Rorate Caeli

News analysis: "Has the SSPX leadership changed sides?"

What we may be seeing this moment, from some quarters, is an example of a voluntary desire to just look away from what was always there. Let us go back to April 2006.

At that time, as a comment to an article by the Superior of the French District of the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX), Father Régis de Cacqueray (The One-Two-Three Strategy, April 5, 2006), Rorate presented the following words on the "doctrinal discussions" (which, more than one year before the motu proprio and almost three years before the lifting of the excommunications, seemed almost impossible):

Some may also believe that "doctrinal discussions" are unacceptable -- but that is preposterous. The Holy See has been hopelessly dialoguing, since the Council, with the Anglican Communion, which lost any sign of faith sometime between 1860 and 1960... Honest and topical discussions with the Fraternity would be far more objective, since there is no dogmatic issue involved, and could set the basis for a very useful definition of the "hermeneutics of continuity" proposed by Pope Benedict. Such discussions could also happen after a clearer canonical framework is established, since they are not among the "preconditions".

Therefore, one could envision a situation whereby the creation of a "Doctrinal Commission" -- which would then be the institutional "locus" of the debates between the Fraternity and the Holy See -- serves as the fulfilment of this step ("the resolution of doctrinal questions"), allowing for the complete canonical regularization of the Society even though not every controversy is actually resolved before the establishment of the new canonical framework. [Emphasis added]

The One-Two-Three strategy reached its end today, as, after all preconditions were achieved by the SSPX and following the doctrinal discussions, the final matter officially reached the Pope's desk. Not a single person was deceived in the process - but there is a problem, certainly. The problem is undoubtedly that there were, and remain, some people on both sides (the widows of Vatican II on the liberal side, for one example), who for some reason thought this moment would never come. And now they are appalled that it is here...


Vernet, Roman landscape at sunset (1782)
 "Today there will be a storm, for the sky is red and lowering. You know then how to discern the face of the sky: and can you not know the signs of the times?" (Mt. xvi, 3)

It is not the Superior General of the Society, and certainly not the Bishop of Rome, who should be blamed if others have difficulty in understanding the nuance that every step of the strategy indicated (though we in Rorate certainly tried to disentangle any misunderstandings and unclear declarations, as our 2006 comment above indicates, trying to understand "the signs of the times"). The resolution of doctrinal questions never meant that Pope Benedict XVI would become the ventriloquist puppet of the Society of Saint Pius X... but rather that some composition on some level would take place at some moment following the fulfillment of the actual two preconditions.

The current product of this doctrinal resolution is what was officially delivered to the Pope today.

Following two years of serious doctrinal discussions, a "Doctrinal Preamble" - the draft of a statement, in plain English - was delivered by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to Bishop Fellay in September 2011. This preamble was duly presented by Fellay to the highest authorities of the Society in an extraordinary meeting in Albano, in the outskirts of Rome, in October 2011 - the group rejected the preamble. After one new draft was presented in December 2011, and some clarifications of the draft in January 2012, the final draft was delivered by Fellay in April 2012.

This final text is evidently an exposition of the doctrinal position of the Society, what they consider to be a reasonable resolution of the matter. It was analysed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (obviously, since it is the Pope's advising body for all doctrinal matters) and delivered to the Pope today.

What about the canonical framework? As we said in 2006, it does not matter if every single doctrinal disagreement is solved; what was sought, then as now, was some level of resolution - which simply means that the Pope accepts the doctrinal position of the Society as freely presented by its Superior General. It does not mean that the Pope will proclaim the content of the doctrinal statement from the loggia of Saint Peter's, but that he will present a canonical framework if he finds that the doctrinal statement is a reasonable doctrinal resolution of the matter. A doctrinal resolution, and not an attempt by the parties involved to forcibly enter into a "merely" practical agreement.

All steps were always clear: in 2006 as in 2007, in 2009 as in 2012, "God restoreth that which is past" (cf. Eccles. iii).
[Posted on May 18, 2300 GMT]


  1. NIANTIC12:25 AM

    Thank you NC for your analysis. It has been quite interesting these last several weeks. The time is one of high expectations as well as some anxiety. It appears that whatever could be said and explained between the SSPX and Rome has been said and explained. Now the final decision is in our Holy Father's hands and we wait for him to make it known to the Society and Church universal. Perhaps all of us now ought to be silent and offer our prayers for our Pope. Hopefully we will have cause for great rejoicing very, very soon. Laudetur Iesus Christus!

  2. That was an excellent trip down memory lane that puts it all into perspective.

    Conclusion: looking back, everything is the right track.

  3. Waiting to exhale1:16 AM

    Three years ago I started offering up many things for this pope. I have been greatly disppointed with the Assissi thing and the phony JPII beatification but I refuse to give up. If he doesn't do what is right and be the holy and faithful pope he should be, it won't be because I didn't pray and offer up for him.

  4. I just want the SSPX sacraments to be valid AND licit, and the unleashing of their 500+ priests, MCs and other TLM/EF servers to aid those of the EF/TLM communities of the regular diocesan churches or TLM/EF lay efforts going on worldwide. I'm tired of waiting for that announcement!

  5. P.K.T.P.1:41 AM

    The fact is that Bishop Fellay said on several occasions that there would be no canonical arrangement until the major doctrinal disputes were resolved. The fact is that he said on several occasions that the four bishops would remain united in all negotiations with Rome and that Rome would never succeed in dividing them. Must we now pore through past records to find the quotations? If need be, let it be done.

    What we have today is a major division among the bishops and not even one doctrinal dispute solved, and yet Bishop Fellay is ready to accept a canonical agreement. These are the facts. Ignoring them is disingenous in the exreme. It was never a question of Rome tolerating Society positions but of disputed Vatican II positions being defined by the Magisterium in interpretation.

    Despite all this, the best course now is for Bishops Tissier and de Galarreta to stand with Bishop Fellay and accept a recognition by the Pope and the offer of a structure. It would be far worse for them to separate themselves from Bishop Fellay and the S.S.P.X. The Pope is not a spring chicken; he is 85 years old and there are signs of his decline. This opportunity to resolve the main problem may not come again in our lifetimes, so I support an arrangement being made. But I absolutely will not try to unsay what Bishop Fellay has said on many occasions, as if we can wish his words away in some fantasy, and I don't care what de Cacqueray said. Bishop Fellay and his two assistants speak for the Society and no one else. Fellay has taken the Society down this road, for better or for worse. Let is pray that it will be for the better. I think that it probably wiil be. I pray that it will be because this arrangement could mean real freedom for the Latin Mass. If so, it will be the greatest achievement ever of the Traditional Latin Mass movement, all the way back to 1984 and before.


  6. The fact is that Bishop Fellay said on several occasions that there would be no canonical arrangement until the major doctrinal disputes were resolved.

    That is true, but what does it mean for the doctrinal questions to be resolved? Does it mean for the Holy See to agree with the SSPX, or does it mean that the Holy See agrees that the SSPX position on those questions is Catholic? When Pope Paul V told Thomists and Molinists to stop condemning one another, wasn't that a resolution? Of course it did not put an end to debate, it simply meant that Thomists could not call Molinists "Pelagians" and that Molinists could not call Thomists "Calvinists." But it was a resolution (after nine years of doctrinal discussions!).

  7. P.K.T.P.1:57 AM

    I wish to thank the moderators for letting my last post through. I think that it will prove very difficult for Bishops Tissier de Mallerais and de Galarreta to refuse what the Pope is likely to agree to in the very near future, and the world will be watching to see if they do the right thing and keep the Society united. United we sand; divided, we fall.

    It is clear from recent evidence that the matter of a canonical structure is separate. Once the present agreement is reached, the two parties must return to negotiate that. Tissier and de Galarreta are NEEDED by Tradition at that phase. I implore them to accept the Pope's coming document and then to work hard to ensure that the liberals in the curia are not able to saddle the S.S.P.X with canonical conditions which will make it in any way subject to the local Modernist bishops. That is the next step and it is almost before us.

    As for Bishop Williamson, I hope only that he acts in accordance with a well-formed conscience.


  8. We who care about these matters should not be inattentive or, worse, disingenuous concerning them. We do not have to "care" about anything, but we must not pretend that all things were not clear for a long time.

    It seems that some inattentive, ignorant or, worse, disingenuous men and women believed that the Holy Father would end the doctrinal discussions saying, "Yes, you win, let me join the Society this instant!" This was never how things were supposed to go as far as a resolution of the doctrinal discussions is concerned. The resolution has been achieved, in the manner described in this analysis (and in the 2006 comment). Uniformity of mind has not, and it was not what any reasonable man might have foreseen.

    It was always a question of reading the signs...


    P.S. The quoted words were not Fr. de Cacqueray's, but ours.

  9. You have had your say, Mr. Perkins, thank you.

  10. P.K.T.P.2:21 AM

    One point I am making is that those in the Society who complain about this deal should not be isolated. We are not children sitting in a sandbox hurling dirt at one another. The purpose here is to assure UNITY under the Pope. Admitting that the other side has a point WHEN IT DOES HAVE A POINT, will help this unity. If we say, like the children in the sandbox: 'I am absolutely and always right and you are absolutely and always wrong', we only incense them and harden their positions, whereas we want them in to help fight the Modernists.

    This is not a case of one side being a right and the other being wrong. It is a case of both sides in the Society being partly right and partly wrong. The question now, yet again, is what to do next. If the Pope makes a positive declaration, it should be accepted by all. If, after this, he protects the Society from the local bishops completely, that too should be accepted.


  11. I saw today where John Allen is back to speculating on the field for the next conclave (may it be many years away!), the top two he names being Scola and Oullet (Schoenborn not even in the top ten). I have not heard that either of these men are that sympathetic to Tradition (Scola being famously associated with CL), so the bottom line for the Society is, it's now or a long, long wait, with all the attendant risks.

  12. Yes, Mr. Allen is morbidly obsessed with conclaves. His speculation is probably meant for the Voodoo-doll-playing "sisters" who subscribe to that periodical...

  13. JTLiuzza3:25 AM

    John Allen's speculations are worthless. He and his musings have nothing to do with the future of the society, or the Papacy. I could crank out a top ten list of my own which would be equally worthless. I rather like the Pope we've been given and would rather pray for him in the difficulties he faces (as he asked us to do) rather than sit around thinking about who will replace him.

  14. John L4:53 AM

    'It was never a question of Rome tolerating Society positions but of disputed Vatican II positions being defined by the Magisterium in interpretation.'

    Never? It would seem that Abp. Lefebvre was willing to proceed on the basis of Rome's tolerating Society positions - that is what he meant by letting the SSPX attempt the 'experiment of Tradition'. Bishop Fellay may have said something different in the past, but was Abp. Lefebvre's approach ever formally excluded?

  15. The Paraclete's petitioner6:23 AM

    The synopsis is clearly articulated. As all details possess the possibility of a twist of interpretation, I pray for the one burdened with the responsibility to relay these thoughts in perfect union with the Omniscient perspective.

    The dramatic moments unveiling in time are held in the Divine Hands of Our Crucified King, the "Alpha and Omega". He grants the unsurpassed dignity to express His Authority to the world - to the Holy Father and Bishop Fellay.

    When Eternal Wisdom ordained Their Divine Providence, it was with infinite deliberation. Having placed this moment in the consecrated hands of these two souls, the Sovereign Lord and Head of His Church then bestowed to all others the absolute obligation to pray and sacrifice in union with His timeless Sacrifice of the Cross...Sacrifice of the Mass that Our Father's Will may be accomplished.

    Any other comment casts our eyes to the lesser realities. The Holy Spirit guides: "If you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth." Colossians 3:1-2

    The Holy Spirit draws us back to the silence of prayer that we may evoke the fulfillment of His Will. The realm of possibilities for the future is His without need for our conjectures: "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counsellor?" Romans 11:34

    "Veni Sancte Spiritus" . . .now this soul may return to the refuge of silence having served Divine Wisdom Who reigns from the Tabernacle silently in our midst.

  16. P.K.T.P.8:32 AM

    John L.:

    The context of my post is meant to refer specifically to Bishop Fellay's undertakings in recent years and prior to the doctinal talks.


  17. Anonymous8:44 AM

    Like Woody I read this article by John Allen, and I hate to say it but the list of Cardinals who are suppossedly the front runners to succeed Pope Benedict XVI is just something to be alarmed.

    I hope the Bishops of the FSSPX unite and come together if the Popes gives the okay to a reconciliation.

    As I have said before, if any of these men ascends to the Seat of Peter the Society will have NO chance of negotiating with the Holy See.


    For may part I am not looking forward to the next Conclave.

    I fear the worst.

    Now I will give my opinion on why I think Benedict XVI is trying to get an agreement with the FSSPX before his death (I pray his death doesn't happen, at least not for I while).

    I have been thinking deeply into this and as someone said in an earlier post here at Rorate, "I wish I could understand the mind of the Holy Father." well I feel the same way, specially in regards to some of the Holy Father's choices. So let me share why I think Benedict wants a resolution to this very important issue.

    I think the Pope is aware that after his death the Church will have a liberal Pope... yes an even more liberal Pope than JPII and I fear that the next 10 maybe 20 years the Papacy will be far more liberal than what we have witness in our time.

    I personally believe and this is only my humble analysis,that Pope Benedict XVI knows this possibility, and he is trying to HELP TRADITION TO LIVE AND EXIST WITHIN THE CHURCH through the FSSPX, THE FSSP, AND OTHER TRADITIONALIST GROUPS. But it would have to be the FSSPX the one to lead this ANDEAVOUR.

    I know I could be out to lunch, but I have been reading about the possible candidates for the Papacy and I feel literally sick to think that any of these men could be Pope.

    I don't know,but my hunch is that Pope Benedict is not only aiming for a Resolution with the SSPX right now during his Papacy, but might be aiming to help the FUTURE OF THE CHURCH where it might lay bare of anything Catholic, and maybe Benedict is trying to aid the Future Church from completely falling into ruins.

    Do I make sense???


    Of course, I have always believed Our Lord is still leading His Church and I trust HIS Holy Spirit will NOT allow the gates of hell to prevail, but the reality is that we as a Church are facing a MAJOR CRISIS of Apocalyptic dimensions.

    One more thing, I STRONGLY THINK (always submitting to the will of the Holy Spirit )that the only man who I consider as the BEST POSSIBLE CHOICE TO SUCCEED Pope Benedict XVI WOULD BE:


  18. Bartholomew10:02 AM

    Re: John Allen and Papal Speculation

    A month before Pope John Paul II's death, Allen ran a column in the NCR listing 10 names as possible papal candidates. Ratzinger's name was not on the list:

    After the death of the Pope, he was writing columns stating that there was a real push for Cardinal Ratzinger:

    My point is that Allen's speculations are far less useful than his reporting (and he rarely merely reports; he's clever at admixing his commentary amidst his reportage).

  19. Manfred10:32 AM

    I recently read that the two growth "religions" in America are non-denominational "christianity"(?) and Mormonism. One is vague, the other clear, Neither is true. When an average person sees his life moving on over years, the obvious question is, What do I do in the meantime as the meantime is the only time I have? The answer for me has been the FSSP for years. We conduct our lives and our affairs as though Vat II had never occurred. I don't attend N.O. weddings or funerals. Why aggravate myself? The one disadvantage is that people become increasingly irrelevant. I find I don't have the patience to deal with them. The HHS and the Bishops? Simply a dispute between business partners where one partner, the gov't. which gave the Church billions for years for C.C. and C.H.A., is now changing the business model. The American Church has not been Catholic for decades.

  20. MConstantine, if you rephrase it, we can post your comment. Regarding one point in it: the members of that institution are precisely among the most decided "widows of Vatican II"... Or hadn't you noticed this?...

  21. Francis11:14 AM

    Manfred, you nailed my friend. Like you I stopped going to the Novus Ordo (or anything connected to it). While this move on my part made some of my conciliar Catholic friends upset I have never felt better. I used to go to N.O. funerals or weddings and would actually get sick to my stomach seeing and hearing the nonsense and the shenanagans going on. The TLM is the only Mass which I assist at. I agree with you about the bishops also, while most of these guys don't have a clue they get it right once or twice. After all, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

  22. Fr. A.M.11:45 AM

    I must say I don't like speculations about 'future conclaves', especially as we have a pope. We should pray for his health and welfare everyday. We are so blessed with Pope Benedict XVI. Let us pray for a good outcome to his deliberations, for the good of the Church, and that SSPX will all be working together, no matter who may leave its ranks, which I hope will be few.

  23. James I. McAuley12:31 PM

    New Catholic said, "His [Allen's} speculation is probably meant for the Voodoo-doll-playing "sisters" who subscribe to that periodical..."


    Keep praying folks, and do not lose sight of the goal. Speculation in this case is fruitless and serves as a red herring.

    Have any of you folks noted that reform of the reform priests are visiting SSPX places? This will have a positive effect on them, and they will be able to utilize the resources of the SSPX, in the way that the good Archbishop L. intended.

  24. Not sure why anyone would be reading the National Catholic Reporter in the first place - the Vatican and USCCB should sue them to remove the word "Catholic" from their name.

    But Cardinal Ouellet, mentioned by John L Allen Jr, is actually rather pro-tradition, at least for a Canadian bishop. He gave the FSSP a beautiful church in Quebec City, in fact the very some one where Alfred Hitchcock filmed "I Confess".

    Cardinal Ouellet, when president of the CCCB, brought on a political firestorm a few years ago by merely re-affirming the Catholic church's pro-life stance.

  25. Woody,

    I am basically unfamiliar with Cardinal Scola, but Cardinal Oullet gave a very nice church to the FSSP for $1.

  26. Marty Jude3:48 PM

    P.K.T.P. said "...What we have today is a major division among the bishops and not even one doctrinal dispute solved, and yet Bishop Fellay is ready to accept a canonical agreement."

    How do you know that there is 'not even one doctrinal dispute solved'?

    Are you in close, personal contact with the Superior General, his assistants, the other other Bishops, District Superiors/SSPX Priests? Or the Vatican even? What do you know that the majority of the Catholic world doesn't?

    You could be correct, but again, how would know this?

  27. Seminarian4:30 PM

    At the risk of seeming foolish, why can't Rome 'demand' that the SSPX recognize the Second Vatican Council. They seem to be the garden variety cafeteria Catholics, only from the opposite spectrum. To make any 'accomodation' which does recognize Vatican II in all its dimensions would seem only to invite further dissent both liberal and conservative.
    Thank you!

  28. Dear Seminarian,

    Could you read the text of the Union of Brest and come back here? In Brest they were dealing with much more substantial matters, including the Filioque and Purgatory...


  29. Seminarian, liberals dissent on infallible dogma, whereas Vatican II defined no dogma at all, is ambiguous at times, and is my protected by infallibility.

    The Council itself said so in the Nota Praevia of Lumen Gentium, and Cardinal Felici confirmed at the close of the Council that Catholics could have just reservations on those parts of the Council that were novel in nature.

  30. Barbara5:13 PM

    Seminarian, I beleive the SSPX do recognise Vatican II, but a more informed person than myself could explain their postion better.

  31. If you walk passed a man who asks you for bread, and you don't give him any, you're a cafeteria Catholic.

  32. P.K.T.P.6:06 PM

    In terms of papabile, I'm not sure that any candidate today is more traditional than is Benedict XVI, so people on this blog are bound to be critical no matter who is chosen, unless the cardinals choose someone from beyond the Sacred College, and that would be very abnormal.

    This is all the more reason why we should want the S.S.P.X matter to be solved now and then entrenched. What has been sought for so many years is a real freedom for the Traditional Latin Mass. The problem with S.P., which was needed to establish a freedom in priniciple, is that priests remain subject to the enormous power of local bishops. It might be perfectly legal for a priest to offer a regular Sunday Latin Mass, even if not one person in a cœtus fidelium asks for one (and even more so if a group does ask), but it is also perfectly legal for the local bishop to judge that that same priest's special combination of skills would make him a perfect prison chaplain. "We really have a problem in a remote parish and I'd like you to do what you can to make things better there, so I'm moving you a the end of your current term". (This is just one example.)

    So the second part is to have practical freedom for our Mass, even if on a very small scale at first, and even if it should take decades to bring it everywhere. The S.S.P.X, with or without other groups, could exercise that freedom if Rome exempts it entirely from episcopal control. That is the only reason I have harped about the canons relating to pesonal prelatures. A structure is needed in which NO permission is needed by the local bishop before the S.S.P.X decides to move into his diocese and open a chapel there. A structure is needed in which NO permission is needed from the local bishop in order that S.S.P.X priests may administer the Sacraments of Baptism and Marriage, for example, in his see.

    A structure that would entrench such things would then enable our people to 'go off and get down to the business of bringing Catholic Tradition to the world in our way'. I'm hoping that the Pope will create an umbrella structure, such as a personal and international archdiocese, into which ALL the traditionalist orders and societies can be incorporated.

    The local bishops will not lose all their power under such a scheme because they still control most of the sacred places needed for the celebration of Mass, and it will take time and much money for our new personal diocese to attain much in that way. But the S.S.P.X already has a network of chapels (even if a very modest one in developed countries and virtually nothing elsewhere).

    If this is all firmly entrenched in this pontificate, we only need a pope who is not so anti-traditional that he would dare to reverse what had been granted. A Pope Scola or a Pope Ouellet would likely do just fine, so we needn't worry who it might be and should'nt bother trying to discover it. The important thing is that most current papabile would at least let us continue to live, and that's all we really need. If anyone here thinks that the liberal nonsense will end under this successor or that, well, he's deluding himself. That nonsense continues under Benedict XVI too. It will fade as all fads fade and as the liberal clowns retire and decline.


  33. Seminarian:
    Cardinal Koch has elevated Vatican II to the status of De Fide and "Super Dogma" which it is plainly not and that expressed by others more erudite than myself. +++Koch is a 'spoiler'!

  34. P.K.T.P., quite right... THE central issue is to make the Mass more widely celebrated, without interference. It is the singularly most important channel of grace that supports everything else in our civilzation, or better yet, in our world.

    Personally, I have no doubt that the accelerating craziness in the world over the last 50 years is due to the absence of the graces brought to us through the Traditional Mass. Things would be even crazier by now without the few Traditional Masses already being celebrated; more such Masses throughout the world will help to arrest the decline. Over time, of course; things won't get better overnight.

  35. Reading comments on this blog (which I like and enjoy though may not always agree) I am convinced that a percentage of the SSPX laity are those who are opposed to this breach being restored. As things are, they as members of the SSPX feel a superiority to all other Catholics of Roman, Byzantine or any other Catholic Rites. With separation ended they just become Catholics (or Roman Catholics if preferred) They no longer wear the 'Martyr's Crown' for the Faith.
    The fact that Bishop Williamson has pretty much declared himself a 'vagante' and greater than anyone else be they Pope, Patriarch, Metropolitan, Cardinal or Bishop makes the choice easy. Side with him or side with Bishop Fellay.
    I guess we will see soon what side the other 2 Bishops will take.

  36. Ora et Labora8:09 PM

    P.K.T.P. what you said here:

    "I'm hoping that the Pope will create an umbrella structure, such as a personal and international archdiocese, into which ALL the traditionalist orders and societies can be incorporated."

    This being the IDEAL situation.

    But I especially liked what you said here and I believe this is what we should hope to achieved once or maybe I should say if the Society reconciles:

    "A structure is needed in which NO permission is needed by the local bishop before the S.S.P.X decides to move into his diocese and open a chapel there. A structure is needed in which NO permission is needed from the local bishop in order that S.S.P.X priests may administer the Sacraments of Baptism and Marriage, for example, in his see."

    I just want to add one thing, and is that the Tradentine Mass has already been liberated by the Holy Father within the Church even if it is in a very small scale, but I would agree that once the SSPX reconciles, it will definately give Tradition within the Church a more solid presence and that is what we want.

    But, before we get ahead of ourselves we must not forget that the central issue at this very hour is to hope that there will be a Reconciliation between the Holy See and the FSSPX.

  37. Gratias8:12 PM

    The decision is now in the hands of the Holy Father. He is God's gift to the Church. Hopefully his decision will be an unqualified yes. Orate pro pontifice Benedicto.

    When there is an approval we can expect ad hominem attacks on our Pope. What happened after the regularization of Bp. Williamson will be nothing in comparison. The Freemason press will demonize Benedict XVI with a view of having his successor reverse the achievements of his great pontificate. We should start thinking now how to support the Holy Father if this happens.

    I look forward to visiting an SSPX Chapel after regularization, just to show support. I am quite happy with our Una Voce Doicesan TLM/EF, but do support FSSP from time to time. Thanks to Rorate Caeli
    all traditionalists have a common forum, which may help us work together to strengthen the Catholic Church.

  38. In regard to the Society's irregular canonical status, Father Arnaud Rostand, District Superior of the Society of Saint Pius X in the United States, declared the following:

    "The reason why the Pope wants to resolve this situation is difficult to know."

    Various commentators here and elsewhere have claimed that the Holy Father wishes to unleash the Society within the Church to restore Holy Tradition throughout the Church.

    The SSPX will become supposedly the Pope's Holy soldiers in His Holiness' efforts to move, if you will, from Novus Ordoism to Holy Tradition.

    I am interested in whether the Holy Father will signal the above via the regularization of the SSPX.

    Dario Cardinal Castrillón claimed that Pope Benedict XVI desires that the TLM be offered in “not many parishes — all parishes."!

    However, Kurt Cardinal Koch declared that the Holy Father's liturgical goal is that of a hybrid TLM-Novus Ordo Mass.

    So much for the survival and advancement of the TLM.

    The Holy Father has characterized the Society as a mixture of praiseworthy Catholic elements and "sick elements."

    His Holiness said that reaching out to the Society is important to "prevent radicalizations...should we really calmly leave them to drift away from the Church?"

    Pope Benedict XVI has not offered the TLM publicly.

    When Summorum Pontificum was released, Pope Benedict XVI declared that the Novus Ordo would remain the primary Mass of the Latin Church as the TLM would not be offered very often throughout the world.

    Pope Benedict XVI described Summorum Pontificum as "merely an act of tolerance, with a pastoral aim, for those people who were brought up with this liturgy, who love it, are familiar with it and want to live with this liturgy."

    The Holy Father's SSPX and TLM-related declarations do not reflect the thinking of a Pope who intends supposedly to unleash the Society as part of a plan to move us from Novus Ordoism to Holy Tradition.

    I pray and hope that the above is not the case

    But the reality is that "the reason why the Pope wants to resolve this situation is difficult to know."


  39. Matthew M,

    Maybe I'm overly optimistic, but I still think there's a good chance that the Society, including all four bishops, will emerge from this intact and in unity. (The laity who attend their chapels are another matter; I suspect many of the "hard-liners" will leave for other "independent" venues if available. But strictly speaking, layfolk are not part of the Society.)

    We shall see. As I've mentioned before, it's quite possible that, after heartily expressing their opinions to Bishop Fellay, they will nevertheless follow him. Let's not forget that Bishop Williamson did express a profound public apology to the Holy Father after causing a storm with his Holocaust comments.

  40. Ora et Labora9:42 PM

    Tom, I hope you are not suggesting like some Ultra Traditionalists and their blogs, that the Pope has some sinester intentions for the Society, and that the only reason Pope Benedict XVI wants to reconcile the FSSPX with the Church is to destroyed it.

    If this is what you are suggesting then this would make Benedict XVI very demonic,and even Bishop Fellay because if the head of the Society is agreeing to negotiate with the Pope this malignant plan "THE DEATH OF THE FSSPX" then Fellay is an accomplice in the future destruction of the FSSPX and the Pope is an evil Pope and a heretical apostate as the Dimonds (Demons) brothers say.

    This is a very SEDEVACANTIST attitude if you don't mind me saying.

    It is the time to confront the real fear in the minds of some Ultra Traditionalists in the SSPX and is that the Society once inside the Church, will be destroyed from within.
    I can understand the fear but don't allow it to turn into PARANOIA.

    I am not naive, and I will not believe every conspiracy either, and much less will I give the devil the triumph in the Church he so much wants.

    This is certain the Gates of Hell SHALL NOT PREVAIL Our Lord said so.

    Mary Help of Christians pray for us!!!

  41. Marty Jude10:23 PM

    Tom, and others, are rightly questioning the Holy Father's motives in wishing for the SSPX to return officially into the fold.

    IMO,the Holy Father is attempting to be a good 'father', indeed a good shepherd of the flock. He is a peace-giver/seeker and wants the best for all Catholics. Any other thoughts/motivations, negative or positive, are of course possible.

    We just need to pray, hope and trust in our God's mercy.

  42. JTLiuzza11:55 PM

    The Holy Father has lifted excommunications, issued SP and UE, and has entered into doctrinal discussions with the society. We are weeks away from a possible regularization that is decades in the making.

    Is that all part of some grand plan by His Holiness to subjugate the society and eliminate tradition?


  43. Holy Rosary1:53 AM

    Seminarian, The SSPX are certainly not cafeteria Catholics, far from it. They accept V11 in so far as it is consistent with the Church's constant teaching. Any novelties are just that, and in no way binding, eg. documents on Religious Liberty, Ecumenism,and Collegiality. They maintain that it is from these novelties being accepted erroniously as dogmas, the great troubles in the Church and the world have come.The Council itself was Pastoral, not Dogmatic, so did not carry infallibility. God Bless.

  44. Jack O'Malley2:18 AM

    Just as a sanity check, let us recall the the Holy Father established a unique structure for the petitioning Anglo-Catholic convert from Protestantism to welcome them back into communion with the See of Peter.

    Would he do less for Catholics who had never abandoned the Faith?

    Fidamus Sancto Patri. Let us trust the Holy Father. He's the good guy in this gunfight. ;-)

  45. ReasonandRevelation3:22 AM

    Vatican 2 may have been pastoral, but it was a valid council of the Church. If the consequence of these discussions is to sharply narrow what is an essential part of the faith and what is open to dissent, then the unity of the Church may suffer.

    If the SSPX is granted a special dispensation to dissent from episcopal authority that goes too far, you can bet the liberals will say that turnabout is fair play.

  46. Francis11:34 AM


    The SSPX, and traditional Catholics in general, accept Vatican II as a legitimate and PASTORAL council and adhere to more of the council than the liberal "catholics" do. What the SSPX and other trads don't adhere to is the masonic and modernist novelties invented at the council and afterwards like the conciliar definition of "religious liberty", this false ecumenism which is nothing more than the promotion of the heresies of religious indifferentism and relativism, collegiality and a protestant and man centered mass which has weakened the faith and made a sacrilege of the blessed Sacrament.

  47. "Tom, I hope you are not suggesting like some Ultra Traditionalists and their blogs, that the Pope has some sinester intentions for the Society, and that the only reason Pope Benedict XVI wants to reconcile the FSSPX with the Church is to destroyed it."

    No. I didn't suggest the above.

    I noted simply that "various commentators here and elsewhere have claimed that the Holy Father wishes to unleash the Society within the Church to restore Holy Tradition throughout the Church.

    The SSPX will become supposedly the Pope's Holy soldiers in His Holiness' efforts to move, if you will, from Novus Ordoism to Holy Tradition.

    I am interested in whether the Holy Father will signal the above via the regularization of the SSPX."

    Example: Rorate Caeli last month published a "guest post by Côme de Prévigny" who claimed that Pope Benedict XVI had given up on given up on "the Johns and the Pauls to revive the Piuses and the Leos, the Gregories and the Clements, the Innocents, and the Benedicts.

    "Wojtylian Neo-Conservatism has run out of steam. Charismatism has not managed to revert the trend. In the old Christian nations, the churches are empty, the belltowers fall in disrepair, seminaries close down and the so-called Catholic journals barely survive.

    "And yet a shock weapon remains for Benedict XVI, this famous affair that worries him, that of the Fraternity."

    My question is whether that is true.

    Does the Pope wish to unleash the Society as he desires to abolish, if you will, Novus Ordoism.

    Again, that is supposedly the thinking of His Holiness, according to certain commentators.

    I noted that if that is Pope Benedict XVI's plan, then why has he...

    1. Failed to offer the TLM publicly.

    2. Declared that the Novus Ordo will remain the primary Mass of the Latin Church.

    3. That the TLM will not be offered very often throughout the world.

    4. That Summorum Pontificum is "merely an act of tolerance, with a pastoral aim, for those people who were brought up with this liturgy, who love it, are familiar with it and want to live with this liturgy."

    Again, I noted simply that Pope Benedict XVI's actions and declarations do not reflect the thinking of a Pope who intends supposedly to unleash the Society as part of a plan to move us from Novus Ordoism to Holy Tradition.

    I didn't invent the Pope's declarations in question.

    His Holiness said what he said.

    By the way, Monsignor Guido Marini, Papal Master of Ceremonies, declared that we should not expect a major liturgical reform from Pope Benedict XVI.

    To wonder whether I suggested that the Pope has a sinister plan to harm the SSPX is preposterous.

    Again, I noted simply that several folks have claimed that Pope Benedict XVI views the SSPX as shock troops who will move the Latin Church from Novus Ordoism to TLM/Holy Tradition.

    Coversely, the Pope has declared that the Latin Church will remain Novus Ordo-oriented.

    What is sinister in regard to my post?


  48. Because that is how he works. He never hid from the public his sentiments concerning the pace of changes implemented during the pontificate of Paul VI, the very Pope who made him Archbishop and Cardinal.
    So that is now how he acts, he is a festina lente character, with an accent on the slowness of the flow... Do I like this? No. Can we understand his caution and slowness? We certainly can.

  49. Francis3:10 PM


    I agree with most of your post. Pope Benedict XVI as Father Ratzinger was a peritus at Vatican II and was part of the 1960's revolution that has helped put Holy Mother Church in the predicament that She has been in for the last forty five years. His Holiness IMO will go to His grave defending Vatican II and its modernism because he helped create it and advance it after the council. He will never denounce the council because I think he sees it like a parent looks at an out of control child, while he doesn't condone the behavior, he will never disown it because it is his child. Yet he knows that things got out of hand. I agree that Pope Benedict XVI isn't a traditionalist minded Pope. He's a "big tent" Catholicism Pope who wants to merge traditional Catholicism with Vatican II Catholicism (which we know can't be done) to make some sort of hybrid Mass and Catholicism. I can't read His Holiness's mind or heart, but I think deep down he knows somewhere down the line that one or the other (traditional Catholicism or neocon Vatican II Catholicism) will win out, and he wants to start the ball rollinfg in that direction before he stands before the Throne of Our Lord which I hope and pray isn't for many more years.

  50. Fantastic piece, dead on.

  51. I did a search on Google and I can't find any reference to Bp. Fellay saying that doctrinal disputes must be resolved before a canonical agreement can be made. Now Bp. Tissier has certainly stated that Rome's "conversion" was necessary before the SSPX could be regularized, but I can't find a reference to Bp. Fellay saying that. That doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, only that I can't find it.

    I did find the following:

    Bp. Fellay does speak of conversion but it seems the primary difficulty is that of Rome imposing certain doctrines upon the SSPX (namely, religious liberty and ecumenism). He goes on to say the following: "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. 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." I cannot find any substantial difference between what Bp. Fellay says in this sermon and his position now. The difference is that Rome is prepared to accept the society as it is.

  52. That is correct, dcs. The response to the question in our title is certainly "no".

  53. "We told them very clearly, if you accept us as is, without change...then we are ready."

    Pope Benedict XVI said that within the Society of Saint Pius X one encounters "arrogance" and "sick elements."

    His Holiness stated that he has reached out to the Society to "prevent radicalizations."

    The Pope also said that we should not "calmly leave them to drift away from the Church."

    Given his grave concerns regarding the Society of Saint Pius X, how could Pope Benedict XVI possibly accept the Society as is, without change?


  54. As a supporter, without equivocation, of Msgr. Lefebvre, I agree there are elements within SSPX who are "arrogant" and even "sick". There are recorded instances of individual congregants being damned from the pulpit; laity movitivated to act against them; and priests, who did not conform to a narrow view of their prior, or +Williamson, were viciously hounded out. Those elements attract others who are possessed of a sectish tendency.

    +Fellay did say it might to two or three generations to rid Mother Church of the virus with which it has been affected.


Comment boxes are debate forums for readers and contributors of RORATE CÆLI.

Please, DO NOT assume that RORATE CÆLI contributors or moderators necessarily agree with or otherwise endorse any particular comment just because they let it stand.


(1) This is our living room, in a deeply Catholic house, and you are our guest. Please, behave accordingly. Any comment may be blocked or deleted, at any time, whenever we perceive anything that is not up to our standards, not conducive to a healthy conversation or a healthy Catholic environment, or simply not to our liking.

(2) By clicking on the "publish your comment" button, please remain aware that you are choosing to make your comment public - that is, the comment box is not to be used for private and confidential correspondence with contributors and moderators.

(3) Any name/ pseudonym/ denomination may be freely used simply by choosing the third option, "Name/URL" (the URL box may be left empty), when posting your comment - therefore, there is no reason whatsoever to simply post as "Anonymous", making debate unnecessarily harder to follow. Any comment signed simply as "Anonymous" will be blocked.

Thank you!