Rorate Caeli

Op-Ed: "SSPX: the Personal Prelature will outlive the various succeeding Pontiffs"

SSPX : The Personal Prelature will outlive the various succeeding Pontiffs

A special Op-Ed by
Côme de Prévigny

Should the Personal Prelature presented by Rome to the Society of Saint Pius X be accepted? Some present their negative opinion, based on the circumstances, but that is a badly formulated quetion. What should be asked instead is this: Can a canonical recognition be rejected when no unacceptable condition is attached to this concession? Abp. Lefebvre never refused a canonical structure by itself, when he was alive. He refused solely the demands conditioning the structure that he had originally sought and obtained, and that was unjustly removed from him.

He never wanted to break, of his own will, the canonical liaison that linked him officially with Rome, and even to this Rome infested with Modernists. Quite the contrary, he refused it: he challenged the publication of the break of this link, and appealed the decisions of the ecclesiastical authorities. Consequently, Abp. Lefebvre never faced the situation in which we find ourselves: the Society is offered a canonical structure unconditionally. Incidentally, on what basis can it be refused if no condition is imposed (and even if the conditions were neutral), and if one considers that the Pope, due to the divine mandate granted by Our Lord to Peter and his successors, continues to possess the supernatural power of binding and unbinding, despite all his woes? Would the current crisis make the primacy of Peter and the power of the keys of Catholic truths which are embarrassing, optional, and superfluous?

Some could object that the present context does not allow this regularization, and that never has a worse Progressive reigned on the throne of Peter. But a canonical structure is not supposed to last for the time of a single pontificate -- it outlives the Popes who flow by, and its acceptance does not mean a placet for the pontiff of the current moment. One could not imagine a regularization under Benedict XVI without foreseeing that it would remain in effect under his successor. What is the attitude that should be adopted tomorrow? Should we become Sedevacantists when the pontificates are calamitous and "renege on the contract" according to our whim with the passage of time? This is not at all coherent. Even if one waits for a very traditional pontiff, there is no assurance that he will not be followed by a disastrous successor. Complete security does not exist on this Earth, and the canonical statute of the SSPX should be able to linger on, whoever may be the reigning pope. It is for this reason that its Superior-General assures himself in advance of its watertightness and of the perennity of its administration in all kinds of pontificates, despite the attacks of all kinds.

When the Society founded by Abp. Lefebvre is regularized, we can well imagine that the current pope will not touch throughout his pontificate this balance which was sought by all means for forty years. The Curia tried to subjugate the Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) in 1999, and never returned to it, after its failure. By granting, last year, a definitive confirmation of the statutes of the Institute of Christ the King (ICRSS), we can even affirm that the Holy See has internalized the fact that the traditional world was not to be dismantled anymore, and this following the liberation of the Traditional Missal and the recognition of the confessions of the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X. Such is the current situation, even though everything can change as well.

The goal of Bp. Fellay, the SSPX's Superior-General, is rather realistic. It is evident that he is not blinded by the current "Kasperism", and that he prefers Summorum Pontificum to Amoris Laetitia... Nevertheless, he considers that it is a matter of justice for recognition to be restored to the Society, a recognition that was unduly removed and that no one in the Church denies to it presently. This is to be done undoubtedly with the Pontiff of the present, who will pass and will be followed by one who is better, or worse. As it turns out, the conditions for accomplishing the regularization have never been as compelling as they are today. It is not an agreement with what Francis does, but a regularization by the Holy See, the Chair of Peter founded, whether we want it or not, by Our Lord Jesus Christ.