SSPX: Accept Them as They Are?

The lightning rod of the SSPX is getting hit from various angles these days. Michael Voris thinks the Society is still schismatic, but Bishop Athanasius Schneider believes there is nothing seriously preventing the SSPX from being fully reconciled. In the middle, Bishop Morlino states there is very good reason why the Society finds itself in an ambiguous situation: they are not excommunicated but they have no ministry because they have chosen “to work outside of—and sometimes against—the hierarchical Church and its structures.”

The members of the SSPX are not being prevented from believing what they want about Vatican II and the new Mass. They remain without a ministry because their own definition their ministry is to expose the Council of Freemasons, Modernists and Jews and oppose the New Mass, which they believe is valid but evil.

Bishop Schneider thinks that both the Society and the Holy See overestimate the importance of Vatican II and regard it in isolation from the other Councils of the Church. But is not the solution he proposes a hermeneutic of continuity, and is this not what other traditionalists priests like those of the Fraternity of St. Peter have agreed to in order to have a ministry?

It seems to me the matter is not simply a question of charity and of stopping the infighting. With all due respect to Bishop Schneider, no matter how Bishop Fellay phrases himself the Holy See is very unlikely to give him a ministry to oppose the Council and the New Mass. And it is very unlikely that Bishop Fellay, a moderate in the Society, will agree to anything less.

Even if there were no doctrinal preamble to sign, in order to give a wider allowance for personal conscience, the Holy See would assure that the Society’s rules reflect the same kind of agreement made by the Ecclesia Dei communities. But the preamble helps to assure that members of the Society know clearly that their personal opinions and what they are permitted to do with the Church’s sanction are two different things.

And lets be Frank. The Holy See has every reason to believe that a mandate given to the SSPX ministry on a “as they are” basis would be considered a blessing on the Society’s mission to oppose Vatican II and the New Mass.

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I Believe in Ghosts, or Even More on Crypto-Lefebvrism

For a group of people who believe that there is no content to the term “crypto-Lefebvrism” those at Rorate Caeli along with Roberto de Mattei devote a good deal of time and space to the question. They also seem to be quite concerned about the criticisms I have been lodging, devoting as much time and energy as they have to the question, while making sure that they avoid linking to my blog.

But I am willing to concede that the crypto-Lefebvrists are ghosts. At least, they sure do behave like them. Etherial creatures they are, lurking in the shadows and working in the dark.

The latest contribution about this matter on Rorate Caeli is from pseudonymous Fr. Pio Pace who claims that the Holy See has been engaged in the “programmed destruction of the Franciscan of the Immaculate.” Not surprisingly, he calls the allegation of “cryto-Lefebvrism” simply the absurd and baseless pretext for the destruction of the FI. All the while he employs a revisionist historical narrative of the dialogue of the Holy See with the SSPX in the service of his allegation of the Church’s attack on traditionalism within the FI. Continue reading

The Crypto-Lefebvrism of Rorate Caeli

I need to refute certain claims made by Rorate Caeli concerning the audience that some of us (about sixty, not forty, as RC reported) had with the Holy Father on June 10.

Regarding Summorum Pontificum

Contrary to the claims of RC, there are many who are confused about the way in which the particular application of Summorum Pontificum attempted in our community involves a modification of our founding charism.  Some of these are people on the Internet, mostly in forums and comment sections, who believe our founding charism to include an attachment to the vetus ordo.  Others are within the Institute.  In fact, I have heard friars formerly in positions of responsibility who have argued that the charism has evolved to include such an attachment, even though this “evolution” is not reflected in our ecclesiastically approved legislation. Continue reading

Why Those Who Publicly Attack Bishops Are Wrong

There is reason to be ambivalent about Michael Voris’ resolution not to publically criticize the Holy Father.  Mark Shea has shown good example for having been quick and firm in his commendation of Voris.  I certainly could have been more gracious in the matter, especially considering that Voris has refused to back down in the face of the reactionary backlash. But even Mark Shea, as gracious as he is, acknowledges the same defect that I have found necessary to emphasize, namely, that Voris’ “gospel of anger” has created the reactionary “Frankenstein” that now wishes to eat him.  In my estimation this is because his argument for his silence about the Holy Father is on shaky ground.

Voris has worked hard to distinguish between his jihad against the bishops and his reverent silence concerning the Pope. He says the Pope is different, but to my mind does not really show how. And his reactionary friends along side of whom he used to fight have now pointed their weapons at him. Still, I do commend him sincerely for having drawn this line, and I do not want this post to be perceived as fundamentally polemical.  Voris is sincerely trying to work his way through the quagmire of modern Church life and it is not easy. Continue reading

More Evidence of the “Wedge”

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) Continue reading

The Reform of the Reform Fights Back

David Armstrong has an excellent post refuting the “death of the reform of the reform” proclamation by Peter Kwasniewski, which I have discussed here.

And thanks be to God, Bishop Peter Elliott has posted a refutation of this premature announcement on New Liturgical Movement.

These voices of sanity are greatly appreciated.

In the Eye of the Vortex

More evidence of the wedge being driven between the Benedictine and Franciscan pontificates can be seen in the recent disclaimer/clarification of Michael Voris in which he refuses to publically criticize Pope Francis.  In itself this is only a small example of the difficulty, but it is also another instance of a mounting problem manifesting itself at various levels: doctrinal, liturgical, pastoral.  Voris knows he is on the cutting edge of the problem.

You might legitimately ask why I think his refusal to publically criticize Pope Francis is a problem.  I don’t.  But Voris does find himself to be part of the wedge between Pope Benedict and Pope Francis, and in my estimation he has not really got himself out of it.  Let me explain. Continue reading

Francis vs. Benedict: The New Catholic Culture War

The Catholic culture war continues to heat up.  John Allen from The Boston Globe has recently noted the that there is a possible “right wing” backlash to the Franciscan pontificate that will pit a majority of “Francis Catholics” against “Benedict Catholics.”  I believe he is right, though I would say that the backlash is well underway,

As evidence of this Allen points to the February 12 article of Antonio Socci in the Italian paper Libero, in which he suggests that Benedict’s resignation was very possibly invalid, and that therefore he is still pope.  Socci is not even considered a traditionalist, though he has been critical of Pope Francis on various scores.  Read the article of Allen. Continue reading

Francis the Builder

He’s great because he is everything. He is a man who wants to do things, wants to build, he founded an order and its rules, he is an itinerant and a missionary, a poet and a prophet, he is mystical. He found evil in himself and rooted it out. He loved nature, animals, the blade of grass on the lawn and the birds flying in the sky. But above all he loved people, children, old people, women. He is the most shining example of that agape we talked about earlier.

—Francis on Francis

Pope Francis’ description of his namesake, given in his recent interview with Eugenio Scalfari, is a popular one, both in style and content.  In it is found the reason why the St. Francis-with-the-bird statue winds up in many a garden of those whose identity as Catholics is otherwise nominal.  St. Francis had a love for nature.  For some that will be the take home from the above statement of the Pope.  But there is more in the Holy Father’s description.  St. Francis was like Jesus.  His life was poetry.  He achieved a life of charity rarely found in mere mortals.  Pope Francis is building, like his namesake.  He is making something more significant of that statue in the garden.  Thus, the pastoral method of Pope Francis in his interviews is personal, direct and spontaneous, but I believe we would be mistaken if we took them has haphazard. Continue reading

Francis the Prophet

I have sat back a bit to observe the reaction to Pope Francis’s interview with Father Antonio Spadaro.  So far, I have only mentioned it briefly in my last post where the Holy Father touched upon a topic I was already working on.  I do not think anyone is surprised that pundits on the far left and right have interpreted the Holy Father’s remarks as expressing freewheeling liberalism.  Neither is it surprising that those loyal to the Holy Father have dedicated most of their time to clarifying what the Holy Father actually said.  Hopefully, now more time will be spent assimilating his words without fear of receiving or conveying the wrong message.

I think Pope Francis in the interview is perceived  by many commentators the way he must be by the Vatican Police who are constantly challenged in their efforts to maintain a parameter of safety around this man who is of the people, and who finds it necessary to relate directly with them.  The Vatican police must wonder if the Holy Father is aware of the danger, because he does not seem to show it.  On the contrary, from his contact with the people as well as from his teaching and example, it seems that Pope Francis sees a greater danger in not taking such risks. Continue reading