Rorate Caeli

Holy See-SSPX: Reading comprehension skills urgently needed

Some, in the Italian media and elsewhere, are having quite a hard time understanding the very plain words of the Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, in Minnesota. He did not say that the Society said "no" to the Holy See defintiively - but that there was a "no" to the draft of the doctrinal preamble. This is not even news - everyone who is following this process know that the Society responded negatively, but sent a counter-proposal, that is currently being studied by the Holy See.

It goes even further, my dear brethren. That was during the discussion. At the end of the discussion, comes this invitation from Rome. In this invitation there is a proposition of a canonical situation that is to regularize our situation. And I may say, what is presented today, which is already different from what was presented on the 14th of September, we can consider it as all right, good. They fulfilled all our requirements, I may say, on the practical level. So there is not much problem there. The problem remains at the other level – at the level of the doctrine. But even there it goes very far – very far, my dear brethren.

Erroneous headlines and mistaken interpretations, the fruit of thoughtless reading, simply cannot change the generally positive tone of Fellay's sermon. Positive, but concerned. Positive, but careful. Positive, but unwilling to move too far. Prayers are necessary at this moment - as he insists in that sermon. Drama and distortions, not so much.


  1. Ferraiuolo4:37 PM

    Am I right to suppose that the Torniellians are on it again?

  2. chaimbeul4:52 PM

    NC, I'm not seeing what is positive in Bp. Fellay's statement here. Could you explain your view of why it is positive? Thanks.

  3. Words of wisdom on your part and on the good Bishops part.

  4. Assumethegoodassumethegoodassumethegoodassumethegood!

    How did Aquinas do it?

  5. Phil_NL6:07 PM

    Well, Bp Fellay may have not said the society rejected the Holy See's offer, but he does not mince words about being disobedient - he frankly admits it.

    He admits that Rome has teaching authority, but that he'll only follow it if it conforms to his idea of the faith. In other words, their would be no way whatsoever to correct the society if it was ever wrong on any point they regard as 'Tradition'.

    Well then, are we willing to assume the SSPX is infallible?

    I'd rather not.

    Even if it's not a flat rejection, it's still a rejection in spirit. Alas.

  6. P.K.T.P.6:18 PM

    These journalists need reading comprehension skills, of course, because they are journalists, members of a trade, not a profession. They are not people trained in disciplined thought. But I wonder what is the excuse here for certain others? Bishop Fellay has made it crystal clear on several occasions that there will be no canonical regularisation until there is doctrinal agreement. This is not agreement only on princiles and criteria; it is agreement on doctrinal differences themselves. Unless there has been a magical solution to the outstanding problems, all effected behind the scenes, I cannot see how there can be an agreement on doctrine at this time. Comprehension is fading now ....


  7. P.K.T.P.6:25 PM

    Bishop Fellay now says that a canonical arrangement is conceivable, as the structure now on the table is not the one which was on the table in September. We know from reports at the time that the one mentioned in September was the feared 'personal prelature', a structure that would have spelt disaster. So, yes, this is promising news indeed.

    It would be lovely if Bishop Fellay could reveal unto us what this canonical structure is. As he knows full well, as long ago as 2000 (and then again in 2004 and again in 2007), it was proposed that the Society would be granted a particular church, probably a personal apostolic administration, such as the one given to the Campos priests except extending throughout the world. It might even be a personal diocese. [It might also (now) be a personal ordinariate]. All those would work. We'd all sleep easier if he would reveal what is being considered.


  8. P.K.T.P.6:27 PM

    Bishop Fellay should propose that he will consider a canonical arrangment if Rome undertakes not to make one more change to the 1962 Missal for a period of fifty more years.


  9. Chaimbeul
    If I read NC's post correctly, the positives are manifest:
    1. The canonical proposal is "alright, good";
    2. On the doctrinal side progress has come "very far". In the other post, he notes how the Bishops and the Curia are insisting that Tradition means that what the Church held yesterday it holds today, to which he responds "This is what we have been saying for 30 years"
    3. The "no" is to a first draft but was returned with a counter-draft, which demonstrates a constructive openness to continuing the dialogue

    The "on going" stuff, that is simply factual and realistic is that there are still Curial circularisms that state that: Tradition means the Church holds today what she held yesterday - the Church holds to Vatican 2 - therefore, Vatican 2 is Tradition. On the prudential level, particularly with regards to religious liberty and ecumenism, if one holds to that tenet, two opposites become the same thing, which is an illogicism.

    This still concerns Bp Fellay, but as if to temper any sense of despair, he notes the theologian who recently wrote a doctrinal thesis in the Vatican that states that the authority of Vatican 2 is akin to the authority of a priest's homily from the pulpit who was given a "passing grade" shows that the tide within the hierarchy is already turning against the "Vatican 2 is a super-dogma" concept.

    As such, I concur with NC that there are mostly positives in Bp Fellay's words.

  10. John McFarland6:46 PM

    Dear New Catholic,

    The SSPX's position is fairly summarized as follows:

    If Rome will offer us the proposed canonical status with no strings attached, we will accept it.

    So the question is whether Rome will make that unconditional offer.

    If the Holy Father continues to maintain that the basic issue between Rome and the Society is doctrinal, then the answer is no.

    But we shall see. Let us watch and pray.

    P.S. As regards the Italian Vaticanologists, I can only say that those who persist in reading them are wasters of time and gluttons for punishment.

  11. MKT,

    Thank you dearly. I could not have said it better.

    Best regards,


  12. Prof. Basto6:58 PM

    The analysis of Andrea Tornielli:

    The analysis of Fr. Zuhlsdorf, with the usual inline emphases and comments:

    I'm still trying to make sense of the sermon. I've read it a few times, and yes, there is this relevant passage now highlighted by Rorate Caeli, but the sermon has also other very problematic points.

  13. P.K.T.P.7:05 PM

    But Mr. McFarland, it has been the Society which has insisted that the main problem is doctrinal, not Rome. At this point, they are only arguing over a Preamble that sets forth "principles and criteria" of interpretation on doctrine. This is not the same as doctrine itself.

    It can be inferred from Bishop Fellay's words that Rome will merely recognise that the Society has been legitimate all along, owing to errors at law made in 1975 and/or 1976. But this would not give the Society the freedom in law which it needs. Hence Rome offers more than recognition of a society of apostolic life: she likely offers a personal particular church or else a personal ordinariate in which the Society's affiliates and it can be associated canonically.

    As far as I can see, however, Bishop Fellay is still bound by his undertaking: no canonical structure will be accepted until doctrinal agreement has been reached. Where is the doctrinal agreement? They are only arguing over means of interpreting doctrine.


  14. J OF C7:19 PM

    Could it be they do no understand the good bishop because He is CATHOLIC and they forgot what the true is.

  15. Steve7:45 PM

    Did anyone read the paper by Fr. Gleize, presented to Rome with Bishop Fellay's response?

    Fr. Gleize summarizes his paper very well here:

    Bishop Fellay has just said, if Rome recognizes us "as is" we are in! Is Rome listening to this?

    I cannot for the life of me figure out why Rome cannot read the very well reasoned position of Fr. Gleize on Vatican II and say, "Ok. That is your opinion and it is a valid opinion and view of the Council. You are entitled to as a Catholic. We disagree with it, but it is not enough to keep you "out" of the Church. Welcome in!"

    Does this commission not realize the hundreds of religious orders out there at odds with the Pope's interpretation of Vatican II on the left? What about Hans Kung? He denies every infallibly defined dogma there is. Is he "suspended"? "Excommunicated"?

    It is crazy to me that "Rome" requires the Society to be in absolute lock-step with them on their shifting view of Tradition, Magisterium, and VCII, meanwhile at least 90% of the bishops and priests out there are nowhere near in "lock-step" with Rome on these issues.

    What is wrong with letting the Society maintain this view, which is irrefutably consistent with Tradition, and be respectfully critical of the Council and post-conciliar novelties, just like Bishops Schneider & Ranjith and Professor Gherardini are, all of whom are in "full communion"?

  16. I happened to have read about this first on another blog and it came across as a definite No. Reading it here, Rorate gives us a bit more hope. I read the entire printed version of the homily and there are several points Bishop Fellay points out which do make sense.

    He said Rome is so always open-armed to the Protestants. This is true, and they treat the SSPX with disdain. The only thing is that the Protestants accept the whole Vatican II thing hook, like and sinker because they have no sense of Sacred Tradition and therefore the loss is unseen, unnoticed.

    Insofar as ecumenism, who cares? It's not a De Fidei issue. Ecumenism is a pastoral effort which comes under Evangelization. Unfortunately, ecumenism is treated as a separate approach to Salvation, and the SSPX are correct in saying this is not to be. Dialogue is very important, of course, but at a certain point in the conversation it must be stated Jesus Christ is Savior and you need Him to be saved. Here's the rub. The Church never gets around to saying that. As long as things are fine and dandy between the Church and Entity B on points they agree on, job done. That's cooperation, not Evangelization.

    MKT said, "Tradition means the Church holds today what she held yesterday - the Church holds to Vatican 2 - therefore, Vatican 2 is Tradition. On the prudential level, particularly with regards to religious liberty and ecumenism, if one holds to that tenet, two opposites become the same thing, which is an illogicism."

    Very good. It shows the Curia is self-asserting a false syllogism.

    Regarding a structure for the Society, I have always maintained an Ordinariate is the best for them, not a Prelature! Just as the RCAU has one one, the SSPX will do just fine as well.

    We still must have hope. Rosaries now!


  17. P.K.T.P.8:13 PM

    I must say that Steve puts the case very well indeed, and that may well be Rome's solution to the problem in terms of doctrine, or the doctrinal side.

    But there is still a problem on the Society side. The S.S.P.X wants Rome to recant conciliar error. While all four Society bishops have committed to this, Bishop Williamson never tires of reminding everyone of it. It is not only that two plus two equals four; no, two plus two always and everywhere equals four and only four.

    Of course, the Society could agree to a canonical solution and be free to insist on her position, leaving it to the future for Rome to agree with it in stages. However, there is a probelm with that. You see, souls are being led astray. Right now, we see open rebellion in Austria. In Quebec, the fake Fr. Raymond Gravel, a former male prostitute who argues in favour of legalising abortion and inverted marriage on television, effectively leads a counter-church that most nominal Catholics follow. That's a sticky little probelm, eh? Is Benedict XVI our Pope? If so, why can't he even deal with the Parish Priest at Repentigny? Sooner or later, if Gravel (as just one example) is not excommunicated and defrocked, it will be he who 'excommunicates' the Pope. As Cardinal Richilieu said so long ago, Power not used is soon lost.


  18. Steve made a great point, something many of us have been seeing for years.

    Why is the SSPX treated like a Cinderella and all the other rift-raft of the Church gets free reign and no sanction?

    My take on this is that it's all that Romanita stuff--loss of face. If the SSPX is allowed back into the Church without a Canonical bayonette in its back then all the strenuous agony over Vatican II will have been naught. They then no longer have any argument to maintain it. We can view this in the same manner as them wanting to tinker with the Tridentine Missal. Mess that up and we EF Faithful no longer have a leg to stand on.

    Still hopeful,


  19. John McFarland8:31 PM

    Dear Mr. Perkins,

    Bishop Fellay says:

    "In this invitation there is a proposition of a canonical situation that is to regularize our situation. And I may say, what is presented today, which is already different from what was presented on the 14th of September, we can consider it as all right, good. They fulfilled all our requirements, I may say, on the practical level."

    Further on he says:

    "Do they really want us in the Church or not? We told them very clearly, if you accept us as is, without change, without obliging us to accept these things, then we are ready. But if you want us to accept these things, we are not."

    His Excellency then goes on:

    "In fact we have just quoted Archbishop Lefebvre who said this already in 1987 – several times before, but the last time he said it was in 1987."

    As you know, the issue in 1987 -- and 1988 -- was not doctrinal.

    Indeed, I defy you to find anything in the text that could be interpreted as making doctrinal change by Rome a condition to the Society's regularization that Bishop Fellay is talking about.

    Finally, as you know, the Holy Father has indeed said that the issue between Rome and the Society is doctrinal; and the Vatican initiated the discussions precisely to deal with the doctrinal issue.

    So I still think that I have it right.

  20. The "two-church mentality" will not work with the lion bedding down with the lamb. Let's face it; only divine intervention will provide an answer to the crisis we see in the Church today.

  21. Steve9:03 PM

    Sorry for the double post, but the Abbe de Nantes website has this take on the issue:

    The doctrinal preamble that the Vatican is submitting to the Society of Saint Pius X for ratification is still kept secret. This proves that it is a question of a transaction between two parties that are both wary of their respective public opinion, and not of defining the Catholic Faith by the condemnation of heresy, or the restoration of the bond of charity by the condemnation of schism.

  22. John McFarland9:04 PM

    Dear Mr. Perkins,

    As a professional doer of deals, let me give you, a talker about deals, my view of where this stands.

    If Rome offers a no strings canonical deal, then the Society is regularized and it is clear that this is guerrilla warfare, not schism. That has its risks, as Bishop Williamson never tires of saying, since the Vatican is hardly an impartial referee; but Bishop Fellay is prepared to take that risk.

    If Rome does not offer a no-strings deal, then things will go along as they are currently going, except that more and more people (not many relatively speaking, but a significant number relative to the number of traditionalists) are coming to understand what they are looking at, and the first generation of conciliarists is dying off, with a very small pool of prospective replacements.

    Each of these results is something that the SSPX can live and work with.

  23. Here's something pretty hopeful. This is from the

    "SSPX: Bishop Fellay’s response to Cardinal Levada being studied in Rome.

    According to a source close to the matter, we can announce that the letter posted by Bishop Fellay in mid-January is not a “second response;” rather it clarifies the position of the Society of St. Pius X... 2-3-2012 DICI NEWS."

    Well, to me it is anyway...


  24. John McFarland9:21 PM


    I think that you should read the whole paper, which is posted on

    What Fr. Gleize is saying is that the conciliar teaching in general, and the teaching of the Holy Father in particular, is wrong.

    Let me repeat: wrong.

    The SSPX is not at all interested in being permitted to function as the holder of acceptable theological opinions.

    It and its faithful believe that what it is teaching is the gospel delivered by Christ to the Apostles, and that the conciliar gospel of the Roman authorities as taught for nearly half a century is a different gospel.

    Anyone who doesn't understand that, doesn't understand what's going on in Fr. Gleize's piece, or in Bishop Fellay's Candlemas sermon, or in the whole controversy between Rome and Menzingen.

  25. John McFarland9:33 PM


    There already is divine intervention, and will continue to be.

    Without continuous divine intervention, there would be nothing.

    Maybe that intervention will get more dramatic. Maybe it won't.

    If the past is any teacher, probably it won't.

    But God will have what he wants.

    The question is whether we will deign to accept what God wants.

  26. John McFarland9:35 PM

    Professor Basto,

    Could you tell us a little about what do you find obscure and problematic about the sermon?

  27. Sigoine9:59 PM

    If ever you wanted proof that Fr Z. is not on the right side, go read his blog entry on Bishop Fellay's latest sermon. He falls into the trap of the Italian journalists. Why? Not because he ain't an intelligent fella, but because he is predisposed to read bad things about the SSPX. Maybe he wants to be the only traddy priest on the block? Well, hopefully there'll soon be a lot far more genuinely traditional priests with full faculties out there, more interested in active ministry than showing the world how to blanche lardons.

  28. The problem with the SSPX-Rome discussions is not Vatican II. V-II is just a symptom of a deeper problem, which humanly speaking we are unable to solve. This is Freemasonry within the Church and society at large. Our Lady at Fatima promised to destroy freemasonry, if I recall correctly. Freemasonry is incompatible with Tradition and Universal Truths. So there is unlikely to be any agreement with Rome before Our Lady accomplishes what she has promised. This may not be too far off as the 4 SSPX bishops are not getting any younger. The SSPX will cease to exist without any bishops.

  29. "What Fr. Gleize is saying is that the conciliar teaching in general, and the teaching of the Holy Father in particular, is wrong.

    Let me repeat: wrong."

    I agree with this assessment. Let me repeat. I agree.

    Am I "outside the Church" as well? I go to diocesan TLM's.

    Is it some sort of canonical crime requiring expulsion from the Church or refusal of entry into it, to believe in Traditional concepts of Tradition and Magisterium?

    BXVI believes his predecessor's views of Tradition and Magisterium were wrong. Is the Pope not Catholic? What happened to tolerance of viewpoints in the Church?

    I have news for you. Hans Kung believes the Pope is wrong. Dead wrong. Not only BXVI but every Pope before him. Kung is a Catholic in good standing. Only restriction is that he not call himself a Catholic theologian. Is there room in the Church for Kung but not the Society?

  30. P.K.T.P.12:00 AM

    Well put, Sigoine. I parted company with Fr. Z. long ago. Any man who continually posts 'literal translations' of the M.R. in non-sacral English, while insisting that, someone, sacral English versions are not literal, is suspicious.

    From his comments over the years, I conclude that he's a semi-trad at best and a neo-con at worst. But his pasta dishes and little birdies are rather nice, although I'm nore disposed to the little kitties who kill and eat little birdies.


  31. Anonymous1:31 AM

    For the anon who has tried to post in multiple places tonight, please use a name when posting. See the instructions above the comment box. This is mandatory.

  32. "If ever you wanted proof that Fr Z. is not on the right side, go read his blog entry on Bishop Fellay's latest sermon."

    What a tremendous difference in the manner in which Rorate Caeli, if you will, and Father Zhuldsdorf interpreted Bishop Fellay's latest sermon.



  33. JTLiuzza5:48 AM

    Re John McFarland:

    To Steve you said, regarding his attendance at a diocesan TLM, "The same is true of the issue of your attending the TLM under Novus Ordo auspices. I can advise you that it's bad idea, but not much more than that."

    So it is unacceptable to attend a TLM that is offered by the diocese in which he lives?

  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

  35. GQ Rep12:22 PM

    The easiest solution in the world is also probably the least one to happen.
    That would be for Pope Benedict XVI to make a pronouncement in no uncertain terms so everyone may understand that the Tridentine Latin Mass should (should, not may be_ be celebrated in every parish around the world, every Sunday. Also that seminaries MUST train all seminarians to celebrate the Tridentine Latin Mass (in addition to the current Novus Ordo), and that no bishop may impeed the celebration or fostering to the Tridentine LAtin Mass for any reason.
    If a blanket mandate for the Tridentine Latin Mass was decreed, there would be no need for the SSPX to seek a personal arrangement of any form, because they would be back in the mainstream of the Church.

    Unfortunatly, this is unlikely to happen. We are going to have to wait until the Vatican II cheerleading squad (all very aged), are all very dead before the Church returns to Tradition.
    Not too long a wait....perhaps 10 years!

  36. You know there's one issue which hasn't been brought up at all regarding the situation of the SSPX and is extremely relevant... Eastern Catholics.

    Many of them deny that there were any ecumenical councils after the second council of Nicea, have a mistaken conception of original sin (that goes way beyond the allowed limits of theological speculation), disagree amongst themselves and have a mistaken conception of purgatory, reject papal supremacy and either embrace the eastern orthodox eclessiology or a pseudo catholic collegiality or conciliarism. Some also have a deep aversion for anything 'latin', now whilst I agree they have legitimate traditions, I have personally seen them say that no church should be called after any Marian apparition as that is 'western', perhaps we should only name Our churches after Western Saints? Many rail against the sacred heart devotion, the Rosary etc... as its a 'latinisation' sadly the idea of mutual enrichment seems to have gone over their heards. Many seem to believe there's no doctrinal differences between them and the Orthodox but that the only difference is that they are in 'full communion' with Rome and the eastern Orthodox are not. The problem is that there are major differences between the eastern orthodox church's and The Catholic Church.

    The question then is why are so many eastern Catholics who repudiate much recognisable and de fide catholic teaching still 'in full communion' with Rome? And lest any one say its just the laity, its not, clergy, even bishops and patriarchs as well as official catechesis put forward these mistakes. In this context Romes refusal to accept the SSPX makes them downright hypocritical.

  37. Ecclesia Militans7:19 PM

    Once Truth is restored in the Church, and do not delude yourselves, this will only happen with a divine intervention, the Church should look into solving the many problems of the Eastern churches.

    The biggest problem is the basic mentality - many of them consider themselves, their liturgy and their theology separate from the Universal Church, so many do not learn nor care about anything that is not particular to their own community.
    This type of authonomy might have been allowed in the first centuries, because of the difficulties of effective control, but the Universal Church has become a true monarchy more than a thousand years ago.

    The (too) great liberties given to the Eastern Catholics are nothing more than a result of the Great Schism. If the schism never occurred the entire Eastern churches would have become like the also formerly jurisdictionally and liturgically fragmented Western churches - a homogenous one body with a strong papal authority, perhaps even with the same liturgy.

    There is certainly a great need to deal with Eastern theology, which the Church mandates should be in line with the theology of the Universal Church, but often is not, definitely also with the hierarchical structure of the East, which should no longer be a conglomerate of authonomous churches, with overlapping jurisdiction, often with several different patriarchs or bishops in the same see. It should be only one bishop (not counting auxiliaries) per see, as is and was always normal in the Universal Church.
    The litugy should also be standardized, and the veritable mess of rites sorted out.

    The point of all of this is to clear away the nationalistic-oriented debris, which was characteristic for the Eastern churches after the schism, to open the East to the theology and praxis of the entire Universal Church (they commonly know very little or nothing about the great western theologians),
    and for their identification no longer to be "I am a Copt", "I am a Syriac", "I am a (Greek) Byzantine", but "I am Catholic", i.e. to remind them what it really means when we confess:

    "Credo... in Unam, Sanctam, Catholicam et Apostolicam Ecclesiam"

    or, if will, in Greek:

    "Πιστεύω... εἰς μίαν, Ἁγίαν, Καθολικὴν καὶ Ἀποστολικὴν Ἐκκλησίαν"
    (Pisteuō... Eis mian, Agian, Katholikin kai Apostolikin Ekklēsian)

  38. I wouldn't go so far as to say their rites need to be 'sorted out', the church is only made poorer by the reduction of rites not richer but certainly their theology needs to be reconciled with that of the rest of the church and what cannot be must be gotten rid of. This nonsense of giving every church a Patriarch for reasons which are often nothing more than nationalism needs to stop as well.

  39. Ecclesia Militans8:36 PM

    Well, more than a thousand years ago the western part of the Church also had a mess of different rites, the Gallican in France, the Mozarabic in Spain, the Celtic in Britain and Ireland, the African in North Africa, the Ambrosian in northern Italy, the Greek Byzantine in small parts of southern Italy, not to mention the innumerable so called uses (local rites), such as the Sarum use (England), the Braga use (Portugal), the Cologne use (Germany), the Lyon use (France), the Nidaros Use (Norway), the Uppsala Use (Sweden), the Aquileian Use (northern Italy), Benevento Use (southern Italy), Durham Use (England), the Esztergom Use (Hungary) etc.

    Basically, every important diocese had its own use or rite.
    But the popes decided that the Roman rite should become standard in all of these lands, so also in a liturgical way Rome (the Roman rite) became the guarantor and promoter of unity, and those other rites and uses mostly survived until the Protestants came to the North and Muslims to the South.
    Some are still used in their local dioceses or in rites of various orders.

    Jurisdictionally, the situation in the West looked similar to the authonomy of the churches in the East, e.g. important dioceses were claiming the title of patriarch.

    Perhaps this successful Roman unification of the then liturgically and jurisdictionally fragmented West is a good model for the East as well - keeping the particular rites but accepting a standardization, and a jurisdictional reform to do away with paralel churches in a diocese.

  40. The Tridentine Reform left some of theses uses and rites untouched you realise? It explicitly left all uses over 200 years old in force and frankly that's a good, carte blanche standardisation is in no ones interest.

    I agree about reforming the eclessiology though, the eastern churches are very 'messy' and tend to be split on national lines, having more than one bishop per diocese or place merely because they're from different national churches helps no one.


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