Rorate Caeli

Benedict XVI - SSPX: Quarter to midnight

"Well, now is the favourable time, this is the day of salvation" (2 Cor 6:2). The words of the Apostle Paul to the Christians of Corinth resonate for us with an urgency that does not permit absences or inertia. The term "now", repeated several times, says that this moment cannot be let go, it is offered to us as a unique opportunity that will not be repeated. And the Apostle's gaze focuses on sharing with which Christ chose to characterize his life, taking on everything human to the point of taking on all of man’s sins.
Benedict XVI
Ash Wednesday, 2013

What threats can the hotheads on the SSPX side make? They have been expelled, or have excluded themselves.

What threats can the extremist liberals on the Rhine basin side make? Threaten schism, as they repeatedly (reportedly) did to John Paul II? Ask for the Pope's head, as they did in 2009? The Pope has delivered his head! On a tray, like the Precursor: the German-speaking and French-speaking Salomes cannot demand anything else.

From religioblog, the blog of the usually very well-informed religious writer of French daily Le Figaro:


"A quarter to midnight, Bishop Fellay." This parody of the title of the film dedicated to Dr. Schweitzer, a great Protestant, is badly chosen to recall the very Catholic Lefebvrist question, but it happens that this dossier, that seemed lost, could mark the last days of the Pontificate of Benedict XVI. Discussions, late [discussions], are taking place between Rome and Écône... Up to the end the Pope tries to reach an agreement.

I myself wrote after the announcement of the resignation of this Pope, on February 11, that this dossier of negotiations with the Society of Saint Pius X [FSSPX / SSPX] founded by Abp. Marcel Lefebvre promised to be one of the "failures" of the Pontificate. If not its greatest failure: Benedict XVI accepted all the demands of the Society: the rehabilitation of the Mass according to the ancient rite, the removal of the excommunications, the proposal of a doctrinal agreement. He has put all his heart of a distraught shepherd seeking the unity the flock. Never had a Pope dedicated so much of his personal efforts to such a specific dossier, with the risk of being completely misunderstood. He also suffered global infamy as a result of the Williamson affair.

This negotiation, often considered in Italy or in the universal Church as a "French question" is not so in reality. It is one of the symbols of this Pontificate. What could happen or fail in the upcomng days is therefore very important across the Catholic Church.


If one had to summarize in one expression the Pontificate of Benedict XVI, this would be: the rehabilitation of Catholic faith and identity. One image captures it all. The Madrid WYD witnessed, at the time of the vigil and before the storm and deluge that soon came down, not the spectacle of a Pope before over a million young people, but an incredible silence of prayer before a consecrated host... with a Pope, kneeling, in front of all. In the Catholic view, therefore, the adoration of... God, because the Church considers that Christ is "truly present" in the consecrated host under the "appearance" of bread.

It is necessary to add this: the monasteries and seminaries that are full, the communities and the priests who shine, are most often people who bend their knees before the Eucharist.

One may mock this practice, but behold it has really come back! Launched under John Paul II, this return of the eucharistic faith has blossomed, as it were, under the Pontificate of Benedict XVI.

And one cannot strictly understand anything in the current status of the Church, or only from the outside, if one does not grasp this key note.

One other, more succinct, way of saying this would be the following - and this with no offense to Protestants: the Pontificate of Benedict XVI has, as it were, "de-Protestantized" the Catholic Church. To the chagrin of the Progressive wing. But it is this objective reality that makes [them] cringe.

It is necessary to have this in mind in order to understand better the scope of the discussions, even at last minute, with the Lefebvrists. Benedict XVI, the theologian, has "re-Catholicized" the Church. There is not much else to say. If he confided this summer to his biographer, Peter Seewald, that he had the sentiment of having fulfilled his mission, it is in this sense. He has in effect corrected the course. His direction was what is essential in the Catholic faith. He put an end to the approximations and experimentations of the post-conciliar period.

It is for this reason that he has always viewed the Society of Saint Pius X favorably. He did not see them as a tribe of irreducible [men], or as a greenhouse. He does not fold with the agressiveness of some towards him. He sees these priests and this work as a place where what is essential in the Catholic faith is lived. [...] [T]his was the sense of the letter of Abp. di Noia, published in a previous post.

Therefore, Benedict XVI has never considered normal that these people, who partake of what is "essential", be rejected while many priests, theologians and bishops, while considered Catholics, do not recognize - [and] they express, in this point of view, a philo-Protestant theology - this "real presence" of Christ in the Eucharist.

Quite true, there are also doctrinal questions and very contentious approaches to Vatican II. But it is of capital [importance] to understand this convergence of what is essential in the faith: Benedict XVI does not wish to reintegrate the Society of Saint Pius X to "fix" a problem, as a manager might do. He thinks that it has its place in the larger body of the Church and an important role to play there. [A role] that it already plays without noticing it.

Benedict XVI is leaving. A verification of the lists of papabili - with the exception of Cardinal Ranjith, in Colombo, but who has a small chance precisely due to his Traditionalist sensibility - shows that this "Benedict XVI moment" is a unique occasion for the Society of Saint Pius X.

[...] Rome proposes to them, before the resignation of Benedict XVI is in force on February 28, to sign a final agreement and become a prelature that would give them a dependence from Rome but an independence vis-à-vis the bishops. This letter asks for a response by February 22, feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, a highly symbolic date because it celebrates the foundation of the Church. This is the view expressed in this letter signed by Abp. Müller (who is himself personally opposed to this agreement), but whom Benedict XVI, who named him to this position, asked to work for this unity.

[...] Bp. Fellay faces, therefore, an immense responsibility. Will he be te one who, for fear of the ultras (who will leave him, anyway), refuse a last extended hand by this Pope who, in a certain fashion, spiritually placed his resignation in play also for this agreement? Otherwise what would this letter and these ongoing exchanges mean one week away from the end of the Pontificate?

There is something of the very fate of the Society of Saint Pius X, of their very standing, that is therefore in play. They are used to taking shots. They were even established this way. They can always say that they can bear not being understood one more time with this last refusal. That they can do no other with the credibility and the goodwill that they were able to receive in the Catholic Church, particularly among the young people who are her future. But how could a foundation that has the goal of reviving the identity of the Church knowingly refuse this possibility? How can one be blinded and paralyzed to such a level that one cannot see this clearly? Is not a Pontificate that was almost dedicated to them not enough for them?