Bishop Fellay Sings a New Church into Being

Recent statements by Bishop Fellay, head of the SSPX, not only indicate that reunion talks with Rome are at an end, but also cast an interesting light on the question of the “hermeneutic of continuity”:

Any kind of direction for recognition ended when they gave me the document to sign on June 13, 2012. That very day I told them, ‘this document I cannot accept.’ I told them from the start in September the previous year that we cannot accept this ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ because it is not true, it is not real. It is against the reality. So we do not accept it. The Council is not in continuity with Tradition. It’s not. So when Pope Benedict requested that we accept that the Second Vatican Council is an integral part of Tradition, we say, ‘sorry, that’s not the reality, so we’re not going to sign it. We’re not going to recognize that’.

I realize that there are problems with the dichotomous  language of “continuity” and “rupture,” since you never have one without the other. But I have also long thought that many people misunderstood Benedict XVI’s intent in using this language. Both progressives and traditionalists have taken it to be aimed at liberals who wanted to Sing a New Church into Being. But Bishop Fellay’s statement reminds us that an equally important (indeed, I’m inclined to think a more important target) of the language of “continuity” was the radical traditionalist who reject the council. Certainly Bishop Fellay is not enamored of the hermeneutic of continuity, and sees in it an attempt to get the SSPX to affirm that the Council is within the tradition of conciliar teachings..

On a more strictly liturgical note, Bishop Fellay also said:

The same for the Mass. The want us to recognize not only that the [New] Mass is valid provided it is celebrated correctly, etc., but that it is licit. I told them: we don’t use that word. It’s a bit messy, our faithful have enough [confusion] regarding the validity, so we tell them, ‘The New Mass is bad, it is evil’ and they understand that. Period!’ [Of course the Roman authorities] were not very happy with that.

Funny, I never thought that making a distinction between validity and liceity would be a cause of confusion, but rather served as a hedge against it. But leaving that aside, Bishop Fellay’s remarks make it clear that it is he who is determined to sing — or chant, in Latin — a new church into being.

Some might say, “good riddance.” And I would agree in saying “good riddance” to wooden notions of tradition and to antisemitism and to triumphalism and to quasi-Donatism. But it remains one more sad division among Christians, and in that I can hardly rejoice.



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63 responses to “Bishop Fellay Sings a New Church into Being”

  1. James Gerard McDermott Avatar
    James Gerard McDermott

    I have long thought the same. . . fears about the language of a “hermeneutic of continuity” were misplaced. It seems directly targeted at those who have argued against the validity of the Council.

    1. Joe O'Leary Avatar

      @James Gerard McDermott – comment #1:
      Nicholas Lash agrees with you.

  2. Jack Wayne Avatar
    Jack Wayne

    This convinces me further that we’ll be seeing a division develop between the SSPX and the “SP Traditionalists” (for lack of a better term). The SSPX will likely drift further away, and I won’t be surprised if they become more and more reactionary with time.

    Things like this make me thank God for SP and convince me it was anything but a mistake. How awful it would be if the only ones offering the older forms of Mass and sacraments were those not in union with the Church. That one can accept Vatican II and be part of the Church and still enjoy the riches of Her liturgical tradition is a blessing indeed.

  3. Fr. Allan. McDonald Avatar

    In no way do I have any affinity for the SSPX. But what I admire in them which seems to be lacking in many progressives that have veered into a post-Catholic Catholicism by claiming adherence to the Second Vatican Council and its so-called spirit, is that they are honest. You know where they stand and they state it clearly.

    If that would be the case for the left side of things, I’d be delighted.

    1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

      @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #3:
      As a progressive Catholic, a “left” person, if you will, I have no problem stating it. The problem is with other Catholics who don’t like it. Or who are angered, fearful, or otherwise bothered by it.

      I don’t see why we can’t just leave the SSPX alone. Clearly, they are not in Communion with the larger body of Roman Catholicism. And they don’t want to be. They have a pilgrimage to make, and perhaps they and we see it differently. Let them make it. And maybe we’ll find each other again in the road ahead.

      I will say that their fatal flaw, as I see it, is that they are less attached to living persons, other Catholics, and perhaps even God the Holy Spirit, as much as they cling to a philosophy, a creed, a rational stance against what they see is evil. Relationships with merely human beings cannot be trusted, and so they cast their lot with an antique codification of the Church.

      I do wonder what a conversation between Pope Francis and Bishop Fellay would look like.

    2. Elisabeth Ahn Avatar
      Elisabeth Ahn

      @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #3:

      “…they are honest. You know where they stand and they state it clearly.”

      I don’t know… what you see as honesty to me seems nothing more than sheer arrogance.

      1. Dale Rodrigue Avatar
        Dale Rodrigue

        @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #5:
        Here here!
        Absolutely agree Elisabeth. I guess then we progressives are dishonest?
        But what Fr. McDonald refuses to acknowledge is that he is a bigger devotee to the “spirit of Vatican II” interpreting it himself to include changes to the status quo that we are used to (ie saying the Novus Ordo ad orientem, etc) and supporting prayers at the foot of the altar, the Tridentine mass in the vernacular etc. No disrespect intended but he’s all over the place.

        He may think we progressives are dishonest but at least we are consistent:
        Don’t mess around with the novus ordo with Rotr which IMO is now DOA.
        As far as the Novus Ordo, polish it, shine it up, beautify it, but leave the mechanics of the ritual alone.

      2. David Zelenka Avatar

        @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #5:
        They are exactly who Jesus refers to in our recent gospel readings. Clean and shiny whitewashed tombs on the outside, dead man’s bones on the inside. They hold a key and do not let others enter; and do not enter themselves.

        We are sinners. We are repentant. This is our prayer. The true church is filled with repentant sinners. We must operate under that reality. One day our robes will be completely washed white in the blood of the lamb, but not until then.

    3. Edward Graff Avatar
      Edward Graff

      @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #3:
      Indeed, they come by their heresy honestly, for whatever that’s worth. The danger I their way of thinking is equally clear: when we pick and choose among the treasures of the faith which we find pleasant and agreeable drop those that are challenging or difficult, we end up spiritually impoverished, if not bankrupt.

      I’m a progressive, but a loyal one I like to think.

    4. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar

      @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #3:
      I have my doubts about the claim that you know where they stand. Bp. Fellay says that they don’t bother trying to explain the distinction between valid and licit to “our faithful” but simply tell them that the OF is evil. I take this to mean that they acknowledge that the OF is valid but don’t want to confuse the poor (dumb) faithful with such niceties.

      Sounds like mendacity to me.

      1. Fr. Allan. McDonald Avatar

        @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #10:
        How many on the left actually think the EF is evil, but won’t say it directly? I agree with Elizabeth Ahn about their arrogance, I just wish she would include the LCWR and the various progressive priests movements in Austria, Ireland and elsewhere. If they were more honest they should ordain their own bishops and make it truly clear as the SSPX have where they stand in terms of schism.

      2. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar

        @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #11:
        I’m not sure taking your marbles and going home is more honest, only more petulant.

      3. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #11:
        The 1570 Missal is far from evil. It is wrong, misguided, unreformed, and used as a banner for political orthodoxy of a sort. But evil? No. People can have evil behavior. The 1570/1962 Missal is a thing, an inanimate object that is a tool for spirituality. Like any other Missal. And likely less effective these days than it once was.

        It is also possible, sometimes even laudatory, to be faithful and yet be opposed to one’s leadership. I have no problem with, for example, Rome appointing Robert Finn to be my bishop. But I also have no problem telling him, to his face if I have the opportunity, that he lacks credibility, has shown poor moral leadership, and seems naive about pornography. I don’t want to appoint my own bishop. But if my bishop is wayward, I expect him to listen to better judgment.

      4. Elisabeth Ahn Avatar
        Elisabeth Ahn

        @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #12:

        Well, if the original post had included things said by those groups you mention that are equally preposterous and reeking of self-centered arrogance, I would’ve surely commented on those as well.

        I can and will say that whenever I encounter something along the lines of The Church and/or the pope must do this, that, and the other RIGHT NOW in the exact way that I want, OR ELSE! , and there has been plenty of such rhetoric coming from the so-called “progressive/liberal” sides, it makes me cringe and roll my eyes.

        But I digress.

        Back to the original topic, how ironic is it that these SSPX people — and their ilk — are so incredibly merciful and understanding toward a Nazi criminal who, by most accounts, showed little remorse for what he’s done, while at the same time being so relentlessly hostile toward, well, pretty much everyone who doesn’t share their particular view.

  4. Bill deHaas Avatar
    Bill deHaas

    Most progressives I know actually try to build up the church; try to support and go out on mission to the periphery; try to listen, invite, and share God’s mercy rather than a world of fear, anxiety, rigid legalism, judgmental ways, condemnations. They don’t see the church as a *country club* with special rules to get in based upon long held and dead shibboleths.

    Would suggest the gospel story about Jesus shaking the dust from his sandals and moving forward. One can only invite, call, and walk along so far – you can not force the SSPX and it is time to move on.

  5. David Jaronowski Avatar
    David Jaronowski

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

    We need to stop using these United States political science labels on the Church.

    One is with the Church or he is not. There are all sorts of shades of grey in terms of ecclesiology, practice, etc. But ultimately, one is Catholic or he is not.

    Here we see the SSPX, a group of dissidents who promote heresy and schism. They should be fine friends with Call to Action, which does the same things.

    1. Bill deHaas Avatar
      Bill deHaas

      @David Jaronowski – comment #7:

      Dissent does not mean that one is anti-catholic. SSPX/Fellay have gone well beyond dissent – his statement is schimastic.

      Here is more of what Fellay said:

      This link gives a fuller picture.….

      “Sister Lucia’s (of the Fatima apparition) reference to Chapters 8 through 13 of the Apocalypse is particularly chilling, since the end of Chapter 13 speaks of the coming of Antichrist.

      Bishop Fellay noted that Pope St. Pius X said at the beginning of his pontificate the ‘son of perdition’ may already be on the earth. He also noted the original prayer to Saint Michael of Pope Leo XIII mentions that Satan aims to establish his seat in Rome.”

      Sorry, both you and Allan miss the point and your judgment of Call to Action is misguided – have never heard anything like this from Call to Action. If anything, much of what I hear from Call to Action is now being said by Francis. Oh my!

      The bishop quoted Cardinal Luigi Ciapi, the Papal Theologian of all the Popes from Pius XII to John Paul II who said, “In the Third Secret we read among other things that the great apostasy in the Church begins at the top.”

      1. Andrew rex Avatar
        Andrew rex

        @Bill deHaas – comment #10:
        Bishop Williamson is also on record (see u-tube) predicting the coming of the anti-Christ and the end of the world in ‘around 50 years’. It seems to me that such scaremongering is the mark of a cult. The SSPX are clearly in schism and the Vatican needs to make this clear. Hoyos and other SSPX curial sympathisers on-going mincing of words by calling their situation ‘irregular’ is causing confusion and conflict within the church.

  6. Kyle Lechtenberg Avatar
    Kyle Lechtenberg

    Way to go, PrayTell–this is the first post headline that has me laughing out loud!

    At the same time I share the author’s sadness that this is one more persistent division in Christianity. I haven’t found much in common with the SSPX’s view of the Church, yet any divide that is made deeper and more permanent seems like a wound to the mystical Body of Christ.

  7. Jim McKay Avatar
    Jim McKay

    State it clearly?

    They believe in the primacy of the pope, except when he disagrees with them, or does something they disagree with. Who wouldn’t believe in the primacy of someone when he agrees and rejects it when he does not?

    They hold to the spiritual values in the tradition, but reject those in whom the Spirit rests. Oops, it’s the liberals who hold to the Spirit, not the conservatives.

    I’ve never read anything from SSPX that was clear.

  8. Alan Johnson Avatar
    Alan Johnson

    Fritz Bauerschmidt : @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #3: I have my doubts about the claim that you know where they stand. Bp. Fellay says that they don’t bother trying to explain the distinction between valid and licit to “our faithful” but simply tell them that the OF is evil. I take this to mean that they acknowledge that the OF is valid but don’t want to confuse the poor (dumb) faithful with such niceties. Sounds like mendacity to me.

    It sounds more like scorching arrogance to me. But then if you know better than a general council of the church and several popes ………

  9. crystal watson Avatar

    I’m glad the chance at reconciliation with the SSPX is gone, if only for the reason of their history of antisemitism.

  10. Sean Peters Avatar
    Sean Peters

    The implementation of the liturgical changes in the 1960s and 70s seems to have been designed to create breakaway groups like the SSPX. Hearing and seeing the clergy promote folk masses, throw away altars and statues, disparage devotions, etc. must’ve thrown many people’s minds into turmoil and into the arms of trad societies such as the SSPX. What a mess.

    It’s a shame that BXVI’s effort to bring back SSPX members has gone off the rails.

  11. Steve Kusterer Avatar
    Steve Kusterer

    I can’t get past Bishop Fellay calling the Mass – where bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus! – “evil.”

    He completely lost me there.

    1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

      @Steve Kusterer – comment #15:
      Yes, the man is silly. Should be pitied. No need to excommunicate him. He’s picked up the marbles he hasn’t lost and gone home.

      1. Joe O'Leary Avatar

        @Todd Flowerday – comment #19:
        Bishops who go around consecrating schismatic bishops have to be excommunicated. It’s a question of basic church order, and a medicinal recall to reality for the excommunicatee.

      2. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        @Joe O’Leary – comment #35:
        The pharmacist can fill the prescription, but if the patient doesn’t swallow, the whole effort is useless.

  12. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
    Karl Liam Saur

    The oxygen appears to be getting thin in SSPX land. I don’t think we need to supply more to the cause. I generally don’t encourage goading people in their frantic efforts to marginalize themselves; sometimes, silence is more effective.

  13. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    Unfortunately, Rome through lifting the excommunications, the extensive negotiations, SP, etc. has supplied most of the oxygen for the SPSS cause in recent years.

    They might have obtained enough visibility to become a magnet for people who become dissatisfied for one reason or another under Francis. So at the present time being on the “outs” with Rome might serve their cause more than appearing to being courted.

    Of course denying the holocaust and now burying one of its collaborators have not been good moves except in very limited circles.

    1. Joe O'Leary Avatar

      @Jack Rakosky – comment #21:
      I never thought of this, but you are right. SSPX were withering on the vine until Ratzinger thought it as good idea to open “negotiations” with them. This gave them huge, welcome publicity (even if their antisemitic underbelly came to light — doubt if it really embarrassed them).

      1. Alan Johnson Avatar
        Alan Johnson

        @Joe O’Leary – comment #34:
        Of course it didnn’t bother them. Why should it? They are convinced their inerrancy is more potent than that of a Pope in Council.

      2. Jack Rakosky Avatar
        Jack Rakosky

        @Joe O’Leary – comment #36:

        People in Rome and elsewhere in favor of the Old (the Mass and spirituality that immediately preceded Vatican II) had far more need of SPXX than SPXX had need of Rome.

        There has not been much sympathy among the bishops for the Old Mass or even the Latin New Mass. B16 and others realized they needed islands of tradition to support their long term liturgical and spiritual agenda. SPXX would have been a major island to help them if they could have convinced SPXX to play by their rules. Giving SPXX the status of personal prelature would have freed SPXX from interference by the bishops, just as SP gave EF priests freedom from bishops.

        While the status of personal prelature would have insolated SPXX from bishops, and SP from the Congregation of Divine Worship, there would always have been handlers in the Vatican who could potentially restrict SPXX.

        The election of Francis has brought the distinction possibility of the greater empowerment of bishops and bishop’s conferences. This is not good news for SPXX! It was far easier for them to work the Curia to their advantage.

      3. Jack Wayne Avatar
        Jack Wayne

        @Joe O’Leary – comment #36:
        How did the negotiations and SP actually help the SSPX? Sure, it gave them publicity, but have they grown considerably since then, especially compared to official Latin Masses? In the US it seems that about 1/3 of churches offering Latin Masses were SSPX before SP, though I confess I don’t know exactly how many SSPX locations there were in 2007. Now it seems that only 1/5 of churches offering the Latin Mass are SSPX. Prior to SP, it was impossible to attend the Latin Mass in many places unless it was an SSPX chapel. Now it is probably easier to attend an official Mass for most folks, except in places where SP was resisted by those in power.

        Revoking SP, as some here wish to see, would probably help the SSPX more than Pope Benedict did.

  14. Mark Miller Avatar
    Mark Miller

    Today’s short-lived funeral at an SSPX church in Rome for a unrepentant Nazi tell us a great deal. . .

    Paul VI was onto something when he mentioned Levebrist use of the Tridentine mass after VCII as the white royal banner flown by the royalists after the French revolution. SSPX. These people reject democracy, human rights, yes, fraternity, equality and liberty in the state.

    A nazi funeral, and Holocaut deniel spring from the heart, I’m sorry to say.

  15. Dale Rodrigue Avatar
    Dale Rodrigue

    As far as the SSPX they are “much ado about nothing”.

    I am not a fan of B16 but I believe in his goodness he wanted to reconcile the church with this group. I believe he thought they would negotiate charitably as he had in reaching out to them. I don’t think he was quite prepared for the reception he received. He was benignly naive to think they would reciprocate accordingly, with Christian charity and a willing heart, as he had done when many of us could see the train wreck coming.
    Hopefully Francis will now restate the excommunication of their bishops.

    One more thing, I believe this is a CHEAP SHOT on the part of the SSPX to 1. now blame Benedict for the failure to reconcile. and 2. to besmirch Benedict’s reputation and legacy. He took a large risk, they screwed it up and now blame him, very vindictive of them but I’m not surprised.

    Fellay states that he refused to sign the document on June 13, 2012 and is NOW making statements about it sixteen months later knowing that Benedict is out of the picture and probably won’t respond!

    Bishop Fellay should take a lesson on what eventually became of the “Old Catholic Church”?

    The old what?

  16. crystal watson Avatar

    The SSPX has a long history of anti-Semitism … “Lefebvre movement: long, troubled history with Judaism” …

  17. Sean Peters Avatar
    Sean Peters

    If there ever has been a plot against the Church, it is to shatter the unity of the Church into many competing parties in the midst of great irrationalism. The 1960s phenomenon did exactly this in the Catholic Church. The SSPX is a product of this phenomenon, as are liberal groups such as CTA. I’d like to see a study of Vatican II and the Vatican II phenomenon as an event in history rather than as an isolated occurrence. I believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in the world but I don’t understand the awe with which people see Vatican II. The Council needs to be demystified and brought down to earth. Once we see Vatican II for what it really was, perhaps the power of dissident groups in the Church will fall away.

    1. Joe O'Leary Avatar

      @Sean Peters – comment #27:
      Not at all, the Lefebvrites have roots that go far back before Vatican II — think Action francaise, Fascism, and other noisome 20th century movements of that sort. Lefebvre himself may have been only a pawn.

      1. Sean Peters Avatar
        Sean Peters

        @Joe O’Leary – comment #34:

        The fascist ideology certainly goes back before Vat II. I’ve read that Pius X appointed many bishops favorable toward French Action. Interestingly enough, Pius X also fostered the liturgical movement. Both Pius X and John XXIII were patriarchs of Venice. Did one Venetian pope complete what the other one had started?

        The very powerful aristocrat Elvina Pallavicini was the force behind Lefebvre. So,yes, he probably was a pawn of the black aristocracy.

  18. Dale Rodrigue Avatar
    Dale Rodrigue

    News release about the funeral for Priebke, the Nazi SS in charge of the massacre in Rome in 1944:

    Father Floriano Abrahamowicz, a St Pius X priest, defended the controversial decision to host the funeral, telling Radio 24 that “Priebke was a friend of mine, a Christian, a faithful soldier.”

    “His was the only case of an innocent man behind bars. It’s a scandal how he was persecuted in Italy while immigrants are received with dignity,” he said.

    That just about says it all.

    1. Joe O'Leary Avatar

      @Dale Rodrigue – comment #28:
      They are the bottom of the pit, and it is pathetic that Ratzinger devoted so much of his pontificate to appeasing them.

  19. Fr. Allan. McDonald Avatar

    My father was in rome 69 years ago with his US Army company and saw the immediate aftermath of what Priebke ordered in 1944 with the masacre of 335 innocent Italian civilians some women and children. My father seldom spoke of his war stories except for this one which he found to be the most horrible of what he witnessed. My father died in 1987 but would be 103 today if alive. It is ironic that I’m in Rome when Priebke dies at 100, a contemporary of my father in terms of age, not mentality.
    John Allen had an interesting article about the Church’s dilemma here in terms of the burial of this man, which now has been handled by the SSPX and the limits to Pope Francis’ message on Divine Mercy in concrete pastoral situations that are a bit too far out in the “periphery” for the Church to touch. This was posted at the NCR before the SSPX solution:

    1. Fr. Allan. McDonald Avatar

      @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #29:
      As a liturgical aside, apart from any latent anti-Semitism in the SSPX willingness to bury this man, we can be sure that in what ever rite was chosen, a full Requiem or something apart from the Requiem Mass that the following were not sung:
      Alleluias, On Eagle’s Wings, Be Not Afraid, Amazing Grace, You Satisfy the Hungry Heart and a whole host of other banalities that editorialize what we think happens to the dearly departed especially at our OF Canonization Funeral Rites. No the Requiem would have been sung or said in the EF form that would have reminded everyone of God’s judgement and wrath especially in the Dies Irae but also at the final absolution. The EF is sober and frightful in terms of God’s judgement be it tempered with mercy and the option of purgatory.

      1. Joe O'Leary Avatar

        @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #30:
        Vernacular hymns are a main vehicle of devotion and even theological insights both in Roman and Anglican Catholicism — just because the occasional hymn is not to your taste is no reason to deprive the faithful of this nourishment.

      2. Martin Barry Avatar

        @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #30:
        On Eagles’ Wings and Be Not Afraid both take words from sacred scripture and place them in the mouths of the people. No banality in that. Hope wins out over despair: at my funeral I hope they sing about our shared faith in the resurrection rather than cowering in fear of the flames of hell. I’d like to think they’ll sing Alleluia too: I’ll just have to be careful not to die during Lent.

      3. Dale Rodrigue Avatar
        Dale Rodrigue

        @Fr. Allan. McDonald – comment #31:
        Fr, you describe these songs and “other banalities that editorialize what we think happens to the dearly departed especially at our OF “”Canonization”” Funeral Rites”.
        I believe you’ve made an incorrect assumption about those of us who appreciate these “banalities”. We sing these songs not because what we “think” happens but rather but what we Hope happens.
        Psalm 130:7-8
        Let Israel Hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

  20. Mary Wood Avatar
    Mary Wood

    When I read the title of this post I mentally queried the description of Fellay’s church as “new.” I adjudged the Lefebvrist ecclesial group as old, obsolete and only partially resuscitated. They try very hard to re-establish the pre-Vatican II church, even to that before the reform of the Easter liturgy of 1956.

    Where they fail lies in the fact that the universal church of 1950 was obedient and loyal to the Pope, and in communion with him. This cannot be said of the Lefbvrists.

  21. Norman Borelli Avatar
    Norman Borelli

    “It’s a bit messy, our faithful have enough [confusion] regarding the validity, so we tell them, ‘The New Mass is bad, it is evil’ and they understand that. ”

    Translation: SSPX is not big on catechesis.

  22. Jim McKay Avatar
    Jim McKay

    Benedict’s outreach to SSPX is one of the best things he did. Reaching out to the people on the margins is a key theme of Francis, and there are few who are more marginalized than SSPX.

    If we take ecumenism seriously, we have to at least try and prevent new splits within Christ’s church. Benedict did his best. The consequences for the Church in terms of liturgy are mostly awful IMO, but the example of long suffering dialog is a blessing.

    BTW, there is more than a little irony in SSPX receiving this kind of attention. They do not believe in ecumenism, or religious freedom, yet they exist solely because of religious freedom, and persist because of a solicitude nurtured by ecumenism. If only they could state their positions clearly, without condemning their own behavior.

    1. Matthew Morelli Avatar
      Matthew Morelli

      @Jim McKay – comment #44:

      Benedict’s outreach to SSPX is one of the best things he did. Reaching out to the people on the margins is a key theme of Francis, and there are few who are more marginalized than SSPX.

      I would agree except on one detail: I would not say only SSPX is marginalized, but rather all traditionalists. And it is here that the value of the outreach is clear.

      As part of that outreach to traditionalists, we saw the liberation of the older rites by the norms of Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae. This was liberation of the Vetus Ordo from three groups:
      1) from the Bishops, who in too many cases over the course of 23 years were not generous enough to give the Tridentine Mass to those who asked for it (despite the request of JPII for wider indults in Quattuor Abhinc Annos and Ecclesia Dei Adflicta)
      2) from the progressive liturgists who insisted that the Tridentine Mass had been suppressed.
      3) from the SSPX and other schismatic groups who for many years were the only ones celebrating in the older rites on a wide scale.

      Since the rites have been liberated, there are far more opportunities for those who desire them to attend them in parishes and chapels that are not run by schismatic groups. For those who only were involved with SSPX for the liturgy, they have plenty of canonically regular options now.

      It grows increasingly more difficult for one who attaches himself to SSPX to distance himself from SSPX’s disobedience and anti-Semitism, more difficult for the SSPX to suggest that they remain loyal to the Church, and more difficult for SSPX to wield the influence over the people they once had. The time for “ecumenism” is coming to an end.

      I don’t expect this to go on much longer before Francis drops the hammer on them.

      1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        @Matthew Morelli – comment #47:
        There are a lot of people and groups who count themselves as marginalized: women, same-sex attracted, young adults, rural or urban Catholics who lack a resident priest in their community. At some point, it has to be about more than a poor-me victimhood. At what point does a pope, a local pastor, or someone in between draw a line and say, “Enough!”

        I don’t say this to suggest that the real concerns of feminists are more important because they have numbers, or less important because they lack bishops.

        Traditionalists may say they’ve been marginalized, but they’ve had a good deal of heft in many circles after Vatican II. At what point does one’s victimhood merit a separate rite? Most feminists, for example, aren’t asking for a new rite. Just a decent translation without archaic language.

        Or are we making a lot of concessions to traditionalists and Anglicans because, somehow, they’re weaker and more needy than women, young adults, and homosexuals? I’d like to hear what traditionalist Catholics have to say about that.

      2. Matthew Morelli Avatar
        Matthew Morelli

        @Todd Flowerday – comment #48:

        It isn’t about victimhood, nor is it about who is “weaker and more needy”; it isn’t victimhood that merits special treatment.

        Each of these groups on the margins (Traditionalists, convert Anglicans, feminists, persons experiencing SSA, young adults, Catholics without a resident priest, and many others) have very different needs. Each group has legitimate concerns, some of which are more easily addressed than others, and it is diabolical to try to play these groups against each other.

        You missed my whole point: The masterstroke of Benedict XVI’s approach in SP and UE (and even Anglicanorum Coetibus) was to create a situation where liturgy need not be an obstacle to unity. It allows those traditionalists (and Anglicans) who desire the Catholic Faith and unity with Peter to do so while retaining their liturgical traditions (and in turn enriching the liturgical life of other Latin Rite Catholics).

        At the same time, it makes it much more difficult for groups like SSPX to ideologize the liturgy and use it as a tool to promote disobedience (note that for the last several years since SP their drumbeat has been about Religious Liberty and not liturgy). It becomes easier to separate the wolves from the genuinely marginalized sheep.

        The primary issues for the other groups you mentioned seem to be something other than liturgical. I have every confidence that Francis will continue to reach out to them, and perhaps devise something as brilliant to help them as Benedict did for the Traditionalists and the Anglicans.

        Looking at any marginalized group and saying “Enough!” is giving up on them — it’s saying that “You aren’t worth my time!” Those are no words for a pastor.

      3. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        @Todd Flowerday – comment #48:

        Or are we making a lot of concessions to traditionalists and Anglicans because, somehow, they’re weaker and more needy than women, young adults, and homosexuals? I’d like to hear what traditionalist Catholics have to say about that.

        Todd, I’d say that traditionalists and ex-Anglicans receive deference because their ecclesiologies and theologies do not challenge the perceptions of decision makers about bedrock teachings on the sacraments. I doubt that the primary question at hand is whether or not a particular group requests the use of a particular rite. Rather, perceptions of the orthodoxy of rites and liturgies are key. There are credible methods for an inclusive lectionary and sacramentary. Part of the problem with inclusive English is the lack of “common” (male and female) pronoun declensions in English, as well as the relatively few synonyms for persons of the Trinity. The more difficult the linguistic and theological questions become, the less willing many in the hierarchy are to providing a place for a particular movement.

        I don’t think that any one person or movement is more needy than another. Rather, the politics of worship create a false prioritization of need.

      4. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        @Jordan Zarembo – comment #50:
        I doubt that mainstream feminists looking for accurate language are any sort of a threat to the bedrock teachings. And if you want to raise the issue of women getting ordained outside the structure of the institution, you have to concede the traditionalists have been doing the same for a quarter century.

        to Matthew, re: “Looking at any marginalized group and saying “Enough!” is giving up on them — it’s saying that “You aren’t worth my time!” Those are no words for a pastor.”

        And yet, we hear these words frequently from Catholics of all stripes, especially conservatives, and even from their pastors.

        I did get your point. And maybe you have part of the truth in it. But maybe it’s pandering. Where’s the line between pandering and defending the bedrock? I’m not sure I know. And I suspect that deep down, B16 wasn’t too sure either–it was more a matter of personal taste.

      5. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        @Todd Flowerday – comment #52:

        I doubt that mainstream feminists looking for accurate language are any sort of a threat to the bedrock teachings.

        I think that there are ways to translate the missal which are in accordance with recent academic research on inclusive language and which also are orthodox. I’d be interested in following work on an inclusive missal (the 1998 proposed sacramentary might be a good place to start, perhaps.) In fact, the thaw in doctrinal and theological allegiance under Pope Francis might be a sign that this is good time to start or revive this project. I don’t think that Pope Francis is plotting a “hundred flowers”-type campaign to sift out “dissenters”. Perhaps now is time to openly consider more radical translation projects, even if these projects may receive criticism in the internal and external forums.

      6. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        @Jordan Zarembo – comment #57:

        And I think the petulance shown those sensitive to inclusive language issues, starting with the catechism, mostly shows the misogynist strain within the hierarchy. Decidedly antigospel, however the hypocrisy is dressed up in theological language.

  23. crystal watson Avatar

    I think reaching out to the SSPX was one of the *worst* things B16 did, not the best. He didn’t do it to be ecumenical – he was anything but ecumenical: during his tine as pope he managed to insult Judaism, Islam, the Anglicans, the Lutherans, etc. He reached out only to them, a group on the extreme right, not to groups like CTA, some of whom were also excommunicated, because he liked them and because they had bishops making more bishops. Thomas Reese SJ once wrote …

    “Why is the Vatican putting so much effort into reconciliation with the Society of St. Pius X? The real reason is because these men are bishops. If they were simple priests, the Vatican would not give them the time of day. The Vatican is caught by it own theology that sees these men as validly if not licitly ordained. As a result, these bishops can ordain more bishops and the schism can go on forever.

    If the bishops ordain more bishops, they will again suffer excommunication. If the bishops refrain from ordaining new bishops, the schism ends when these four bishops die even if they are not reconciled with the pope. If lifting the excommunication is the price for keeping the bishops from ordaining more bishops, then in the view of the Vatican it is a cheap price to pay. ”

  24. Matthew Morelli Avatar
    Matthew Morelli

    @Todd Flowerday – comment #52:

    I did get your point. And maybe you have part of the truth in it. But maybe it’s pandering. Where’s the line between pandering and defending the bedrock? I’m not sure I know. And I suspect that deep down, B16 wasn’t too sure either–it was more a matter of personal taste.

    Then you most certainly DO NOT get my point.

    SP and UE were goods in themselves. The primary motive was not SSPX … the documents would have been worth promulgating even without the SSPX, because it helped to bring some of the folks who had been marginalized (sadly sometimes by pastors and bishops) out into the sunlight. It also returned liturgical patrimony to Latin Rite Catholics — it was a gift to every Latin Rite Catholic, even if he or she doesn’t wish to accept the gift.

    But it also began to give SSPX less to stand on — their more extreme views are coming out… even for Bishop Fellay, who during the discussions was fairly reserved. If Benedict wasn’t sure where they stood, then he left us a tool to find out.

    Two other things:

    First… “a matter of personal taste” — that seems to be a very handy catchphrase here, translating roughly to “doesn’t fit my view of the Council” or “doesn’t have to be (or shouldn’t be) followed” — a means of dismissing law promulgated to serve a pastoral need, simply because it doesn’t fit your worldview. That is utter rot. To that I respond with this:

    The decision of Pope Benedict was prudent and motivated by the desire to help people who have this sensitivity.

    Second… Even if some conservative Catholics do reject the marginalized, it doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t make it right for progressives to act in kind.

  25. Jim McKay Avatar
    Jim McKay

    SP is all about people who were dismissing law promulgated to serve a pastoral need, simply because it doesn’t fit [their] worldview. A pastoral need arose because people rejected Pope Paul’s reforms. I am not sure I agree that it was merely Benedict’s personal preference that led him to reach out to these people, as Todd suggested, but it clearly is personal preference that led them to the Vetus Ordo.

    There are better ways to address pastoral needs like this. Promote a thirst for the Lord instead of for this or that way of approaching him. Help people see that whether it is English or Latin, it is the Lord. If the Lord wants this movement to flourish, there is no point in fighting it; if he does not, it will wither.

    1. Matthew Morelli Avatar
      Matthew Morelli

      @Jim McKay – comment #56:

      There are better ways to address pastoral needs like this. Promote a thirst for the Lord instead of for this or that way of approaching him. Help people see that whether it is English or Latin, it is the Lord. If the Lord wants this movement to flourish, there is no point in fighting it; if he does not, it will wither.

      A thirst for the Lord must happen in a context — it has to have a spirituality that it is associated with, a way that it is expressed. For some, that thirst is best fostered within a contemporary worship environment, for others a charismatic one, and for still others, a traditional one. There is no such thing as a “generic” spirituality.

      For many, especially today, the reason they seek the Vetus Ordo isn’t because they “rejected Pope Paul’s reforms” — it is because they found themselves insufficiently nourished by the liturgies stemming from that reform. Their thirst for the Lord is best fostered through Traditional liturgy — that is how they can become the best disciples.

      One’s spirituality isn’t something that can be mandated from outside (even by a bishop or by the Pope), and it’s one of the reasons why the desire for the Vetus Ordo has persisted and in recent years has increased. I would even propose that this is the reason why the Popes (from Paul VI himself) have been magnanimous in granting permissions for the Vetus Ordo — they realized that there was a group of the faithful genuinely harmed by the monolithic nature of the reforms.

  26. Jonathan Day Avatar
    Jonathan Day

    Setting aside the peculiar use of ‘hermeneutic’, I am struck that it may be easier to agree on ‘rupture’ than on ‘continuity’.

    In a marriage, if the spouses legally divorce, or if one of them says, loudly and seriously, “I want a divorce”, then some degree of ‘rupture’ has taken place. On the other hand, you can observe a marriage where there has been no visible ‘rupture’ and still wonder whether the relationship is intact. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    That is why, I think, Benedict XVI spoke of ‘rupture’ rather than ‘continuity’, and why he applied it to the SSPXers rather than the progressives, as noted in Fritz’s post. They have proclaimed that Vatican II was a ‘rupture’; one of their bishops denounced Pope Benedict as ‘insane’.

    I find it astonishing to think that, not so long ago, many trads and neocons were burbling about how reconciling the SSPX would be healthy –not just for the SSPX, but also for the rest of the Church. “They have the Catholic faith and a love for the sacred liturgy,” enthused Cardinal Burke. Cardinal Ranjith was apparently ready to hand over management of the seminaries in his archdiocese to a reconciled SSPX.

    Yes, let the Lefebvrists take over parishes and seminaries. There, they can preach their Jansenist images of an angry God, ready to hurl the vast majority of humanity into unending torture. They can call for the restoration of absolute monarchy and of the pope as a king above all kings. They can put women “into their places”. They can denounce the Jews for “deicide”. They can call for an end to religious liberty and write articles in favour of ‘rehabilitating’ the Inquisition. Click here and scroll down for an interesting apology for the use of torture, and a sympathetic description of the main instruments of torture. Inspiring stuff. Just what the Church needs.

    May God be with the SSPX as they shout “rupture!” and walk out the door. The Church is well rid of them.

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      @Jonathan Day – comment #59:
      The Jansenists might resent the attempted affiliation here.

  27. Jim McKay Avatar
    Jim McKay

    I feel like you are trying to disagree with what I wrote, but I don’t see the difference.

    How does “rejected Pope Paul’s reforms” differ from “insufficiently nourished by [the consequences of] those reforms”?

    As far as accommodating personal preferences rather than imposing monolithic uniformity, I think I agree with you. Except you may not think what cannot be “mandated from outside” is not a personal preference, where I think that is the definition of a personal preference.

    Very confusing.

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