Monday, June 23, 2008

Return of the SSPX?

By Patrick Archbold

Andrea Tornielli, the famed Vatican reporter, has a story in Il Giornale statting that the Pope has given the SSPX until June 28th to sign on the dotted line.
The countdown has begun for the agreement between the Fraternity St. Pius X founded by French bishop Marcel Lefebvre and the Holy See, as I write on il Giornale today. The Lefebvrians, who asked for the lifting of the excommunication, will have to respond by June 28 to proposals submitted on behalf of Benedict XVI by Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. These are five points which have to be signed, and once they have been clarified, the Fraternity will be able to reenter into full communion with Rome. It is a unique opportunity: the Lefebvrians have for a long time demanded the liberalisation of the ancient missal - and Pope Ratzinger with the Motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum cura" has restored full citizenship to pre-conciliar rite - and the "catechesis" which in recent times comes from papal Masses, with the recovery of some traditional elements, is undeniable. The Fraternity must accept the II Vatican Council and the full validity of the post-conciliar liturgical rite (both points were already signed by Monsignor Lefebvre himself in 1988) and as for its [the Fraternity's future] canonical structure, it could be framed as a "prelature". It is known, however, that there is internal resistance: this Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior of the Lefebvrians, will have to try to overcome in the coming days, during the [Fraternity's] general chapter. Now that the old Mass has been liberalized - albeit with many difficulties and cases of blatant disobedience - many traditionalist faithful do not understand why the Fraternity does not make an agreement with Rome returning fully into Catholic communion. Circumstances so favourable in all likelihood will not come again.
The SSPX has been offered much of this before and turned it down, but if they are waiting for a Pope more favorably disposed toward them, they are beyond foolish. The Pope has restored the Gregorian Rite, he will lift the excommunications, and give them some sort canonical structure. It is time for the SSPX to decide, are you in or are your out. Do you want to be part of the solution or forever on the outside. You know, outside the Church where there is no ... well you know.

I pray that for once, the SSPX does the right thing. If Bishop Williamson and his contumacious comrades scream, let them. Don't let the crazies rule the roost. We are praying for you.

Big Hat tip to NLM

Update: Full Translation of the Il Giornale article from NLM (Double Thanks)
In the relations between the Holy See and the Lefebvrians the countdown has begun: by this 28 June, the Fraternity of St. Pius X, founded by the French Archbishop who would not suffer the post-conciliar liturgical reform, will in fact have to decide whether to accept the five conditions proposed by the Vatican in order to reenter into full communion with Rome. Some days ago, the superior of the Lefebvrians, Bishop Bernard Fellay, met with Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Commission Ecclesia Dei, which deals on behalf of Benedict XVI with negotiations with the traditionalist group. Fellay, who previously had written to the Pope asking for the revocation of the excommunication imposed by John Paul II in 1988 to Lefebvre and the four new bishops that he had wanted to consecrate without the consent of the Holy See (among them Fellay himself), has received a letter with the five points set by the cardinal [Castrillón] and will discuss them during the next chapter of the fraternity, to be held at the end of the month.

Never like at this moment the negotiations have come close to an agreementwhich would heal the mini-schism which had been created now two decades ago, allowing the full reentering of the Lefebvrians into the Catholic communion. Among the points that the Holy See asked to sign there would be, according to the indiscretions gathered, the acceptance of the II Vatican Council and the declaration of full validity of the Mass according to the reformed liturgy: two conditions that Lefebvre had already signed with the then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1988. The Vatican, for its part, offers the traditionalist group a canonical framework similar to that of Opus Dei, namely a [personal] "prelature", which would allow the Fraternity to continue its activities and to train its seminarians.

The march of rapprochement was started in 2000, when the Lefebvrians made a Holy Year pilgrimage to Rome. It was followed by a brief audience granted by Pope Wojtyla to Monsignor Fellay and the beginning of the long and laborious negotiations with Cardinal Castrillón. Many things have changed since then however. The Lefebvrians asked, before making any step towards an agreement, that the old preconciliar missal, which fell into disuse after the liturgical reform, be liberalised. The new pope, Benedict XVI, particularly sensitive to these issues, a year ago published the Motu proprio declaring the full citizenship of the old Mass allowing it in every parish, in fact stripping the bishop of the possibility of prohibiting it. The application of the new papal directives has not been easy, there are a lot of cases of resistance - some blatant, as is known - but it is beyond doubt that by declaring the existence of an extraordinary Roman rite (the old one) and an ordinary (the reformed one), the Pope has authorized throughout the Church and without restrictions the celebration of the Tridentine Mass. Moreover, Ratzinger has reintroduced the Cross at the centre of the altar, has begun to distribute communion to the faithful kneeling, has restored ancient vestments: all signals that go in the direction of emphasizing the continuity of tradition.

Conditions this favourable for a reentering into full communion will in all likelihood not repeat themselves. Many faithful, now that they have obtained the Mass according to the ancient rite, do not understand why the Fraternity does not definitively make peace with Rome. The Lefebvrians have come to realize what is happening, even if Fellay has some problems of internal resistance. The choice is whether to make an agreement and reenter into full communion with the Holy See, or rather to remain a small separate body with the risk of turning into a little sectarian and uninfluential group.


Anonymous said...

We know that this Italian journalist is engaging in mere guesswork owing to the reference to a "prelature". If a personal prelature is what the Church has in mind, the S.S.P.X would be right to refuse to sign anything. But there is no way that that is what the Cardinal is proposing, since he has already, in 2000, offered them much more than that. True, he might have in mind a territorial prelature, but that would be inappropriate, as it is a missionary structure. A personal prelature could only work if it were, in turn, incorporated into a personal apostolic administration or personal diocese. So Tornieli may be right here, but his information surely cannot be complete. He is missing the most important part when it comes to the structure.

Tornieli, who never seems to get anything right, I've noticed, is basing this nonsense on Williamson's comment that "it's all paperwork, paperwork" and the fact of the anniversary to come. He's hoping that he will guess right and then be counted as a prophet.

It is indeed possible that a deal is coming for these reasons given by him. Bishop Fellay suggested at the beginning of this pontificate, he would obey direct order of the Pope. As I recall, he said that, should the Pope command him and should the command be possible to obey in conscience, he would come "running", not walking.

It certainly would be appropriate for something to come very soon. Three anniversaries are coming up. First, 30th June, the 20th anniversary of the unapproved consecrations. Second, 2nd July, the 20th anniversary of the declarations of excommunication. Lastly, 7th July, the first anniversary of "Summorum Pontificum". Rome likes to do things on significant days, to make them memorable and symbolically important.

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos is now nearly 79 years old and is running out of time. He has used the carrot and may well use the stick now. But that word "prelature" just reeks of idiot journalists guessing. They just will not do their homework. The magic work is '['personal'] apostolic administration', not 'prelature'. A personal prelature, thanks to Canon 297, would be an unmitigated disaster.


Anonymous said...

In my second post here, I shall avoid making predictions and, instead, offer recommendations. I outline what I think ought to happen.

First of all, the S.S.P.X made two pre-conditions for an arrangement, and then added a third one. S.P. at least addressed and arguably answered the first pre-condition (especially since it's entire meaning has yet to be clarified). The second one was the lifting of the declarations of excommunication and other penalties. The last one was the resolution of doctrinal disputes before regularisation could be completed.

Negotiation requires action and response. The Holy See took the initiative with S.P. This invites a response. I recommend a public letter of the S.S.P.X. It would thank the Holy Father for S.P. and express regret for the unapproved consecrations of 1988. It is important here to distinguish between an expression of regret and an apology. The Society would not be admitting wrongdoing or apologising. On the contrary, by affirming that the action was regrettable but considered necessary, the Society would at least morally be fulfilling the condition set forth in Canon 1323, Sections 2, 4, 7, to have the declarations withdrawn.

The letter might also affirm that the Society accepts Vatican II as interpreted by a non-evolving notion of Tradition. It is not necessary that the Society be right in its understanding of Tradition, only that its view not be excluded by the Magisterium.

Were this letter made public on, say, 30th June, Rome might withdraw the penalties publicly on, say, 2nd July: all to mark 20th anniversaries of consecrations and excommunications.

On 7 July, 2008, the anniversary of S.P., Rome might erect an exempt international and 'personal' diocese or its equivalent (such as an apostolic administration) and invite the Society to be incorporated into it. Others, such as the Transalpine Redemptorists and the I.B.P., might also be incorporated into it. So might this mysterious group mentioned by the Cardinal: this non-Catholic bishop representing other bishops and priests and laics who want to worship according to the Gregorian Missal.

*Within* such a structure, the S.S.P.X. could be a 'prelature' or a society of apostolic life: there are many possibilities. The structure would be headed by a bishop chosen and trusted by the Pope, such as Bishop Manat from Thailand. Preferably, it would be a prelate never separted from Rome but also attached to the old Mass. The Society could be offered a certain number of bishops as auxiliaries in the structure.

At that point, the Society might decide to accept the status of, say, a society of apostolic life (or a personal prelature), but only on a provisional basis, pending resolution of doctrinal difficulties. That way, the Society would be protecting its interests, above all its spiritual interests.

Whether the Society enters the structure provisionally or permanently, it can protect its real property by having it owned by civil corporations controlled by those who currently control the Society itself. Parishes are always free to rent chapels for divine worship, for a nominal fee of, say, one dollar per year.

A provisional status durng the time of discussions over doctrine would mean that the status could be terminated by either party according to some agreed-on formula.

Suddenly, Society Masses would certainly fulfil the obligation to assist at Mass, and a structure would exist which could open parishes anywhere without needing permission from local ordinaries. On the other side, since it would have little real property, the new proper ordinary would not much infringe on the authority fo local bishops for years to come. The affect of the new structure would be very slow and gradual. But it could reconcile independent chapels, train its own priests, found parishes, appoint its own diocesan priests, and so on.

For the society to accept *only* a 'personal prelature' under Canon 297 would be high folly. At the very least, it needs an exemption from that Canon. Otherwise, the local Mahonys could shut it out. Duh!

Do your homework, Tornieli.

Peter Karl T. Perkins

Patrick Archbold said...

In defense of poor Mr. Tornielli, he made it clear it was speculation and used the word "could"

Even if it is silly speculation, he was clear that he didn't know one way or the other.

Anyway, my new hope is that after the excommunications are lifted that the Pope just hands them the reigns for the diocese of Chicoutimi in Canada.

Brian Kopp said...

This "deadline" should be accompanied by the much-anticipated clarification from PCED of Summorum Pontificum.

PCED could then utilize the SSPX in erecting Gregorian Rite chapels in those dioceses in which the local ordinary, by ignoring SP or establishing extra "little tittle" rules governing its application, has prevented the establishment of Gregorian Rite masses.

The SSPX could cooperate in this regard by "moving" its chapels and priests to underserved areas, answering only to Rome, thus establishing a bulkhead of orthodoxy in those dioceses known for heterodoxy and liturgical abuse.

Within such a framework, the local ordinary could not make any claims that the SSPX is "schismatic" or "heretical" or disobedient, any more so than he could accuse Byzantine Catholics of same.

In this manner the SSPX could become the Pope's new "Jesuits." (In this age they would almost become the "anti-post-VII Jesuits." )

Also, task the SSPX specifically with re-translating and re-publishing the documents of VII so that they can ONLY be read according to Tradition.

All this presupposes a humility and willingness on the part of SSPX priests and bishops to truly want to return to full communion, ending their irregular juridical status, and asserting their desire to fight for the restoration of Traditional Catholicism from within the structures of the Church.

Up to this point, Bishop Fellay and Bishop Williamson have been very astute in outlining the reasons why rapproachment with Rome has not been possible.

It will be interesting to see just what kind of men they are, and whether an internal schism within the SSPX can be avoided at this critical juncture.

Unfortunately, I do not believe Bishop Williamson will agree to any legitimate attempts at rapproachment. I hope Bishop Fellay can hold the SSPX together under this looming deadline.