Rorate Caeli

For the record: viewing the current situation

We thank a priestly source who first sent this analysis of the current situation in the Holy See-SSPX dialogue, written by Jean-Paul Guénois, of French daily Le Figaro, now translated by La Stampa's Vatican Insider. We post this for the historical record of events.
Will Benedict XVI accept the petitions of the Integrists? [Benoît XVI va-t-il accepter les requêtes des intégristes? - original title]

I see two fundamentally opposed readings from the interview given by Mgr Fellay, superior of the Saint Pius X Brotherhood regarding the negotiations underway with Rome. Some recall that he deems inadmissible, in its present state, the “Doctrinal preamble” that was presented to him last September 14 as basis of a framework agreement for a possible return into the Catholic Church. The others, that he is amending – as requested moreover by the Holy See – this working document, to pursue negotiations according to the method agreed upon to arrive, step by step, at an agreement.

I am very careful not to take sides. At the moment, everything is going to depend on the Roman response to Mgr Fellay’s response.

And nothing indicates that the Holy See will not give him satisfaction to the extent where, up to now, according to the will of Benedict XVI, all his requests were granted (removal of excommunications, standardisation of the mass according to the old rite, theological confrontation on the Vatican Council II). And at what price! Is it necessary to remind you of the damage caused by the Williamson affair? In this sense, to some degree, Benedict XVI who wants reconciliation, no longer has anything to lose.
It is also known – it is a paradoxical fact of this pursuit for a compromise – that Rome accepts the near certain disagreement regarding the Vatican Council II! It was duly observed, I would even say scientifically observed, after the famous theological discussions between experts from the two sides on the subject of the break, the Vatican Council II. 
It is this point that is misunderstood from the outside. Many consider that this disagreement, for which Mgr Fellay’s interview gives a precise image, represents a breaking point while it represents for Rome a starting point. It is with full knowledge of the facts, on the basis of this disagreement that the “theological preamble” was proposed to Mgr Fellay.
From that time on, the really serious, historical part begins.
If Rome goes in the direction of the new requests from Mgr Fellay - and the Holy See that is not a novice when it comes to negotiations – puts itself at risk by proposing this progressive method of common clarification of a text, then the turning point on “the hermeneutics” of the continuity regarding the Vatican Council II, carried by Benedict XVI, will no longer be an objective but a major undertaking by the pontificate of the Catholic Church.

Not that the Catholic Church is going back on the Vatican Council II as Mgr Fellay wishes it would do, but it would put into perspective the impact of portions of its contents. And this within the framework of a “legitimate discussion” – a key and new concept that appeared in favour of these recent negotiations with Ecône.

In other words, that would not only mark “the victory of the fundamentalists over the progressionists” but the end of a certain “sacredness” of the Vatican Council II in the Catholic Church and the beginning of a reconciliation – it will be long – with its recent past and its “tradition”. It is in any case exactly what Benedict XVI is aiming for
It remains for the Lefebvrist side to join in this historical understanding of the current Pope.

It is in their favour since there is no other member possibly eligible from the current College of Cardinals. This opportunity will therefore not present itself again for them. If they do not come back, the notion of “schism” disputed by the Lefebvrists, will inevitably resume a consistency over the years even if it will always be canonically discussed by the paper. Sooner or later it will be necessary in fact to ordain new bishops without the support of Rome.

Mgr Fellay’s interview indicates that he is aware of this issue. Aware also that the mission that he has assigned to himself of resisting in the name of “tradition” inside or outside the Church has not only gained in credibility but also in... reality. Whether you are for or against, or indifferent, it is necessary to truly recognise it as an objective fact.

Of course this battle does not involve the whole Catholic Church, it is often characterised as a “French thing” in Rome. But it is symbolic of the current evolution of the Catholic Church and, in this respect, it is not commonplace or anecdotal.

It is enough to realise the impact the announcement will have, positive or negative, on the outcome of these discussions: Negative, it will be read as one of the major failures of the pontificate, not to mention the failure of the pontificate from a human perspective of course.
Positive, it will be read as a major turning point for the Catholic Church at the beginning of the 21st century.
In this perspective, the “room” for manoeuvring and influencing that worries the Lefebvrists so much if they reintegrated into the bosom of the Catholic Church would be, obviously, more important inside than outside the Church.
Since it is also necessary to realise the consequences of a refusal: what future credibility would the struggle of this movement have in which this Pope has made so much progress at the price of his own reputation, if he closed the door on it again in the end? This alienation, superb in the Latin sense, would risk losing all his hearers which is however the raison d'être of the Lefebvrists since they are eager to give witness to those around them and in the Church of a certain way "of being Catholic".

The protagonists of these negotiations know all this. Without offering an opinion on the outcome, it seems to me, in any case, too early to think that it is in the process of failing. But I am well aware that a possible agreement will play out under the wire.


  1. "If they do not come back, the notion of “schism” disputed by the Lefebvrists, will inevitably resume a consistency over the years even if it will always be canonically discussed by the paper. Sooner or later it will be necessary in fact to ordain new bishops without the support of Rome"

    I wonder how often, if at all, in the Church's history have people been formally excommunicated then communicated then excommunicated again within the space of 20 years?
    For that is what will happen to the bishops again if the SSPX is not regularised soon.

  2. "Of course this battle does not involve the whole Catholic Church, it is often characterised as a “French thing” in Rome."

    Then whomever says the SSPX is a "French Thing" would be wrong.

    There are more SSPX priests outside of France, all over the Catholic world, than are in France.

    This does involve the whole Catholic world.

  3. I should have said within the space of 50 years, not 20 years.

  4. This does involve the whole Catholic world.

    My sentiments exactly. Imagine if the FSSPX and Rome actually reach agreement on a fundamental doctrinal approach to Vatican II. It would be an earthquake in the heart of "Modernist Rome" and its aftershocks would eventually be felt throughout the Church.

  5. David makes the significance of the struggle evident. We long for the earthquake that cannot come soon enough. However the 'Lavender Mafia' cannot be leveled without opening the priesthood to marriage. The narcissism promoted by the lavender think tanks spread corrosive tricks inside Roman Catholicism.

    Frankly, the Holy Spirit and the Papacy will continue to be resisted with the current situation. The 'gay alliances' recruit their own generation post generation.

    Michael F Brennan
    St Petersburg FL

  6. If the SSPX do no come back now, they will certainly be brought back later. Modernism is a dead issue with or without the SSPX. The courts are currently picking over its financial bones; those who were once its instigators are leaving this mortal coil, and those who were once its willing co-operators are now serious-ing up, faced with the prospect that they may be incarcerated as a result of pederastic allegations, true or spurious. The Cash Cow of the reform is rapidly heading back to the Barn of Peter, as evidenced by the mandate of the New Translation as well. Publishers, against their will, have had to face a new reality, one that will liturgically, linguistically, and philosophically lead them in a direction that they did not want to go. And for trads out there, fear not, for the "mutually enriched" liturgy of the future Catholic church will be about 99% traditional, maybe keeping some new prefaces. Have no fear, the future is trad, but we're going to have to live the present for a while longer. However is one concentrates on the aspect of the gradient of improvement, the future is not very far off at all. But yet a little while. Patience, and work. My prediction is that if the SSPX do achieve reunion, so much the better. But the politics of the piece must play out in human fashion, and that may take some time yet. That Glory was may not be reserved for Benedict XVI, but for his successor. And if they stay "outside" for a time, they will continue to exert the same influence that they have heretofore, that of necessitating an internal response from Rome. A convenient necessity for Mother Church, is it not? Patience.

  7. Michael,

    Rome allowing priests to be married will not solve a thing.

    What do you mean?

  8. I see the published interview with Msgr. Fellay and Msgr. Ocariz's article as the beginning of serious negotiations.

    I believe there will be an agreement because neither side can afford to loose. This is the most salient aspect of the analysis presented in LaFigaro. No agreement would do permanent damage to the Church which the Pope cannot permit. Ditto for Msgr. Fellay, plus, the SSPX would be marginalized as a Catholic initiative.

    I pray they will find a way!

  9. Dear Mike. The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy organically developed directly from the O.T. practice of the Levitical Priesthood in which Priests, during the year their served in the Temple, lived apart from their wives, had no carnal knowledge of their wives, and were devoted completely to their priestly duties.

    The italicised words are the title of a book by Christian Cochini, S.J. which, if you read it, will cause you to understand just how crucial this Apostolic Discipline is to The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    As Fr Cochini notes (p.296) ...either one permits priests to have conjugal relations and thus suppresses all difference between virgins and married people, or one does not permit them to live with their wives and then they are saints, exactly according to the model of virginal purity. For (St) Jerome, as it was for (Pope) Siricius , priestly continence is above all a matter of "sanctity." To fight it is to deny that the priest must be distinguished from the mass of the faithful."

    Satan's Sappers cleverly undermine this crucial truth by, repeatedly, sloganeering that, "It is only a Discipline."

    No. It is much more than a mere Discipline and to make Priestly Celibacy walk the plank off The Barque of Peter will cause it to head directly for the shoals

  10. It certainly is not a "French thing."

    In the last year or two, I have seen considerable "push back" on several conservative Catholic blogs from those who are sympathetic to the concerns of the SSPX. This was not the case five years ago.

    There is more cynicism with respect to Vatican II than ever before and the "hermeneutic of continuity" is no longer automatically accepted as the correct hermeneutic.

    Oddly enough, the most resistant to all of this are not the liberals, but conservative Catholics.

  11. Scott Whitcomb8:46 PM

    Michael Brennan,

    Just reading this post and wanted to say hello my friend! I am currently in Ave Maria FL. this weekend for my last set of classes for the semester. Drop me an e-mail at to say hello and give me your number so we can catch up.

    God Bless,
    Scott Whitcomb

  12. Dear 'Cruise the Groove' and 'I am not Sparticus', speaks to the current reality. The Nepotism of the 11th century by pastors and their sons has been replaced by the Nepotism/narcistic reality of the the last 50 years. The current reality is epidemic while thwarting the Holy Spirit and the Popes.

    Like the Pastors of the 11th century ensuring their sons ownership of his parish, the 'Lavender Mafia' continues from generation to generation. This mafia insures the primacy of modernist agendas, including blocking return of Tradition.

    The homosexual community inside and outside the Church are invested in keeping sure that 50% of the priesthood remains homosexual in many parts of the world. Lucifer will be successful without the bold intervention by the Church for married diocesan clergy.

    Michael F Brennan
    St Petersburg, FL

  13. If I am reading this correctly, is the author suggesting that the Doctrinal Preamble was deliberately originally lousy so that the SSPX could "return" the document with what they wanted, and thus B16 approve that?

    I see this as plausible, especially if B16 wants to bypass Levada. Is Levada even friendly towards "tradition"? I don't have that impression.

  14. Reluctant Pessimist10:04 PM

    Mike B: Few if any hereabouts are impressed by your nonreply reply to CtG and IANS. You have been called on your carnality-driven agenda; either respond to the challenges, or be kind enough to stop temporizing and button your lip.

    Your last false-assumption-ridden comment answers no questions and raises half a dozen new ones about your object, which, whatever it is, clearly has nothing to do with the proper (re)sanctification of priests and the priesthood.

  15. Dear Mr Brennan. Your suggested medicine is right out of Satan's Pharmacy and that might be due to a mis-diagnosis.

    There is nothing new under the sun, including queer clergy - although the current coddling of them is captious and crazy -and Pope Siricius 384 A.D. was dealing with them then when he issued The "Decreta" and "Cum in Unum" as way to recall Clergy to the Apostolic Discipline of Celibacy and Continence:

    (p.250) from Fr Cochini; "While Italy sees most of her clergy remaining faithful, in spite of violent attacks of heresy, this is not the case in other areas, where the complaints of Pope Siricius show many grave faults. All in all, this (celibacy/continence) is not a progression of a movement in favor of continence but rather a protest against it.

    It is difficult to imagine, in such an atmosphere, that the first laws (known to us) imposing sexual abstinence on clerics could have been the fruit of a slow maturation, brought to term thanks to propitious conjectures. The opposite is true. The legislators want to contain a flood threatening a discipline that they see as a tradition, and they are concerned by the questioning of the principles at its origins.

    Killing Celibacy will not cure the problem of Homosexuals in the Church. Keeping homosexuals out of the Seminaries by carefully controlling admittance to Seminaries is what ought be done; and if they sneak-in and sneak-by and are caught once - one time - engaged in a homosexual act, forcibly laicise and excommunicate them.

    One will never achieve a healthy Catholic Church by extinguishing that which is at the heart of The Priesthood; excising the heart of the patient gives very poor results.

    Saint Jerome, (p. 296) 'Letter to Pammachius:'..Therefore as we started to say, the virgin Christ and the virgin Mary have consecrated for each sex the beginnings of virginity; the apostles were either virgins or continent after having been married. Bishops, priests, and deacons are chosen among virgins and widowers; in any case, once they are ordained, they live in perfect chastity. Why delude ourselves or get upset if, when we are constantly seeking the conjugal act, we are refused recompenses promised to purity.

    Dear Mr. Brennan. It wil not due to destroy the Church to save it from the poison of perversion.

  16. You are absolutely correct, Mr. Brennan. The success story of Anglicans in limiting the access of perverts to their "clergy" is a clear and very good result of centuries of ordaining (in their case, "ordaining") married men to the priesthood. It works!


  17. "I see this as plausible, especially if B16 wants to bypass Levada. Is Levada even friendly towards "tradition"? I don't have that impression."

    I have often thought the same thing myself.
    Cardinal Levada has a track record of not being favorable to "tradition" and especially the TLM.
    Just look at his time as the Ordinary of both Seattle and San Francisco, he would not let a single parish or individual priest offer the TLM.
    He would not implement Pope Benedict XVI Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.
    Cardinal, then Bishop Levada persecuted Father Heidt and left him out to dry Wehn Father approached HE about offering the TLM.
    Also Cardinal Levada sermon at the consecration of the FSSP Seminary chapel in Denton was full of barbs aimed at priests that exclusively offer the TLM [see FSSP]

    So circumventing His Eminence, in the SSPX matter, seems the only way for the HF to regularize the Society.

  18. If the problem of Nepotism by Pastor and Son to Grandson never was a historical reality for many centuries, I would not know to disagree with the impressive, [nay 'sacred and sacramental'] dogma that attacks the "heart of the priesthood", which Cruise the Groove claims would "destroy the Church."
    Curiously, I find devotional Catholic women particularly unable to accept a married priesthood. They are addicted to a fantasy of expected holiness inside a situation that most priests cannot observe in this ugly environment.

    However, a married priesthood would enhance honesty and integrity in our parishes and diocese's. Jesus told the Church quite clearly "what you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven". That referred to more than just the penitent's sins. In any case, it's false to raise a beloved discipline to a sacred status.

    I remember in November 2001 at a USCCB Conference in Dallas when an Anglican priest working as a journalist for The Tablet told me the American bishops [contemplating the Boston massacre] were wondering if the Holy Spirit had removed the charism of Grace for a celibate priesthood.

    Some of us are convinced that the world is currently clouded with overpowering demonic power to corrupt. Practical adjustment is apparent and necessary. Practicality made a very large impetus in the change to an all celibate priesthood.

    Thy Will be done, not mine
    Michael F Brennan
    St Petersberg, FL

  19. Dear Mr. Brennan,

    Do you not think that it is odd that you are transforming this thread in a discussion on... married priests?... I fail to see how it is related to the extremely interesting words of M. Guénois.

    Now, please, go ask "Bishop" Vicki Gene Robinson's abandoned wife if your argument makes sense.


  20. Penfold12:35 AM

    What in the name of goodness was all that waffle about ? I can see (sort of, up to a point) what he was driving at - I think. If that sort of flannel is widespread, no wonder the Church is a catastrophic mess.

  21. Hieronymus2:05 AM

    Cruise the Groove @ 22:34

    Cardinal Levada was in Portland, not Seattle, before San Francisco, and he did allow the extraordinary form there at St. Brigida's (I may be slightly off in the patron--a small Church on the Columbia in the far NW of Portland). I don't think he is as hostile to tradition as you portray--largely because I don't think that he is terribly hostile toward anything. That said, deliberately allowing one's self to be painted into a corner does sound like a good way for dealing with Rome.

  22. ...I would even say scientifically observed...


    Some journalists crack me up! They're like some lawyers who use legalese to seem smarter than they are; well, saying "I would even say scientifically observed..." is a prime example! Who "observed" it, and by what "science"?!

    But, seriously, the Vatican has said that, though they are suspended, the Priests of the FSSPX confer a valid Eucharist. I normally go to a SSPX Chapel.

  23. Joe B2:44 AM

    Seems a sure bet to me that the views of SSPX will win out in the end, and it is highly likely they will win out with them simply because they are right. Since the church has been in a horrible free fall since that council and its vague documents and mass, then if the church is the ground and pillar of truth, the documents will eventually either be ignored as unclear or nuanced to their proper application, and the new mass will either disappear or be, as earlier stated, changed by 99%. As for SSPX, they may come or go, but their views will win out and it is likely they will win with them because they defend what was handed down while Rome defends chaos, failure, and scandal. I wouldn't want to bet against them in the short run, either, since they are playing with the royal flush of tradition and Rome can't even make up its mind what the meaning of its own cards are.

    Going to Vegas soon. Can you tell? Just going to study the architecture there, you know.

  24. Barbara7:10 PM

    Crumbs, with a posts like that Mr. Brennan, you show that you haven't the faintest idea as to the true nature of the Roman Catholic priesthood. What a mish-mash of ideas. What on earth are you going on about?

    The Church needs married priests like I need a hole in the head!


  25. Gratias1:49 AM

    Like Guenois writes in Le Figaro, reconciling tradition is the central theme of the Pontificate of Benedict XVI. There is urgency. Rejoin. Push back from the Modernists/Liberationists will make any deal less likely as time goes by.

  26. Art Thou Elias?2:00 AM

    "It is in their favour since there is no other member possibly eligible from the current College of Cardinals."

    How in the world does this writer know that? This is a preposterous statement.

    "...the turning point on “the hermeneutics” of the continuity regarding the Vatican Council II, carried by Benedict XVI, will no longer be an objective but a major undertaking by the pontificate of the Catholic Church."

    I believe this "hermeneutic of continuity" is another dead end, and as much a tempest in a teapot as all the angst over the new Novus Ordo translations. You cannot interpret texts that are at variance with Tradition in some way that is in harmony with Tradition - you can only erase them. A good start would be to return to the original schema written by the Commissions before the liberal alliance eviscerated them. These schema are preserved in the Vatican Library - would that there might be a scholarly soul somewhere on the planet who would publish them.

    Moreover, when the Third Secret is finally published, we will have Our Lady's prophetic description of Vatican II in black and white - and I'm betting that said description is anything but glowing - and that will surely put a merciful end to this false path. Trying to reconcile Vatican II with Tradition through this "hermeneutic of continuity" is much like trying to achieve piece through Assisi I, II and III. It is a human effort which violates the supernatural essence, character and teaching of the Church.

  27. P.K.T.P.2:57 AM


    You are dreaming in technicolour if you think that the Pope plans a future Mass that is 99% traditional. It is well known, for example, that he champions the New Lectionary.

    To accept a series of baby-steps towards a blended Missal is a formula for disaster. Have we learnt nothing from the achievements of Bugnini the Barbarian from 1948 to 1970? That is a place we do not want to return to. Let the two Masses remain completely different, and then let adherence to the New Mass continue to plummet. Putting a little lipstick on that pig will not save it in the end.


  28. If Rome says that one must assent to Vatican II in order to enjoy full communion one has to wonder what the point of the talks were. It is clear from the views of the SSPX that they in no way have ever agreed or ever will agree that Vatican II must be "assented" to.
    I also find it curious how one must supposedly assent to varying degrees to different pieces of Vatican II. I wonder if anyone but a very few scrupulous Vatican II readers actually do this. The overwhelming majority of faithful Catholics agree, disagree, or hold no opinion on a subject.
    If assenting to Vatican II is the criteria for acceptance then it is a very sad day for those of us that have friends and family in SSPX. With "assent" of Vatican II as the criteria there is almost no chance they will ever be reconciled. Let us pray that Benedict has another plan.
    I have already witnessed+
    the glee from the neo conservative Catholics at the prospect of no deal. Liberals in the church are equally excited. Having 600 hundred traditionalist priests and worldwide organization of committed Catholics in full communion had them worried.
    With this depressing news one can only trust in God's grace and hope for the best.

  29. Unable to deliver a clear voice in the root documents of Vatican II, the Bishops presented ambiguity in many sections. A reading of Sacrosanctum Concilium makes its opposing wording from a previous paragraph self evident. It is what it is.
    The test has become to not self destruct the Church in the process of reclaiming Holy Spirit clarity. Benedict XVI is not going to throw out the baby with the bath water. Not on his watch.
    The nature of the 2,000 year old authority of the Church in Faith and Morals requires adjustment with Vatican II's original documents.
    The current piece-meal debate of its interpretation is conducive to the clearing of the cloud of confusion we live in.
    Some if not many traditionals like Bishop Williamson are incapable of comprehending that free will trumps 'slavery' to the Living God via his Church.
    The saints who aspired to a slave relationship with Jesus Christ were expressing a free will love experience.
    'Salvation by the Church Only' reeks of an Islamic mentality. The salt of the earth are sinners who know they require the Catholic Faith to cherish their God given gift to be continually forgiven and redeemed via Confession and Eucharist.
    BTW, incorporating the sacred legacy of the Extraordinary Mass into the Ordinary does not threaten the demise of the Extraordinary. It is indicative of many traditional mentalities like Bishop Williamson to see their way as the only way.

    Michael F Brennan
    St Petersberg FL

  30. It is indicative of many traditional mentalities like Bishop Williamson to take the words of Jesus: "No man cometh to the Father, but by me" (John 14:6) seriously.

    It is also indicative of many traditional mentalities like Bishop Williamson to make a serious effort to apply in their lives the words of Jesus: "Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!" (Mat 7:13-14)

    It is further indicative of many traditional mentalities like Bishop Williamson to realize that those words are right next door to the following: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (Mat

  31. "'Salvation by the Church Only'"

    Mr Brennan,

    That there is no Salvation outside the Catholic Church is a basic defined dogma of the Church, is infallibly defined and all Catholics must believe this.

  32. Mike B's comment may be tangential, but he is right on.

    Celibate would be great, ideal, but straight is a start.

    As for Gene Robinson, please: the Anglican Church in all hits pansexual glory has never had nearly the incidence of flamingly gay priests hat we have.

    The relation to the original thread is simply a accurate perception of reality. The SSPX has been a godsend, and the legalistic souls willing to dismiss them as schismatic don't appreciate the war-like climate the Church now finds itself in. They deserve nothing but our support, even if reunion fails.

  33. Thomas points to:
    .."Otherwise, we would have unconditional submission of intellect and will to John Paul II's Theology of the Body and the various panegyrics of the recent Popes concerning the United Nations."

    Yes, 'The Church of Constantine' was overturned at Vatican II. It was a Faith and Reason development whose time had arrived. History records that the first Pope that Constantine presented with his plan for evangelizing by coercive measures rejected that.
    Yet I believe Constantine had a grasp on God's Will in those times. Unfortunately, events forced the Church to become a ruler of the state by circa 6th century. Salvation by Jesus Christ only became Salvation by the Church only. There is a valid, scriptural logic to that.
    However we became a 'follow the rules' faithful many losing a grasp of the free will needed to be authentic.
    Fear of Church/State is not Fear of God. Faith and REASON are imperative for cooperation with the will of God.
    Certainly as the Apostles preached, heresy must be named and separated from the Church's pews so that false teachers can be singled out. That is a permanent function. Church magisterial authority of Faith and Morals is not to be endangered.
    However, Benedict XVI continually emphasizes the free will lived inside the deep love of the saints for Jesus Christ. That love is what separates us from saints.
    The authority of the Church requires an ability to change 'policies' whose time has passed. Perhaps 'binding and loosing' foresaw the humanity of the institutional Church.

    Michael F Brennan
    St Petersberg FL


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