beatification of (Pope) John Paul II"

    {funny how he doesn't like to say Pope JPII}

    who needs "enemies?"

  31. Anonymous10:32 PM

    Apologies. In rereading the post it appears that Fr. Niklaus Pfluger, First Assistant of the Fraternity, is the public critic of the beatification of Pope John Paul II and not Father Arnaud Rostand.

  32. What does it matter? I doubt if any member of the SSPX was supportive of the beatification. I can't believe that anyone in the traditional movement would.

    Then again, the way things are these days...


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