Pat Archbold of Creative Minority Report has published another “open letter” to the Holy Father, like the one he published about my community. This time it is an appeal to regularize the SSPX without requiring from them any agreement whatsoever. His post was up on The National Catholic Register website, but the editors there removed it. (In my estimation, a wise choice.) He has now posted it on his own blog.
Archbold argues that the generosity extended by Pope Francis recently to a group of charismatic Protestants ought also to be extended to a group of Catholics who hold no doctrinal errors. I do not understand this logic, since while Pope Francis encouraged unity he did not invite these Protestants into full communion or suggest that they enjoyed it. (My bad. See comments: 1, 2)
also invokes the exemplary generosity Benedict XVI toward the SSPX, suggesting that Pope Francis ought to follow the example of his predecessor. Unfortunately, the dialogue with the Holy See broke down while Pope Benedict still reigned, and by all evidence (contrary to the claims of Bishop Fellay) precisely because the SSPX refused to sign the doctrinal preamble, which Archbold believes is now superfluous.
What is most problematic with Archbold’s piece is what he does not say, or perhaps does not remember, which I would guess is the reason why he is “still in shock” that The Register pulled his post. To be fair, he is genuinely concerned that traditionalist Catholics are on the fence, both because he believes they are being marginalized and because their leaders are becoming more and more strident and disrespectful. And he thinks that the situation is so bad that the SSPX and some of their sympathizers are almost beyond recall. So what he does not say is exactly the reason why regularization without an agreement would be disastrous. The SSPX is wholly committed, heart and soul to resisting and declaring the “errors” of Vatican II and the “evils” of the Novus Ordo.
Here is Bishop Fellay around the time that the dialogue with the Holy See came to an end:
We have many enemies, many enemies. But look . . and that is very interesting. Who during that time was the most opposed that the Church will recognize the Society? The enemies of the Church: the Jews, the Masons and the Modernists. The most opposed that the Society would be recognized as Catholic: the enemies of the Church. Interesting, isn’t it? More than that, what was the point? What did they say to Rome? They said: “You must oblige these people to accept Vatican II.” That’s also very interesting, isn’t it? People, who are outside the Church, who clearly during centuries are enemies of the Church, say to Rome, if you want to accept these people, you must oblige them to accept the Council. Isn’t that interesting? Oh, it is! I think it is fantastic, because it shows that Vatican II is their thing, not the Church’s. They see—the enemies of the Church—their benefit in the Council. Very interesting! So, I may say, that is the kind of argument we are going to use with Rome, trying to make them reflect, trying to make them reflect.
Then on October 12 of last year:
The situation of the Church is a real disaster, and the present Pope is making it 10,000 times worse. . .
What Gospel does he have? Which Bible does he have to say such things. It’s horrible. What has this to do with the Gospel? With the Catholic Faith? That’s pure Modernism, my dear brethren.We have in front of us a genuine Modernist.
And finally as recently as November of last year:
The new pope arrives with different positions, attacking almost everything. Everyone understood: Benedict XVI is forgotten! It was useless to say: “But no! This is the same combat, Benedict and Francis, the same combat!” Obviously, the attitude is not the same at all. The approach, the definition of the problems that affect the Church is not the same! This idea of introducing reforms that are even more extensive than anything that has been done thus far. In any case, you don’t get the impression that they will just be cosmetic, these reforms of Pope Francis!
Pope Francis is not going to regularize the SSPX without an agreement for the same reason Pope Benedict would not do it before he ended his pontificate. What Pat Archbold and others need to understand is that this “wedge” even if unintentional and even if the result of genuine desperation is not helping the traditionalist cause.