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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Some Serious Reflection re: The SSPX....

After some serious reflection and prayer last night, I think that some clarification about my position is necessary.

I am fully aware of the canonical status of the SSPX. I don't put on any airs that the Priestly Fraternity is in an irregular situation. I also know that their position is not one of willful obstinance or willful disobedience. They are acting in a manner by which they think they need to act, in order to authentically view the Church.

Is this the best way to do it? I don't think so, but that isn't my call. All I can do is recognize the situation for what it is.

Many people look at what the SSPX is doing as a negotiation, I don't see it that way. I see it as a clarification. The issues that the SSPX bring to the table are very valid. All four of them. We have seen that the first of the four issues has been completely rectified. The TLM has been legitimized and liberalized within the Church. This is due in no small part to the SSPX and their steadfastness on this issue. To deny that is to be ignorant of the history of the situation. The Holy Father has gone so far as to even adopt the language of the SSPX regarding the break with Sacred Tradition.

All the SSPX wants and I think at this point, many mainstream Catholics are beginning to realize that there is are major issues with regard as to how the leadership of the Church is progressing in the Modern World. Clearly the views of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s have been shown to be, well....flawed.

The clarification that the SSPX is seeking rests on the premise that Vatican Council II was not dogmatic and was not doctrinal. It was pastoral. This doesn't mean that there was no influence from the Holy Spirit, certainly there was, but the question remains...if the single largest product of Vatican Council II, the Novus Ordo is a break with Tradition, what other parts are as well?

That is the fundamental question the SSPX is asking. If the Hermeneutic of Rupture exists in the Mass, which is a product of Vatican Council II, then does that same Hermeneutic of Rupture exist elsewhere in the Conciliar thought process? This is a very hard question and it is one that cannot be taken lightly.

The SSPX does not deny the entirety of Vatican Council II, but rather they have problems with three remaining areas and as is becoming incredibly clear, those do play a part in the Hermeneutic of Rupture.

The problem with the SSPX is one of bias more than anything else. At no point has the SSPX, as a fraternity, acted with malice or have they acted in a way which is purposefully harmful to the Church. The leadership of the Church, however views this differently and have been promoting this view incessantly. Did the SSPX act properly? No. But, if this is simply a matter of obedience, why has it taken 20 years to get to the point? The SSPX has approached the Holy See numerous times and it wasn't until 2005, that any real discussion started to take place.

Ironically, it was during this time that the leadership of the Church started to recognize that perhaps their attitude toward the SSPX was flawed. So what has happened, well, over time, the status of the SSPX has changed....first, they were schismatic, then they weren't, but they were outside the Church, then they weren't so much outside the Church, but rather they are in an irregular situation, canonically. The bishops were excommunicated and so were the priests, but then the priests weren't, but the bishops were. Now the bishops are not and the priests are not, but they're all suspended. So, it isn't like the leadership of the Church has been crystal clear on how to "handle" them.

Suffice to say that some of the members of the SSPX haven't been difficult, they certainly have, but you're going to have that with any Order or Fraternity. And I'm not condoning that action, I'm just looking at it from an objective point of view. I am not an adherent of the SSPX. I am sympathetic to them, to be sure, but I don't assist at their Masses and I don't converse with them regularly.

My complete opinion on the whole matter is this. The SSPX wants to regularize. That much is clear. They've been doing (since 2005) everything the Holy See has asked of them. But it would seem that the Holy See either a) can't, or b) won't address the three remaining fundamental questions left which deal with Ecclesiology, Religious Tolerance, and the Magisterium of Vatican Council II. I personally think that the Holy See is starting to deal with the third, by admitting there is a Hermeneutic of Rupture, but it really doesn't answer the fundamental questions....and this is ultimately the problem with the Council being pastoral...there is nothing definitive that is ever stated. And ultimately this is where the SSPX sits. They just want concrete answers.

How does the Ecclesiology which has developed since Vatican Council II compliment Sacred Tradition?

How does Religious Freedom and Ecumenism update the ideas of Religious Tolerance, which has existed since the dawn of the Church?

How can the Magisterium of Vatican Council II be properly applied in the world, taking into account that if there is a Hermeneutic of Rupture within the Church, which stems from and immediately after the Council?

I think that this is what the SSPX is asking. They are not negotiating, they are asking for clarification. If the Holy See can't answer these questions, we have bigger issues than canonical irregularity. If the Holy See can answer these questions, but won't do it in a satisfactory way, which is all the SSPX is asking for, then the problem is one of either a) bias, or b) willful wont to keeping the SSPX irregular.

I find it very hard to believe that the Holy See can't satisfactorily apply the doctrinal and dogmatic questions which have come from Vatican Council II to Sacred Tradition. So it begs the question, what is the reasoning for not clarifying these questions?

My speculation...

I think that there is still a liberal bias in the leadership of the Church which does not want to see the SSPX reconciled. This does not include the FSSP or the ICRSS, because they are at a disadvantage, not having bishops. Those groups must rely on the leadership of the Church to dictate everything. So, they are non-factors. On the other hand, the SSPX does have bishops, which leads to a certain level of autonomy, which the leadership of the Church is not willing to reconcile. And if this is the case, then even though he did it for the wrong reasons, the mentality of +Abp. Lefebvre was spot on.

As it is, they are irregular canonically and there isn't much which can be done about it, except for them to submit, but is this submission authentic, from a Catholic point of view? That is what I pray for daily. The authentic submission of the SSPX. All the Holy See has to do is clarify a few positions with regard to Sacred Tradition and the whole thing is over. The SSPX has said time and again that they want to reconcile, but that they won't compromise Sacred Tradition to do so.

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