The Pope and the SSPX

The Pope and the SSPX

Pope Benedict met with the head of the Society of St. Pius X today at the Vatican for about 35 minutes. Afterward, we heard the usual nice statements. The Vatican said it took place “in a climate of love for the Church and a desire to arrive at perfect communion.” Bishop Bernard Fellay of the SSPX said the SSPX “has always been, and will always be, attached to the Holy See.” (Could have fooled me from the way some SSPXers and Traditionalists talk about the Vatican.) In any case, he said they had “reached a consensus as to proceeding by stages in the resolution of problems.”

Fellay had previously said he would ask the Pope to grant a universal indult to allow all Catholic priests throughout the world to use the Tridentine rite in celebrating Mass. Will that come about now? Informed pundits seem to think that B16 would be amenable to the idea.

I wouldn’t get my hopes up too high for a quick resolution to the SSPX schism. They’ve been going back and forth in talks for 17 years.

  • Dom,

    Just because some SSPX adherents and Traditionalists are sedevacantists, dosn’t mean Bishop Fellay is being disingenuous.  If I were to follow your logic, then Catholic doctrine would support birth control, since many American Catholics use it.

    The SSPX is a creature of the Vatican’s own making.  If the Vatican hadn’t tried to suppress the Mass, if it had stopped the bizarre “innovations” of the 70s and 80s, and generally speaking if it had promulgated the fullness of Christianity instead of permitting widespread “pan religionism” the SSPX would have fizzled out 30 years ago.

    The SSPX will die when the Pope anathematizes those bishops who suppress the valid forms of the Divine Liturgy.  In fact, the Pope needn’t even go that far: he just needs to give instructions that all Roman priests be permitted to say the Old Mass.  The sedevacantists will be uprooted from the SSPX at that point.

    The problem with the SSPX, like the Orthodox, is that they don’t trust Rome.  The Orthodox think that the Filioque would be inserted into the Creed and their Liturgy Romanized.  The SSPX thinks that once they are “integrated” then the Old Mass will be suppressed again.  History has proven them both right.  Can you blame them?

  • I hope that the meeting was fruitful. 
    There are individuals on both sides that do not want reconciliation.  Williamson on one hand and liberal heterodox prelates on the other.

    I read a comment some place that struck me as somewhat amusing. “Williamson has never been in the Church.”

    I think that Bishop Fellay and our Holy Father want unity.  I hope the Holy Father permits the Universal Indult.

  • I wonder why the SSPX insists on a universal indult. Very few priests will celebrate the old mass even if it is universally permitted.

    Reconciliation requires three things 1) magisterial documents that explain how V2 documents can be and must be interpreted in a manner consistent with prior magisterial teaching 2) the creation of an independent episcopal structure to insulate SSPXers from Roman Rite bishops and 3) acceptance of the legitimacy of the Roman Rite in its present form.

    1) and 2) can certainly be done by the Vatican. Until 3) can be done by the SSPX there is no hope of ending the schism.

    Formally splitting the Roman Rite has to be accepted as the price of unity.  I am afraid that this is one more unfortunate consequence of the botched implementation of V2.

  • 35 minutes? That’s it?

    I hope they talked on the phone beforehand and the meeting was just for pr purposes because it was already a done deal. Please Lord, may we all be one in You! 

  • People talk about a “universal indult,” as if it’s as simple as issuing a decree for priests to do the Mass however they want outside the oversight of their bishops. That such phenomena has occured unofficially for the last forty years, makes me wonder how its occurance with sanction will be an improvement. And no, “formally splitting the Roman Rite” is not a step to unity, but an historical abberation. Then again, all the talk about “organic development” goes right out the window when we finally get what we want, doesn’t it?

    By the way, if an exception to the norm (which is what an “indult” amounts to) is made “universal,” is it still an exception to the norm?

  • Charles Williams wrote:

    “Very few priests will celebrate the old mass even if it is universally permitted.”

    Then what could possibly prohibit the Holy Father or any Bishop from granting it? It is only a threat to modernism if it will be broadly celebrated.

    You may not be aware of this but last year the SSPX sent out a book entitled “Priest Where is Thy Mass, Mass Where is Thy Priest” by Angelus Press
    to every priest and Bishop in the United States. The book details the priests who decided to say the Latin Mass exclusively. The response to it has been overwhelming in the form of priests and some bishops asking for information about how to learn to say the Latin Mass. Some situations have resulted in new Indults and others in priests quietly waiting… God grant their wait may not be long.
    Mary Alexander

  • Our unity as Catholics is not based on the unity of the Roman Rite.  Suppose some significant group of Protestants with a liturgical tradition proposed to reunite with the Church? Would it be reasonable to impose the Roman Rite on this group as the price for unity? Or would we gladly work to find a way for them to retain their traditions and unite with the See of Peter? In this case there is no question about the theological Catholicity of the “old” mass.

    Re: a universal indult, this would cause all sorts of disciplinary problems for bishops.  Is it not an abuse of the laity for a priest, on the basis of his personal preference, to spring the “old” mass on his people?

    Healing the schisms of the past will require all sorts of accomodations to achieve unity in essentials.

  • Many years ago, in a former life, I was married in the Byzantine Rite. My son was baptized and chrismated in that Rite, and has received Communion from his infancy. I’m the last guy who needs a lecture on ritual diversity in the Church.

    My point dealt specifically with the Roman Rite itself. Historically, there is only one. What we have at present are two stages of development of the Roman Rite, one currently the norm, the other being an indulgence to the norm. The other rites of the West—Ambrosian, Mozarabic, and so on—are grouped alongside the Roman in the category known as “Latin.” This distinction is somewhat lost on people, as the terms “Roman Rite” and “Latin Rite” are used interchangably.

    I agree about the prospect of a priest “springing” one form of the Mass or the other on his people. I’ve seen that done at conventions at the last minute, and then watch people scramble around to accomodate a self-absorbed priest. This is only one reason why I am convinced that a bishop, as chief shepherd and chief liturgist of his diocese, must be involved in the decision as to how the Roman liturgy is celebrated within his own jurisdiction.

  • Charles,
    Don’t you think it is very significant that you compare Protestants who are material heretics with Catholics who prefer the Tridentine Mass????? The differences between Protestants and Catholics is a vast chasm, between SSPX adherents and N.O. Catholics a trickle of a stream.

    And as for a priest “imposing” the Mass what about the priest imposing everything from sexual assault, to liturgical abuses to downright heresy in the forms of communism and liberalism.  All for the sake of unity I suppose?

    And why are the bishops entitled to an exemption from the rigors of exerting discipline- this is their job- isn’t it?  I see little evidence of Bishops “burnt out” from the efforts to maintain ANY discipline unless it includes coming down on Conservatives- who have learned for the most part to keep their heads down and their eyes averted to keep from being “disciplined”.

  • “And as for a priest ‘imposing’ the Mass what about the priest imposing everything from sexual assault, to liturgical abuses to downright heresy in the forms of communism and liberalism.”

    What about him?

    Has anyone in this forum endorsed that kind of behavior? Hardly. That chaos brought about the current situation (and I think you and I can both agree on that) does not justify using chaos to solve it.

  • Don’t kid yourself. Tolerance and endorsement are the same thing. Has anyone called such priests- schismatics? heretics? or called for their excommunication? No, they are considered to be wrong headed but perhaps well meaning, ignorant, but still within the unity of the Church- some unity- more of an illusion. Somehow adhering to 2000 years of Tradition in the liturgical and Catholic life seem a lot less chaotic than what we have witnessed in the last 40 years. What is more important to us- a valid Eucharist or a clown Mass? And if we have to choose only one it will be an easy decision for me.

  • “Somehow adhering to 2000 years of Tradition in the liturgical and Catholic life seem a lot less chaotic than what we have witnessed in the last 40 years.”

    A tradition which includes obedience to the Holy Father, and does not include the anti-Semitic diatribes of Bishop Williamson. The use of chaos to give us what we want is still chaos. There are alternatives to that.

    There are also alternatives to the Clown Mass, with or without an Indult. There was plenty of craziness to go around before the so-called “Novus Ordo” was promulgated. The tide of popular culture would not have been stopped by a set of old books, given the call to “send in the clowns.”

    I oughta know. I was there.

    (By the way, Bernstein’s “Mass” was based on the Tridentine model.)

  • For the record, I for one have no problem calling a priest or bishop a heretic when the occasion calls for it. Or a bozo, a yahoo, a doofus, a raving lunatic, someone who needs to grow the h*** up… I could go on.

    You really should read my weblog more often.