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Monday, January 30, 2012

Latest on SSPX...

From Rorate Caeli:

Will the agreement be made or not? The dialogue between the Holy See and the Fraternity of Saint Pius X [FSSPX / SSPX], founded by Mons, Marcel Lefebvre, has entered a decisive phase. The outcome of this dialogue is, above all, of great concern to Pope Benedict XVI, who has personally encouraged and nurtured it; it is also of great concern to all the priests, religious and lay faithful who are with the Fraternity; it is of great concern to all of that vast part of the Catholic world which is not of the SSPX, but which is set on the part of Tradition. For different reasons, progressive Catholicism and the secular world are observing (the situation) with great attention and some nervousness.

In other words: the match that is being played is important and difficult, but an agreement is not impossible. A lot of the resistance might fall away though, if one considers that when discussing the doctrinal questions, it is done through diplomatic means, also because the Fraternity’s canonical resolution is in question. We are moving here on mixed ground where it is fundamental to distinguish the levels, a process, which objectively, is not always so easy.

This is the shaky ground on which the case proceeds. If you can understand the disorientation of Rome with regard to the hesitations of the FSSPX, you also have to understand the perplexity of the Fraternity when it complains that Rome asks of them something that has not been asked of any other in order for them to adorn that tricky ecclesial category called “full communion”.

At this point, neither of the two sides can expect the other to pay an unpayable price: on the one hand, Rome cannot ask the Fraternity of St. Pius X to disown its identity; on the other, the Lefebvrians cannot expect Rome to lose face, with an unconditional surrender and a fairytale return to form in the present Catholic world, which objectively, is an accumulation of many contrasting things.

The success of the talks requires an awareness that knows how to hold faith and realism together. On the one hand, supernatural vision: the belief that the Church is in Rome ( it is in any case) despite the fact that it is going through one of the gravest crises in Her history; on the other hand, the narrow path of realism, that aims to give the Fraternity of St. Pius X the possibility of “having the experience of Tradition” according to a formula that was coined by Mons. Marcel Lefebvre himself.

Even if it seems out of proportion, most of the responsibility lies with the heirs of Lefebvre. In the history of the Church the figure of the dwarf who carries the giant on his shoulders is a recurrent one. It is a task that, besides moral and doctrinal rigour, requires humility and charity, and the understanding that Rome is helped by staying with Rome. But as time passes, there is a greater risk of thinking that only one alternative between two (ways) exists; the siren that invites no resolution because the conditions in the Church are far too serious; and the siren that invites a resolution without discussion because in the end ‘all is well.’ In the deepest sense, neither way sits well with an institution like the Fraternity of St. Pius X, which was born as a result of the unquestionable crisis that hit the Church after the Second Vatican Council.

Besides the two alternatives mentioned above, a third alternative exists and in this case, it goes like this: the question must be resolved as soon as possible precisely because the situation is grave, for the good of the whole Church.

In this endeavor, the Fraternity of St. Pius X, cannot be left alone with such a great responsibility. Pope Benedict XVI is the guarantor of this. It cannot be denied that this Pope has characterized his pontificate by giving back honour to the Gregorian Mass, by revoking the excommunications of the Fraternity’s bishops and by initiating the doctrinal discussions on the hot issues. These are all of the conditions requested by Mons. Lefebvre’s heirs. This fact cannot be ignored by the FSSPX nor the negotiators that represent Rome. The latter are very much aware that there is more Catholicism in the Lefebvrian community (even though they are canonically irregular) than in many regulated communities within the Catholic world. The time has come to bring this paradox to an end, through an act of good will accompanied by common sense. From both sides.

Authored by Alessandro Gnocchi & Mario Palmaro.  I think that this is a very good explanation of the situation as of now.  I would really like to see a complete reconciliation and I think that will come eventually, but I also don't think that either side wants to let the other just acquiesce.  Look at it this way...the SSPX needs the Church, but the leadership of the Church needs the SSPX.  With the attitude the Holy Father has taken, his whole movement to tradition hinges on the SSPX.  What do I mean?  It was the refusal of the SSPX to simply give in that created the whole return to tradition.  Do your homework.  Look at why the FSSP exists.  Look at why the ICRSS exists.  The movement begins there.  For as stubborn as the SSPX appear to be, the reality is that the Holy Father puts a lot of credence in their position.

Please pray for the reconciliation to fully take place.  We need the SSPX.  We may not think that we do, but there is no bigger harbinger of Sacred Tradition.  From a Catholic point of view, they give us a glimpse into the Church before the smoke of Satan entered.


  1. Very good piece.
    I have a question I have never heard a satisfactory answer to.
    Why is it that many liberal and heterodox priests even the majority of whole religous orders [the OFM and Vincentians come to mind] are in possession of full faculties to absolve sins, but the mostly orthodox, holy and Catholic SSPX cannot validly absolve sins?

    I am near the point [for various physical reasons] that I only have access to SSPX priests for absolution and I believe I cannot wait many more moths to miss confession.

  2. CtG:

    I think the answer lies in who embraced aggiornamento as a valid theology. The mainstream leadership of the Church did, where the SSPX did not.

    This isn't really an issue about differing theology. This isn't really an issue of jurisdiction. This isn't even really an issue of obedience (any longer). This is an issue of accepting aggiornamento.

    I think that if the SSPX would accept the principle of aggiornamento, it would all settle quickly. The fact is that they will not. Nor should they. Aggiornamento is what is behind the flaws which are in the language of Vatican Council II.

    If aggiornamento is eliminated, the rest will settle itself out. But that won't happen with this pontificate. Benedict XVI for all of his wonderful movings to the right, has an expectation of adherence to the principle, to a lesser degree. The SSPX won't acquiesce to that.

    As for confession, the great thing about it is that individually, most priests don't mess with it too much, so even a liberal parish will follow the formula. A little hunting will find a good Novus Ordo priest. Remember, confession is about validity, not about licitness. If the Sacrament is valid, then that is the key. If you can go behind a screen, get a valid absolution and a little counsel, that's all that matters.

    If, though you feel that you can only go to the SSPX, there must be a grave reason why you are doing so. That is not in my privy to know and to be honest, I don't need to know. But, if you feel your soul is in peril and the SSPX are the only recourse, well....that's your call. I am not in a position to judge. ;0)

    Just sayin'.

  3. Mr Milam,
    Thank you for replying.
    So you are saying that the granting of faculties is given to those who are comprimising of the Faith [aggiorniamento]?
    And not to those who keep the Faith in its fullest form.
    Obviously the Ecclesi Dei groups {FSSP ICRSS et}recieve their faculties from their 'aggiornamento" bishop.

  4. CtG;

    I don't know. I can't read hearts. I can only read what is available. Remember, aggiornamento only effects the Church insofar as her leadership is effected.

    I think that there are many more bishops who are "empathetic," but not "sympathetic" to the SSPX theology. But I think that they are hamstrung, because the Holy Father won't pull the trigger.

    Right, and that is a big sticking point for the SSPX, IMHO. I think that the Ecclesia Dei groups are as much of a sticky wicket as anything, because they mainly have their roots in the SSPX.

    Bottom line, I can't read hearts, so I don't know the intent of the bishops. I can only assume they do what Holy Mother Church has always intended.