Michael Voris has interviewed Pat Archbold about his piece that I commented on here. I have to say that Archbold is completely genuine and motivated by love for the Church. He is clearly moved by deep concern.
Both Archbold and Voris admit that the proposal for Pope Francis to regularize the SSPX without an agreement might be naive, but they believe that there is a greater good to be achieved that is worth the risk, because the marginalization of traditionalists, perceived or real, may end very badly and be irreversible.
It seems to me that a more reasonable path and one that has more promise of success is for men like Archbold and Voris to convince as many traditionalists as possible that the only way forward is to follow the path laid out very charitably and in a fatherly way by Archbishop di Noia in Advent of 2012, when the dialogue was in its last agony.
There is no reason to be pessimistic, but neither is healthy realism to be avoided. Archbold and Voris characterize the post-dialogue statements of the SSPX with words like “strident, “hypercritical,” “disrespectful” and “rude.” In fact, Bishop Fellay has called Vatican II the council of the Masons, Modernists and Jews. He has said that the validity of the novas ordo is irrelevant because it is evil, and he has called Pope Francis a “genuine modernist.” I understand what they are trying to do, but they need realize they have to sell this and it is a hard sell to say the least.
This is the very real risk of regularizing the Society without an agreement: The minute the Holy Father put his seal on the regularization all the usual suspects would be declaring victory, would consider their cause vindicated precisely because of the regularization, and would use the it as a justification to do inside the Church all they have done outside it. I am quite sure that if Archbold and Voris search their hearts they will know this is true. And there would be no “working out the details” afterward, for two reasons: 1) because by their own clear statements the members of the Society have absolutely no intention of modifying their positions, in fact, they are wholly committed to the resistance; 2) because there simply would be no incentive to do so.
In various ways, I have been warning about this eventuality for a long time, long before the talks broke down, when Pope Benedict was not the traditionalist’s golden boy he is now. If you look at the statements of Bishop Fellay over the course of the dialogue with Rome, you can see that his hope was that faith and trust in the postconciliar magisterial would be weakened to the point that the SSPX and its positions would be seen to be correct.
Perhaps his goal has had unintended consequences, further complicated by the new pontificate, but Bishop Fellay has committed himself and the Society to a trajectory that is simply and plainly inconsistent with full ecclesial communion. Whatever other problems we have on the left with the radicals, this is no reason to invite more chaos.
In regard to other related issues, such as “The Wedge” and “The Reform of the Reform” I suggest reading David Armstrong at length here. Particularly pertinent to this discussion is his quotes from Blessed John Henry Newman:
To submit to the Church means this, first you will receive as de fide whatever she proposes de fide . . . You are not called on to believe de fide any thing but what has been promulgated as such — You are not called on to exercise an internal belief of any doctrine which Sacred Congregations, Local Synods, or particular Bishops, or the Pope as a private Doctor, may enunciate. You are not called upon ever to believe or act against the moral law, at the command of any superior.
(The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman [LD], XX, 545 [in 1863], edited by Charles Stephen Dessain (London: 1961-1972), in Ian Ker, John Henry Newman: A Biography, Oxford University Press, 1988 [764 pages], 530-531)
I say with Cardinal Bellarmine whether the Pope be infallible or not in any pronouncement, anyhow he is to be obeyed. No good can come from disobedience. His facts and his warnings may be all wrong; his deliberations may have been biassed. He may have been misled. Imperiousness and craft, tyranny and cruelty, may be patent in the conduct of his advisers and instruments. But when he speaks formally and authoritatively he speaks as our Lord would have him speak, and all those imperfections and sins of individuals are overruled for that result which our Lord intends (just as the action of the wicked and of enemies to the Church are overruled) and therefore the Pope’s word stands, and a blessing goes with obedience to it, and no blessing with disobedience. (Letter to Lady Simeon, 10 November 1867; my italics)